From Michelin-starred spots like Blanca and Take Root, to James Beard nominees such as Semilla, Brooklyn is getting a whole lot of buzz for its tasting menu-only restaurants. Of course, the downside for local diners becomes ever-rising prices and impossibly long waits for a table. And while we love Delaware and Hudson as much as the next guy (after all, we voted it our favorite new eatery during this year’s foodie awards!) there’s a wealth of comparatively under-the-radar restaurants also offering noteworthy tasting menus, that you actually have a fighting chance of trying before 2016.
L&B Spumoni Gardens: Only know L&B for their incredible squares and hyper-colored, old-school spumoni? We envy you your first sit-down at the 76-year-old restaurant’s phenomenal Chef’s Table, a family-style, $50-per-person feast of seriously epic proportions. We’re talking shrimp cocktail, rice balls, roasted artichokes, stuffed clams—and that’s only the first of five or so courses (ending with their famous, eye-popping dessert spread). It’s an offer you truly can’t refuse.
2725 86th Street, Gravesend
Zenkichi: Hidden in plain sight on Wythe and North 6th, Zenkichi is so under-the radar the door isn’t even marked. Once you find your way in, though, you’ll be glad you did. The Japanese izayaka is utterly intimate, with individual cubbies for tables, each complete with a bamboo screen and a bell to ring your waiter. There’s an à la carte menu available, but the $65 8-course omakase is definitely the way to go. From market-fresh sashimi to Shrimp and Renkon Tempura, every dish is perfectly plated and seasonally inspired. And if you feel like splurging, you can also order a sake tasting to accompany your meal.
77 N 6th Street, Williamsburg
Fitzcarraldo: The border of East Williamsburg and Bushwick may seem an odd place for destination restaurant, but trust us, the food is nowhere near as gritty as the surrounding streets. At $45, the 5-course meal is vibrant and refined, changing every few weeks to keep up with market ingredients. Fitzcarraldo’s roots are Northern Italian, but on this menu, you’ll find all kinds of globally-inspired dishes, like Maine Shrimp Crudo with tekka, sautéed fiddlehead ferns, togarashi, and sesame.
195 Morgan Avenue, Bushwick
Bistro Petit: This French-Korean joint is totally BYOB (they don’t even serve tap water), and with only 10 seats, more closely resembles a coffee shop than a restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef. Which we think is pretty awesome. You’ll have to call in advance to score a spot at the diminuitive counter, but at $100 for seven courses, it’s well worth planning ahead.
170 S 3rd Street, Williamsburg
The Saint Austere: Part wine bar, part small-plates heaven, this good-vibes eatery is filled with communal tables and perfect for getting social. But don’t let chatting prevent you from chowing down; there’s a four course chef’s tasting for an eminently affordable $40, plus only $20 to tack on an evening’s worth of wine.
613 Grand Street, Williamsburg
Locanda Vini & Olii: This cozy eatery is tucked inside a 130-year old drugstore, and classic apothecary relics crowd the walls and tables. But everything else is relatively modern, from the indie soundtrack to the creative Tuscan menu (you haven’t lived till you’ve tasted octopus soppressata and tuna salami), and if you bring along some friends, you can partake in a four-course tasting for only $48.
129 Gates Avenue, Clinton Hill
Patisserie Tomoko: Do you consider dinner just a mere prelude to dessert? Make a beeline to Patisserie Tomoko, which offers a tasting menu dedicated to sweets. For under 20 bucks, you’ll get to sample three courses of their best cookies, cakes, pastries and petit fours—to feel a tad more adult, you can even add a wine pairing to your “meal.”
568 Union Avenue, Williamsburg