Dec 22, 2015
The Best Food Neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Ranked
Brooklyn’s varied and dynamic food scene is a known fact at this point; one of the hardest year-end lists we compose is that highlighting the best new restaurants of the year—there are just too many solid contenders to feel like we’re doing justice to the borough’s multitudes of great dining spots. One thing we noticed with this year’s list was that—try as we might to spread out our top choices—it has become hard to deny that some neighborhoods are just better than others—at least when it comes to food. And so, as with literally everything in this city, when it comes to figuring out where you want to eat, it’s all about: location, location, location. Here, then, is our list of the best food neighborhoods in Brooklyn, ranked. While reading it, consider how lucky we are that even the bottom of the list is an area filled with more great places to eat than some entire states have. (We’re looking at you, South Dakota.) But also, eat at all these places while you can; after all, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
16) Brooklyn Heights-DUMBO-Downtown Brooklyn: Well, someplace has to be at the bottom of this list (or is this the top? no, this is definitely the bottom), and the truth is even though there’s plenty of decent food here, there are only a few places that stand out very much, and there’s so much that’s mediocre that it kind of taints the whole damned area. But there is always the amazing Sahadi’s for food-lovers, guaranteeing that home cooks will be just fine. Oh, and there’s Montero’s for any liquid nutritional needs.
Neighborhood Standouts: Sahadi’s, Yaso Tangbao, Vinegar Hill House, Colonie, Gran Electrica, Julianna’s, Boomwich
15) Ditmas Park-Flatbush: While it’s true that there’s some genuinely great food along Ditmas Park’s Cortelyou Road, there just isn’t as much variety as there is in other parts of the borough. That said, this area does benefit from having plenty of decent, budget-friendly options, as well as one of the best burgers (and veggie burgers) in the borough at Ox Cart Tavern.
Neighborhood Standouts: Ox Cart Tavern, Purple Yam, Mimi’s Hummus, The Farm on Adderley, Bake and Things
14) Sheepshead Bay-Brighton Beach-Coney Island: Sure, there’s a Wahlburgers out here, but is there anything else? Ha. Just kidding! I kid. But also, while there are plenty of great options for either ultra-casual food (I don’t mean Wahlburgers here, rather the abundance of excellent, hole-in-the-wall options, like Chayhana Salom), but, frankly, the big Russian banquet hall spots that line Brighton’s boardwalk are more about the spectacle than the food, for the most part. Oh, well. There’s always Randazzo’s and that red sauce, which, if I could have it injected via IV, I would. Also, big ups to the huge food emporiums, full of steam tables laden with stuffed cabbage and other Eastern European delicacies. Those are pretty amazing.
Neighborhood Standouts: Randazzo’s Clam Bar, Chayhana Salom, Cafe Kashkar, Brighton Bazaar
13) Windsor Terrace-Kensington: Look, it’s not like there isn’t good food here—there is! But there’s not a lot of it. And I don’t just mean there aren’t a ton of ~fancy~ places to eat… I mean there’s really just limited choices in this heavily residential area. But lately, things have taken a real upswing with recent additions like East Wind Snack Shop, Werkstatt, and Batata complementing stalwarts like Le Paddock, The Double Windsor, and DUB Pies. It’s hardly like you’re going to starve in the Windy T if you’re not much of a home cook, your options are just less than they would be, oh, almost anywhere else. But if all I could eat for the rest of my life were East Wind’s aged beef potstickers? I’d be ok with that. I really would.
Neighborhood Standouts: East Wind Snack Shop, The Double Windsor, Batata, Thai Tony’s, Madina, Brancaccio’s Food Shop, Werkstatt
12) Gowanus: Just because this is a tiny-ish neighborhood, doesn’t mean there isn’t some great food, both old-school (what’s up Two Tom’s) and totally new (The Pines, you guys). Recent additions, like brand-new Korean spot Insa and still relatively new Threes Brewing, also contribute to the neighborhood’s strong dining scene. And that clam roll at Littleneck? Easily one of our top ten foods borough-wide.
Neighborhood Standouts: The Pines, Littleneck, Runner & Stone, Insa, Threes Brewing, Four & Twenty Blackbirds
11) Park Slope-Prospect Heights: Some of the most reliably delicious spots in Brooklyn are in these two brownstone-filled neighborhoods (Franny’s, anyone? Fonda! Talde!), but lately there’s also been a rise of exciting new places, like White Tiger in Prospect Heights. Plus, this is where the original Ample Hills is stationed, so you can get your sweet tooth satisfied any time you like. Bonus: Because there’s so many kids in the area, there’s lots of guilty pleasure “fast food” eating, like Bark Hot Dogs’ amazing butter-basted hot dogs. Heaven on a bun.
Neighborhood Standouts: Bark Hot Dogs, Ample Hills, White Tiger, Franny’s, Fonda, Talde, James, The Vanderbilt
10) Bay Ridge: Full of just about every different type of cuisine you could imagine, Bay Ridge is particularly strong when it comes to Middle Eastern food. The top five falafel in the borough? They’re all in Bay Ridge. Plus there’s the insane deliciousness that is Tanoreen, as well as excellent Chinese food, and, of course, really solid old-school Norwegian pastries and red sauce Italian joints. But there’s also an amazing, under-the-radar French tasting menu spot, Petit Oven, which stands up to any similar restaurant in more expensive parts of Brooklyn—and beyond.
Neighborhood Standouts: Petit Oven, Tanoreen, Lock Yard, Grand Sichuan House, Hazar Turkish Kebab, Leske’s
9) Fort Greene-Clinton Hill: Yet another area with a ton of good options (though more moderately priced places seem to be struggling as of late) the Fort Greene-Clinton Hill zone has a range of great places that veer from fine dining to the most laid-back neighborhood spots. I could spend a month eating my way down Myrtle and be totally content. Or just eating at Roman’s every night! That’s also an option.
Neighborhood Standouts: Roman’s, Martha, Emily, Lulu & Po, Bar Bolinas, Mekelburg’s
8) Red Hook-Columbia Street Waterfront District: Maybe it’s because this part of Brooklyn is so isolated from the rest that it wound up developing such an independently strong food game, but whatever the case, we’re all the beneficiaries, because when we actually get out to Red Hook? The food blows us away. We dream about the tongue-tingling larb at Pok Pok Ny or the barbecued lamb at Hometown. And the drawn butter soaked Connecticut-style lobster roll at the Red Hook Lobster Pound. And literally everything at Baked.
Neighborhood Standouts: Fort Defiance, Pok Pok Ny, Hometown Bar-B-Q, Red Hook Lobster Pound, The Good Fork, Baked, Chiang Mai
7) Williamsburg: While it’s true that Williamsburg didn’t really represent too strongly on our best restaurants of 2015 list, there’s still so many great places to eat here that it’s sort of embarrassing. It’s an abundance of restaurant riches if there ever was one. Where else, after all is it possible to get one of the more solid falafels in the borough (if you don’t count those from Bay Ridge, that is) just mere blocks away from blow-your-socks-off bao or a blow-your-mind tasting menu? That’s Williamsburg—full of culinary surprises. And not as many man-buns as you’d think.
Neighborhood standouts: Delaware and Hudson, Concord Hill, Allswell, Baoburg, Extra Fancy, The Four Horsemen, Marlow and Sons
6) Sunset Park: Sunset Park has some of the best Vietnamese, Chinese, and Mexican food in the whole city, let alone the borough. Plus, it’s all relatively affordable. The importance of this, in an increasingly prohibitively expensive borough, of course, can’t be over-appreciated. So we appreciate it in the form of eating steak nachos at Tacos El Bronco approximately once a week. Yum.
Neighborhood Standouts: Tacos El Bronco, Tacos Matamoros, East Harbor Seafood Palace, Ba Xuyen
5) Cobble Hill-Carroll Gardens: There are restaurants in this area where I’ve literally never had nothing less than exemplary food. That’s the thing here, really, it’s not just that there’s great food, but it’s all ultra-reliable without ever being boring. I’ve also had some of the most culinarily exciting meals of my life here. The only downside to this area is that one of its best restaurants—Brucie—will be closing up this February. So go there while you can and have your mind blown by its deliciousness.
Neighborhood Standouts: Brucie, La Vara, Frankie’s, Prime Meats, June Wine Bar, Wilma Jean, Nightingale 9, Rucola, Court Street Grocers
4) Greenpoint: Not just Williamsburg’s culinary little sister anymore (not by a long-shot), Greenpoint has a healthy mix of new and old spots, offering a variety of cuisines at a variety of different price points. Walk off one of your giant meals (topped off by a Peter Pan doughnut, because why not) with a walk along temporarily still towerless waterfront. That’s heaven. It really is.
Neighborhood Standouts: River Styx, Glasserie, Peter Pan Donuts, Five Leaves, Cozhina Latina
3) Bed-Stuy: Even with the closing of places like Scratchbread and Do or Dine this past year, Bed-Stuy has a bustling dining scene with countless standouts that tend toward inventive yet still affordable cuisine, and always feature the best hospitality in the borough. Plus, long-time favorites, like Peaches Hothouse and Joloff Restaurant are still going strong.
Neighborhood Standouts: Joloff Restaurant, L’Antagoniste, Chilo’s, Eugene and Co., Ali’s Trinidad Roti Shop, Willow, Peaches Hothouse
2) Crown Heights: Not too dissimilar to Bed-Stuy, with which it shares a border, Crown Heights offers a unique restaurant-mix of longtime favorites (The Islands!) as well as tons of new options (Mayfield! Barboncino! The Food Sermon!) It even has its own tongue-in-cheek food podcast, Food on Franklin.
Neighborhood Standouts: The Islands, Glady’s, Mayfield, Barboncino, Royal Bakery and Roti House, The Food Sermon, Samesa
1) Bushwick: Here’s the thing with Bushwick: Anything you want? It’s here. Inventive, cutting edge Japanese food? Here. Amazing late-night pork buns? Here. Tacos that make you think you’re in Mexico City? Here. Exquisite pasta made from restaurant-milled ancient grains? Here. A boob-themed bar? Also here. So just go to Bushwick and pick a block—literally any block—and eat your way to happiness. I’ve done it countless times and now you can too. Happy eating.
Neighborhood standouts: Fritzl’s Lunchbox, Moku Moku, Okiway, Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, Faro
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