The late-night short rib al pastor at elNico (Alice Gao)
Sep 26, 2023
The late-night dining guide to Brooklyn
Night owls rejoice: This is a great time to find a bite to eat in the borough later than 8
Danny Meyer may be over on X, formerly known as Twitter, pondering how it is that the 6 p.m. dinner hour replaced the 8 p.m. time slot, but over here in Brooklyn, things are just starting to heat up at 8 p.m. — and well beyond it — every night of the week.
Brooklynites, and all those venturing to the city’s buzziest borough, have long been spoiled by choice when it comes to noshing, but there were, of course, dining limitations during the peak pandemic period. Even once restaurants and bars opened back up, many had reduced seatings and limited dining hours due to staffing shortages and a general retrieval of sea legs.
“New York is the city that never sleeps, but when the pandemic shut down our restaurants and nightlife it changed people’s socializing habits. But now with the worst seemingly behind us, some folks are getting their late-night groove back and restaurants can stay open later to serve them,” says Andrew Rigie, executive director of the city’s hospitality alliance, adding that while he has no hard data on the trend, it sure seems to be the case anecdotally.
Forget about the 90-minute table allowance of yesterday and say hello to the late-night dining scene. Operating on a loose closing time, many new establishments are no longer offering reservations at all; instead, they’re inviting New Yorkers with good appetites to show up hungry long after the prime dinner hour.
Read on for our late-night fall dining guide.
494 Fourth Ave., Park Slope
Grab a bite at Alma Negra before pumpkin-turning time — Thursday through Saturday, the Mexican restaurant, a bright spot on Park Slope’s Fourth Avenue, serves food until 11 p.m. The menu is thoughtful and fresh, and you can and should order more than the tacos, though the carnitas are outstanding, for example, the polpo, an octopus dish with mole encacahuatado, a nut-based mole, and lump crab quesadillas. Elote is always impossible to resist and that’s no less true here where manzano mayo, made with a small yellow chile, holds court with cotija cheese and is nearly as impressive as the cocktails. If you prefer a less sweet and more robust drink, skip the carinosa (tequila, blood orange pineapple tepache, rose wine, lime juice, blood orange cordial, club soda) and put yourself in the bartender’s capable tequila-selecting hands.
180 Franklin St., Greenpoint
The daunting vermouth list at this Greenpoint bar and restaurant that opened last November is offset by friendly bartenders happy to offer tastings or their own personal opinions about favorites from the menu. Pair a Casa Mariol Vermut served over ice and garnished with a thick slice of orange and a single olive with pamboli (a more tomato-heavy take on pan con tomate), mussels escabeche, and the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich served with fries if you’ve come hungry. The concise menu, reminiscent of an aperitivo bar in Spain or Italy, is well executed and currently available until 10:45 p.m., though the owners are considering extending the kitchen’s hours depending on neighborhood demand.
288 N 8th St., Williamsburg
The name of the new rooftop bar and restaurant located in Penny Williamsburg, a hotel in the heart of that neighborhood, means “victory for the people,” and, indeed, this late-night dining spot feels like a win for everyone. A late night happy hour (from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.) offering a selection of handsomely-priced cocktails accompanies a comfort food menu punctuated by tacos and topos that Zoe Goldberg, elNico’s brand and creative director, says are especially popular during later hours. People want a non-clubby option to hang out—and eat, notes Goldberg. elNico’s short ribs al pastor paired with a tomato martini, a savory drink made with vodka, two types of vermouth, and tomato water, provides just that elevated dining experience.
41 Washington St., Dumbo
The February opening of Gair, a restaurant located in a prime part of Dumbo, means having your cake — or chicharonnes — and eating them too. The bar and restaurant from owner Kevin Cimini and Chef Gabe McMackin, serves snacks, spreads, and plates until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and midnight every night but Monday when it’s closed. Cocktails are fun and flirty and named in kind too: Take the Resting Spritz Face, for example, a concoction of gin, suze, italicus, saline, and pink peppercorn, or the Swimsuit Edition, vodka, rum, chile, guava, tamarind, passion fruit, ginger. The menu includes a section for both low-ABV and no-ABV drinks as well as a decent by the glass selection of wines, but the main reason for a late night nosh down under the Brooklyn Bridge may just be the smash burger, for which we have no notes.
172 Atlantic Ave., Cobble Hill
There’s late-night dining and then there’s 24-hour dining. Hadramout, a Yemeni restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill, is a family-owned and operated establishment dishing up Middle Eastern fare, authentic to Yemen. The diner-like restaurant serves some familiar Middle Eastern favorites like falafel and baba ghanoush, but ventures beyond the maza platter (don’t skip it though; the hummus alone makes it a must for the table) and order the signature lamb haneeth, slow-roasted with Yemeni seasoning, or the lamb fahsa, a shredded lamb mixed with gravy and the restaurant’s own spice blend. The menu runs long, and there are plenty of chicken and seafood options as well. For coconut lovers everywhere, the basboosa, a traditional Middle Eastern syrup-soaked cake, is the nightcap.
298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
This Williamsburg mainstay used to be the place to go for oysters washed down with some of the city’s finest craft cocktails. Now, oysters are everywhere and we’ve stopped saying craft before cocktails (or at least we should), and yet Maison Premiere, open since 2011 on bustling Bedford Street, is still the place to go for supreme shellfish, one of the best martinis in town, and some New Orleans pomp and circumstance. The raw bar is served until 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and lest anyone think Maison Premier is resting on its laurels: This past May it was awarded No. 39 on North America’s 50 Best Bars list.
353 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
The name of the Tel Aviv-inspired restaurant means “party,” so it’s only natural that the Williamsburg hot spot stays open until midnight on Friday and Saturday and until 11 p.m. the rest of the week. Start out with something from the menu’s nishnushim (snacks) like the pickled vegetable plate, before moving on to a dish or two from the gadol (big) section, such as the head-on prawns or the chicken musakhan with laffah bread, spinach salad, pine nuts, and amba. Too full for dessert? Opt for one of the dessert cocktails to cap off the night. The Motek is made with Ketel One vodka, Mr Black coffee, pistachio cordial, and espresso and is topped with creamy labneh foam.
1022 Broadway, Bushwick
Starting this month, denizens of the wee hours can partake of 2 Chix’s “Night Owl Brunch.” Sober up with classic American and Trinidadian brunch items — bacon, egg and cheese waffle sandwiches, as well as bake and saltfish and fried plantains — every Friday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday night from 2 to 6:00 a.m.
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