NYCGuide

The Best Restaurants In Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights

There's more to these neighborhoods than overpriced tourist traps.
The Best Restaurants In Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights image

Whether you’re accompanying an out-of-towner to take that classic photo under the Brooklyn Bridge, or whether the Fruit Street Sitting Area is your favorite spot to watch a cranberry-orange sunset, at some point you’re going to find yourself in Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights—hungry and looking for a place to eat that’s not a tourist-packed rooftop or a mediocre hotel coffee shop. Need chicken liver mousse in a leafy backyard? Or a restaurant with a proposal-worthy waterfront backdrop? Find either of these, and everything in between, on our list.

THE SPOTS


photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

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American

Brooklyn Heights

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate NightCelebrity Sightings
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Ingas Bar is the antithesis of Time Out Market Dumbo. It’s a cozy spot on a quiet corner in Brooklyn Heights, and the odds of encountering someone here who has never been to Brooklyn until today are refreshingly low. Ingas is a tavern of sorts, with a pretty superb double patty burger, but they also have a tangy celery victor, and mortadella showered with grated brown butter. Come by yourself to drink a negroni, and imagine this is your go-to neighborhood spot. Or bring an out-of-towner for weekend brunch or dinner, where they'll feel like they're experiencing the real New York at a candlelit table covered with butcher paper.


photo credit: Emily Schindler

Unless you live in Brooklyn Heights, you may never have heard of Noodle Pudding. This place doesn't have a website or a sign, and it's located on a quiet side street where you mostly just find locals. But you really need to eat here. A rarity for NYC, Noodle Pudding is an under-hyped Italian spot that serves great food and isn't especially hard to get into. (It's walk-in only.) The space is charming and old-school, with big windows in front that open up in the summertime. And the bar is a wonderful place to have a martini and a massive serving of lasagna. This restaurant is cash-only, but somehow that only adds to the charm.


Yes, this place is technically in Vinegar Hill. But no one really talks about Vinegar Hill, and all these neighborhoods were just named by real estate developers anyway. So, yeah, we’re throwing Vinegar Hill House on this list. A classic Brooklyn restaurant (and great brunch choice), this place is where you go for pasta, chicken liver mousse, and maybe the best pork chop you’ll ever have. If it's nice out, come here around opening time and grab a table in the backyard.


If you can’t bear the thought of sitting at a restaurant packed with remote tech workers for lunch, go to Thai Sidewalk instead. This street cart in Dumbo makes solid food, and you’ll probably spend around $15 for lunch. Our favorites here are the pad see ew and the curry puffs, but if they have the lobster roll, which costs $20 and is overflowing with huge chunks of lobster lightly dressed in peppery mayo, order it. Walk a block or so to Pebble Beach and have your Thai takeout with a view.


A few standout dishes kick things up a notch at Mint Heights, a casual Indian spot with easy weeknight dinner vibes and welcoming front windows. Start with an order of crispy okra—it comes in a huge pile and gets a salty, tangy punch from lemon juice and chaat masala. We also love the dahi vada, especially when it’s hot out. Mains here are pretty good across the board, but the one thing you absolutely must get is the crab curry, smothered in a velvety coconut-based sauce laced with mustard seeds, red chilies, and curry leaves. They also have a second location in Fort Greene.


Vineapple is the kind of neighborhood joint that you’d actually factor into your real estate decisions. The food here is homey and Italian-ish, as embodied by the prosciutto-stuffed breakfast burrito. On weekdays, they keep a whole section of tables reserved for folks who want to post up with their laptops, so you won’t feel like you’re intruding if you use their space as a satellite office. We love the cold brew slushie, which is blended with a touch of oat milk and simple syrup, as an afternoon pick-me-up. They also serve full menus for dinner and brunch.


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This is a big, waterfront restaurant where dressed-up people eat pasta while sitting on velvet chairs or, if they’re lucky, under a covered patio. Cecconi’s is in the bottom of Dumbo House (aka the Soho House with a nice pool deck), and it's basically a totally decent hotel restaurant. The menu is Italian, with options like pasta, pizza, and, of course, tuna tartare.


The only way Celestine could be closer to the water is if it were on a boat, and it’s best if you can get a seat outside or near the window here. This Dumbo restaurant has a great view of the Manhattan Bridge, and it's the perfect place to book a last-minute table for an important meal that you forgot to plan. The Eastern Mediterranean food—mezze, lamb skewers, halibut with zhug, branzino—gets the job done, and the riverside setting feels special occasion-worthy.


If you want to take the '90s revival trend and translate it to your next nice dinner, you might as well do so at the River Cafe. The food at this special-occasion spot in Dumbo is prepared well, even if it’s a bit uninspired—but the real draw is the picturesque view from the main dining room, which feels practically like eating in the East River. Dinner is a fixed-price, three-course situation, and afterwards you can take a stroll in their private garden. It looks like it was airlifted from a Thomas Kinkade painting, complete with fairy lights in every tree.


There are lots of overpriced, overrated spots in Dumbo, but Butler isn’t one of them. This all-day cafe is our go-to for a leisurely weekday breakfast, lunch with a laptop, or pastries and iced coffee before a walk along the waterfront. The wifi is fast, there are ample outlets, and the staff won’t bother you if you hang out and take Zoom meetings for a few hours. This is also a great low-key brunch spot if you don’t want to have to put on a whole outfit or make a reservation on a weekend morning.


This Palestinian spot (the sister restaurant to Ayat) is a good spot for a group of people who need a lot of food, in a large room with murals and fake flowers that make it feel a little like a picnic, especially with a generous mezze platter in front of you. Try the ouzi lamb, the bamia, and a few of the eight flatbreads topped with everything from shawarma to pistachio. The flatbreads are dangerously cheesy (Chester Cheetah voice), and therefore undeniably good, but we find that they’re best utilized as drinking snacks—which brings us to our next point: This restaurant is BYOB.


The Osprey isn’t just another overpriced waterfront hotel restaurant. While it is pricey, for being in a hotel, and on the waterfront, the food here is good. It’s easy to get a walk-in table or a last-minute reservation, even for a big group, so this is a great option to have in your back pocket. Time your dinner right and you’re just steps away from the ideal post-meal sunset walk in Brooklyn Bridge Park.


If you thought you had to ride the F train into Manhattan for decent dim sum, think again. This Brooklyn Heights dumpling shop makes everything in-house, from hand-pulled noodles to extremely cute mushroom-shaped bao filled with a bunch of different mushrooms, obviously. Start with the chef’s choice assortment of dumplings so you can sample a few. The xiao long bao here are on par with some of our favorites in Manhattan and Flushing, with thin skins and a good soup-to-meat ratio. The space is cute, too.


Whichever restaurant you go to in the area, save room for a stop at Amai Bā. They make their ice cream on site, with a smooth texture and interesting rotating flavors, like Monkey Business (banana and chocolate swirl with crushed macadamia nuts), and Matcha Chip. Even their vanilla is better than most versions, with a creaminess that plays particularly well with espresso in the form of an affogato. Amai Bā also serves locally-roasted coffee, which might just be the excuse you need to have some ice cream before noon.

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