NYCGuide

The Best Restaurants In Clinton Hill

Pork katsu curry, goat pepper stew, oxtail ravioli, and more of our favorite things to eat in Clinton Hill.
A spread of dishes at Place des Fêtes,

photo credit: Emily Schindler

In Clinton Hill, you’ll find a lot of Pratt students and people who say they live in Fort Greene, before admitting they actually live just a few blocks away in the next neighborhood over. But Clinton Hill residents have plenty to boast about. Among the quiet brownstone blocks, you’ll find one of the city's best natural wine bars, an excellent burger, a great bakery, and Cambodian food in a spot with a secret ’70s-style cocktail lounge.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Wine Bar

Clinton Hill

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good WineDrinks & A Light Bite
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Clinton Hill’s premiere destination for eating sardines with a date, Place des Fêtes specializes in natural wine and inventive, seafood-heavy small plates. Book a table in the spacious room lined with earth-toned banquettes, and enjoy an elaborate take on fluke tartare or some fried maitake mushrooms with a side of black garlic fudge. If you don’t have a reservation, it’s not too hard to grab a seat at the bar, where you can drink a negroni and eat some pasta while you watch folks plating mussels and mortadella in the open kitchen.

On a Wednesday night, the music flowing out of this tiny Nigerian restaurant on Greene Ave. might inspire you to grab a bottle of red from the wine shop next door, and waltz on in. From the folks behind Dept. of Culture, a Nigerian restaurant with an always-booked tasting menu, Radio Kwara is a more accessible alternative. Nothing on the a la carte menu is above $32, and it's all just as delicious. Inside, servers pour spicy broth onto tender chunks of goat tableside, and friends share the butter-soaked bread ati obe with marinated mushrooms, and charred octopus suya.

Rosticceria Evelina is the younger sister to Evelina, an Italian restaurant in Fort Greene, but the specialty here is chicken, not pasta. Specifically, a beautiful bird that's spun around on a rotisserie spit before landing on a plate of crispy yukon gold potatoes and carrots. You should also get one pizza, the slaw-like brussel sprouts and kale salad, and the jamon Iberico croquettes. Big groups can spread out in the covered garden out back, but there's a bar up front and a handful of tables in the main dining room too. It’s bright, and less cozy and romantic-feeling than Evelina, so bring someone you don’t mind seeing in HD.

The $31 burger at Emily comes with french fries, but it also comes with cornichons, for when you get to your second bite and realize you desperately need something to cut through all the (very impressive) richness. It’s a legendary burger—one of the best—with a thick patty, special sauce, cheddar, and a mountain of caramelized onions, all on a glossy pretzel bun. Every couple at this classic Clinton Hill weeknight date spot shares one of these burgers, a pizza, and (maybe) a salad. It’s from the same people behind Emmy Squared, so the pizzas are great, too—try The Classic (a plain pie), or the Big Ang, with vodka sauce, ricotta, peppadew peppers, and meatballs.

Someone who lives on Greene Avenue feels very lucky to live next to Aita. It's the best type of neighborhood spot—where you’ll usually get a table, but the dining room will always be pretty full. This is good, because even if you come alone for a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta at the bar, there’s more to listen to than the sound of your own chewing. But this Italian restaurant is  also somewhere where you could bring your parents, or catch up with a friend over a few negronis. Try the octopus with tonnato, and oxtail ravioli. They also have brunch, and it’s not all eggs—there’s a lasagna, and a porchetta sandwich too.

We’re never sure if we should call Lula Mae or a restaurant or a bar. On one hand, they serve Cambodian-inspired food—think lort cha noodles and crab fried rice—in a small but buzzy dining room with a long bar in the front. But hiding in the back, behind a curtain, is also one of Clinton Hill’s best lounges, a sultry, ’70s-style cocktail bar with chocolate leather, gold drapes, and a disco ball. Try the 50-50 chicken and then head to the back area for a couple of drinks before they close at 10pm.

Otway has brunch every single day, and even on a Tuesday you might see a table of friends catching up in the plant-filled dining room, or a couple in pajamas, feeding each other melon. During the week, you can use your laptop at this cafe, and it’s a nice change of scenery (one that could involve a juicy fried chicken sandwich). On the weekend, it’s the kind of place you might run into somebody you know eating the deluxe breakfast with eggs, crispy potatoes, toast, and a lamb merguez patty. Otway is also open for dinner, and they have a bakery right down the block, if you need an excellent croissant.

If Aita is where you bring your parents, Locanda Vini e Olii is where you bring the person you’ve been dating for a while, when you want something a bit more wine-drenched and candle-lit than an evening on your couch. The Northern Italian restaurant on Greene Ave. is in an old converted pharmacy, and the “Lewis Drug Store” sign that’s still printed on the facade of the building is inexplicably charming. Come here for a bowl of pici with sausage ragu and a negroni, and if it’s summertime, stop by their gelato cart out front, Biddrina, and get a scoop of the cantaloupe if they have it. How romantic.

This coffee shop on Myrtle is a local breakfast sandwich destination. Besides the classic bacon or sausage, egg, and cheese, there’s one with cream cheese, one with house-smoked pastrami, and our favorite, The Golden One, which has fried eggs, cheddar, green chiles, and a latke, all on a Portuguese bun. Peck doesn’t have any indoor seating, but there’s a heated backyard if the weather’s nice, or you can take your sandwich to go. They also do lunch sandwiches, and have a coffee shop with some tables called Peckish nearby.

Bittersweet Cafe is hidden on a quiet street across from Pratt, but it’s still constantly full of equal parts Pratt students and local families. Inside, there’s mismatched vinyl tablecloths, pancakes that are crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, and a cashier who wants to help you figure out exactly how many pancakes you might need for your table (they’re sold individually). This light-filled spot is a fun hang on weekend mornings, but we’d just as likely come here on a Tuesday for eggs and bacon with a side of Pratt gossip.

If you live in Clinton Hill, you probably go to Chef Katsu once a week. Everything on the menu at this counter-service Japanese spot on Greene Ave. is a good choice, but we’d recommend the curry rice bowl, or the salmon dashi chazuke to start. We like to get takeout and head to Fort Greene Park if it’s nice out, but there are a few tables inside, and Prima is down the block for a post-curry drink.

This place should really be called Mike’s Diner, but this “coffee shop” is from a pre-Starbucks time, when coffee shops also served things like grits and hamburgers. Step into this tiny spot with chrome stools and a tin ceiling on a quiet corner of Clinton Hill, and travel back a half century. Mike's is where you should be eating pancakes and bacon on a Sunday morning when you want to reassure yourself that New York is not getting worse every year.

Speedy Romeo bills itself as a St Louis-style pizza spot, but if you come here expecting a textbook-perfect Midwestern pie, you’ll probably leave a little bit disappointed. The dough, which should be cracker thin, is very doughy, and in most of the pies, the Provel gets buried under a heap of other ingredients. But it’s still a solid spot for a group, and there’s plenty of space to spread out in the back of the large dining room. Don’t bring a St. Louis-style pizza purist, but do bring your kids, and remember a time in the early twenty-tens, when Speedy Romeo had just opened, and you managed to snag a reservation for you and your Tinder date.

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