Windsor Terrace is one of those Brooklyn neighborhoods that feels just on the cusp of being a place out of time. The local bookstore is the cool place to hang out, and when you learn that Isaac Asimov’s father once ran a candy shop in the area, you’ll walk down the street and think to yourself, yes, that tracks.
Eating around Windsor Terrace can be a bit of a mixed bag, but if you know where to go, you’ll find that it’s filled with the kind of places that make you want to return again and again, whether it’s to try everything on the menu or win the affections of the brusque owners.
I’ve lived on the border of Kensington and Windsor Terrace for years, and have spent countless hours searching for the best meals I can get outside my apartment. Below, you’ll find my favorites - from a sandwich shop I’d eat at every day of the week to a Jordanian cafe that serves a Middle Eastern take on the personal pizza.
If you live anywhere near Brancaccio’s, you would do well to make yourself a regular here. It’s called a “food shop,” since this place sells a little bit of everything - from red sauce pasta dishes and roast chickens to homemade pastries and some of the best Italian sandwiches in Brooklyn. Have a look at the handwritten menu taped up near the cash register, and note that this is not the kind of place where you can (or should) ask for substitutions or swaps. Try the chicken special, a cheesy combination of chicken, artichokes, and prosciutto, or the deceptively simple meatloaf sandwich, garnished with fontina and a homemade ketchup that serves as a reminder that tomato is a fruit. Breakfast here is great too, especially the steak and egg sandwiches and pleasantly sweet cheese-filled croissants.
Krupa is one of those great all-purpose restaurants that anyone would be lucky to have in their neighborhood. They have good coffee and a particularly gooey chocolate croissant, and enough indoor and outdoor seating that it’s a reliable place for a quick meeting or work session. The food menu leans Mediterranean-ish, and items like “house-made chicken nuggets” and a “babycino” (Brooklynese for steamed milk with cinnamon) reflect the family-friendly nature of the area. Their lemon ricotta pancakes are also one of the most reliable brunch options in the Terrace, and they make two different to-go picnic boxes designed to be eaten in the park nearby.
My first love at Batata was their signature sweet potato falafel, little deep-fried balls perfect for someone who tends to like their savory food a little bit sweet. But it’s the eggplant sandwiches, which are only available on Wednesdays, that keep me coming back to this quiet Israeli spot. The eggplant sabich comes loaded with tahini, hard-boiled egg, hummus, Israeli salad, and amba, a sweet-and-sour mango condiment, while the aptly named eggplant “sandwich” comes piled with cucumber yogurt, salad, and pickles, and beets. The goat cheese and honey malawach, a sandwich made on a round of flaky, roti-like flatbread, is part of their all-day breakfast menu and makes for a highly satisfying almost-dessert.
If you’re into locally sourced everything, you’ll love this shop, which doesn’t have seating but is extremely close to Prospect Park. Daytime works with a Red Hook-based roaster to source their coffee and make a particularly good cold brew as well as a pretty pleasant decaf option too. They have a well-curated grab-and-go selection with everything from wine to half-pints of salad and jam. For breakfast, sandwiches are the way to go here, as the pastries can be hit or miss. The smoked turkey and bacon with pepper jam, cheddar, and arugula might sound basic, but it isn’t, largely thanks to the sweet and smokey combination of turkey and jam that’s vaguely reminiscent of Thanksgiving at a campground. Like Krupa, they make picnic boxes that you can preorder for an easy lunch in the park.
Bedawi Cafe is currently only open for takeout, but during more normal times, I'd always try and snag a table beneath the colorful tapestries in their backyard garden. They do the classics really well, so you can’t go wrong with things like tabbouleh, falafel, foul, and merguez, but the specialty items here really shine. The chicken ouzi comes baked in a dome of phyllo dough perched atop the kind of garden salad that goes beyond the purely decorative. Tear open the top and you’ll find richly spiced rice and chopped chicken studded with almonds, raisins, and peas. Their pizzas, which can be topped with everything from spicy lamb sausage to a melange of leeks, scallions, and other green herbs, are baked to order on personal-sized rounds of pita and are truly excellent.
If you want a solid dim sum-style meal without venturing over to Sunset Park’s Chinatown, East Wind Snack Shop is your best bet. The menu here is small, but you should try almost everything on it. The pan-fried juicy pork buns are on par with some of the best in the city, and the “Incredible Har Gow” show up to the party dressed in a luxurious lacy skirt with a drizzle of abalone sauce. They have a few larger plates too (like sweet chili ribs and a few noodle dishes), as well as an assortment of drinks that includes a solid honey lemon tea. Keep in mind, though, that the menu at the Windsor Terrace shop is substantially different from their Carroll Gardens location, where they make their famous dragon’s beard candy.
Little Tonino’s is a relic of Brooklyn’s bygone era, where a perpetually half-full jar of Sanka hangs out behind the register, and photos of Sinatra and someone’s grandkids are tacked to the walls. The vodka pie, which comes loaded up with tangy pink sauce, generous dollops of ricotta, and a coating of low-moisture mozzarella, is the real move here. The bottom satisfyingly cracks when you fold it, and the crust has a good amount of chew and fluff. If you’re a fan of softball-sized arancini, the one’s here are worth trying.
When you’re in Windsor Terrace and you want burgers, wings, and mac and cheese that are all just good enough to be slightly better than what you’d make at home, this is the place to go. The Double Windsor is everything we want in a neighborhood gastropub, from the casual feel to the rotating draft list and better-than-you’d-expect food. This is the kind of spot where you can get a pint and a salad knowing that both will be good every time, which is sometimes all you want.
Family-owned Italian bakeries were a critical component of my childhood (I’d do anything for an iced sugar cookie that bore the off-model face of a Sesame Street character). And as such, I get an instant nostalgia-induced serotonin boost from walking into Regina Bakery. Come here for rainbow cookies, sfogliatelle, lobster tails, and every other Italian bakery staple you can imagine. They also have a great selection of seasonal baked goods, from iced cookies to highly-pigmented buttercream-frosted cupcakes.
Thai Farm Kitchen is a solid pick for classics like pad thai and thom ka, but it’s the variety of farm-to-table dishes here that makes this place really stand out. While brussels sprouts might not typically be the first thing we order at a Thai place, you should definitely get them here. They come out super crispy and dressed in a tamarind soy sauce that you’ll wish you could take home by the pint. An extensive portion of the menu is dedicated to vegan-friendly dishes too (from dumplings and stir-fries to curries), but if you’re pro-animal protein, make sure to try the whole fried fish or sizzling pasture-raised sirloin steak.