In a lot of ways, Williamsburg could be a neighborhood in Manhattan. Tourists like it, for example, and there’s an Urban Outfitters where you can buy a few graphic tees and a Britney Spears record on vinyl (probably). But it’s also a great place to walk around, with a high concentration of very good bars, and plenty of excellent food for when you get hungry - which is what we’re here to help you with right now. From ramen shops to wine bars to burger joints to fancy Italian places, here are our all-time favorite places to eat in Williamsburg.
Lilia is the reason your parents want to come to Brooklyn. And in this case, your parents do in fact know best. We think about the food here - particularly the pastas - more than we care to admit, and the high-ceilinged space is straight up stunning. Bring your parents, bring a date, or just bring yourself and sit at the bar. The only way to do Lilia wrong is to not do it enough.
Llama Inn works for all sorts of different situations, and it’s not impossible to get into - so we find ourselves recommending it to people all the time. The very good Peruvian food, which you eat in a relaxed dining room full of plants and natural light, ranges from ceviche to beef tenderloin covered in french fries. And if you need another reason to plan your next double date or group dinner here, know that there’s an excellent rooftop patio situation as well.
You’d probably expect a lot of things about a wine bar owned by the frontman of a very famous, very cool band. You’d probably expect the design to look like something you would see in a Kinfolk magazine feature. You’d probably expect the wine list to be full of obscure bottles. But you might not expect that the staff would be so happy to explain that list to you, or that the wines would end up tasting so good, or that the food would be this creative. On all fronts, such is the case at The Four Horsemen - and all are reasons you should get yourself there very soon.
The best steak in NYC for under $20 might not actually be under $20 any more (it’s $24 these days), but we’re still all in on St. Anselm. If you’re prepared to wait, you will be rewarded with seriously delicious red meats and everything you want to eat with them (get the pan-fried mashed potatoes), along with a cool, intimate environment that couldn’t be further from a stuffy, traditional steakhouse. This is one of our favorite places to impress out-of-towners - and the bar is an excellent move for date night or a truly great solo meal.
Peter Luger is also a steakhouse, but its similarities to St. Anselm end there. The space feels like a beer hall, and there are zero fancy cocktails. But you come to Peter Luger for three reasons that outweigh everything else: the thick-cut bacon, the porterhouse steak, and the steak sauce. We knew a kid at summer camp who used to put it on top of his Cheerios - no need to go that far, but you’re going to want it on top of everything on your table.
These days there’s another Emmy Squared in the East Village, but the original in Williamsburg is superior. This place does rectangular, Detroit-style pies topped with things like bacon, ranch, and pickled jalapeños - plus one of our all-time favorite burgers. Bring friends and share everything.
The restaurant that had a lot to do with not just Williamsburg eating as we know it today, but Brooklyn as the world knows it today. Housed in a (definitely slanted) dining car, Diner has, since the beginning, been all about simple, locally-sourced food and an environment that makes you feel like you’re probably in the coolest restaurant in the city. You have to try the burger at least once, but you really can’t go wrong here.
From the same people as Diner and just a few feet away, Marlow & Sons is a specialty market in the front and an incredible restaurant in the back. You might come to Marlow for drinks and oysters, but you’ll end up staying for the dimly lit, cabin-like atmosphere, the roast chicken, and whatever is on special. The menu constantly changes, but you can be confident that anything you get is going to be good. This place is straight-up magic - use it for a back-pocket killer date night.
Williamsburg has a ridiculous number of neighborhood restaurants, and Lighthouse is one of our favorites. We like it best for a nice weeknight meal, or a casual date night - the indoor/outdoor space is truly pleasant, the prices are affordable, and the happy hour is great. Whether you’re here for the killer burger, you’re trying to eat something kind of healthy, or you want to do a prix fixe, Lighthouse won’t disappoint. And if you don’t live in the neighborhood, it’s worth a trip.
Planning a big group dinner? Kings County Imperial is a good choice. The Chinese food here is great, so you’ll want to put that lazy susan to good use by getting one of everything (and maybe three orders of the long dumplings). They also have a back patio, which is where you should eat.
If you feel you are at your truest self when eating a bowl of pasta, you’ll want to eat several of them at Misi. This is the pasta-focused place from the people behind Lilia, located in the bottom of 325 Kent, a.k.a. the giant new apartment building that also might be a Transformer. Much of the seating in the extremely modern-looking space is at a bar overlooking the kitchen, so you can watch as your spaghetti gets tossed with fennel pesto or your tortelli gets dunked into a hot pool of brown butter. Because of that bar, and the lack of entrees, Misi feels more casual than Lilia - but this still probably not a place you’ll go to on a random Tuesday night. Mostly because you aren’t going to get in. Make a reservation.
During the day, you can come to Okonomi for a traditional Japanese breakfast or lunch consisting of a rice bowl, miso soup, fish, and sides. At night, the same place is a walk-in ramen spot called Yuji Ramen, featuring unique bowls of noodles that almost feel like bowls of pasta. Just be aware of the fact that the space is very small, and there might be a wait (especially at brunch).
Allswell feels like the kind of cozy tavern you’d find in a ski town, only it’s in the middle of Williamsburg - and the food is great. We always keep it in mind for casual dinners, especially those requiring a cheeseburger, and it even works for a date. So if you’re dining solo, or just want a low-key place to have a great meal, come here.
Sunday in Brooklyn is a two-story space with marble tables and wooden ceiling beams, and it feels sort of like a recently renovated lodge in the Catskills. At dinner, they make things like barbecued squash with sunflower tahini and mussels with smoked butter - although mostly this place is known for its brunch. That’s when you can get their big egg sandwich and their pancakes topped with a thick praline syrup. Just try to make a reservation - otherwise, there will be a wait.
If you’re in the camp that liked Williamsburg more before its record stores became tourist destinations, then you might be skeptical of Reynard, the restaurant in the Wythe Hotel. But you should still come eat here, because the American food is some of the best in the neighborhood. Simple-sounding dishes like chicken and roasted squash are full of flavors from the wood-fired open hearth, and less simple-sounding things like pig head terrine and beef tongue are great as well. Come for a low-key special occasion or fairly nice date night.
Maison Premiere is admittedly more of a bar than a restaurant, but it’s still one of our all-time favorite spots for raw seafood and cocktails. This place is at least partially responsible for making $16 fancy cocktails not only acceptable, but something people happily seek out - and the reason it worked in the first place is that theirs are incredible. Make it a point to get here in the summer to enjoy the patio.
Best Pizza is a simple one-room space with a few types of pizza listed above the register, all of which come out on soon-to-be-grease-stained white paper plates. But as soon as you bite into your slice, you’ll realize this is one of the best places to eat in Williamsburg. Our favorite thing here is the white pizza with ricotta and pecorino, which has a charred, sesame seed crust and caramelized onions. Share a full pie with a few friends or order a couple slices to-go, and keep it in mind for a high-quality bite after the bar - it’s open until midnight every night (and 1am on Saturdays).
If people taught classes on Williamsburg restaurants, Ammazzacaffe would be part of a 200-level course. This place has high ceilings and tiled floors, and it’s great for impressing people who think they’re aware of all the good Italian food in the neighborhood. You’ll find a bunch of different pastas with things like pork shoulder ragu and almond pesto, as well as some great smaller plates like sea trout tartare. Plus, there’s a backyard with picnic tables and strings of lights. So stop by the next time you have a somewhat important date, but forgot to book your dinner in advance.
Zizi Limona may not be the best place in Williamsburg for any particular dining situation, but it’s a very good utility player. You could use this casual Middle Eastern spot for a first dinner date, a low-key birthday with 10 friends, or a healthy solo meal at the bar. No matter who you come with, you’re going to eat some good food. We recommend sharing a few small plates, like crunchy falafel over curry yogurt, and entrees, like our favorite dish - the chicken and lamb shawarma over a huge portion of creamy hummus.
Birds Of A Feather is just one minimalist room with a long communal table, plus some more tables and booths on either side, and it works pretty perfectly for group dinners. Order a bunch of things from the Sichuan menu to share (definitely get the wontons in chili oil) - with only a few exceptions, the food here is very good. Just keep in mind that this place can get pretty busy.
If you’re looking for BBQ in Williamsburg, the easy (and correct) choice is Fette Sau. Less easy, however, is choosing what to order. Across the board, everything here is great, but our favorites are the brisket, sausage, and pork ribs. This is the kind of place where you wait in line, order at the counter, and sit at big communal tables - and while it’s very clear that you’re in Williamsburg (hello, craft whiskey bar inside the restaurant), it’s also as close as you’ll find to an authentic BBQ experience in this part of town.
Modern Love serves vegan food, but if you’re looking for a place with plates of sumac fattoush or seven different types of micro greens, then this spot probably isn’t for you. Instead, you’ll find vegan versions of comfort foods from around the world, like BBQ cauliflower wings, mac and cheese, and our favorite dish, the Caribbean jerk tofu, which comes with strips of spicy tofu, plantains, and coconut rice in a pool of curry. Come with a group of friends when you want unusual, filling, and enjoyable food that just so happens to be vegan.
If a place has 30 wines by the glass, that’s typically considered a lot. Have & Meyer has over 100 - which is surprising, because it’s not a huge spot. It’s a little restaurant/wine bar with a few tables, a long bar, and walls lined with bottles, and it’s perfect for any kind of date night. In addition to all the fermented grape juice, they also serve some pretty solid pasta and a few smaller things like meat and cheese. So stop by, have a snack, and drink something made from a grape you never knew existed.
The new Mekelburg’s location in Williamsburg is similar to the Clinton Hill original - an upscale grocery store up front with a bar in the back serving high-quality sandwiches and small plates, as well as a bunch of craft beers on tap. The sandwiches are some of the best in the entire city, and have interesting combinations of ingredients, like wagyu roast beef on an everything baguette and a banh mi with Peking duck and duck rillettes. We also like the non-sandwich menu items, like the slightly charred three-cheese mac and cheese and a salt-baked potato with black cod and a lot of caviar. The bar seating and communal tables in the back are great for a casual lunch or dinner, but you can also get some sandwiches to-go and eat them across the street in Domino Park.
Pheasant is the kind of place everyone wants in their neighborhood. It’s a small spot where the bartender will probably know your name by your second visit, and it works for a low-key date night when you feel like going out, but don’t want to try on multiple outfits before leaving the house. It’s also a good solo dinner option when you want something more interesting than brick chicken or pan-seared salmon. Get the crispy chicken wings drizzled with yogurt and the burger topped with kielbasa.
Somewhere along the way, people forgot about Traif. And that was a mistake. It’s easy to be distracted by all the other new restaurants around, but this place is still quietly excellent. They do small plates better than just about everyone, and the best part is that you don’t have to order 12 things to walk away satisfied. The menu is huge, so no matter who you come with, everyone will be pleased (except Kosher people, since, as the name suggests, the food here is pork and shellfish oriented). If the weather is nice, theirs is also one of the most under-utilized patios around.
There are few places where you can eat ramen and sushi. There are even fewer places where you can eat ramen and sushi and tacos. And there are definitely no places like Suzume. It’s an awesome little spot that hasn’t quite decided what it is - and we’re very OK with that. The dim, intimate space is perfect for an early-in-the-game date: the prices are affordable, the atmosphere is casual, and there’s Spam on the menu.
Samesa is a counter-service spot where you can get some great Middle Eastern food like braised lamb, fish kofta, and zucchini fritters. All of these things come either in sandwiches or on platters, and there are a bunch of sides like pickled vegetables and za’atar wings. Everything is fresh and at least somewhat healthy-feeling, which is why this is one of our favorite places for takeout or a quick meal in the neighborhood.
This restaurant inspired The Feel Good Factor™, so that should tell you most of what you need to know about Meadowsweet. Beyond that, the food is familiar (burrata, grilled octopus, short ribs), but all really good. Most Williamsburg restaurants on Meadowsweet’s level come with an automatic hour-plus wait, but it’s usually very easy to grab a last-minute reservation here or walk right in.
As the name might lead you to believe, Shalom Japan is what happens when Jewish and Japanese cooking join forces. And if that sounds gimmicky to you, know that this is a very serious restaurant putting out excellent, creative mashups (like a pastrami okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancake). The space itself is on the smaller side, and it’s great for a meal with some relatives or a date in a quieter part of Williamsburg.
Are you looking for some casual tacos and possibly a bowl of melted cheese? Go to La Superior. It’s a little Mexican spot on Berry Street that works well for a meal with a couple of friends. It’s also open until 2am on weekends, and you should take advantage of this the next time you’re out late in Williamsburg.
The Commodore is technically a bar, and they technically serve piña coladas in tall plastic glasses - but they also have some of the best fried chicken in the city. Get it on a plate with biscuits on the side, or eat it in a sandwich. This is one of the best late-night options in the neighborhood, and you can always stand up and make some friends once you finish your food.