For the record, there is no greater NYC neighborhood to be eating in right now than Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Say what you will about the man buns and the mustaches (or don’t, because “hipster” isn’t even really a culturally-relevant term anymore), but Williamsburg, in terms of restaurants, is at its peak.
Another reason eating in Williamsburg has never been better? Whole Foods Market just moved in on Bedford and N. 4th. St. And this one is pretty special. It’s not only loaded with exclusive products from local spots we love (Roberta’s pastries, Tacombi corn tortillas, Brooklyn Bread Lab flours, Four & Twenty Blackbirds frozen pie crusts), but there’s also a food hall featuring N4 (a tap room/Jewish-style deli), a vegan parfait venue called Layered, a Luke’s Lobster Tail Cart, East Coast Poke, OddFellows Ice Cream Co., and a No.7 Veggie. Because snacking while grocery shopping is essential.
But for those occasions requiring a great restaurant experience, Williamsburg has the perfect spot for pretty much every situation. From ramen shops to wine bars to burger joints to fancy Italian places, here are our all-time favorite places to eat in the neighborhood.
There was a time not so long ago when bars serving excellent food were not a thing. Post Office was one of the originals, and still continues to be one of the best. This is where you come for a perfect whiskey drink, a ridiculously good pulled pork sandwich, and vibe that makes you feel like you are winning at life. And if you’re eating here, you probably are.
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 with multiple personality disorder - only it’s not a disorder, it’s a gift. The dim, intimate space is perfect for an early in the game date: the prices are affordable, the vibe is casual, and there is Spam on the menu.
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.
It’s possible to feel like you’ve traveled around the world without leaving Williamsburg, and a pit stop in Peru can be experienced at Llama Inn. The place feels like one of those artsy boutique hotels you see all over Instagram, and the food ranges from ceviche to beef tenderloin covered in french fries. If you need another reason to plan your next friend group night out here, know that they just added an excellent rooftop patio situation to the mix.
There are two different ways experience Delaware & Hudson: you can go the (very reasonably priced) tasting menu route, for which the restaurant was originally known. Or you can hit up their brand new extension called The Tavern, where they serve next-level bar snacks and comfort food (think fancy sloppy joes, cheesesteaks, and mac & cheese). Either way is a win - Delaware & Hudson is doing upscale American food at its finest.
Lilia is the reason your parents want to come to Brooklyn. And in this case, your parents do in fact know best. It might be new, but Lilia has quickly become not just one of our favorite restaurants in Williamsburg, but one of our favorite restaurants in the entire city. 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, bring yourself and sit at the bar - the only way to do Lilia wrong is to not do it enough.
Shalom Japan, as the name might lead you to believe, is what happens when Jewish and Japanese cooking join forces for a weird and wonderful marriage. And if that sounds gimmicky to you, know that this is a very serious restaurant putting out creative, excellent mashups (like a pastrami okonomiyaki - aka a Japanese pancake with pastrami). If you’re looking to mix up your pasta and pizza and burger routine, Shalom Japan is ready and waiting for you.
Without a doubt the best BBQ in Williamsburg, Fette Sau is an easy choice for a full-on meat feast. Less easy, however, is choosing what to order. Across the board, everything here is 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 - while it’s very clear you are 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.
Allswell feels like the kind of cozy tavern that you’d find in a ski town, only it’s smack dab in the middle of Williamsburg and the food is actually awesome. We keep it high in our rotation for casual dinners, especially those requiring a cheeseburger. If you’re dining solo, or just want a low-key place to have a great meal, Allswell is your move.
Technically, Maison Premiere is much more of a bar than it is a restaurant - but it’s still one of our all-time favorite spots for raw bar and cocktails. Maison Premiere is 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 their patio.
Somewhere along the way, people forgot about Traif. And that is a mistake. It’s easy to be distracted by so many new restaurants, but Traif - after all these years - is still quietly awesome. They do small plates better than just about everyone - but unlike that spot charging you $22 for four raviolis, you don’t actually have to order twelve things here 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.
Williamsburg has a ridiculous number of neighborhood restaurants, but Lighthouse is our current favorite (and absolutely worth a trip regardless of whether you live in the neighborhood). 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, or you’re trying to eat something kind of healthy, or you’re even up for a (really reasonably priced) tasting menu, Lighthouse won’t disappoint.
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 sexy boat vibes and 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.
By day, Okonomi is a place where you can get a traditional Japanese breakfast or lunch (consisting of a rice bowl, miso soup, fish, and sides). On weekday nights, it’s a walk-in ramen spot featuring really unique bowls of noodles (which almost feel like bowls of pasta). And on weekend nights, they do a ramen omakase. All three experiences are special, and some of the more unique dining experiences we’ve had.
Planning a big group dinner? Be a hero and direct your crew towards King’s County Imperial. The Chinese food here is unbelievably good, you’ll want to put that lazy susan to good use - order one of everything (and maybe three of the long dumplings), and let loose. They also do a killer dim sum brunch, and you should eat it on their equally killer back patio.
The Commodore is another bar with food that should be at the top of both of your Williamsburg eating & drinking short lists. But while Post Office is perfect for a cozy, low-key, casual date kind of night, The Commodore is where you go for party time vibes. Because there’s no party like a chicken & waffles/cheeseburger burger/frozen pina colada party.
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 not in the the least bit boring - and all really excellent. 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.
The best steak in NYC for under $20 might not actually be under $20 any more (it’s $23 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 farther from a stuffy, traditional steakhouses. 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 with St. Anselm end there. The space feels like a beer hall, and there are zero fancy cocktails. But you come to Peter Luger’s for three reasons that outweigh everything else: the thick-cut bacon, the porterhouse steak, and Luger’s 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.