McCarren Park is full of people reliving their JV glory days, saying “he’s just playing around” unconvincingly as their dogs snap at strangers, and pretending the grassy areas are actually beachfront property. It’s a couple blocks from the L train in Williamsburg and it’s easy to get to from most parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, so it’s also a convenient Saturday meeting spot for your friends coming from all over the city. Here’s where to get food before or after a McCarren Park hang.
Frankel’s is, without question, our favorite place to pick up food to take into McCarren Park. It’s right at the top of the stairs as you exit the G train, and it’s only a block from the best picnic/sunbathing/dog and baby-flaunting area in the park. The hot brisket sandwich is great, and they serve the best bagel sandwiches in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. It’s not even close.
The communal picnic tables in front of Spritzenhaus are ideal when you’re with a big group and you want to make your drinking commute as fast as possible. In case you need some shade after an errant soccer ball breaks your sunglasses, you can drink steins of beer and eat giant pretzels indoors here too. And if you’re still feeling competitive, this place has plenty of games.
Beco is a Brazilian spot that feels like a holdout from when Williamsburg was still cool. It’s also open all day, so you can come get an acai bowl or steak and eggs before a hard day of laying in the park, or head here afterwards to eat some feijoada and drink caipirinhas at an outdoor table. Either way, there will probably be live music and bongo drums.
If you want to follow your morning in the park with an afternoon on a roof, head to Berry Park. It gets pretty clubby at night, but it’s a fun spot to have some drinks and eat bar food, like three-cheese mac and cheese and fish and chips, while the sun is still out. They also have a bar and plenty of seating inside for when your Vitamin D-deficient body overdoses on sun.
This place is kind of like an SNL sketch of Williamsburg that’s set in a bodega. Rather than greasy BECs, this all-day spot serves turmeric tofu burritos, a BLT with tempeh and veganaise, and a Philly seitan steak. You can also get less-healthy things like breakfast tacos. Sit at one of the picnic tables right off McCarren Park, or grab some picnic items from the grocery section.
Maybe you have vivid memories of burning the roof of your mouth on cheese pizza at the park after your Little League games. If that means nothing to you, but you’re interested in recreating the experience, then get a couple of slices fresh out of the wood-burning oven at Best Pizza, and eat them while watching grown adults scream at each other while playing kickball in McCarren Park.
Pearl’s has everything you need for a post-McCarren group dinner: lots of outdoor space, picnic tables, Carribbean food, and pitchers of rum cocktails. Although, it’s just as good for day drinking. If you get here before 4pm, you can do bottomless brunch ($15 for an hour of all you can drink).
Sauvage is a bit fancier than most of the spots on this guide, but not so fancy that you can’t sit outside on the sidewalk and have a smoked cheddar burger with your glass of rosé. The interior of this place is also highly pleasant, but sitting there would mean you’d miss out on people-watching the mob waiting hours outside of Five Leaves across the street.
From the outside, Fada looks like another small, dark spot in Williamsburg that probably serves a cheese plate and mussels. And this assumption is probably what keeps this French spot from getting too crowded on the weekends, despite being close to McCarren Park and the Bedford L stop. But the real selling point of Fada is its big backyard that looks like a cross between a greenhouse and a private terrace in a Mediterranean villa. Make this the second stop on your casual McCarren Park date one-two punch.
If you figure out a way to get eggs and pancakes in the park, please teach us. In the meantime, the next-best option is eating brunch at Reunion a couple blocks away. This Israeli cafe serves breakfast options like avocado toast and shakshuka, as well as heavier dishes like chicken shawarma and a schnitzel sandwich. Ask for one of the outdoor tables, and if there’s a wait, grab a coffee and walk around the McCarren Park Greenmarket down the block.