2019 might seem far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. And come 2019, the L train will officially cease to be a thing that transports you between boroughs. You won’t be able to get from Manhattan to North Brooklyn unless you grow some wings, find a magic carpet, become an Olympic swimmer, or at the very least get used to the idea of paying more for your cab ride than you will for your meal.
We say this not to ruin your day, but to tell you that it’s probably time you did some eating in Bushwick. There’s a lot happening over here right now, which is why we’re making a big update to our guide. Get to know this neighborhood again, and if you find that magic carpet let us know.
Ops might be pretty new, but it’s already one of the neighborhood’s best restaurant hangs. A block away from the Dekalb L stop, the first thing you’ll notice is that they nailed the look of the place - huge windows, lots of reclaimed wood, and a long bar area overlooking the open kitchen and pizza oven. The menu is pretty short, but they serve everything you need: a few great pizzas, a salad or two, dessert, and drinks. Have confidence that whatever wine they happen to be pouring is good. You’ll feel like you’re a regular here even if it’s your first time.
Sally Roots is cool. But not so cool that you’d feel uncomfortable bringing an early in the game date or your soon-to-be-former friend Steve from college who thinks Shake Shack isn’t worth the price. It’s a welcoming, accessible spot to eat affordable Caribbean comfort food (nothing is over $17) and drink tropical cocktails (none are over $12), or if you happen to be in the mood for ramen or something on the healthier side, you can get that too. In other words, it’s hard not to like this place. Shut up, Steve.
You no longer have to schlep quite so far to eat at Bunker, which makes some of the better Vietnamese food in NYC. It’s now in Bushwick, with a much bigger space that’s great for groups. It might still be located in industrial Brooklyn, but inside it feels like a tropical hang: bright colors, paper lantern lights, plants, and lots of open seating.
It’s date night. With a person you’ve been on two hundred dates with. Netflix and Seamless has been floated, but you’re determined to do something that shows this person you still know how to be exciting. Or at least kind of fun. Take them to Guadalupe Inn, an upscale Mexican place where you can order an al pastor platter to make your own tacos, and maybe even catch a jazz or burlesque show at the small stage in the back afterwards.
Maite is a cute little spot serving food that actually feels different than what you’ll find at 90% of other cute little Brooklyn spots. They serve European-inspired farm to table stuff, which amounts to a menu that has everything from empanadas, to burrata with squid ink, to ribeye with an arepa. (And, ok fine, there’s also a burger - but it’s also very good.) Come here with a date or a group when you’ve seen the pizza/pasta/salad show too many times lately.
You know when you walk into a place, and immediately feel like your mom would like it here? That’s Le Garage. And while your mom might very well like this place, we also might be biased because we know it’s run by a mom and daughter team (the former of whom was a chef at some serious restaurants in Paris). It’s a welcoming, low-key restaurant that serves foie gras and roast chicken. And regardless of your mom, you’ll probably like it too.
Your roommate just gave you a heads up that she’s planning to turn your apartment into an ayahuasca den tomorrow, your boss freaked out at you for forgetting to use a paper clip instead of staples again, and you lost your month unlimited metrocard three days into the month. You need a T.O. Get some alone time at Ichiran, a ramen place where you can put up dividers even more divider-y than what they used in elementary school to keep kids from cheating on their math tests. In other words: noodle slurping in blissful solitary confinement. You deserve it.
A reclaimed wood-covered cabin housed inside of an old auto garage in the middle of industrial Bushwick. In theory, Montana’s Trail House is everything people make fun of Brooklyn for. But in reality, the Southern/East Coast mashup vibe actually makes for a good low-key dinner spot before a night out, or a stop along your bar crawl, or a hungover brunch the next morning. The food here is Southern-inspired (there are pig tails and cheese grits and deviled eggs), but you’re still in Brooklyn so you can get kale or a burger too.
If you and your crew are trying to figure out where to eat before a night out in Bushwick and “fun” and/or "cheap" are words that keeps coming up in the group chat, that’s your cue to come to King Noodle. The Southeast Asian noodle spot is covered in neon, serves tiki drinks, and is generally a good place to eat inexpensively with a bunch of people before spending a lot more money on alcohol later.
Restaurant fatigue. It’s a symptom that plagues even the best eaters once in a while. You want to go out after work/after laying around your house all day watching Netflix, but just going to a restaurant doesn’t sound all that awesome right now. You want action. You want intrigue. But you also don’t want it to require much more effort than just going to dinner. Enter Syndicated, a restaurant/bar/movie theater. Stop in and hang in the giant front bar where they also serve food and show movies on the projectors, or check the schedule online to see which cult classic movie is playing tonight in the theater.
There are many bars/restaurants in NYC. There are also many bars/clubs. But there are very few restaurants/bars/clubs, and Tutu's is probably the best example of this rare species done right. The food is simple and tasty, the prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is unpretentious and fun, and the music is always what you want to dance to. Whether you're here for brunch, late-night partytime, or $1 oysters all weekend, you're pretty much guaranteed to have a good time.
One of the more grown-up restaurants in Bushwick, Faro is a good place for a date. But it's an even better place to bring parents and/or out-of-towners who want to experience the "artisanal" Brooklyn scene they keep reading about in the New York Times. The converted warehouse space is simple but nice, the pasta is good, and you can actually make a reservation.
When Roberta's opened, it was the first thing to successfully convince hoards of people to hang out (and eventually live) in Bushwick. Today, it's still the most compelling restaurant in the neighborhood. The pizza is as outstanding as ever, but the Roberta's reach has now expanded to include a garden, separate takeout operation, event space - the list goes on. At the end of the day, basically everyone can agree: Roberta's is something special.
Two hour wait at Roberta's got you down? Head south a few blocks to Forrest Point, a great indoor/outdoor bar with solid cocktails and a random menu (tuna tartare tacos, porchetta sandwich, quinoa salad) that we're not mad about. Like all good Bushwick spots, the atmosphere is industrial yet homey, and feels like the kind of place where you can just sit and hang for a while.
Funky Japanese small plates and bar food in a feel-good atmosphere. It’s not the most authentic food in town, but it’s the kind of place you can do sake bombs with dinner and actually enjoy yourself. You’re here for the okonomiyaki: savory grilled Japanese pancakes covered with tasty things.
Bunna is responsible for instilling in us frequent, random cravings for vegan Ethiopian food. Come on an early in the game date or for an affordable group dinner, order the Feast and try one of everything on the menu. And be prepared to eat with your hands - ask for silverware and they may ask you to leave.
Delicious tacos out of a tortilla factory out of a garage. How could this place get any better? BYOB. And they have that too. Everything here is incredibly cheap - tacos are $2.50 a pop, and three of them makes for a solid dinner. Or splurge for the quesadilla, which is massive by comparison and costs $4.50. Don't miss out on the house-made red hot sauce - you want it all over everything you get here.
Momo gives the people what they want: tasty, if slightly gimmicky creations that go way beyond the typical spicy tuna on crispy rice type offerings. We have to admit, the sushi bombs (their signature single-bite creations) are weirdly addicting. The vibe here is cozy enough for a date, but the big communal tables are great for groups if you can get here early enough to grab one.
Archie's is the kind of late night go-to that everyone needs in their neighborhood: pizza by the slice, a cool atmosphere, and a full bar. They also serve grinders, which sounds like something that was invented to be ordered when you're drunk, but turns out is actually just a giant sandwich. So, yeah, order one when you're drunk.
Mominette is a French bistro best enjoyed for brunch on the backyard patio with an order of mac and cheese somewhere on your table. The cocktails are also solid - note the double happy hour - 5-7pm and 12-2am - the first of which includes $1 oysters.
Queen of Falafel is a tiny spot (attached to House of Yes) serving the freshest and tastiest Mediterranean food in the neighborhood. If you're able to grab one of its few seats (this place is tiny), you'll be treated to an atmosphere that makes you feel like you're eating in a shack owned by the coolest grandma ever. Or just pick it up on your way home for couch glory.
Bushwick is home to two Guacuco establishments: Hotdogs and Arepas. You want the latter, where you'll eat thick corn patties packed with fillings like pernil (pork shoulder) and pabellon (beef, cheese, beans, plantains) in a super casual environment. This is a family-run establishment - it's named after the beach where the owner's mother was born, and it's that mother who's running the kitchen.
Located two steps from the Jefferson subway entrance is Hi Hello, a spot that's just as quaint as its name implies. The burger is the standout of the menu, with its diner-style thin patty covered in cheddar on top of a Martin's potato roll. The addition of good cocktails make this spot perfect for an easy one-on-one hang.
Seven-days-a-week boozy brunch? Cafe Ghia has made this dream a reality. This tiny spot has only two menus (brunch and drinks), and we fully support that commitment to their craft.
The only way a restaurant can get away with having just two items on its menu - especially in NYC - is if those two items are really f*cking good. At Lucy's, you can only order Pho or Banh Mi (or a mashup of the two, Pho Banh Mi, which involves meat sauteed in pho broth). And while you can choose a meat, you definitely want brisket.
Admittedly a bar first, restaurant second, El Cortez is still a very solid place not just to drink, but also to eat, in Bushwick. Themed bars are usually at best kind of quaint, and at worst reminiscent of your 3rd-grade cowboy birthday party. But this 70s themed joint manages to be neither - and it's the Tex-Mex/tiki vibes that keep us coming back. It's low-key, yet definitely fun enough to warrant a trip to the neighborhood, and would even make for a great birthday spot.
As the name implies, The Narrows isn’t much more than a skinny little bar - but walk out the back and you’ll find yourself on one of Bushwick’s better patios. Not patio weather? There are still plenty of reasons to come here: namely, the excellent cocktails, the solid bar food (that they serve until late), and the dark, vibey atmosphere that’s perfect for a nightcap or a midnight snack.