My 24 Favorite Restaurants in Brooklyn

Brooklyn has become my favorite food borough in NYC (especially Fort Greene and Greenpoint), so it’s about time I created a guide for all of you to discover the top places to eat! There’s some classic favorites and a lot of new hot spots as I’m always updating this list since I go back to New York at least twice a year. One weekend is never enough time to eat, walk, see shows, and friends, so I try to have week-long periods in the city so I can do it all! If you want the recs for restaurants across the whole city, click here for that article, or if you want to get the best cookies and cakes in the city, click here

Theodora — This is my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn right now, and it’s in the Fort Greene neighborhood. I am a sucker for counter dining, especially when it’s in front of the kitchen so you get to watch the live fire and dishes flying out, while you chat with the staff. It’s every emotion from the theater, except I’ve never cried watching a kitchen scene. Alright, this is like a Mediterranean/Israeli/Mexican flavored restaurant. You don’t need to put it in a box, you just need to put it in your mouth! The Seeded Laffa that comes with a smoky eggplant dip might stop you in your tracks, but you’d be a fool if you didn’t order that “Extra Pita $6” on the menu as it’s a doughy ball bursting with energy, and I’d be devastated if you didn’t try it. New York really does their soft/doughy center bread well! The Beets done with a Salsa Macha (the Mexican influence) with Balsamic Reduction and Wood Fired Broccolini with Basil and Dilly Dressing and Manchego are why you can come here and be a vegetarian for the night. We also loved the Wood Fired Sweet Potato with Crème Fraiche and The Falafel that had a Thai Curry dipping sauce — this is when I screamed out loud about how much I loved this restaurant. It’s the Half Chicken roasted before your eyes in that Josper Oven with Green Garlic that made us forget we were full because it’s so juicy, you just can’t stop. I’ll admit that I’m not that big of a Tahini fan, but we dipped into the Baklava Sundae that tasted like a crunchy cone with Tahini Ice Cream and I think caramel sauce. Also, I loved the dense chocolate cake that wasn’t too sweet or rich so, yes, somehow we fit what felt like the whole menu in our stomachs. I LOVE THIS PLACE and all the wooden tables, brick walls with hand-drawn body outlines, cute random lamps and a fish suitcase on the shelves. Make a res early in advance!

Lilia – An old favorite by Chef Missy Robbins who gave pasta a whole new game when she opened years ago, this place is always a classic and one I’ll revisit when I come back. Heck, I don’t even care about pasta in my daily life, but I love the dining room, and it is truly the best pasta I’ve had with such great vegetables and grilled fish as well. Get the Agnolotti as it’s pillowy, savory, and a little sweetness with the honey. The escarole really stood out, and the Grilled Sardines with a hunk of butter under the dill shocked me, but we still went in for it. I remember loving the Olive Oil gelato, but skip the chocolate chip cookie if you go to the daytime café.

Chez Ma Tante – You don’t go to Chez Ma Tante if you’re not getting their tall, crispy on the outside, and cakey on the inside pancakes, that are absolutely the best pancakes I’ve ever had. I had no trouble getting a reservation and actually ended up sitting next to a girl I used to work with at The Today Show during my NYC PR days! Every table in the small, small place had the pancakes, but we also ordered the really good Chicory Salad and English Muffin with Whitefish. And of course, pancakes for dessert!

Misi – After the killer success of Lilia in Williamsburg, Chef Missy Robbins and Sean Feeney opened up a second restaurant called Misi in the old Domino Sugar building right on the water in Domino Park. While everyone knows dinner reservations are nearly impossible at both locations, the secret to get in is Friday afternoon lunch! I love sitting at the chef’s counter, watching them boil, twirl, and make art out of the bowls of pasta. The menu is all antipasti vegetable plates and artisan pastas, so honestly, a vegetarian would have as much fun here as a pasta eater — is there a word for someone who only eats pasta? Haha. The stark space screams “We Are Serious About Our Food,” with not much color and straight-up neutral and sleek counter tops. The whole point is to sit at the counter, for real though. I loved the special Corzetti Pasta, a disc-shaped pasta with ramps, pine nuts, and basil. My vote goes to the Grilled Baby Artichokes with Mint Salsa Verde because you can typically only find this dish in London! I usually go for a red sauce-based pasta and was delighted to have my mind changed. For two people, 2 veg and 2 pastas are plenty, and I’d skip gelato and try a bakery nearby. 

Margot – I felt like I was part of the team watching the chefs in action at Margot, where you’ll swipe every herby ingredient off your plate. The Beets + Feta, Chicory Salad, Rigatoni with Kale, and Sea Bass felt like a steal at $70 per person, and you can see the chefs cooking on open fire from any seat in the restaurant. 

Leo – This sourdough pizza joint in Williamsburg gave me the best restaurant pizza I’ve had in New York with its sturdy, but still doughy and crunchy crust, plus great cocktails and a solid wine list. I’m completely obsessed with their Chopped Salad with dates, olives, and cheese — it might just be the best salad I’ve ever had. Also, they apparently serve really good bagels for brunch and just opened a weekend bagel shop called Apollo in Manhattan. If you’re looking to have NY pizza in a restaurant-style atmosphere, this is the place.

Fra Dei – While I actually despise tasting menus (unless it’s sushi), my friend Angela didn’t let me get out of trying her favorite Fort Green spot. We went to a lovely live music yoga class down the street and scooted into our 8:45 p.m. dinner res here after. One of the owners is French and they offer a 5 course menu that changes every few weeks for $90 each and wine BTG for $16-$17. You don’t even get a menu, you sit down, order some house wine and they just start bringing you the most delicious dishes that are no fuss, not complex, but SO thoughtful and eye popping. The small vibe with probably less than 10 tables and a few bar seats feels exactly like France or Italy and you just know with the hip hop tunes, you are in for a treat. We indulged in the best tartare I’ve ever had (lamb I think?) with RAMPS. They were SO good—made the whole dish. The small but just right fish portion with greens, then pasta with white asparagus and trout roe, and the chicken was superb. This was one of my favorite dining evenings because it was an experience and not over the top or too much food. Loved the Sumenjak Pet Nat and Antico Amaro.

Laser Wolf – If you are a Zahav or Michael Solomonov fan, then this Philly outpost which newly opened in the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg is where you need to venture to immediately. Definitely the best dining experience from a view and unique service perspective. There are just enough seats tableside the ledge overseeing the East River and Manhattan buildings. Seeing the golden and pink sun set here on one side with the open flames and grill fire on the other side is just so unique and luxurious. I love how you barely have to order — every table gets the traditional Salatim which are vegetables to dip and spread on the fluffy homemade pitas. Then, each person chooses a grilled entrée (we got a Whole Fish, Tuna, and Short Rib), and the dinner is finished off with their creamy soft serve and sour cherries. Stay as long as you want to enjoy the views as you will feel high on life all the way up on this rooftop with the airy space. Also, I put myself on Resy’s Notify list for this and everyday something opened up, I also checked religiously like a game that I’m pretty sure I used this app more than Instagram that month. It works though, you’ll get in! 

Di An Di – I feel like you can’t call this a Vietnamese restaurant because it is so unique from all my other favorite ones that it deserves its own category! It’s a huge space once you walk through the front part through to the kitchen and with a lovely quiet back area. Funny enough, it was a space where I opened a restaurant, Hail Mary, right before I moved back to Austin in 2016 with Sohla. One of my top 5 favorite dishes in the city right now is from here and it’s the Rice Cake Omelette (yes, for dinner!). Made with a daikon rice cake and tamari dipping sauce, I could eat this for 3 meals a day. We also loved the Roast Chicken with crispy rice, the crispiest skin, shallot aioli, and dandelion greens. It’s pretty easy to get a reservation here, and I’d say this could be a go-to in the hood! Skip the Rice Paper Salad because no, you don’t want this rice paper to cut your mouth like it did ours. They also have pho, grilled tofu, beef short ribs, and a whole sea bass!

L’Industrie – This slice shop in Williamsburg is easy, has fun outdoor seating, and gets the job done when you are looking for New York style ‘Za made from quality ingredients. I like the Burrata Pie the most as it’s the perfect amount of cheese and cream and doesn’t overpower the slice. Choose Pepperoni over Margherita, and they also have a location in the West Village.

Nura – This was my last meal in New York on one of my trips, and while I didn’t hear anyone talk about it, I peeked at the menu online and booked it because I loved the vegetable forward menu covered in herbs that read flavor. As soon as you walk in, it feels like a Mexico City-style restaurant loaded with plants hanging from the ceiling over the back open kitchen and potted trees on the other side of the dining room. We started with the BREAD + DIPS, which honestly seems to be at every restaurant these days. The Parker House Roll and Naan were definitely the best breads I had at any of the Mediterranean restaurants on this specific trip. Salty, doughy, soft, addicting. Hell yeah, I’m still so stoked we started that way. I loved the Roasted Carrots, Big Green Lettuces, Crunchy Coconut Rice, and even the Coffee Ice Cream (I NEVER like coffee ice cream) with the crumbly brownie chocolate cake. Our server even ended the night as if he knew me, dropping off some complimentary amaro and even unraveling the pin on the leather bottle to go on my denim jacket. I’ve begun to realize that while I am obsessed with food and always shoving the best tasting things in my mouth each day, it’s also a VERY emotional experience, and whoever you are with can affect how things taste. I shared this meal with 3 gals that I met at our Todos Santos Yoga Retreat, and it was our first gathering since we met! We dove in talking our successes, dreams, goals for the next few months, and legit love for one another. Now, THAT is a treat that truly makes your tummy warm and full after dinner. 

Baby Blues Luncheonette – This feels like a modern, cool girl diner with blue everywhere and a wall filled with the most ridiculous things, like a thick mini TV, chess, records, books, and a bunch of other junk, really. I dined here with my favorite food blogger, Rachel from The Carboholic, and Fig Jam Toast, Chia Pudding, Bacon Egg & Cheese, Tuna Melt, Salads, and Egg Plates with Halloumi fill the menu. The bright yellow eggs look like you’ll scarf them down ASAP, but it’s the fluffy buttermilk blueberry pancakes with whipped cream, jam, and the MOST ideal pancake taste that you should run here for.

Suzume – This was a witchy moment as I was truly only craving tuna, broth, and something green while we discussed what to have for dinner. Suzume is an adorable corner Hawaiian restaurant in Williamsburg that feels like a tropical tavern — almost like a laid back version of Mama’s Fish House in Maui — with its wooden bars, tables, and funky tchotchkes on the shelves. Turns out, I do have magical powers because that night they added a SALMON BROTH to the menu as a side, and a tuna poké bowl. This was the most comforting and nutritious dinner that’s easy, still fun, and perfect for a weekday. Don’t miss the Bok Choy Salad to start.

Pomp and Circumstance – I think you’d only know about this place if you lived across the street because I for sure don’t know anyone that knows about it, and I’ve never read about it. Luckily, this Mediterranean and Italian mash-up is one of the best neighborhood walk-in restaurants that you could ever stumble upon. The Forno Bravo brick oven cooks the most pillowy and fluffy rye pita I’ve ever had — dare I say it’s better than Laser Wolf? Or maybe I was just in such shock because I had zero expectations. The sugar snap peas are also finished off in this oven, and while the menu changes, if you can catch the Shrimp Bolognese pasta, your mind will be bouncing off the walls from this delicious flavor combination that you’ve never had before. I also loved the Chicken!

Mesiba – Located in the Moxy Hotel in Williamsburg, this Tel Aviv-inspired restaurant, which means “party” in Hebrew, had quite a unique Israeli style menu different from many I’ve tried nearby. Our waiter Terry was adorable and kind as could be. I really enjoyed the food, but I didn’t love the scene and design as much as say Theodora or Laser Wol, but that is possibly because it’s in a hotel. Dishes not to miss: Tableside Hummus (yes, that is a thing here) with an incredible frena bread with sea salt and a piping hot inside as you rip it open. They have a great pickle plate, but I say skip the red snapper skewers, and instead bulk up on the Head on Prawns in Freekah Risotto, which was SO addicting, and the Mushroom Shawarma with Jerusalem Artichoke and Pickles.

Baba Cool – This is a casual, easy-to-miss spot located in both Williamsburg and Fort Greene. While you might look at the menu and think you can make all of these bowls at home, nothing tastes better than someone else making you lunch. This is the place to go when you want something healthy, tasty, and memorable. If I lived in Williamsburg for real, I’d go to Good Day Pilates, and then meet a friend for lunch here weekly! They also have a cute back patio set up with a disco ball and comfy lounge area that feels like you are on vacation. Get the Bag Bowl with roasted butternut squash or the Jo Bowl with sweet plantains and coconut curry slaw. Always add salmon.

Chef Katsu I can’t stop talking about Chef Katsu because I wish we had a fresh salmon and quick Japanese bowl place like this in Austin. Come for both the Salmon & Ikura and the Teriyaki Salmon bow. I can’t pick between the two! It feels so good to eat this. I also liked the creative Matcha and Strawberry Jam iced beverage.

Montesacro – Hands down, the most luxurious eggs I’ve ever had, swirled with mascarpone. Don’t be fooled by the small front, as the gorgeous covered backyard will keep you drinking either coffee or negronis back there all day. Known for their Pinsa style pizzas, the bread reminds me of focaccia, but it’s the creamy eggs I scarfed down.

Ensenada – Why would I go to a Mexican restaurant while in NYC? Well, after 16 days of eating everywhere I wanted to, I canceled the rest of my dinner reservations for the rest of the trip so I could eat more freely and be in the moment. To answer that first question though, Bon Appetit named Ensenada one of the Best New Restaurants of 2023, and I couldn’t stand not knowing what was behind their nautical doors. It reminded me a lot of the cooking at Suerte or Este with flavorful ceviches and aguachiles. A similar match in flavor, $16 guacamole with totopos (my favorite chips), and I’ll say, I certainly have never had a scallop tostada with labneh before. Skip the shrimp taco and go for the bright pescado Amarillo aquachile that I couldn’t stop spooning into my mouth.

Rule of Thirds – Located on my favorite stretch of Williamsburg meets Greenpoint, this is the ultimate space to plan for a big group whether it be a birthday, private dinner, or even wedding space next door! I love this Japanese restaurant so much, and my old clients Adam and Todd started this restaurant group along with Sundays in Brooklyn after I left NYC years ago. The romantic indoor space makes for a great date and the private little bungalows with almost omakase counter seating was perfect for my cousin’s celebration dinner with a group of 12, family-style. Every bite we put into our mouth was better than the next, and I was praying that I could find more space in my stomach after just the four appetizers because I wanted seconds of those! Get the Chicken Meatball Skewers for something meaty but light, plus the Maitake Mushroom with Herb Gremolata, Hot Honey Gem Salad, the best Chicken Karaage I’ve ever had that’s tender and just enough for a little crunch, Wagyu Nikujaga, which comes with egg yolk you sir in with all the veggies and a very thin tender wagyu you just need your chopsticks for; Market Fish, and the ideal vegan White Sesame Soft Serve to finish it all off.

Bonnie’s – I don’t think about manifesting actively, but it certainly happens to me in a way where sometimes I think I’m a witch. On one of my trips, I had a top 10 list of places I wanted to hit while I was here that were nonnegotiable to help keep me sane and have some organization. Bonnie’s, a modern and fun Cantonese restaurant in Williamsburg, was at the top because a LOT of my Brooklyn friends told me it was so good or that it was #1 on their list, and they couldn’t get in. Obviously, this made me want to eat there even more and I hadn’t even memorized the menu yet. My friend Anne Marie told me to meet her friend Alex while I was in town since she worked in restaurants and was planning to move to Austin later this year. We met [at Win Son], and as we were finishing up our lovely breakfast while talking about so many similar career paths, she told me she was eating at Bonnie’s that weekend. I told her she HAD to tell me how it was because it was the only restaurant I couldn’t get into. And just like that… she told me she was friends with Calvin, the chef, put me in touch, and he SO kindly made space for me at the bar on my last Saturday night in town. WHAT A STAR! I couldn’t believe before my eyes that not only did I get in at the last minute, but I also got connected with Calvin who was so much fun to chat with at the restaurant and nominated for a James Beard award. Aside from the food, this was definitely the most fun restaurant. You can tell he takes care of his employees and cares so much because they were all smiling, dancing, having fun, and loving being in that dining room. Those are people you want to be around. Now onto the food: don’t miss the Long Beans and Shrimp — I guess I can stop saying I don’t like mayo because this was probably my favorite dish.

Frankel’s – This hip Jewish style deli right by McCaren Park in Greenpoint is actually owned by Holy Ghost’s Alex Frankel, a band I saw at Bowery Ballroom years ago on Halloween. Right before I moved back to Austin, I strutted in while I was in the hood and took a postcard that says, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Frankel’s,” which still resides on my current fridge. On one trip back, I got the Whitefish Salad on toasted Challah Bread and hung out with my thick sandwich on a park bench. So New York of me. I def want that juicy looking pastrami egg sandwich on a bagel next time.

Cafe Spaghetti Heavy, cheesy pastas aren’t usually my first preference when looking for a restaurant, but when in need of some rich Italian, I’d stop for dinner at Cafe Spaghetti. The Fusilli Grosso Alla Bolognese is the coziest red sauce I have ever had, perfectly al dente and just the right amount of ragú to make your belly warm. I’m also a huge fan of the Caesar Salad, so don’t skip it! This place feels like you’re in the middle of Italy with their tiny indoor bar filled with Aperol. A big plus is they have one of the largest outdoor dining patios I’ve seen in New York.

Grass Roots Juicery – When you can’t eat anymore and you’re staying in Williamsburg, come here for a healthy pick-me-up Grilled Chicken Plate with Cabbage, Broccoli, and Green Goddess Dressing. Skip the B12 Yogurt bowl in the morning though.