As far as restaurants go, Manhattan often gets all the fanfare and fame. After all, it is home to Eleven Madison Park, voted best restaurant in the world, along with 60 or so Michelin-starred restaurants. It's no wonder it's a major food capital. But if New York Times critic Pete Wells has taught us anything, it's that the best meals are sometimes found in the most unexpected places—like the back of a pizza place in Bushwick, for example.
In fact, to New Yorkers, Brooklyn has become the new hot spot for cutting-edge restaurant openings—many arguing that Manhattan has priced out the chefs and restaurateurs that are daring enough to be innovative. That said, finding these hidden gems among the many Brooklyn neighborhoods is easier said than done, and this New York borough isn't one that can be easily navigated by foot (or even subway) in its entirety. To help you craft the perfect culinary excursion, we rounded up some of the best restaurants in Brooklyn that are sure to be worth the trek. In the mood for a casual brunch, classic French fare, or a 20-course tasting menu? These Brooklyn restaurants won't disappoint.
For a Memorable Plate of Pasta: Lilia
If Lilia has been making waves on the New York City food scene, it might have something to do with its female chef, Missy Robbins, who rose to fame while at the head of A Voce. Or it might be because its menu has received rave reviews from the toughest critics. It could also be due to its flawless industrial interiors complete with sky-high windows, original wood-beam ceilings, and whitewashed brick walls. Once thing's for sure, it's a sure-fire hit—and the pasta, as Pete Wells describes it, is a "direct route to happiness."
For Lunch With a View: Cecconi's
One of the latest restaurants to hit the up-and-coming DUMBO waterfront is Cecconi's of Soho House fame, and the first branch to hit New York City. Though the restaurant already has locations in London, Los Angeles, and Miami, it had somehow managed to elude the first two Manhattan-based houses, but New Yorkers can finally enjoy its beloved classic Italian fare in a stylish setting that overlooks the Manhattan Bridge and the city skyline.
For Dinner and a Concert: Rider
For a casual dinner in true Brooklyn fashion, turn to Rider, the latest restaurant by James Beard Award–winning chef Patrick Connolly. Located in National Sawdust, a nonprofit music venue, Rider serves a new American fare and craft cocktails in a whitewashed brick-and-concrete atmosphere. Its name is a nod to the list of food and beverage requests musicians make in their contracts with music venues. The restaurant's bi-level dining rooms are also perfect to accommodate larger groups.
For Classic French Fare: Sauvage
If you're craving a cozy Parisian bistro ambience, a quality wine list, and French fare with an American twist, look no further than Williamsburg's Sauvage. Opened by the owners of the nearby popular oyster bar, Maison Premiere, this quaint spot lends itself just as well to a date night or a dinner with friends. During summer months, the windows open to the park-facing street outside in true French bistro fashion.
For a Brunch of Champions: Sunday in Brooklyn
Looking for a no-frills delicious brunch that's also lively and low-waste? Look no further than Sunday in Brooklyn, a three-story restaurant that's filled with shiplap walls and towering palms. It was opened a little over a year ago by Atera and Major Food Group alums. The space is complete with a coffee shop and gourmet market. The restaurant's sustainable ethos when it comes to food means they have a strong focus on cheesemaking and fermentation—which they reuse in anything from its their craft cocktails to its unique dishes.
For Next-Level Ramen: Okonomi
This restaurant serves a traditional seafood-centered Japanese breakfast by day and a seriously coveted bowl of ramen (under another name, Yuji Ramen) by night. In true Japanese fashion, the food prepared at Okonomi is good for you, good for the environment, and honors time-tested traditions. The chef, Yuji Haraguchi, opened the restaurant with the goal of widening Americans' knowledge of Japanese cuisine, introducing new dishes and techniques. This twelve-seater tends to fill up quickly—so plan your visit carefully.
For Bar Bites and Wine: Denizen
This Williamsburg wine bar is surprising in more ways than one. First, Denizen's small bites menu caught the attention of Michelin critics, gaining inclusion it in its 2018 guide. Second, the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly and serves in a true neighborhood atmosphere. Third, its wine list is—as we would expect from a quality wine bar—off the charts. This is the perfect spot to hunker down at the bar on a weeknight and order plates to share (or try its tasting menu, which is under $50). Let the bartender guide you with your wine choice, and if nothing else, try its Long island porgy crudo—it's that good.
For NYC's Best Tasting Menu: Blanca
You may not expect a two Michelin star restaurant to be hidden in the back of Roberta's, the infamous pizza place in Bushwick, but that's what makes Brooklyn great. Blanca, a twelve-seater counter overlooking an open kitchen, serves a 20-course tasting menu exclusively—with no substitutions. Go with an open mind (and a fat wallet). If New York Times critic Pete Wells gives it three stars, you know it's bound to be delicious.
Next up: Skip Manhattan—DUMBO is the new hot spot, says Lauren Bush Lauren.