Brooklyn

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“Local,” “organic,” “seasonal,” “sustainable.” These are the buzzwords for Brooklyn’s hot new culinary scene – characterized by a unique brand of American, farm-to-table fare, dubbed “The New Brooklyn Cuisine,” that’s being whipped up at all the borough’s hippest eateries. Sure, you’ve still got your staid favorites like Peter Luger’s and Grimaldi’s, plus a hefty helping of multicultural chow (Polish in Greenpoint, Russian in Brighton Beach, Chinese in Sunset Park), but this brave new breed of restaurants popping up faster than you can say “fuggedaboutit” is today’s talk of the town. Stroll down Boerum Hill’s Smith Street or Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue and choose from a bevy of eateries, from Thai and Japanese, to New American, Italian, and French. At these stylish yet no frills establishments, fluff like foams and high prices are put on the chopping block in favor of the laid back and down-to-earth. Plus, with a few newly minted Michelin restaurants, thriving anti-Starbucks café culture, and a bona fide brunch scene that’s already out-trumped Manhattan’s, Brooklyn restaurants now offer one of the country’s most exciting new buffets of culinary appeal.

Top Restaurants in Brooklyn

Diner

This uber-trendy hipster diner one block from the Williamsburg Bridge hasn’t lost a pinch of flair since opening in 1998, thanks to a top-quality menu of organic and locally-grown ingredients that changes daily (a recipe that has become the mantra of success in Brooklyn’s new posh nosh scene). Natives and visitors alike mythologize items like the Bloody Marys and buttery, steak-like burgers, while more sophisticated dishes (think whole dorade with mushrooms in a white wine sauce and goat cheese tarts) wow even the most discerning taste buds. Along with the grub, the dark interiors and cozy booths are inviting enough that the place is almost always packed. If you’re too hungry to wait, opt to dine at equally impressive sister restaurant Marlow & Sons next door instead.

85 Broadway, NY, 718-486-3077, www.dinernyc.com
Tags: moderate | american | trendy | local favorite | french | brunch

Egg

Tucked discreetly into North 5th Street, just off Bedford Avenue in the hipster-clad heart of Williamsburg, Egg is a light, no-frills haven for the freshest down-home cookin’ you’ll find north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The artisanal breakfast menu features intelligently-sourced deliciousness, like sweet and fluffy homemade biscuits, stone-ground South Carolina grits, country ham direct from Colonel Bill Newsom’s farm in Kentucky, and melt-in-your-mouth scrapple from High Hope Hogs (a New Jersey farm that raises its pigs without steroids, hormones, or antibiotics, and has a year-round stand at the Union Square Greenmarket). Seasonal produce arrives daily by the sustainable cartload, while kale, beets, radishes, and other green goodies come from the restaurant’s own 6-acre farm upstate (which celebrated its first big harvest in 2009), just 2 ½ hours north in the Catskills. Wash everything down with a cup of rich, wholesome Fair Trade coffee, which comes in its own mini French press and is on sale for $11/pound (made by Brooklyn Coffee Roasters). Egg is open for lunch and dinner but brunch is the biggest draw; just be prepared to pop a squat on the sidewalk along with the rest of the weekend mob as tables are first-come, first served (reservations are accepted for dinner only).

135 North 5th St., NY, 718-302-5151, www.pigandegg.com
Tags: moderate | american | local favorite | breakfast | southern | brunch | organic

Franny's

A relative newcomer to New York’s historically competitive pizza scene, Franny’s has quickly become one of the city’s best joints (on par with, and some say even surpassing, favorites like Grimaldi’s, Lombardi’s, and Patsy’s) since opening in stroller-laden Prospect Heights in 2004. Appetizers and the artisanal pies (served uncut with a crispy, wood-fired crust) are created with homemade, locally-sourced ingredients (the delicious pancetta, from a small farm in Iowa, is cured in-house) and the menu changes daily. The décor is low-key but attractive (exposed brick, large bar, high ceilings), and the service is friendly and knowledgeable. Expect to wait over an hour for any table during busy times. In warmer weather, snag a seat in the nice outdoor area.

295 Flatbush Ave., NY, 718-230-0221, www.frannysbrooklyn.com
Tags: moderate | local favorite | italian | pizza

Peter Luger Steak House

While some beef junkies call it overhyped, nostalgic Luger’s continues to gain devotees who herald the top-notch, pre-cut porterhouses as the best in the biz since the iconic restaurant opened its dark wood doors in 1887. Sure, you can wolf down better-seasoned slabs at numerous establishments elsewhere in the city, but Luger’s is worth the splurge just once to experience New York’s most famous old boy’s steakhouse. The décor is simply 19th century, the dress code casual, and service blunt and fast. Forgo making reservations the recommended two months in advance and just show up during the in-between hours of lunch and dinner when there’s less of a crowd, the specials are more affordable, and the large rooms are filled with natural light. Don’t miss the bacon, wash down your meal with a pint of nutty Peter Luger lager, and bring plenty of greenbacks (payment is cash only).

178 Broadway, NY, 718-387-7400, www.peterluger.com
Tags: expensive | historic | landmark | steakhouse

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop

Nearly three dozen types of glazed, powdered, sprinkled, and jelly-oozing donuts, hand-cut and baked fresh each morning, line the windowsill and white, S-shaped counter at Greenpoint’s retro, diner-esque bakery (which many natives know as the best in all the city). In addition to the fluffiest fried dough, waitresses in delightfully kitschy turquoise dresses serve up warm breakfast sandwiches, bagels, and milkshakes. Try the Honey Dip glazed yeast donut or the moist, indulgent Bavarian Crème and you’ll never set foot in the commercial likes of a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts again. Arrive early for samplings of the freshest batches – the pickin’s are slim come late afternoon.

727 Manhattan Ave., NY, 718-389-3676
Tags: budget | editor pick | local favorite | bakery | dessert

Vinegar Hill House

Opened in November 2008 on a cobblestone street in an under-the-radar Brooklyn neighborhood, this rustic spot is well worth the cab ride. Housed inside a 19th-century carriage house, the 40-seat room is best described as shabby chic with an old-school twist – a copper bar, vintage wallpaper, booths made of old bleachers, and a wood-burning oven as the showpiece. The atmosphere is homey yet hip; the menu, featuring comforting new American fare, is seasonal, the fish sustainable, and the meat procured from a renowned upstate butcher. Reservations aren’t accepted, so come prepared to knock elbows with a hungry crowd.

72 Hudson Ave., NY, 718-522-1018, www.vinegarhillhouse.com
Tags: moderate | new american | local ingredients

Whisk & Ladle Supper Club

For a truly insider taste of the New York/Brooklyn dining scene, sign up for one of Whisk & Ladle Supper Club’s weekly culinary fêtes hosted in a big Williamsburg loft along the East River by roommates Mark, Danielle, Nick, Jessie, and Norah (who, like their location, prefer to remain slightly anonymous). Each host practices a different specialty – from professional bartending to pastry making, and all enjoy serving eclectic, unusual ingredients (think bear and python). Since the group started at their current location in 2006, an array of guests has enjoyed their adventurous five-course meals with wine pairings and unique cocktail concoctions. For $40-$50 per person, the dinners are offered nearly every Saturday of the month, and RSVPs are taken through the group’s website (each dinner is limited to 25 guests).

NY, www.thewhiskandladle.com
Tags: expensive

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