When you were a kid, learning to ride a bike felt like unlocking the whole world. And now that you’re an adult, that means unlocking all the best restaurants in different neighborhoods around the city. Like East Williamsburg and Bushwick, where the streets are wide, the subway stops running properly on weekends, and biking is considered cooler than most other activities. So we put together a guide to all the best restaurants in the area.
Thinking of this Pakistani counter service place as just another neighborhood to-go spot would be like calling a triple-jet jacuzzi just another bathtub. The burger here is war-ending, relationship-facilitating, and overwhelmingly meaty in a good way. Split that and an order of lamb chops with a friend, and you’re in business.
When people ask us about restaurants in East Williamsburg, we always mention Win Son first. And then we get distracted by a daydream about the eggy Lu Rou Fan rice dish here, and the person we’re talking to walks away. The casual dining room feels like almost any other plant-filled neighborhood spot, but it’ll seem a lot more impressive once you and some friends try the pan griddled pork buns and flaky scallion pancakes. No matter which of the Tawainese dishes you order, you’ll have a great meal for around $35 a person.
If you’re willing to sacrifice table-service and eating with a napkin on your lap, the Taiwanese food at Win Son Bakery is actually even more delicious than Win Son’s. You won’t find any better options in the area for a casual brunch or lunch with someone you used to work with than this all-day spot. And we fully endorse filling your bicycle basket with several scallion pancake BECs for later.
Kichin is one of those late-night restaurants that doesn’t blossom until around 9:30pm. At that time, the DJ starts playing remixes and the unofficial dining room uniform involves cool sneakers and vintage jewelry. This is all to say that Kichin is cool. And it only helps that the Korean dishes at this spot hiding under the JMZ, like the crunchy fried chicken and jjajangmyeon, are all worth your money. Even if that means you have less to spend on sneakers.
We want to say this upfront: you’ll probably have to wait for a table at Ops. But the incredible sourdough pizzas make up for it, and you can just bike in circles until you’re seated. This Bushwick pizza place is one of a handful of restaurants that we’d happily bring our judgy family to. It’s something about the simple wooden booths, cans of tomato sauce on every table, and giant red drapes on the windows. And, if you ever want to have pizza for lunch, Ops opens up at noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
We’d bike to Bunna Cafe from nearly anywhere in Brooklyn just to steam our faces over a large injera full of vegan Ethiopian stews and salads. If you’re here with just one other person, we’d recommend getting the $37 feast that comes with nine different dishes. It’s big enough for two people and you’ll get to try everything. Two more important things: Bunna Cafe also serves traditional Ethiopian honey wine called T’ej, and they’re cash-only.
Remember when you were nine years old, and you used to get on your bike and go have adventures? If you’d like to recapture the magic of your youth (but with alcohol this time), try Turks Inn. It’s a restaurant in Bushwick with a rooftop bar and a music venue, and it feels like an adventure. The space was modeled on an old Wisconsin supper club, it’s filled with gold tassels and taxidermied animals, and it’s a great spot for a fun group dinner. Order the dip plate to start, then snack on some kebabs and fried cheese curds.
If you’re in the mood for vegan junk food but don’t feel like waiting an hour for a table at Champs Diner, come to Hartbreakers. It’s from the same people, but instead of a retro diner, this place is counter-service and specializes in fried “chicken” sandwiches. Inside, you’ll feel like you’re in a ’70s tiki bar with bright orange tables and leather pink booths. The menu has a mix of healthy-looking salad bowls and fried snacks like a basket of waffle fries covered in seitan bacon, cheese, onion, and coleslaw.
Sally Roots is one of the absolute best places to have a group dinner in Bushwick. It’s loud and always full of people holding colorful rum drinks, and all of the Carribean food is great. We especially love the braised oxtails, and the intense garlic sauce that comes with the tostones. You’ll need to order seconds, mostly so you can pour the extra sauce on every other dish on the table.
Bunker’s location truly lives up to its name - it’s really the only haven in the middle of the East Williamsburg’s warehouse desert. The big industrial room is covered in paper lanterns, mismatched outdoor furniture, and multicolored flags. Between the space and the fact that a meal here will probably cost you around $35 with a drink, Bunker works as the perfect casual date or group dinner spot. Especially before going to a show at Elsewhere or The Knockdown Center.
In the event you want spend roughly $15 on something quick, head straight to Carmenta’s on Wilson Avenue in Bushwick. This Italian deli has just a handful of stools, a counter with bags of fresh pasta for sale, and a few guys making incredible Italian food while listening to indie rock from the early 2000s. This modern Italian deli makes excellent pastas, a great chicory and anchovy salad, and six or nine inch sandwiches. Our favorite is the meatball parm.
The free cheese samples might be what pull you into Foster Sundry, but this place is useful beyond its free snacks. The deli counter at this gourmet butcher and cheese shop also has coffee, beer, and dishes that are scientifically proven to cure hangovers, like a breakfast burrito and hearty biscuit sandwiches filled with things like ham, egg, and hot honey.
“Garage full of tacos” sounds like the name of a surrealist painting. But it’s also the perfect description of what’s happening at Tortilleria Los Hermanos, a BYOB Mexican restaurant with a tortilla factory in the back. You can order any combination of three tacos for $9, and we’d suggest trying the carnitas and salted beef. It’s important that you grab a Mexican Coke from the fridge and find a table in the big room where you can lay out your bounty. Come with a friend and some cash (they don’t take cards).
So you want to spice up your date nights. One idea is to bike to Guadalupe Inn, and share some Mexican food, like a carne asada platter and some tamales. The space looks like a ’70s club that woke up in an industrial warehouse in Bushwick, with curvy booths and a stage that’s used for regularly-scheduled burlesque and live music nights.
Let’s say you’re cruising down a bike lane when your stomach tells your brain that you either need to eat some food or lie on your back and do nothing for several hours. Hopefully you’re near Nam Nam, a tiny sandwich spot where you’ll find the best banh mi in East Williamsburg. Get one with grilled pork, have a few bites, then shove the rest in your back pocket and intermittently snack on it as you continue your journey.
Every neighborhood needs a little cafe where you can get a croque monsieur at brunch, and then return for a glass of wine at Happy Hour. Bushwick has Mominette. If it’s warm out, sit in the backyard. It looks like a Shakespearean set, but with real bushes instead of fake roses, and mason jars full of mimosas instead of goblets full of mead.