New York is certainly a food lover’s paradise. Brooklyn is just a 40-minute subway ride away from the heart of New York City yet has its own incredible food scene that is well worth exploring. Brooklyn has experienced a renaissance of sorts, so it’s not really undiscovered. While it’s a borough of New York City, Brooklyn has its own distinct culture. It’s full of ethnic neighborhoods and diverse enough culinary offerings to satisfy even the most adventurous eater. Travelers will usually encounter lots of great places to grab a bite while visiting. We’ll highlight some of the local foodie favorites you should cross the Brooklyn Bridge to try.
1. The Bagel Store
It’s not often that an ethnic food takes on the status of social media viral sensation, but The Bagel Store managed to do just that with the now famous Rainbow Bagel. Dubbing himself as the World’s Premier Bagel Artist, Scott Rossillo is no stranger to creating unique and delicious bagels. His clever creations include the “Bacon Egg and Cheddar Bagel” and a bagel-croissant mashup called the “Cragel.” The Bagel Store sells regular chewy and delicious bagels in a range of flavors bagel lovers know as well.
But there’s no denying that The Bagel Store skyrocketed to fame with the crazy colorful creation called the Rainbow Bagel. This bagel consists of several layers of brightly colored dough bound together to create a literal rainbow of colors in the familiar bagel shape. Colors can be different for celebratory tastes like red, white, and pink Valentine’s Day bagels. Watching them be made is fascinating, and you can see it in this YouTube video. The shop is a true Brooklyn institution and the Rainbow Bagels are well worth crossing the bridge to try.
2. Kimchi Grill – Korean Barbecue And More
Korean flavors make a bold statement when fused with other cuisines. That’s why Chef Phillip Lee worked feverishly with his team to create a memorable menu for his Kimchi Taco Truck, which has been delighting Brooklynites since 2011. With such success, Chef Lee decided to open Kimchi Grill, a casual neighborhood restaurant where diners can have a place to sit and enjoy the innovative food. And, of course, house-made kimchi.
And when we say innovative, we’re not kidding. Have you ever tried a tofu edamame falafel taco? Probably not, unless you’ve tried it from Chef Lee. Other local favorites include Korean barbecue nachos, kimchi fries, spicy Korean rice gnocchi, and Korean barbecue short rib burritos. There are classic Korean dishes as well, including the ever-popular KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). Vegan diners and those eating gluten-free will be thrilled with the huge variety of dishes suited to their diets. Not only does Chef Lee share his love for Korean food, but with Kimchi Grill, he creates a flavorful and original local foodie favorite that spices up the dynamic Brooklyn cuisine scene.
3. Caracas Arepas Bar
Feel like a touch of homemade Venezuelan food? Brooklyn’s got you covered with the charming and eclectic Caracas Arepas Bar. We discovered this place while exploring the famous Williamsburg neighborhood and were so happy we did. The vibe in this local favorite is a lot like Brooklyn itself. Casual, colorful, and lively yet mellow at the same time. There’s both a dining room and a patio, which sort of feel like extensions of each other, making every seat a good one.
We love arepas and were pleased with the great selection here. The Miss Piggy features pork shoulder, Los Muchachos has chorizo, De Pabellón is filled with shredded beef, and the Hot Queen boasts pulled chicken. Each held a unique blend of accents such as plantains, pickled onions, cotija cheese, and sauteed red peppers. There are fish and vegetarian arepas too. Salads, soups, bowls, and “sidekicks” like fried plantains, and yucca croquettes round out the menu. Creative cocktails like a Caracas Midhelada, sangria, mojito, and rum Manhattan are perfect for sipping while soaking up the local vibe.
4. Martha’s Country Bakery
When it comes to bakeries, Martha’s Country Bakery ranks with the best. Originally a coffee bar, Martha’s beans come from local roasters. Coffee fans will notice a huge variety of java-based drinks. Non-coffee beverages like Mexican hot chocolate, chai latte, peanut butter hot chocolate, and dirty chai expand the range of offerings. There are two locations in Brooklyn with enough mouth-watering bakery treats to get us to stop at each one – just in case we missed something.
The large selection of goodies includes muffins, Danish pastries, pies, pastries, cakes, tarts, pudding, cookies, and cheesecakes. Black forest cake, cherry pie, Mississippi mud pie, and strawberry shortcake are just a few of the local favorites. To enjoy the sweets right away, order a slice of cake, pie, or cheesecake, and get it a la mode. Cookies like Italian butter, Pignoli, large black & whites, and chewy chocolate chunk are great for taking home. Cupcakes, cake pops, strudel, babka, and bundt cakes are great to take away for a delicious slice of Brooklyn’s best.
5. Banter Bar
Though we literally stumbled into it, the luck of the Irish found us in Brooklyn in the form of a really fun Irish pub. Banter quite lives up to its name. The kind of pub that draws a loyal local following, Banter’s atmosphere is full of cheers and beers. There’s often a soccer game on the television, which the patrons really like. There is a small menu including some savory pies, pressed sandwiches, sausages, and large hot soft pretzels. But the real draw here is the drinks.
Red, white, and sparkling wines are available by bottle or by glass. But Banter really shines when it comes to beer. They have two dozen rotating craft draft taps as well as a cask engine that hosts small local breweries. Their beer menu changes almost daily and provides a swell variety of local, national, and international brews. Banter makes a fun place to hang out and listen to the Irish stories coming from one side or the other of this friendly, low-key bar.
6. L’Industrie Pizzeria
For many, New York is synonymous with the world’s best pizza. Brooklyn has its own fabulous pizzerias. Grimaldi’s, Paulie Gee’s, Roberta’s, Sottocasa, and Juliana’s are just a few world-class pizza spots with locations in Brooklyn.
Amid this embarrassment of pizza riches, L’índustrie Pizzeria wins our nod. Chef Massimo Leveglia, a native of Florence, Italy stays true to his roots and imports several of his ingredients from there. While you used to have to nibble slices on the street, this spot has had a physical expansion. There’s now room for dining inside and outdoors but the philosophy of the “slice shop” remains. From the classic Margherita to the sweet and savory fig jam and bacon, slices have an awesome cracker-thin crust. Serving around ten different choices daily, L’índustrie may be worth enjoying more than once just to see what’s next.
7. Napoli Bakery
There’s something so comforting about freshly baked bread. When it comes to making truly special bread Napoli Bakery has been doing it for more than 35 years. Italian breads are their obvious specialty. Neapolitan bread, sourdough, whole wheat, focaccia, and others line the shelves. For a lunch bite, try a hero, Parmesan, or panini sandwich, all overflowing with delicious fresh ingredients.
One thing we tasted that changed our world was lard bread. Never heard of it? Neither had we. It is an Italian bread laced with the flavor of rendered pork fat and bits of crispy pork embedded in the bread. This family-run business still uses a brick oven to bake their unforgettable loaves.
Smorgasburg is the largest weekly open-air food market in the United States. It began as an outgrowth of the Brooklyn Flea Market and now has several other locations. A combination of the words “smörgåsbord” and “Williamsburg,” this fun and funky event, called “The Woodstock of Eating,” runs from April through October. It attracts millions of visitors, has launched dozens of small businesses, and continues to reach new eaters around the world.
One famous food launched at the Prospect Park, Brooklyn Smorgasburg is Ramen Burger. This crazy combo includes a hamburger patty inside a “bun” made of two rounds of grilled ramen noodles. Unlike anything we’d ever tasted, Ramen Burger is a true Japanese-American invention. The noodles were crunchy and chewy, and the light sauce brought it all together nicely. Smorgasburg is sure to showcase new taste sensations, so scope out the latest before you have to wait hours in line.
9. Peter Luger Steak House
Originally opened in 1887, Peter Luger Steak House has made a few changes over the years. One of the things that has never changed is the incredible quality of the meat served there. Known for their on-site dry-aging that uses only USDA Prime beef, Peter Luger is the proud recipient of one Michelin star.
Diplomats and celebrities come for a taste just as eagerly as locals and meat lovers from around the world. And while the porterhouse is the king of the steak (and at kingly steak prices), if you pop in for lunch you can get one of the best burgers of your life for a steal.
New York is a fantastic food destination no matter what your tastes. Brooklyn has a vibrant, thriving, and diverse culinary culture all its own. For some of the tastes we’ve described and other local foodie favorites, we think Brookly welcomes visitors with many delicious rewards.