The Good Fork
391 Van Brunt St., Red Hook
Regulars of chef Souhi Kim’s Red Hook spot will tell you to start with the homemade pork dumplings—they don’t disappoint. While there’s plenty to choose from as far as mains go, her other specialty is the steak and eggs, served Korean-style with kimchee rice cakes. (You can sub in tofu for the steak.) The same warmth that Kim puts into her cooking is palpable in the space—the dining room is vaguely maritime, with a curved wood ceiling and small booths that feel cozy. Go on a Wednesday for ramen night. Trust.
657 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights
This unpretentious neighborhood joint zeros in on comfort food—meatloaf, chicken cutlets, patty melts, stove-top mac ’n’ cheese. Brunch is epic, too, with its frito migas and an everything bagel babka. (This is New York, after all.) Together, co-owners Libby Willis and Bill Clark, who first worked together at Brooklyn vegan bakery Ovenly, have gone out of their way to create a warm and welcoming space geared toward the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s the kind of spot where you want to hang out no matter your sexual orientation. MeMe’s is named for Clark's grandmother, and the entire space has an all-in-the-family vibe: The leather banquettes were designed by Willis’s brother, who lives in the Hudson Valley, and the quirky oil paintings were done by her grandfather. Photos: Noah Fecks
268 Clinton St., Cobble Hill
Go to La Vara with a few friends, because you’re going to want to order everything on the menu, starting with the fried chickpeas and working your way through everything that looks good—it all is. Chef Alex Raij serves up southern Spanish cuisine with Jewish and Moorish influences, so house-cured salt cod is served with citrus, olives, egg, and pomegranate, and a half chicken is served with spiced onions and cumin.
342 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg
Despite identifying as a primarily Israeli spot, the menu at 12 Chairs is fairly broad, meaning that you’ll always spot something you want. The Hummus is a must-order—smooth, tangy, garlicky and served in a giant bowl topped with even more chickpeas and a side of crunchy pita. On weekends, the chefs make Jachnun (a Yemenite bread spiked with complex date honey, cooked overnight, and served with a jammy boiled egg), the stuffed cabbage is available every day, as are the pillowy pelmeni—overall, really good comfort food that feels light and fresh. The wine selection is a thoughtful list of several Israeli labels amongst others. The place does pack out daily without fail, but the wait is never too long.
18 Bedford Ave., Greenpoint
While Five Leaves is tucked into a particularly cute corner of Brooklyn, it mimics the café culture of Paris with really good results. The tables outside are packed, no matter how cold it is, with friends sipping wine or coffee and splitting orders of perfectly crispy fries. This is not a get-in, get-out kind of place—you’re here for the long run. Get the spicy coconut broth mussels and finish with the rose water Pavlova. We also like to drop in alone for an affogato at the bar—the most perfectly creamy caffeinated snack to tide you over until dinner.
Sunday in Brooklyn
348 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg
This is the closest you’ll come to SoCal in BK. The avocado toast, the breakfast sandwich, the quinoa bowl—they’re all here. There are also malted pancakes served with brown butter and seared mushrooms and ramp kimchi atop flaky grilled flatbread, so something for everyone. The interior is minimalist Scandinavian with blonde wood, pretty ceramics, and lots of greenery, but warmed up by a terra-cotta tile floor, chic marble-topped tables, and a wooden bar that wouldn’t look out of place in a ski chalet. There’s not a bad glass on the entire (all natural, all delicious) wine list. If you can’t handle the weekend crush, pick up the perfect flat white from the to-go hatch out front.
The Four Horsemen
295 Grand St., Williamsburg
A passion project of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, the Four Horsemen is one of our favorite places for natural wine not just in New York but anywhere. Show up early for a seat at the bar or make a reservation ahead of time—this teeny spot packs out every night. The by-the-glass section is tightly edited, while the wine list itself is akin to a small leather-bound novel. The staff is really good about making suggestions if you don’t know where to begin. The food menu is short, concise, and unapologetic—they don’t do substitutions here, but you probably won’t want any. To warm up, split an order of the beurre-blanc-saturated carrots. Then get the pasta with Meyer lemon, bottarga, breadcrumbs, and parsley for yourself, and the budino for dessert. The good vibes are a testament to a loyal crowd of regulars who are comfortable in the space and enthusiastic about the food.
55 Water St., Dumbo
It's tasteful (because it's Cecconi's), and it's cavernous (because it's in DUMBO), but neither of these things matter. Ask for a table outside. Then settle in on the deck, right on the water, and behold New York City as it was meant to be beheld. Get comfortable—order a Negroni and perhaps the shishito peppers with bottarga and lemon or the calamari fritti. The waiters are ridiculously accommodating and happy to break up your order so you can pace out the evening. Should one Negroni become two, follow up your aperitivi with a wood-oven pizza with black truffle, zucchini, and goat cheese or ravioli with Parmesan, mushroom, and sage. Better still: Order whatever will take the longest—the East River makes a remarkable dinner companion.
254 36th St., Park Slope
Avocaderia is—believe it or not—the world's first avocado bar, located appropriately in painfully hip Park Slope. The creamy, green superfood is celebrated here in its every possible form with toasts, salads, bowls, smoothies, and more. The brainchild of Franceso Brachetti—who made his way to NYC via an avocado-saturated stint in Mexico—with his cousin (a former architect) and best friend (a former journalist) import the freshest, most perfectly ripe avocados from Mexico's avocado belt to create everything from an avo burger (this one is for the purists, it's a lot of the green stuff, really), to flavor-packed salads and smoothies that will keep you going all day. The pretty, plant-filled space doesn't hurt either.
93 S. 6th St., Williamsburg
Tucked right under the Williamsburg bridge on the patio space of its sister restaurant Loosie’s Kitchen, this is the perfect spot for morning freelancing, afternoon meetings, or relaxed happy hour cocktails.
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