261 Moore St., Bushwick
Roberta's splashy little sister, which lives in a sleek warehouse right on the restaurant's grounds, is where chef Carlo Mierarchi gets to flex his culinary muscles. He serves a tasting menu of varied origins: The meal might kick off with Omakase-style Japanese appetizers, followed by pasta, and then an excellent cut of lamb or beef. There are only 12 seats, which face a massive open kitchen—while it’s a steep $195 a seat, the food is fantastic, the vibe is great, and it’s a wonderful experience. Reservations are a must.
99 Scott Ave., Bushwick
You can’t go wrong at this vibrant Vietnamese street-food restaurant that serves incredible banh mi, pho, and mouthwatering meat, fish, and veggie vermicelli plates. They’re devoted to vegetables and heritage meats from local farms, and their pure ethos is reflected in the dishes, which explode with lemongrass- and turmeric-infused goodness. The place is a patchwork of colors, and the vibe is casual and breezy, with mismatched chairs and tables.
17 Ingraham St., Bushwick
Tasty Mexican food and tiki cocktails meld seamlessly at El Cortez, a casual, laid-back spot that’s perfect for a one-on-one date or a pack of friends. The décor is colorful with a slight retro-diner feel, a fitting match with the piña coladas and incredible rum punch. There’s an upstairs with an outdoor patio that’s particularly popular in warmer months, and one night of the week is devoted to karaoke. The menu is fantastic—especially the fish tacos, which come battered, fried, and enveloped in a gloriously crisp shell—and the meat is free-range and organic. The tacos, burritos, tortas, chimichangas, and enchiladas are very much the real draw here, but we’re not mad at the cheeseburger and fries, either.
374 Johnson Ave., Bushwick
Known throughout Japan for its delicious tonkotsu (a Japanese broth made from eight- to twelve-hour simmered pork marrow), Ichiran opened in Bushwick with lines around the block. (There’s also a location in Midtown.) Beyond the umami-bomb tonkotsu itself, which comes in a variety of intensities, and the fresh noodles, the full experience involves sitting in school-desk-like individual booths for dining, which is weird but fun. Especially after a matcha beer or two.
Momo Sushi Shack
43 Bogart St., Bushwick
The lighting is dim (great for date nights), the vibe is casual (the long communal tables are a striking flourish with lots of room to stretch out), and the sushi, hand rolls, and maki are out-of-this-world. The handmade vegan gyoza are succulent little dumplings stuffed with oyster mushrooms and chives, while the heritage pork buns and Japanese fried chicken explode into all sorts of heavenly flavors. The Philli maki—a roll made with salmon and tofu cream cheese—balances the Spicy MC Bomb. (Bombs are beautifully crafted dollops of sticky rice topped with any manner of fish, tempura flakes, and wasabi creams). The veggie, meat, and seafood noodles are also an excellent option here. But really, you can’t go wrong.
261 Moore St., Bushwick
Roberta’s has been warmly flourishing for years. Camouflaged by an industrial, kind of uninviting exterior, this gem of a spot offers a succinct menu includes a few wonderful pizzas, plus seasonal veggies and pasta dishes. There’s an indoor, primarily communal seating area where you can watch the pizza-making go down in the open kitchen. The vibe is casual and the ambiance always lively, as it routinely draws big crowds. While you can expect to wait, it’s a good place to have a drink.
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