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Where to Eat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is not just home to the so-called hipster. Like any New York neighborhood, Williamsburg presents a cross-section of many New York cultures. There’s no better evidence than the area’s dining scene, an eclectic mix of flavors and price points—sometimes all on one menu. Find below Scandinavian, barbecue, Israeli/Japanese, Korean, Italian, and soul food from this expansive Brooklyn neighborhood.
fette sau
Photo credit: Fette Sau
 
  1. Lilia

    While Lilia serves some of the borough’s most transcendent Italian food, you won’t find much fuss or formality in this popular restaurant. The pasta is the star of the show here, with pillow-soft ricotta gnocchi and fettuccine with spicy lamb sausage and tomato. There’s nothing like the expertly grilled veal flank steak with hot peppers and basil or black bass with salsa verde as mains. These dishes assert intentionality and care, courtesy of Chef Missy Robbins, but they won’t break the bank. Be sure to make a reservation, as Lilia can be a tough table to get! 567 Union Ave., 718-576-3095, lilianewyork.com
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  3. Llama Inn

    It’s a home-run at Llama Inn, a restaurant with fine-dining credibility and a playful spirit in and out of the kitchen. Chef Erik Ramirez used to work at Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan (widely regarded as one of the city’s finest restaurants) before turning to Peruvian cuisine at this solo effort across the East River. It’s a fairly limited menu, but difficult to choose among fresh ceviche, beef heart with rocoto salsa, and quinoa with banana, avocado, and bacon. Luckily, these plates are tapas-size and easy to sample and share. If you’re looking for an entree, check out the beef tenderloin stir fry. Go to the relaxed roof garden at sunset for an on-tap sangria or a yummy Llama Del Rey with pisco, rum, and red wine. 50 Withers St., 718-387-3434, llamainnnyc.com
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  5. Peter Luger Steakhouse

    A piece of NYC dining history, Peter Luger has been around for over 130 years. What began as a cafe, billiards, and bowling alley has become a Brooklyn destination for some of the finest steak in the city. Order the porterhouse for two, a dish that made Luger famous, and relish the perfectly cooked, sizzling steak with signature sauce. Luger serves only USDA Prime beef and ages the meat on-site, achieving perfectly balanced texture and flavor. Order your steak with French fries and creamed spinach, and try to save room for Luger’s special Holy Cow hot fudge sundae. If you don’t, rest assured all diners receive a chocolate gold coin at the end of their meal. 178 Broadway, 718-387-7400, peterluger.com
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    Four Horsemen
    Photo credit: Four Horsemen
     
  7. Four Horsemen

    Owned by former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, The Four Horsemen got people in the door early in its run—but then everyone stayed for the stellar food and wine. A wine bar first, Four Horsemen leads with revelations like an Italian orange wine accompanied by the softest bread imaginable. From their pared-down menu of large plates, expect exceptional seasonal dishes like charred shrimp with Meyer lemon and striped bass with sweet corn. Four Horsemen is the perfect balance of chic and restful, but it attracts crowds. We recommend booking a table ASAP. 295 Grand St, 718-599-4900, fourhorsemenbk.com
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  9. Aska

    Winner of two Michelin stars, Aska brings Scandinavian sophistication from its antique warehouse underneath the Williamsburg Bridge. Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius prepares elegant tasting menus with a variety of unusual ingredients like deer lichen and pig’s blood and chamomile jelly. These dishes surprise the palate and create a dining experience you won’t soon forget. There are just ten seats in the dining room (reservations required), while the cellar seats many more and offers beer, wine, cocktails, and a calming backyard space for June weather. 47 S 5th St., 929-337-6792, askanyc.com
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  11. Traif

    Traif celebrates all things pork, made with a rich combination of pan-Asian flavors and soul-food goodness. The restaurant wows with ribs slathered in strawberry and decked with pomegranate seeds, as well as tuna tartare with tempura eggplant and Indonesian soy sauce. Pork belly makes an appearance or two, of course, as do bone marrow, bacon donuts, and gigantic prawns dressed in uni butter. In short, this is a carnivore’s best bet for a nice meal out. Tasting menus are around $50 per guest, and table participation is required. 229 S 4th St., 347-844-9578, traifny.com
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  13. Zizi Limona

    Zizi Limona’s roots lie in Middle Eastern cooking, but you can find plenty of far-flung flavors on this menu. The Israeli classics like falafel and shawarma are interspersed with curiosities like the Beirut-Seoul Skirt Steak, served with cauliflower kimchi and braised kohlrabi. Don’t skip apps like black cumin cauliflower and labneh dip with fresh pita. Zizi particularly suits diners with dietary restrictions, labeling gluten-free and vegan dishes as such on the menu. Come here with a group of friends for a relaxed, pita-heavy dinner or brunch. You’ll be very glad you did! 129 Havemeyer St., 347-763-1463, zizilimona1.com
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  15. Fette Sau

    Operating in a converted auto body shop, Fette Sau serves beautiful barbecue its industrial interiors. This Southern barbecue is expertly smoked and delightfully saucy, blending techniques from Texas and New York delis to create something truly special. Order brisket with a potato roll, burnt ends baked beans, and Guss’ Half-Sour Kosher Pickles, and find a seat at one of the picnic tables lining the space. At the bar, find local brews like Staten Island’s American Wit. And don’t be surprised if you go back for more house-smoked brisket—yep, it’s that good. 354 Metropolitan Ave., 718-963-3404, fettesaubbq.com
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  17. Pies-n-Thighs

    You hardly need a recommendation from us, but Pies-n-Thighs deserves the hype. This wildly popular soul food restaurant serves brunch, lunch, or dinner to the hungry and/or hungover. Savor the famous fried chicken and biscuit on all menus for just $7.50 (“slathered in hot sauce and honey butter”—yum). And yes, there’s plenty of pie around, all fantastic, plus some of the city’s best donuts. 166 S 4th St., 347-529-6090, piesnthighs.com
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  19. The Commodore

    If you’re planning to go out hard during Pride, The Commodore is your place to start or end the evening. The enormous plate of fried chicken with biscuits, honey butter, and hot sauce is booze-soaking food at its best. Or try the sandwich version, called the Hot Breast and topped with coleslaw and pickles. The cocktail menu is lightly tiki-themed, as the house drink is a pina colada with amaretto float. There’s a definite vintage 24-hour diner feel and a lot of hungry customers, so come early if you can! 366 Metropolitan Ave., 718-218-7632
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    Shalom Japan
    Photo credit: Shalom Japan
     
  21. Shalom Japan

    There’s nothing quite like the mash-up presented to diners at Shalom Japan, an effort from chefs (and married couple) Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi. On this dynamic menu, you’ll find sake-laced challah, tuna with black tahini, and matzoh ball ramen. Unpretentious and inventive, the restaurant offers the beauty of the city’s cultural diversity at a fair price. At brunch, enjoy a lox bowl or a pancake-style okonomiyaki with pastrami and sauerkraut. House cocktails include the Obi-Wan with Ki No Bi gin and plum; there are also sake flights on offer. 310 S 4th St., 718-388-4012, shalomjapannyc.com
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  23. Dotory

    In southeast Williamsburg is a Korean hold-in-the-wall well worth seeking out. Here, owner/chef Haegeen Kim prepares surprises like nori taco shells and bibimbap with cheese sauce (don’t knock it till you try it). Kim also does right by more standard fare like kimchi fried rice with a tiny glass of cucumber-soaked soju to wash it down. Other recommended dishes include the pajun scallion pancake, sundubu tofu stew, and bibim rice salad with peanut sauce. Dotory provides a terrific, affordable meal for those willing to stray from the beaten path. 353 Broadway, 718-599-1399, dotorynyc.com
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  25. La Superior

    Taco-lovers, this one’s for you. A small, crowded place in South Williamsburg, La Superior serves tacos for $2.50 each, from the ordinary carne asada to the slightly daring taco de lengua (beef tongue). La Superior knows it’s for the thrifty, describing its molletes as a “classic ‘college’ budget meal.” Sip a margarita, order the chips and guacamole, and enjoy this solid take on Mexican cuisine, whether you’re in college or not! 295 Berry St., 718-388-5988, lasuperiornyc.com
 

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