Hello my British friends,
While you still lick your wounds left by Boris and Brexit, I invite you to plan your next vacation by hopping a plane to the city that never sleeps but constantly eats. Mimi Sheraton once said that “New York has a diversity and depth” rivaled possibly only by London’s in her book “1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die” – what an epic and accurate assessment. I’ve experienced the culinary excellence in your city, which is why I choose to talk to you as equals instead of pandering to your basic b*tch tourist side. You know about Katz Deli, Carbone, Peter Luger’s, Meatball Shop, Ippudo, and Per Se. Yes, everyone should eat at Gramercy Tavern once in their life, but if you are coming here on a mission to take on what makes New York City the greatest, we need to bring you into the inner circle, where the locals go. I recently attended the most delightful event titled Transatlantic Tables Connected, which was hosted at Hundred Acres in the Village and also at Grain Store in London. We were delighted to try the culinary accomplishments of Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja and share in the experience with fellow food bloggers in the UK. It’s inspired me to appreciate the unity we feel internationally for our love of food, the tale of two cities, and why I think New York’s food scene is tops.
New York is my home. I’m sure when you arrive here, be it your first time or your fiftieth, it will feel like yours as well. It’s a city that appreciates uniqueness, late nights, high fashion, and world views. With over 45,000 restaurants and counting, it’s no wonder some places have become established ‘favorites’ as visitors get overwhelmed with choice. From daring and surprising fusions of international foods to typical iconic New York favorites, our foodie scene is loud, all-consuming, and in your face – just like the city itself. New restaurateurs and world-renowned celebrity chefs reinvent themselves and what a New York City restaurant even means, reinventing flavors and our standards in the process. In just the past few years we’ve had gems like Cronuts, Ramen Burgers, Thai Ice Cream Rolls, and so much more, taking our city and bellies by storm.
I’ve lived in Brooklyn most of the 6 years I’ve lived in New York, so the focus of my invitation will center there. Brooklyn is as diverse as Manhattan, with a shockingly high rate of restaurant openings. You can find nearly anything you are looking for from Vietnamese to vegan pizza. As mentioned above, New York City has an overwhelming amount of dining options, and to really get your attention, I’ll illustrate my stomping ground to the best of my ability.
Brooklyn is a great place for foodies and chefs looking to get started slowly. Less and less you are hearing about people being unwilling to go to Brooklyn – cabbies, locals and tourists alike. Real estate prices in Manhattan have made it too hard for many restauranteurs and chefs to open there. Brooklyn is much more affordable, which means that amazing chef from your favorite Michelin rated restaurants in Manhattan can open their own operation [in Brooklyn], and serve unbelievable food at lower prices.”
Many Brooklyn based chefs did get their start over the river in Manhattan. When you factor in outrageous real estate prices, and a crowd that cares far too much about the trends, celebrities, and the newest hottest restaurant, it makes sense that Manhattan can be a hard place to survive.
Brooklyn is unique, and the food scene equally so. Partake in the continual evolution of the Brooklyn food scene, and we promise you won’t be disappointed.
Best of Brooklyn Heights
Start with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge in the morning. Upon your entrance into Brooklyn, trot over to the best diner in Brooklyn – Clark’s Restaurant. Whether you are in the mood for a big hearty meal or a variety of baked potato combos, this place hits the mark as the ‘something for everyone’ diner with fast friendly service and a real neighborhood vibe. Their fresh-squeezed OJ is out of this world and I never tire of the beautiful copper decor and wall to wall windows.
Once you’ve stuffed yourself full of a German omelette and need some air, wander over to the Brooklyn Promenade, and take in the epic view that awaits you.
This is our version of the River Walk, winding around the Hudson with a panoramic view of The Chrysler Building all the way past the Statue of Liberty. I’ve lived in walking distance of it for 6 years and I never tire of it. Other notables in Brooklyn Heights – Jack the Horse Tavern, Asya, Noodle Pudding, Friend of a Farmer, and Henry’s End – all of which are easily bookable on OpenTable, freeing you from the awkward standoff outside of Lucali, River Deli or Buttermilk Channel as you wait for hours – tourist traps for sure.
Pushing further southeast into Brooklyn, we’ll make a pit stop for a snack at Wilma Jean – the best fried chicken north of New Orleans in my humble opinion. Other winning options are their pimento cheese tots and the fried pickles – this adorable corner spot in Carroll Gardens is so welcoming and good at what they do.
Moving even further east, stop off at some of Brooklyn’s coolest bars for a drink and to rest your feet – Gowanus is my favorite area to hit the town in, whether its to dance all night (The Bell House) or sit in a dark dive (Canal Bar) or get fresh air while also intoxicating myself (Lavender Lake and Swan Dive). Another great spot to stop by is Whole Foods – yes I’m serious. The Whole Foods in Brooklyn is a special place, y’all. Why? There is a rooftop beer garden. There are solar and wind power towers, EV chargers, and a greenhouse, reducing the eco-footprint of the store and bettering the neighborhood. If you walked there from Carroll Gardens, you passed the Gowanus Canal, and should fully understand how in-need this environmentally conscious assertion by a giant like Whole Foods is.
Park Slope and Boerum Hill, neighborhoods that border Gowanus, are littered with amazing restaurants. Established restauranteurs from Manhattan have moved over to Brooklyn to try new things or continue existing hits, like Artichoke Basille. You can keep wandering till you are unable to take another bite, I promise it will be difficult to find a bad mouthful. Now grab a Citi Bike and lets keep going.
The bush-league tourist edition of this letter would tell you to go to Williamsburg and wander Bedford Ave with throngs of other out-of-towners looking to add some grit to their site-seeing and taste-testing. You are going to skip right past that (sorry, ‘burg, I love your cuisine, I do. But I’m trying to help my English friends find something off the beaten path). Bushwick might be the most exciting area right now for new restaurants. A few amazing places have been there a while (I’m looking your way, Roberta’s) and have held the fort down long enough for more to take the plunge and add to the exciting buzz in this neighborhood.
Assuming you are coming over in the summer months, you must take advantage of another NYC tradition – pop-up restaurants. Fitzcarraldo is all about sharing food, wine, beer and conversation. The South American food and ambience are so lovely that weddings are often hosted here, but you can make sure you’ll have a seat via OpenTable. Start off with a cheese plate and a pint of Other Half Ever Session IPA, and make sure you order the Porcini and Soft Egg at Fitzcarraldo.
To cap off your evening, you are going to hit up your OpenTable reservation at Forrest Point, an amazing neighborhood gem with a vibrant bar scene and late-night energy. Pray for a beautiful evening because their al fresco experience is so unique.
Should you be in town a few more days, visit us on Instagram, @Wanna_Fork or search the hashtag #WannaForkNYC for some more of our favorites.