There’s something magical about a good restaurant: lively music, buzzing conversations and food that’s so delicious, it kicks you back in your seat. So, this month, our food series will be all about restaurants and all that goes into them, starting with six new-to-me neighborhood spots I cannot get enough of (what places would you recommend?)…
Diner in Williamsburg
Located in a metal dining car from the twenties underneath the Williamsburg Bridge, Diner is must-have Brooklyn experience. The servers scribble the small New American menu on your paper tablecloth. Order a grass-fed burger and fries (hotly debated as the best in NYC) and a crisp salad. The greens are so fresh, they taste like they were pulled from the ground seconds ago. No reservations are taken, so try to snag a seat right at 6 o’clock.
Insa Korean BBQ in Gowanus
Insa, housed in a former warehouse, serves Korean barbecue and noodle dishes (think: marinated beef short ribs, dumpling soup and seafood corn dogs!). But the real draw of this spot are the crazy karaoke rooms, with themes like the jungle, deep sea and space. Rally a group of friends to belt out “I Will Survive” over tiki cocktails after dinner.
Vinegar Hill House in Vinegar Hill
Vinegar Hill House is tucked away on a cobblestone street in this small neighborhood just north of Dumbo. The farmhouse decor feels authentically homey (there’s a wood-fired oven, flickering lanterns and vintage wallpaper), and the menu is filled with gems like buttery skillet cornbread and oh-so-tender pork chops. Make reservations to guarantee a table; and if it’s warm outside, dine in their quiet garden under a cherry tree.
Lilia in Williamsburg
Lilia makes Williamsburg feel like Italy for a night with their hand-crafted pastas and bold wines. Order the mafaldini with parmesan and pink peppercorns (the best twist on caio e pepe that I’ve ever had) or rigatoni diavola (with San Marzano tomato sauce and chilies). Make reservations a few weeks in advance to secure a spot — this is not Brooklyn’s best-kept secret.
Glady’s in Crown Heights
Dining at Glady’s feels like taking an one-hour vacation to the Caribbean. With bright green walls and plants hanging from the ceiling, you’ll feel the stress melt away the second you walk into this jerk-chicken joint. Their prices are pretty reasonable, too, with most brunch dishes under $10, dinner dishes under $15, and homemade, not-too-sweet slushies for $6. This is a perfect spot to chill out with friends after a long week. (Bonus: Complimentary cups of coconut ice cream after your meal.)
Speedy Romeo in Clinton Hill
Speedy Romeo dishes out perfectly charred pizzas in one of my favorite neighborhoods. The place is named after the owner’s old family race horse, and there’s portrait of the champ hanging in the kitchen to prove it. The pizzas feature freshly pulled mozzarella and Provel cheese (a mix of cheddar, Swiss and provolone), and delicious topping combinations, like roasted garlic, ricotta, pecorino and béchamel. There’s usually an open table if you go early — but if the lines are long, they have delivery and take-out options, too.
(Top photo of Vinegar Hill House by Konrad Fiedler for The New York Times. First Diner photo via Le Fooding. Diner burger photo via We Love Burgers. Insa food photo by Krista Schlueter for The New York Times. Vinegar Hill House scene via Bond Street. Lilia interior photo by Nick Solares for Eater. Lilia pasta photo by Evan Sung. Glady’s photo via their website. Slushy photo by Stella Blackmon. Speedy Romeo photo by Rayna of One Hungry Jew. )