All across Brooklyn, new restaurants and bars are upping the ante with creative comfort food, small batch brews, and envy-inducing design. Williamsburg has long been a culinary hotspot, with everything from artisanal chocolatiers to Michelin-starred restaurants and clandestine cocktail bars. Lately, this hipster neighborhood has seen a spate of new openings exciting enough to entice even the most skeptical to hop on the L train. And there’s more to come, including an Italian restaurant by acclaimed chef Missy Robbins, who cut her teeth at A Voce. Get ready to cross the East River. This trio of great new eateries has cemented Williamsburg as the place where you should be eating and drinking right now in New York City.
Black Tree Bk
Sandy Dee Hall and Macnair Sillick, whose Black Tree concept was was born as a pop-up sandwich shop in Crown Heights and expanded to a restaurant in the Lower East Side, are bringing their ambitious take on approachable, nose-to-tail dining to Williamsburg. The new Black Tree Bk is larger and features a chef’s tasting counter, in addition to a la carte options. When asked about the leap from sandwich shop to tasting menu, Hall replied, “In general, the concept wasn't solely about sandwiches, it was about making farm-to-table cuisine accessible. I think the natural expansion of the business started there and evolved to a larger menu focused on local, attainable, and accessible.” Come for adventurous dishes like bone broth soup, goat bao, or shark prosciutto paired with a smooth, barrel-aged margarita in a laid-back, unpretentious setting.
This highly anticipated Belgian brasserie from Ivan Kohut—owner of the popular neighborhood spot Radegast Beer Hall—has finally opened on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Grand Street after a yearlong renovation. Designer John McCormick, the man behind St. Mazie Bar & Supper Club, Maison Premiere, and several other Williamsburg stalwarts, transformed the abandoned bank into the kind of warm, welcoming bistro that can almost make you forget you’re not in Brussels; if not for the B62 rolling noisily by. A Picasso-esque painting and vintage photos of cyclists compliment red leather banquettes and marble café tables set atop the original mosaic floor. The menu is classic Belgian with some Brooklyn touches (steak tartare arrives in a mason jar and the kale salad has bacon, a poached egg, and waffle croutons). Pair beer or wine on tap with moules frites and an endive salad for a transportive evening.
The Federal Bar
The team behind popular music venue the Knitting Factory opened this casual restaurant in a former carriage house right next door this summer; there are two other locations of The Federal Bar in California. A 7-foot, glowing blue globe illuminates the dimly lit, Prohibition-inspired space, casting light on the wallpaper made from a collage of antique patent illustrations for musical instruments layered with vintage sewing patterns. Expect deliciously executed comfort food, like port rillettes and a dry aged burger, plus great cocktails and a deep list of craft beer. In true Williamsburg fashion, the mac and cheese comes in a cast iron skillet and the bread pudding incorporates donuts from neighboring Greenpoint’s beloved Peter Pan Donut Shop. “Everything on our menu is curated from my personal experiences and relationships. Putting out my version of European cafe fare and American classics with a twist...is what gets me out of bed in the morning,” says Chef Brendon Doyle. “Our tap list of 14 beers—the majority of which are from the boroughs—features [brews] that you can’t find anywhere else; many of the breweries we work with are friends and colleagues.”
Laura Itzkowitz is a contributing digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lauraitzkowitz.