This Quiet Neighborhood Is Possibly the Most Exciting Restaurant Destination in New York City
It's not exactly a tourist mecca.
Something is happening in Greenpoint, a quiet neighborhood at the northernmost tip of Brooklyn.
It may have started with Chez Ma Tante (entrées $18-$29). After a quiet opening in the spring of 2017, the bistro — which draws culinary influences from all over Europe and Canada — started getting serious recognition earlier this year. The restaurant’s neighborhood energy and consistently good food have made it well worth a 20-minute walk from the L train.
Or perhaps it was Norman (small plates $6-$20), another spring 2017 debut, that kicked it off. The long-awaited all-day restaurant from celebrated Danish restaurateur Claus Meyer and revolutionary Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius made its home at A/D/O, a massive co-working space on the corner of Norman Avenue and Banker Street, and successfully convinced diners from all boroughs to venture north of Williamsburg.
Though Greenpoint is adjacent to Williamsburg, the most famously gentrified part of Brooklyn, it has remained comparatively well-preserved. North of McCarren Park and right across the creek from Long Island City, the industrial district — once filled with factories — has limited subway access. Anyone coming from Manhattan would need to transfer lines at least once or commit to a long walk from the station. But with Williamsburg oversaturated with dining options, it seems a new wave of northern Brooklyn eateries has found a home in Greenpoint.
Whoever started it, one thing is clear: it suddenly feels like every new, notable NYC restaurant has a Greenpoint address. Now, Manhattanites are (for seemingly the first time ever) compelled to trek to this out-of-the-way corner — historically a Polish neighborhood, but with the recent addition of hipsters — in search of the goods. Chez Ma Tante and Norman were only the beginning; in the past year, the neighborhood has become an epicenter of innovative noodles, tacos, cocktails, and more.
Headed to New York? Greenpoint is where you want to be eating in right now. Here’s why:
Di An Di
The hanging plants, blonde wood, and pale pink banquettes might make Di An Di the most Instagram-friendly Vietnamese restaurant in New York, but that isn’t why people are flocking to this spot on Greenpoint Avenue. Diners are packing into the loud, artfully-curated space for the six different types of pho on the menu, which are deeply flavorful — and, being neither strictly Hanoi style or Saigon style, unfamiliar to many New Yorkers. The Pho Thìn Hà Nôi is already a fan favorite, with tender brisket, a runny egg yolk, and a generous helping of scallions. Entrées $11-$21.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s farm brewery license — a mandate that allows local brewers to sell beer by the glass without acquiring a liquor license, when it’s made from locally-grown farm products — is employed gracefully at Annicka, a restaurant and bar collaboration from Greenpoint Beer and Ale Co. and North Brooklyn Farms. New York-produced beer, wine, cider, and spirits are poured to pair with seasonal dishes; local produce is prepared by a dream team of one vegan chef, one omnivorous chef, and a butcher. The restaurant just reopened with a wider beverage selection and a new menu, focusing on vegetable bites like roasted cauliflower with harissa brown butter. Small plates $10-$13.
For a city that’s known for its food, New York is notoriously lacking in quantity and quality of Mexican restaurants. Oxomoco is one step towards changing that. It’s not your basic rice, beans, and cilantro operation, nor is it a place to grab a three dollar taco — but it is delicious. Noted pizza chef Justin Bazdarich is at the helm of a wood-fired grill that makes its mark on tacos, tostadas, meats, seafood and vegetable dishes. A smoked peach margarita, enjoyed on the restaurant’s tropical front patio, is a spectacular way to begin a meal that covers interpretations of dishes from all corners of Mexico. Also worth checking out: the new brunch menu, available until 3pm every day of the week, with tons of inventive breakfast burritos, masa pancakes, and bowls, like a horchata chia seed pudding. Entrées $12-$42; brunch $12-$18; cocktails $12-$14.
The team that brought Frankel’s, Greenpoint’s favorite new-school Jewish deli, to life in 2016 has just opened their second project: Bernie’s, a buzzy diner on Driggs Avenue. This time, they’ve gone old school, with red-and-white checkered tablecloths and a menu full of comfort food classics like shrimp cocktail, baked clams, and crispy-skinned vinegar chicken. The nostalgia factor and reasonable price point make it a keeper. Entrées $15-$26.
Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop
Paulie Giannone has been luring in-the-know pizza lovers to Greenpoint for the past eight years with his wood-fired pies with thin, doughy crust, and creative topping combinations that have inspired countless imitators. Giannone just opened a second Brooklyn location, Paulie Gee's Slice Shop on Franklin Street, where he's serving pizza by the slice for the very first time — enjoy yours in one of the bright orange booths, or take it to go. While the menu is considerably smaller than the Greenpoint Avenue restaurant, Mike’s Hot Honey, a sweet and spicy staple topping from the original shop, is thankfully still on offer. Slices $3.50-$4.50; pizzas $22-$30.
Wanpaku and The Hidden Pearl
Wanpaku, a ramen bar on Manhattan Avenue, makes an easy-to-love addition to the neighborhood, with an extensive menu that includes Japanese "tapas," seven types of ramen, and a variety of curries. In the back, you’ll find The Hidden Pearl, a tropical speakeasy that takes cues from its culinary partner. Drawing inspiration from the Japanese island of Okinawa, the 20-seat bar mixes beachy drinks, a nod to the island’s famous white-sand shoreline, making excellent use of Japanese saké and whisky. Check out the section dedicated to highballs, a classic spirit-and-soda preparation that’s popular in Japan. Tapas $4-$12; entrées $12-$20; cocktails $12-$16.
Craving even more tropical cocktails? You’ll find another new favorite in The Springs, a bar with a colorful backyard featuring a fountain of inflatable pink flamingos. Named for (and modeled after) Palm Springs, with its kitschy-meets-mid-century-modern aesthetic, the bar specializes in fruity cocktails and alcoholic slushies. A permanent food truck parked outside slings twists on classic comfort foods, like bit-sized eggplant rolantini and a martini-flavored grilled cheese with vermouth and cocktail onions. A wide selection of beers completes the offerings nicely. Entrées $8-$15; cocktails $13.