Village Voice’s best of New York issue is out and not surprisingly North Brooklyn has lots of bar and restaurant mentions — and oversights. (No love for Roberta’s?) Some of its choices we find a bit odd, but hey, we’re happy to see Peter Pan, St. Anselm and Taqueria Izucar get some love. Here’s their ‘bests’ from Bushwick, Greenpoint and Williamsburg:
Best Ethiopian Restaurant
While Bunna Café might seem like a Brooklyn cliché (it serves vegan Ethiopian food next to a vacant lot in Bushwick, after all), Ethiopian cuisine has long held vegetarian and vegan dishes in its repertoire thanks to extended fasting periods imposed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Chef Kedija Srage cooks up a colorful array of meatless wots and tibs served alone or as part of combination platters arranged on top of injera. (Bunna’s take on the porous sourdough flatbread is fluffier and less sour than its peers’.) Ethiopian beers and honey wine are available, and cocktails — like the Pushkin, a White Russian made with Ethiopian coffee and toasted sunflower milk — are particularly inspired. The righteous brewed beans are roasted throughout the day and served espresso-style. Srage and café owners Sam Saverance and Liyuw Ayalew have also carved out time four nights a week to perform a traditional coffee ceremony, where an audience observes the roasting process and drinks the results.
Best Cuban Sandwich
Cafetería La Mejor
Find the intersection of Suydam and Wilson in Bushwick, and we guarantee you won’t miss Cafetería La Mejor — its façade is hued turquoise and magenta, so fluorescent we suspect you can see it from space. The place turns out a limited menu of Cuban coffees, a handful of sandwiches, and pastries; grab a counter seat or sashay up to the window and order the sandwich cubano. You’ll get a knock-out classic rendition: roasted pork, ham, swiss, and pickles stacked in generous — but not off-balance — quantities on that white Cuban bread slicked with grainy mustard. The whole thing goes into a press until the cheese is melted and the exterior toasted. We’ll admit we raised an eyebrow when we read the menu description declaring that our sandwich would arrive “eggshell crisp,” but that descriptor proved exactly right, providing an immensely satisfying crackly foil to the hearty filling within.
Best Vegetarian Deli
Hana Natural is actually a grocery store, and its main purpose is to provide Bushwick with organic and natural products. But it also houses a deli, offering its customers a huge selection of sandwiches, including a list of vegetarian options so numerous, it puts other vegetarian restaurants to shame. Many of these are creative re-creations of popular carnivorous sammies, the meat swapped out for fake meat and then laden with fresh vegetables, cheese, and various condiments. In particular, the deli makes a mean veggie BLT, exchanging bacon for veggie bacon, which is made of soy. Or try the tofu Reuben, which uses grilled tofu in lieu of corned beef.
Best Restaurant in Bushwick
Would you like to have a truly transcendent taco? The type that’ll make you drop to your knees and praise Dios for giving us cornmeal, cilantro, onion, and braised meat? Of course you would, and for those of you who’ve sworn up and down that you’ll never find that kind of experience here in New York City, we offer Taqueria Izucar, an alcove with irregular hours that turns out crushingly beautiful suadero tacos, simple, hot tortilla packets of juicy braised veal that could move a (wo)man to weep. Order a half-dozen and elbow your way into a little counter space to enjoy them on the spot — these are best consumed immediately, though you’ll see plenty of people carrying out.
Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop
Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop has been serving the Greenpoint neighborhood for more than 60 years, and it’s still bathed in the aura of yesteryear, thanks to its mid-century decor, its S-shaped counter, and its employees, who wear I Love Lucy–like green and pink dresses. Doughnuts are made fresh throughout the day, which means you can always find a hot pastry here, no matter what time you roll out of bed. The shop turns out classics, like traditional cake doughnuts and French crullers, and a couple of inventive twists, like red velvet and toasted coconut, but the old-fashioned glazed doughnut, available daily, is Peter Pan’s masterwork. Sporting spongecake-like consistency, it’s covered in a vanilla glaze. Enjoy it early on a weekday morning with a cup of black coffee.
Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows
Dirck the Norseman
Shuffle down a ramshackle Greenpoint road to this cavernous tavern with an electric blue exterior and cozy, brick-and-dark-wood interior. The rustic watering hole hosts on-site brewing from Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. Alongside a list of imports, the local brewers at Dirck the Norseman deliver a variety of beer styles, from citrusy wheat to hoppy pilsner, which help ease whatever pain you’re feeling. And if forgetting one’s troubles is the goal, why not immerse yourself in a suds-friendly feast? Sup on gastropubby small plates like cauliflower schnitzel and hunks of smoked brisket with horseradish mayo. With any luck, you’ll stave off that hangover and come away with some righteous beer knowledge.
Best Restaurant in Greenpoint
When Paul Giannone made the leap from pizza-obsessed IT employee to professional pizzaiolo at Paulie Gee’s, he netted a quick following for his chewy, nuanced Neopolitan crust, blistered and charred in an imported wood-fired oven and decorated with everything from hot soppresatta and honey (the “Hellboy”) to kale and crimini mushrooms (“A Whiter Shade of Kale”). (The punnily named pizzas,
Best Vegan Restaurant
Champs Family Bakery
Whether you’re living meat-, egg-, and dairy-free or you’re seeking a spot for lunch with a vegan dining companion, the classic diner fare at Champs Family Bakery is an excellent bet, which is why the line for a weekend seat extends outside. The corner café channels Williamsburg’s DIY aesthetic, vintage frames and knickknacks line the walls, and counter space is occupied by trays of frosted cinnamon rolls. The menu boasts considerable variety: Health nuts will find their clean juices and raw-kale salads; animal-product-free folk after heartier fare can chow down on (tempeh) burgers, nachos, or biscuits and gravy.
Best Wine List in a restaurant
Williamsburg grill St. Anselm, nationally recognized for its $16 hanger steak, edges out other city lists in the best value wine category not because it’s the cheapest (a word often confused with value) but because oenophile owner Joe Carroll takes a minimal-markup approach to his eclectic array. Drawing heavily from the States, Italy, and France, Carroll stocks something for every taste. Indie cult California labels Mathiasson, Rhys, and Scholium Project share space with natural and biodynamic wines like Frank Cornelissen’s funky Mount Etna rosé and Ted Lemon’s NZ Pinot project Burn Cottage. An array of half-bottles, “yellow” Vin Jaune from Jura, and “orange” wine hailing from Friuli-Venezia to Long Island round out a list that falls predominantly between $40 and $70. Bottles that surpass $100 wholesale see a price adjustment of just 150 percent — the same as your local wine shop.
Best Hipster Bar
Our loose definition of the term hipster associates them with hating a lot of things, but that’s completely false. Hipsters love obscure art, artisanal anything, and, the most important of all, cute animals. Luckydog focuses on the animals part. This dog-friendly Williamsburg bar is a perfect place for you to bring your fuzziest friend or just admire the locals who roll in on their leashes. While you order your whiskey, make sure to grab a treat for your pooch from your bartender. If you’re up for multitasking, divert your attention from the canines to play some shuffleboard or pinball. Maybe you’ll even get away from those puppy-eyes long enough to enjoy the backyard — but out there you’ll be just as quickly seduced by another.
Best Restaurant in Williamsburg
There’s no sign outside Zenkichi, just dark wood paneling and a doorway lit by a pale yellow glow. That’s all by design, and ducking inside the dim rock-garden antechamber feels like being let in on a secret. Silence your cell phone. Follow the hostess up the stairs, through a bamboo labyrinth washed in murmurs, and try to ignore the furtive glances that leak through partitions separating each table. Retreat into your own tiny private booth, behind the curtain that will only be raised as each new course arrives. This will happen eight times, if you order the seasonal omakase menu, as it is imperative for you to do. It consists of Tokyo-style small plates (pan-seared scallops, grilled black cod, seared duck breast), each dish more intoxicating than the last.
You can see all their choices here.