Location: 85 Broadway Brooklyn, NY 11211
The problem with enjoying food too much and talking about the great places to eat all the time is that it can come back to bite you sometimes. I’ve had a few situations where people were bitter that what I recommended was not that great or that I suggest a restaurant that I cherish and they come back to tell me that it was sub-par. So, I’ve come to love nights when a friend suggests a spot to eat that’s on my “places to eat” list and I have no pressure but, to show up and enjoy my personal meal. In the case of Diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that was exactly the case. My roommate, the last person I would think to suggest such a place invited me out to dinner with couple of other friends to this classic restaurant Under the Williamsburg bridge.
To preface, I’ve been keeping track of the best meals I’ve had each year I’ve been in NYC and it goes as follows:
2008- Momofuku Ko
2009- Blue Hill at Stone Barns
I have to say as of now for 2010, my best meal is at Diner. Don’t worry this is not some crappy diner you find in NJ or Queens but, the name only comes from the fact that they’ve converted an old Diner car into a restaurant which alone made the dining experience unique. Other interesting things about the restaurant is that they have a rotating menu depending on what the in season ingredients are and the staff will come over to scribble the menu items and specials directly on the table. The website has a full list of the specials for those guilty of needing to know exactly what they want to order before they go to the restaurant.
Our meal started off with some microbrews and cocktails and we didn’t feel any pressure to order quickly even though the restaurant was starting to fill up. Our appetizer of spinach salad tasted fresh and some unique flavors to the dressing. For the main courses we ordered a grilled salmon, the house burger, and my favorite the curry mussels. Everything was great and flavorful but, SERIOUSLY my curry mussels were out of this world. I never really associated curry with seafood but, the fact that they made this seafood concoction with these ingredients made my taste buds rejoice with joy that it was there that day eating that dish.
I didn’t leave a single drop in that bowl and I could’ve eaten so much more but, I was in a good place. We ended with a magnificent strawberry rhubarb cobbler w/ vanilla whipped cream a great topping to one of the best dishes/meals I’ve had in a while.
It sounds almost too simple to be the best meal of 2010 but, I think the music playing in the background helped and of course the good conversation at the table makes any meal a little bit better. Let me see if my hungry stomach leads me to a better meal than this for this year.
Location: 2725 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Price: Square Slice ($2.75), Half Tray ($18), Full Tray ($36)
Having grown up as a Chicagoan, I have cravings for Chicago style pizza from either the original Uno’s pizza or Lou Malnatis every time I go back to Chicago. Heck, I think I’m craving one right now. Something about the crispy crust and all the cheese, spinach, and sauce layered inside a deep pan. Having been in NYC for 1.5 years now, the best pizza and the pizza I associate to this city is not the typical thin slice but, to the glorious sicilian squares from L&B Spumoni gardens. Many call it the best squares in the world.
Each time I’ve gone to L&B I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes to get a piping fresh tray of Sicilian pizza. They run an operation that seems to have a dozen full trays cooking at the same time and each time the tray comes out perfectly cooked. The combination of putting the cheese on the crust and then putting the sauce on top of the cheese somehow changes the inherent qualities of the pizza by making the crust crispy and light. The sweet delicious red sauce manages to be the other key ingredient to the blessed tray.
This is one of those foods that I’ll always remember when I leave NYC and will be craving on and on again. If you live in NYC you have to take a journey to South Brooklyn to experience this. As long as you’re down there, combine it with Difara’s pizza and you won’t regret it.
Location: 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY
Price: $5 for slice, $25 for plain pie, $35 specialty
It sometimes upsets me that it’s so difficult to find a good slice of pizza in the land of pizzas, pies, & slices of NYC. You see a pizza joint on almost every other corner from the Joe Schmoe spots to relatively better pizza joints but, nothing special. BROOKLYN is where you have to go for legendary pizza & if there ever was a legendary Pizza maker it would have to Dom DeMarco of Di Fara Pizza.
Anyone remotely interested in good pizza knows about this famed spot in Midwood, South Brooklyn where Dom has been making pizza for over 30 years…and ONLY him. It sucks that the price of a slice rose to an astounding $5!! For me, if I take a trip that far for pizza, I don’t only get one slice…I always get a whole pie. There is something special about watching him make the pizza and eating the freshly baked pizza that maybe makes the pizza eating experience extra special. Whatever it is, the combination of fresh ingredients, the imported spices, and his life experience at making that pizza definitely deliver to satisfy that “pizza hunger.” I have not tasted pizza anywhere like his in Manhattan but, I’ve only had one better pizza in NYC…in Brooklyn of course. I’ll let you all know that place when my next pizza craving comes along…
Location: 204 Van Dyke St., Pier 41, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY
Cost: $15 for entire pie. $5 for chocolate covered key lime pie on stick.
On a recently episode of Dexter, he is on a search for the best key lime pie for Camilla while she is on her death bed. He asks his sister Deb where one can get the best key lime pie….her reply is ““You can’t. They all taste like sour dog sh*t.” While that maybe the case for Deb and many other people, me and some friends found a spot worth treking out to for a good piece of key lime pie in Brooklyn’ Red Hook.
Although you can get a slice of this stuff at a few restaurants in the city, the journey to Red Hook is part of the experience that makes the pie pretty tasty. Considering the actual bakery is located in Red Hook you know that you’re getting some fresh stuff. You can get a whole pie or get a key lime pie on a stick dipped in Chocolate. I personally preferred the stick version since it offset the sourness of the pie a bit…and who doesn’t love anything chocolate dipped. Overall, the crust is great and has a great consistency in the lime filling part. I hear that the slices work great with whipped cream which I didn’t do. I suggest anyone planning a trip down to Brooklyn Ikea to stop by this joint. Who knows maybe this pie will go well with the Swedish meatballs?
Location: 354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Cost: Approx. $15/person for hearty portions of meat, sides, & a pint beer.
The two words Fette Sau means something if you are German or have been to the homey BBQ joint in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Fette Sau means “fat pig” in German and after devouring pounds of meat and sides from this place, that’s exactly how I felt…but, in a good happy way. This restaurant is tucked away behind a pseudo alley off of Metroplitan ave and once you enter the establishment you are transported to an off the beaten path southern-esque restaurant. You immediately smell the wood burning smell and the varieties of BBQ meats along with the LCD screen fire place. The seating system is a bit weird since you have to wait randomly for people to get up from the bench style seats to claim your own. Its not a big deal since you can enjoy the varieties of craft beers that are served while waiting, & they even serve gallon portions of beer!
I came here with Kah & 2 other friends from out of town & It was an educational experience waiting for our tables since I got to study the anatomy of a cow and the different meat cuts.
You can buy the meats at the counter by the pound or by pieces. We decided to get a little bit of everything (pulled pork, beef rib, pork chop, sausage, pork belly, Pork & beans, & pastrami). All the meats were well cooked, juicy, and had plenty of flavor but, the pastrami & pulled pork were my personal favorites. The potato salad and broccoli sides were nothing special but, the pork & beans are a must. I would consider this place my favorite BBQ place in NYC so far but, I do have a few more places to try…& I will continue to be a “fat pig”.