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If you were picking one Brooklyn restaurant?

Foodies from LA want to eat at one Brooklyn place. Any suggestions would be welcome, someplace worth driving to from Manhattan?

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    1. re: adamandeve

      Second al di la!

      But try and get to DiFara's also.

      1. re: CornflakeGirl

        Al Di La, but it's a tough choice.

        DiFara is top notch
        Franny's is great and always popular
        I'm a huge fan of the food at Garden Cafe, Rose Water and Applewood.

        I still think Al Di La though since I went back 3 times in two weeks and I never do that.

    2. depends what you are looking for. The Brooklyn scene is much less flashy when compared to Manhattan. Some great spots:

      al di la
      the near-perfect casual Italian restaurant. no reservations, but they have a wine bar around the corner where you can wait. "Neighborhood spot" vibe. Excellent food, reasonably priced.

      The Grocery
      Small place, I think 10 tables? It can feel a little crowded, but amazing food, all about simple preparation and exceptional ingrediants. Often considered the best in BK.

      Another small spot, but with a lot of heart. One of my favorites.


      1. Al di La
        Stone Park

        1. Since you're visiting from out of town, when you say Brooklyn, I'll take it that you mean "Brooklyn" so...

          --Peter Luger - best steak in NYC but also in a German-style chalet with ancient grumpy waiters.
          --L&B Spumoni Gardens - great square slices from the take-away pizza window but also has a red-sauce slinging restaurant with huge portions. The food is just decent, but the Bay Ridge atmosphere is straight out of Saturday Night Fever but with families.
          --Relish - hipster Williamsburg is full of good restaurants now, but this place is a renovated dining car serving decent New American. A retro throwback to chrome 50's style diners.
          --Monkeytown - Another view of hipster Williamsburg, an interesting take on dinner and a movie. Artsy and experimental, so's the food, which can be hit or miss. Service sucks, but you're being served by hipsters so you gotta expect it. Reserve for the movie room way in advance.

          These aren't the best restaurants in Brooklyn (except Peter Luger) but they offer something different, a side of Brooklyn, for people from out of town. (I'm missing a lot of other good places, but these are off the top of my head.)

          1. <<Foodies from LA want to eat at one Brooklyn place...>>

            "Foodie"? Applewood, no question.

            "Chowhound"? DiFara's Pizza, no question.

            A tremendous amount has been said about each on this board -- just do a search.


            1. id say skip applewood unless you were coming to town later in the fall or in the winter...their fall menu is much better than what they serve right now.

              for food item, yes difara is the way to go.

              for restaurant, upscale i suggest peter luger (which i wouldnt have recommended until recently) or for downscale, relish or dumont.

              1. I've eaten at almost every highly rated restuarant in Brooklyn. And while I love Al Di La, if I could only pick one place to eat it would be Saul in Boerum Hill. This is by far, IMHO, the best restaurant in Brooklyn.
                And you don't have to drive, just take the "F" train to Bergen Street. Saul is on Smith between Bergen and Dean.

                1. Saul-the only restaurant in the borough besides Peter Luger to get a Michelin star (for what that's worth)
                  Al di la also stands out
                  Saul will give you a bit more of a refined meal, al di la more homey and rustic, but delicious food.
                  360 in Red Hook is the best deal around-the $25 3 course prix fixe is, by far, the most bang for the buck for a high quality meal

                  1. I weigh in for Applewood. Al Di La is great but, because you can't make a reservation, you may find yourself waiting a long time for a table or feeling rushed at the end. Can put a damper on your night.

                    1. No love for Chestnut?

                      If you're in town on a Tuesday or Wednesday, Chestnut's $25 3 course meal is an unreal bargain. I've had better meals there than @ 360, they take reservations unlike Al Di La, it's convenient, and pleasantly laid back.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: EJC

                        Hooray for Chestnut!!! As always, not enough respect on this board. The food is great there all year, but with what is locally in season right now it is on point. And I think Chestnut is more of a Brooklyn place than Applewood - the influences on the menu are more wide-ranging and show the borough's diversity a bit more, and the kitchen takes risks that Manhattan or "This could be in Manhattan!" restaurants don't always take. And that prix fixe is rediculously cheap, and would be even if the food wasn't as well-prepared or interesting as it is. And reservations are good to have when you're coming from across the country.

                      2. Doubling back to Applewood, while I agree that some of their Fall/Winter dishes can be a little stronger than their Spring/Summer preparations, I think the interaction with the owners -- David and Laura -- may put it to the top of the list.

                        Let Laura know you're there from L.A. -- that you sought them out above all others in Brooklyn. She'll make sure to take special care of you, and David will likely come out from the kitchen and chat with you about your food.

                        It's that kind of touch that makes it a Brooklyn restaurant, not a Manhattan one, and just such a special place in general.

                        As an added bonus, if you can get there (and get a reservation) this Friday, it's their 2 year anniversary, so they'll be in an extra-good mood.


                        1. Just to add some praises to Chestnut...the meals are prepared with a lot of love. Daniel, the owner/chef, emerges from the kitchen frequently to talk food with customers. Michael, another owner, is a fount of knowledge when it comes to wine and takes great pleasure in assisting patons with pairing up vino and entrees. As others have already said, the ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality. The menu has tremendous variety. I keep going back to Chestnut again and again because they love what they do and they strive to please.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Rodrigo

                            When I ate at Chestnut, the arrogant Chef over cooked my pork Chop and took almost 30 minutes to fix it. My date had already finished her dinner and they didnt even offer any empathy. This place is all hype and sucks. There is no small restaurant mentality, just a cocky so-called cook running the kitchen. Somebody tell him to go back to school.

                          2. It's reading a thread like this one that I realize how narrow the audience is for Chowhound. When I think quintessential Brooklyn food I think of long-time ethnic neighborhoods like Italian in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, Russian in Brighton Beach, Polish in Greenpoint, Chinese in Sunset Park, Middle Eastern on Atlantic Avenue etc. Not the newbie yuppie/suburban gentrified food of Park Slope and Cobble Hill.

                            All the restaurants mentioned are good restaurants (Saul, Applewood, Chestnut, al di la) and I would have no hesitation in recommending them to friends but this type of restaurant is not unique to Brooklyn, nor do they have particular Brooklyn flavor.

                            These visiting 'foodies' may want this exact type of recommendation themselves, I don't know. But if I were coming from out of town and I wanted to eat in 'Brooklyn' these generic American nice restaurants are not the recommendations I would want.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: dippedberry

                              Hear, hear. I see al di la come up time and time again and I always wonder why anyone would take the trouble to travel outside of Manhattan to replicate the Manhattan experience. This is not intended to be condescending to Brooklyn, which obviously is capable of much more than ethnic/mom'n'pop (just as Manhattan offers lots of amazing and cheap ethnic)... it just seems like people are sometimes looking to have the same experience over and over again. For the record, I just moved to Greenpoint and would recommend Krolewskie Jadlo (King's Feast) - cute photo at http://tastesgood.org/2006/05/28/1610...

                              1. re: dippedberry

                                Great points. I'll add River Cafe to the list. The food is only OK but the view is unforgettable. Or better yet, have a drink at the River Cafe bar and eat elsewhere.

                                Steaks at Luger's also would be a quintessential Brooklyn experience. Along those lines Queen in the Heights would be a great choice for very good old style Italian and it's in walking distance of River Cafe.

                                I do disagree about your Bruni comment further down the thread. Frank's prose style can be a little overwroght but he's usually right in his conclusions. He gave a very good review to Al Di La, a restaurant you like as well. It's one thing to slam Bruni for getting something wrong but it doesn't seem fair to bat him around when he gets something right.

                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                  RIVER CAFE is a great suggestion. It is fine food in a lovely one of a kind setting. The view is spectacular, and makes this a unique dining experience, unlike any other.

                                  If I had only one meal in NY (or Brooklyn) I would have it here.

                                  1. re: Fleur

                                    I have to disagree with the River Cafe. I ate there recently and found it really -- what's the right word -- impersonal. It's not that the food was bad, but it it seemed churned out, like what I imagine food on a luxury cruise probably tastes like. And really expensive in the end. Better to start the night with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, then take a cab or subway to a place with truly good food.

                                2. re: dippedberry

                                  What is uniquely Brooklyn about these restaurants is that they all support the local producers in their immediate Brooklyn neighborhoods. And Saul and Applewwood have daily changing menus which reflect Brooklyn market provisions.

                                  The OP asked what's "worth driving to" - these are well worth driving to.

                                  For the ultimate Brooklyn experience try Island in Crown Heights - without question the best West Indian restaurant in the boro.

                                  1. re: livetotravel

                                    The "ultimate" Brooklyn experience is different for each person. As a life-long 5th generation Brooklynite, I would have suggested GAGE & TOLLNER as the ultimate Brooklyn experience. Alas! It is no more. But PETER LUGER for an historic restaurant with fabulous food, and RIVER CAFE for excellent food in a spectacular Brooklyn setting will give the one-night visitor a memorable experience, and memories for a lifetime.

                                    When looking for the best dining experience in a city, Brooklyn, in this case, I doubt if all this PC has any relevance.

                                  2. re: dippedberry

                                    «I think of long-time ethnic neighborhoods like ... Russian in Brighton Beach,... Chinese in Sunset Park... etc. Not the newbie yuppie/suburban gentrified food of Park Slope and Cobble Hill.»

                                    Just to point out that some parts of Park Slope and Cobble Hill were upscale and "yuppie" before any Russian set foot in Brighton Beach or the Chinese arrived in Sunset Park. These are relatively new ethnic areas.

                                    1. re: bobjbkln

                                      Yeah, thanks for that.

                                      Remind me again: How old is al di la? How long has Applewood been around? How about Chestnut and Saul and 360 and The Grocery?

                                      1. re: dippedberry

                                        Al Di La is one of the oldest on 5th Avenue. I think they opened up as far back as 1998.

                                        Applewood celebrates their 2nd anniversary this Friday, the 22nd.

                                        Chestnut is about 3 years old. (I actually ate there their very first night without realizing it was their first night. I was then foolish enough not to return until last month. The food is wonderful and the prix fixe is the deal of the neighborhood.)

                                        I *think* Saul opened around 1999 or 2000, as did the Grocery -- they are two of the oldest on Smith St.

                                        Anyone want to correct any of my dates?


                                        1. re: Peter

                                          BTW, I'm sure that one of our first celebratory restaurant meals in Brooklyn about 20 years ago was in a same space where Applewood is now. Anyone remember the name?

                                          1. re: bobjbkln

                                            I don't know about 20 years ago, but just before Applewood the Blah-Blah Lounge was at that address.

                                            1. re: bobjbkln

                                              The restaurant you're thinking of was called Adele. Folks who remember it seem to remember it very fondly. Apparently, it was just ahead of it's time, as it was an upscale restaurant on 9th Street back in the late 80s, early 90s.

                                              1. re: bobjbkln

                                                Here's a blurb from the NY Times on Adele from 1989...
                                                Adele (Diner's Journal, Feb. 10, 1989), 501 11th Street (718-788-4980) - This former carriage house in the Park Slope section offers classical music and candlelight. An enticing starter is a duck consomme with foie gras dumplings. Roast duck is moist, with a black pepper sauce. Appetizers are $6 to $8, entrees $18 to $22. Dinner 6 to 10:30 P.M. Tuesday to Saturday, brunch 11:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. Sunday.

                                                1. re: livetotravel

                                                  Thank you all so much. I do remember the place fondly, but just couldn't remember the name. When I walked into Applewood I had a feeling of deja vu.

                                            2. re: dippedberry

                                              The OP said this - "Foodies from LA want to eat at one Brooklyn place. Any suggestions would be welcome, someplace worth driving to from Manhattan?"

                                              There was no mention of "old Brooklyn" or "authentic Brooklyn." They just asked for a worthwhile place. What that means to me is that all suggestions with good food or a unique atmosphere are in bounds.

                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                You're right, Bob. "All suggestions." True.

                                                I guess I was responding with greater frustration than necessary when a call for a restaurant in Brooklyn elicits the same response from 12 hounders. That much consensus is suspect. Brooklyn is too big and too diverse to get the same 4 mainstream restaurant suggestions from over a dozen hounders.

                                                But I'll start toeing the line too: Hey, OP, I hear that al di la is fantastic! But if Italian's not for you, Applewood or Chestnut is great. Be sure not to consider any neighborhoods but Park Slope, Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights. Really. There's nothing else out here.

                                                1. re: dippedberry

                                                  Instead of complaining, offer a real suggestion.
                                                  What are the good Chinese restaurants in Sunset? Or Russian in Brighton? If I find myself in Gravesend or Borough Park, what should I eat?

                                        2. Before you make your decision please read Frank Bruni's (New York Times restaurant reviewer) review of al di la. Sorry I can't provide a link since I am electronically disadvantaged. After that it's kind of a no-brainer. Don't let the no reservations policy keep you from going. If you get there before seven you'll probably be just fine. If you go on a weekend evening try and get there earlier. If you like delicious food that has some guts you'll love al di la.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: micki

                                            Detailed discussion about Frank Bruni is off topic for this board. Some posts about Frank have been moved to the Food Media and News board here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                            Please continue the Frank Bruni debate on Food, Media and News, as further comments here will be removed.

                                          2. If you like Japanese, Blue Ribbon Sushi is fantastic. The beef negamaki, soft shell crab roll, and the daikon salad are a must.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ruckus2330

                                              True enough, but they're coming from LA ...

                                            2. I'd take Saul, Chestunt, or Al Di La ANY day over Grocery. I dont know why it gets so much love on this board, I find it to be highly overrated.

                                              I would have said Taku, but RIP Taku :(

                                              1. I'd vote al di la or Convivium or di fara. The others mentioned are fab restaurants, but I think you want to go ethnic w/out-of-towners who prolly get plenty of new American at home.

                                                1. This really is about what you're looking for. My 2 cents:
                                                  Best food in Brooklyn -- Grocery, Al Di La, Peter Luger
                                                  Best food/value combination -- 360
                                                  Best pizza -- Di Fara, L&B

                                                  You may want to choose by neighborhood. Never been to Park Slope? want to combine dinner w/ a trip to Botanic Gardens or Brooklyn Museum? ... then Al Di La.

                                                  Want to see a grittier Brooklyn, go to Red Hook and 360, take an after-dinner walk to the Coffey St. Pier for a nice view of downtown manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Maybe visit Fairway.

                                                  Really love steak? Peter Luger is a must. The steak is the best I've ever had. Walk it off on your way back to Manhattan on the Williamsburg bridge.

                                                  But prior posters have a point ... if you really want gourmet and $ isn't an issue, most of these places (aside from Peter Luger) can be topped in Manhattan. You're not going to find better pizzerias than DiFara or L&B.

                                                  1. IMO one of the quintessential Brooklyn experiences is the original Nathan’s in Coney Island. I can’t think of anything better then hitting the Cyclone then having 2 red hots w/ brown mustard, crispy fries and a cold one while sitting on the boardwalk overlooking the Ocean. Heck, if they’re home try and catch The Mets minor league team @ Keyspan Park. And if you’re still hungry then shimmy on down the boardwalk to Brighton Beach and try some food @ one of the Russian clubs overlooking the water (check this site to see what’s recommended). Depending on where you are in Manhattan and on traffic it could take you 30 minutes or so to get to C.I. You can’t get more Brooklyn then that.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: MShapiro

                                                      I went down to Coney Island last weekend for a pizza @ Tottono's, and the boardwalk was dead. Most of the attractions are closed for the season, and the Cyclones' season is over.

                                                      The dogs are good, but the rest of the area is kind of depressing when there's no one around.

                                                    2. If the discussion is about restaurants, as the origin poster asked, there are many fine restaurants in Brooklyn.

                                                      A slice of pizza at TOTONNOS or a hot dog at NATHAN'S is not a restaurant experience, no matter how good they may be.

                                                      For the best steak in the country, the winner is still PETER LUGER. For an old Brooklyn feel in a traditional German Steakhouse atmosphere, the food at PETER LUGER can't be beat.

                                                      Another unusual restaurant is CONVIVIUM OSTERIA . The excellent food in a charming, cozy, romantic atmosphere are well worth a visit.

                                                      For a traditional Brooklyn Italian, AL DI LA can't be beaten for the food. I would not recommend making a special trip or a one meal in Brooklyn occasion meal because they do not take reservations, and lines can be long and tiresome.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Fleur

                                                        It is all in knowing when to go. My wife and I went last night and arrived at 7:45 PM and were seated immediately.

                                                        The grilled, braised ribs I had last night might be among one of the best meals I have ever had.

                                                        The are marinated for 3 days in a thyme, rosemary, sage, oil and garlic sauce. They are then grilled, placed in an oven with a stock and covered with a sublime cherry preserve and vinegar sauce then regrilled and finsihed in the oven.

                                                        Like I said, one of my best meals ever. My wife had the ravioli filled with sweet corn - also a fabulous dish.

                                                        1. re: Fleur

                                                          Regarding Totonno's, I couldn't disagree with you more. Define "restaurant experience". It's a place where you sit down, order and get served. It might not be refined, varied or high class, but it is a place which reflects the care and warmth of its' proprietors. They have also taken great care in decorating the walls with historical articles, photos, etc., and creating an atmosphere that feels, to me, in every way, like a restaurant.

                                                          I'm glad that Totonno's made it onto this thread, as it serves up one of the city's best pies, and is also quintessentially old school Brooklyn.

                                                        2. It appears that I'm late to the party here but that wont stop me from putting in my 2cents worth (or more). I agree with the frustration of those who always see the same narrow band of recommendations and, since I live in Bklyn Hts, I realize that I contribute to it as much as anyone. After all, we eat in & try new places near us much of the time and a lot of the most vocal of us are congregated in the same few areas of Bklyn. That's why I make sure that I read posts from those of us that I know/trust get around and those that seem to live in areas I'm not familiar with. I grew up for most of my 53 years in Bklyn and I never would have found World Tong on my own. Or David's Brisket. I'd like to see more of that. But that's my request, not the OP's.

                                                          That being said, I think that the real issue is that a # of folks dont really respond to an OP when advice is sought. This OP request was pretty straightforward: "Foodies from LA want to eat at one Brooklyn place. Any suggestions would be welcome, someplace worth driving to from Manhattan"? Didn't ask for my favorite restaurant (which may just be my local equivalent of a restaurant that I could find wherever I might live); didnt ask for the best chef/food either. With that in mind, I cant see why I would recommend al di la, Henry's End, Convivium, Applewood, .... These are all excellent places that I love to frequent but they dont respond to the question. Why would an L.A. foodie with one meal in Bklyn think "wow, Brooklyn has THIS and any tourist would miss it if they didnt leave Manhattan for Brooklyn" after going to any of them? They are great places because I live here and have access to excellent chefs at very reasonable price points close to home. But, if any of them were in Manhattan, they'd fit right in. They are IN Brooklyn, but not necessarily ABOUT Brooklyn. Or a reason to come TO Brooklyn.

                                                          But...an L.A. foodie in Manhattan cant get anything like:

                                                          River Cafe: excellent creative food (not top 50 NYC any longer, but quite good, with a very strong wine list) & a view of Manhattan from a goddamn barge that is impossible to re-create anywhere. It is the perfect Brooklyn high end meal;

                                                          DiFara: okay, it's not a restaurant, but they want to "eat" in Bklyn (not necessarily "dine") and this cannot be recreated anywhere else and is as "Brooklyn" as it gets (especially since Dom is smack dab in the middle of an Orthodox neighborhood that'll make for stories in LA as well).

                                                          Peter Luger: gotta admit that I'm not even sure about this vis a vis the OP, but it's the original and the food, ambience, private credit card, service, etc are definitely old Brooklyn. But, as great as the steaks are, it's the waiters and the schlag that scream Brooklyn here and make it an option for any foodie. I'd go to the LI branch for food and, if/when they open up in Vegas or LA, I'd go there as well, but this one is special to us & is worth the trip.

                                                          There are other places that, when someone wants to spend several days/meals in Bklyn to get a feel for our borough, I love to take them (Sunset Park Chinatown, Red Hook Ballfields, Brighton Beach Ukraine, E.Flatbush Islands, Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst Eyetalian...)but, for one meal only, the above are the 3 that I think fit the bill for the OP. I'm sure other CHounds can come up with a couple of others. And, again, this does not mean that for me, when I want to go out for the best dinner possible in Bklyn with my wife and/or friends, that these are my first destination thoughts. But, that's what the "my favorites' column on "My Chow" is for, isnt it? So there (written with a smile).

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Steve R

                                                            Nice post, as always Steve. One minor quibble. These folks are from L.A. which has outstanding Chinese and Mexican food. They wouldn't be impressed by the Ballfields or Sunset Park at all.

                                                            We agree on River Cafe, or RC for drinks and then Queen for dinner for a real Brooklyn experience.

                                                          2. Two things: First I am so glad that someone finally leveled this whole discussion. Brooklyn is incredibly diverse, and warrants looking into all its fruits. That is to say, those outside of the standard CT style neighborhoods. Second, and now I am going to really open myself up to critism, if I were to rec. someplace 'worth driving to from Manhattan for out of towners' per the thread, I would second thrid and fourth River Cafe. Forget about everything else, the view is intense, wines are off the charts and food, although not what it used to be, is still very well executed with thoughtful preparation and seasonal themes spun throughout. Maybe I just love Joeseph Stella, and the Brooklyn bridge?

                                                            1. It's not even remotely "upscale", but any discussion of quintessential Brooklyn food has to include Junior's on Flatbush. It's really good diner food (and the best cheesecake in the world). While I'm guessing it may not be what the OP had in mind, Juniors IS Brooklyn.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: binkis

                                                                I second that, Binkis. It is also hard to find a better cross section of Brooklyn residents than Juniors: old, young, black, white, yuppies, homeboys. It's kind of like a center for things, where the streams and rivers meet the ocean. I agree: it is Brooklyn.

                                                                For another true neighborhood experience, I second the hound who mentioned L&B Spumoni. You would be hard pressed to replicate that scene anywhere in Manhattan, so it is definitely a Brooklyn experience.

                                                              2. I believe the original poster asked for recommendations for one restaurant in Brooklyn that would warrant the drive from the City. I don't believe they were asking for the ultimate Brooklyn experience.

                                                                RIVER CAFE and PETER LUGER are two unique restaurants that one cannot find anywhere else.

                                                                Brooklyn restaurants are good ,but how many are worth a special trip? For example, AL DI LA is excellent, if you are local and looking for good food at a moderate price. BABBO is infinitely better if price is not a consideration.

                                                                1. Hands down: al di la. Nothing comes close.

                                                                  1. peter luger, for sure, my favorite steak house.

                                                                    1. Di Fara Pizzeria. End of story.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: JFores

                                                                        Wow Jfores. That's impressive. Even I might pick Al Di La for some variety. You definitely win the 'most loyal DiFara customer in history' award. First prize: a slice.

                                                                      2. Wow, little did tsiblis suspect what a firestorm would be ignited by the innocent request for "one Brooklyn place", "worth driving to from Manhattan!" I'm not even from Brooklyn (Boston) but visit my son in Cobble Hill regularly enough to know a few of the things that define Brooklyn's unique qualities: diversity, neighborhood and VIEW. To experience all three in ONE evening, I would suggest drinks at River Cafe (view), dinner at Frankie's (neighborhood), followed by leisurely amble down Court and up Smith (diversity).