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Welcome to Williamsburg- All the Info you Dare to Share

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plumtart Oct 12, 2006 05:01 AM

Having recently settled in the lovely land of the L, I am oh so eager to learn the culinary and snack-tastic ins and outs of my new neighborhood.

Please help me out and offer your thoughts on all things edible in Williamsburg, especially those spots a few stops in on the L, as I figure bedford can't be the only place to experience delicious eats...

From pizza to pancakes, the best burgers to the best beignets, inexpensive to indulgent, sushi to samosas, date places, comfort food stops, markets, taco stands, "healthy options", indian buffets, or where to find the most well prepared pommes frites, I am looking for anything and everything that makes your mouth happy around here.

I know that I will need to do some discovering of my own but if you can help me start a cheat sheet of sorts i promise I'll do my best to try it all.

So many thanks in advance,
a hungry and helpless hound

  1. y
    YoungHood Nov 19, 2006 09:40 PM

    Tonys pizza on graham avenue is the best in the hood, astonishing variety of innovative offerings.

    1. h
      haleyjen Nov 9, 2006 04:38 PM

      Nina's on Metropolitan has good pizza and the best garlic knots I have EVER had!

      1. Huffy Nov 6, 2006 03:26 PM

        Check out Juliette that just openned on N5th and Bedford. Highly recommended French Bistro.

        1. n
          noodles Oct 31, 2006 01:49 PM

          I will second Savino's Pasta. Great quality if you dont have time to make your own. Very friendly staff.

          1. n
            NancyC Oct 31, 2006 05:58 AM

            I hope Prospect Heights hounds don't think this blasphemous, but since I moved to this nabe a few months ago, I've REALLY been missing the options available in Williamsburg! Especially because I often work long hours, with a 45-minute commute back home, and most places around me close around 10.

            Most of my favorites have been mentioned, but I want to re-emphasize a few.

            Sal's does have good pizza, but I've also found their heros to really be on par with Cono's, as I'd sometimes switch back and forth. Since Sal's was closer and $1.50 cheaper, I usually chose to go there. Meatball parm hero is a bargain and delicious.

            A great late-night stop is Hana food, just another yuppie organic so-called "deli" but their sandwich options are really creative (with bizarre names) and the staff incredibly friendly. And of course, open 24 hours! Oh, and any time I got a bacon-egg-and-cheese there it was almost half bacon with really runny egg. If you like that sort of thing...and I do. Although the newer Sumac seems to have more non-sandwich options like salad bar, sushi, soups and brick oven, until I moved in May I almost NEVER saw anything available...even around 9-10pm I couldn't even get a sandwich. Maybe it's different now.

            Siam Orchid has really tasty Thai food, not overly sweet, freshly made, and again, very nice staff. One of my Thai friends in the nabe liked it second only to Sripraphai.

            Matamoros Puebla Grocery is the best for very low-key Mexican, but a decent option (if you speak Spanish) is New Mexican (I think that's the name) on Graham, which replaced my beloved Pupuseria. Although I would have greatly preferred Pupuseria stayed, New Mexican had many more options than Matamoras, seemed pretty authentic, was tasty, and delivered.

            Not nearly as good as Pupuseria but probably the sole remaining Salvadorean place now, Bahia's satisfies the pupusa craving. I would love to know if any Salvadorean restaurants reclaimed their spots in Williamsburg.

            Relish has great burgers and REALLY good onion rings. I don't think I've ever bothered to get anything else, that always appealed to me the most.

            I wish there were good Indian food. I didn't like Kabob House at all, but loved Bombay Grill, which Chimu replaced.

            I remember long ago really liking Hurricane Hopeful's chowders, but I don't know if it's still good... or even still around.

            Savino's Quality Pasta on Conselyea between Leonard and Manhattan is wonderful for freshly-made frozen pastas. Family-owned. Their raviolis are great and varied, their gnocchi is so good I never order it in restaurants anymore, and their vodka sauce deliciously rich.

            Uncle Mina's is my favorite place in the neighborhood. Not just because everything they make is cooked-to-order (well, not always the falafel balls, but it's at least ASSEMBLED to order...), fresh and delicious, but Mina and staff are as sweet as pie. They have options besides kabobs/shwarma, but as non-Turks they don't really have lahmacun down properly and I've never tried their maneeash but would like to. Open til 4AM! On warm days you can sit in the garden and smoke a hookah for $8.

            Hope you're enjoying the hood!

            1. thievery Oct 24, 2006 04:11 PM

              i've had great experiences at dressler every time i've been and it's some of the best food i've had in brooklyn or manhattan. lobster bisque is a great way to start now that it's getting chilly. my go to brasserie now that sweetwater quality has declined... and better service than sweetwater ever really had.

              1. wleatherette Oct 21, 2006 08:47 PM

                it's not bad if you're actually eating in and you stick to a few safe items. and yeah - it's good drunk food. there's nothing like an order of tater tots fresh from the fryer after having a few too many, or a crisp, gooey sandwich. delivery, on the other hand, is a shitshow. it usually takes at least 40 minutes, and that's if you're lucky. the last time i ordered with a friend, we fell asleep after about twenty minutes and woke up an hour later. uh oh! had we missed the delivery guy? nope. he hadn't shown up, and when we called to cancel they got very indignant. we eventually ended up getting a bag of stone-cold greasy crap at about 5.30am. this is why people hate anytime.

                1. l
                  laurag Oct 21, 2006 05:07 AM

                  Is it horrible that I love Anytime? I know it gets ripped all the time for semi-shittiness but everytime I go (and granted, I am usually wasted off $1 drinks) I enjoy the food--pressed sandwiches, really good caesar salad, TATOR TOTS etc...and it's usually empty-ish which means decent service...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: laurag
                    thievery Oct 24, 2006 03:57 PM

                    i agree, that it's unfairly maligned. when i first moved to the burg in 2002 it did suck: barely edible and the delivery was unreliable (and they did was delivery / take-out). but in recent times (the last year?) i think the food quality has improved markedly and the delivery has delivered: reliably 30min off-peak, 45-min on peak. judging it for the price and large selection, i think it's a plus for the nabe. anytime burger is one of my rainy day standbys.

                  2. BackyardChef Oct 20, 2006 02:07 PM

                    The Sweetwater only started serving food approx 6 years ago or so, maybe a little longer. When I first lived in the 'burg Teddy's was really the main brunch option. That's going back a while, though, before Bedford ave exploded.

                    1. n
                      noodles Oct 19, 2006 10:45 PM

                      Sweetwater was way great when my biker friends used to dominate the joint. Then, the punks came in, which was cool b/c we could still hang there. After which, Tom bought it, threw us all out, and made it what it is known as today. There is a sad ending. Tom sold last year and opened The Farm on Adderly in Windsor Terrace. The now Sweetwater has lost any goodness added in by Tom. Sad really, b/c the service WAS good, adequate, at least without the bitterness at no extra charge routine. The food was also good. Well prepared, and executed for what it was. Now, not so much. As to Teddy's, forget about Teddy's, the food is worse than any service in all of Billyburg! Yikes!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: noodles
                        The Engineer Oct 19, 2006 11:00 PM

                        Geez I guess it's a whole different world than when I lived in Williamsburg. Back then Teddy's was practically the only bar with a menu.

                        1. re: The Engineer
                          Chas Oct 20, 2006 02:10 PM

                          I also remember when Teddy's was the ONLY place to go in the nabe. Back then the Mgt. would begrudingly accept the older regular neighborhood people because they were still unsure of the future growth of increasing numbers of newcomers (read younger, more naieve, and less likely to challenge high prices, bad attitudes and spotty food.) Teddy's was the only game in town and when Vera Cruz opened (the second place in the 'nabe with a bar) the owners were very concerned. They used to make a good burger but one time it would be really good and the next it would be served on a stale bun that would crumble as you were eating it. If you nicely asked for a fresh one they'd shrug their shoulders! They also did a Friday Fish Fry that at times would be really great fresh fish , oil etc. Yet there were other times that the smell of old fish frying , just one day away from turning, would permeate the place. I never smelled that in a restaurant before!!!!! The one saving grace of that place was the couple of neighborhood "oldtimers" who actually worked at the bar. They were fair, friendly and knew how to treat people; young and old. Sadly those oldtimers have passed away. I'm not surprised to hear that it's still
                          way below mediocre. But I'm sure they're still doing well in spite of it.

                          1. re: Chas
                            Huffy Oct 20, 2006 02:23 PM

                            The waitstaff at Teddy's, are all women, whom I think they hire because they are sort of cute. Sad thing is, they may be cute, but they sure don't know how to be a waitress. That being said, cute &. horrible service vs. Fugly & good service, i would take the fugly & good service any day of the week. Sorry Teddy's but my wallet (& mouth) are closed when I go near you.

                            1. re: Chas
                              Silverjay Oct 20, 2006 02:44 PM

                              Teddy's is alright now and then for a beer. That's a nice room too. I've been going there back about 7 years. I don't mind the Sunday breakfast/brunch menu, but food there is generally pretty lousy- service issues aside. I far and away prefer Mugs for pub grub, especially their blackboard specials. I had a very decent piece of mahi-mahi there the other day and a few nice beers for dinner. It's one of the better values in the 'hood. ('Cept, they haven't had their $2 beer special the last few times I've been).

                              1. re: Chas
                                Brian S Oct 31, 2006 03:06 PM

                                Back in the day, Williamsburg was an old-school neighborhood with a bar on every corner. Each bar had a different crowd of regulars. The bar that became Sweetwater's was owned by an elderly woman who married a guy 20 years younger... and survived him. Teddy's was the neighborhood living room. The people drinking there were the children and grandchildren of former Teddy's regulars. It's an old bar. Then the neighborhood changed and the old neighborhood guys moved on to Greenpoint Tavern. Now they go to private social clubs.

                          2. BackyardChef Oct 19, 2006 09:06 PM

                            The Sweetwater used to be so nice back when it was a dumpy punk bar....

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: BackyardChef
                              Huffy Oct 27, 2006 02:39 PM

                              Anybody know what happened to the Blu Lounge on N.8 and Driggs? Please don't say gentification....

                              1. re: Huffy
                                i
                                iain Oct 27, 2006 07:26 PM

                                Closed. Owners are opening a new place (or have opened a new place) called HOPE LOUNGE on Hope Street between Roebling and Havemyer. Haven't been yet, though.

                                I'm not sure if it was gentrification that forced them out, but it was gentrification that let them in to begin with.

                                1. re: iain
                                  The Engineer Nov 8, 2006 03:37 PM

                                  No doubt, iain! You beat me to it...

                            2. Huffy Oct 19, 2006 07:02 PM

                              Service in Williamsburg is horrible. I have to say that the top three places for worst service in the 'burg is:
                              1. Teddy's (N. 8th & Berry)
                              2. Sweetwater Tavern (N. 6th between Berry & Wythe)
                              3. egg (N. 5th off Bed)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Huffy
                                thievery Oct 24, 2006 04:00 PM

                                4. lodge. (hipsters should not be allowed to wait tables)

                                1. re: thievery
                                  y
                                  YoungHood Oct 26, 2006 10:39 PM

                                  True that regarding the service @ sweetwater & egg. Also its worth noting that some say egg is one of the biggest ripoffs in the city.

                              2. Huffy Oct 17, 2006 10:37 PM

                                Egg flies under the radar?!?!? Not true at all. The place is always packed and there is always a 20-45 minute wait to get a table. (if you do go, it is best to go early, like around 8-9am) While it is good, its not worth the wait and the hipster who-cares service that goes with it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Huffy
                                  n
                                  noodles Oct 19, 2006 01:44 PM

                                  True that. We have been to Egg twice. I have been treated like dogsh*t at many places in Williamsburg, but this was the worst. Sorry if you too are hung over, perhaps a better choice would be a PM shift? Worst hipster-dufus service EVER. We will never go back, no matter how decent the breakfast was. Putting that aside, are these creaton's so inept that they do not realize that they are working on tips? Bad service usually leads to poor tipping? IDK. I am a generous tipper and polite guest at most places, as I used to wait tables to get through school. I guess I am not cool enough to get whatever hate pill these people are on. Anyone care to comment on service in this neighb?

                                2. s
                                  shyguy Oct 17, 2006 09:30 PM

                                  enids is a joke for brunch, i would avoid it at all costs... stick with the pancakes at the lodge, or go to Egg, which flies completely under the radar but has great southern breakfast options

                                  1. y
                                    YoungHood Oct 17, 2006 01:05 AM

                                    Uncle Minas on union Ave near lorimer L stop. Best Kofta Kebab in the city.

                                    1. BackyardChef Oct 16, 2006 01:53 PM

                                      Sorry to hear about your negative experiences at Frost-- I lived in the neighb for years and was always treated nicely there.

                                      I, too, really like the penne a la vodka and the meatballs, too. I enjoy the timewarp feel there, and have always kept the ordering simple-- shrimp in hot sauce, the penne, the meatballs, etc...

                                      1. n
                                        noodles Oct 14, 2006 03:08 PM

                                        Hey! Glad to hear this is hepful. Your cupcake, desserts needs can be fuifilled with surley service free of charge at Cheeks Bakery on Metropolitan (Havermeyer). And do not forget Bace Arrabiaci (sp?) on Grand St. for amazing handmade pasta dishes!

                                        One note on Frost, if you want really horrible service, (unless you have lived in the neighborhood and know everyone who works there for years), expect mediocre at best dining here. Both our pastas were well overcooked, salad looked like it came out of a bag, and our waiter could have cared less that we were there. Meatballs were the one and only standout. The room however is straight out of 1955, and for that, it made me sick in a wonderful wonderful way. Eating here made me really appreciate the S. Cono and Sons, while more expensive, and hero's aside, their red sauce, Penne a la Vodka, and meatballs are things of legends.

                                        Cheers!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: noodles
                                          Chas Oct 16, 2006 06:37 PM

                                          Just as an aside Frost redid that "1950's" room in the '70's!!! LOL!!! And they still think they are newly renovated!!!! Though this is more understandable if you could know what the place was and looked like in the 60's. I was so young I barely remember but I do remember a dingy, kinda dirty,luncheonette/flourescent light atmosphere. Hey what can I say, I was too young to be thinking of impressing women. (Gee now I'm almost too old....read almost:) But I'll say this they always had good Scungilli Marinara and Fried Calamari. It's been the same family that's owned it all the way through. I'll give you that they have slipped as of late with shortcuts (par-cooking pastas then reheating for serving etc.) But THEIR fried calamari are still things of legends as well :) That's mostly what I order from there.

                                        2. BackyardChef Oct 13, 2006 05:43 PM

                                          Though I haven't been in a while, I used to go all the time to the Frost Restaurant on Humbolt at Frost-- old school chianti and red sauce kind of place. A taste of what the neighborhood used to be like....

                                          1. Silverjay Oct 13, 2006 03:49 PM

                                            Good take away places are:

                                            Matamoros Puebla Grocery- sopes, quesadillas, tacos, burritos

                                            Old Poland Foods- stuffed cabbage, pork ribs, soups, and amazing bigos (called hunter's stew in English), and nice selection of fresh made breads

                                            Cono O'Pescatore- great Italian heros

                                            M Shanghai Bistro- the only place remotely passable for Chinese food in the area, decent quality, but small portions

                                            1. m
                                              mrock Oct 13, 2006 03:34 PM

                                              pies and thighs - i didn't like their pulled pork sandwich. it was overly vinegary and spicy that i couldn't taste the pork at all. the fried chicken, on the other hand, is quite delicious.

                                              zipe zape - i really liked this place. it was a while ago i went, but i have good memories of it.

                                              hope and union - it's closed! one of my favorite go to restaurants is now replaced by this tex mex joint called santa fe. why would they open an overpriced mexican restaurant when there are so many other (and more authentic) places around?

                                              chimu - their ceviches are awesome.

                                              others: enid's for brunch, uncle mina's for everything (lamb, chicken, falafel, all are delicious and cheap), moto on broadway

                                              1. p
                                                PAL Oct 13, 2006 02:03 PM

                                                Cupcake: have you tried the bakery on Metropolitan Avenue next to Siam Orchard? I think it's near Havemeyer. I haven't tried one, because I'm not a fan of buttercream, but the cookies are excellent and that's a good sign.

                                                1. p
                                                  plumtart Oct 13, 2006 01:28 PM

                                                  thanks noodles, that was really helpful...
                                                  I've had some good experiences at the places you mentioned... liked Marlow, love dumont's mac and cheese and their chickpea buger/overgrown falafel, thought the pizza at Sal's was pretty decent but difficult to order and have had some terrific French Toast at Aurora for brunch though their service is fairly flakey. I'm looking forward to indulging in Dressler when I have the dollars. I'm also aiming to try the following on yours and others suggestion:
                                                  Pies and Thighs
                                                  Zippe Zappe
                                                  Hope and Union (is that closed now?)
                                                  Chimu (sp)

                                                  my quest for a decent cupcake and really chocolately brownie is a source for significant disappointment by the way so feel free to advise on that.
                                                  Thanks again.

                                                  1. n
                                                    noodles Oct 12, 2006 08:31 PM

                                                    Diner and Marlow on Broadway, great food and drink. One is a pricey/upscale diner, and the other, a raw bar/upscale grocery/blackboard style restaurant in the back. The Indian place on N.5th St, just off Bedford is reliable and cheap. Baci Arabiacci on Grand St. (btw Bedford and Driggs) is wonderful. Cash only, Atm on premises, and an incredible garden, and may be the only place in Billyburg aside from Dressler that the servers don't outwardly loathe you. Great food there! Not to be missed pasta. Sal's on Lorimer off Metropolitan is a reliable slice of Pizza, best when they are at their busiest (11-1 and 5-8). Carmines on Graham Ave, also off Metropolitan is good reliable slice. S. Cono and Son's on Graham is the best old school red sauce joint in the Burg. Have had so-so food exp. at Aurora also on Grand St. We are lucky to have a really fantastic Tappas joint here Zippe Zappe, the sisters who own and serve are wonderful, and the food is on point. Fornino makes great, artisinal wood oven Pizzas. The Manilla clam pizza is a thing to behold. Dressler, is, well Dressler. We have not had a bad meal there, in the 5x we have been, it is $$$. Dumont, both Burger and proper have great food for the most part. Burgers are the house specialty, but at the Dumont proper, Mac and Cheese, fish specials are always safe bets. Meat and Cheese and high-end Beer at Sputen Duyvil on Metropolitan and Havermeyer. Check out the Williamsburg restaurant guide too for exact locations, and some really stupid, unmoderated reviews! Chow down!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: noodles
                                                      Andrew P. Oct 13, 2006 04:18 PM

                                                      I'd add Dumont to the list of restaurants where customer-loathing is minimal. I'm almost a little put off by how nice the staff is at Dumont. IMO, their brunch and dinner are some of the best in Williamsburg.

                                                      Chimu is tasty and the portions are enormous.

                                                      Fanny (on Graham) is a cozy little spot. I like their charcuterie plate.

                                                      Brunch at Lodge is pretty good, but the loathing factor is there.

                                                      Matamoros Puebla is terrific for fast, cheap Mexican, and is 50 feet from the Bedford L inside a bodega. Try the sopes!

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