Best Bar Food
The Anchored Inn
57 Waterbury Street, at Scholes
Chef David Peterson, formerly of beloved Chelsea tapas spot Tia Pol, does bar food right at this kitschy, nautical-themed bar in Bushwick, including a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog topped with refried beans, mayo and onions ($5) and French fries smothered in Oaxaca cheese, white cheddar, bacon, scallions and chipotle mayo ($8).
Best Second Date
190 Dean St, at Bond
This dimly lit Italian eatery tucked into a residential corner feels hidden and romantic—until you find out you’ve got to wait over an hour for table. Get your first-date small talk out of the way elsewhere, and head here when you’re ready to wait together on the street until seats open up at the bar.
331 5th Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Sts
The droves of second-graders packing this place after school can’t be wrong: this froyo joint is off the chain. Tangy, house-made, soft-served yogurt is no-joke delicious. To sweeten the deal, signature fixins, like key lime custard and Vermont maple syrup, are generously poured into the bottom of the cup AND over the top.
El Nuevo Cibao
172 Smith St, between Warren and Wyckoff
Smith Street’s El Nuevo Cibao changed its name, updated its look, and kept its menu. Now, trendy pendant lamps fashioned from repurposed coffee cans hang over the regulars at the bar. Old-neighborhood Dominicanos dig into the same pernil and monfongo they’ve been enjoying for years. Everybody wins.
Hecho En Dumbo
354 Bowery, at E. 4th
Though it kept its name, this Mexican eatery now resides on the Bowery. We selfishly hoped that forsaking its roots would send the establishment downhill. Not the case. The decadent carnitas torta, served in a bowl of chile de arbol au jus, is worth waiting through a few more stops on the F train.
127 Atlantic Avenue, between Clinton and Henry
Locally sourced ingredients? Check. Dramatic open kitchen? Check. Eco-fabulous décor and cutely named cocktails? Um, there’s a living wall of herbs and a Cool Hand Cuke, people. Menu changes often (duh!) but get the ricotta crostini with honey and mint and the octopus with citrus-pickled onions if you can.
305 Franklin Avenue, at Lafayette
America may run on Dunkin’ but Brooklyn yupsters run on Dough. At this little Bed-Stuy shop, large and airy yeast donuts get filled with chai cream or topped with passionfruit glaze and cocoa nibs. Other fancy varieties include chocolate-Earl Grey, lemon-poppyseed, and hot pink hibiscus with dried hibiscus flowers.
Best Gut-Busting Fare
593 Lorimer Street
The “Big Plates” at Joaquin Baca’s resurrected Southern restaurant are exactly that—giant, coma-inducing plates of artery-clogging goodness. One country-fried steak ($15), served with insanely buttery mashed potatoes, can easily feed two, while the thick meatloaf sandwich ($10) is probably the only sandwich outside of Katz’s pastrami where a doggy-bag is de rigeur. (Photo Dana DeCoursey)
Char No. 4
196 Smith St, between Warren and Baltic
Char knows that bar food is best when bite-sized and deep-fried, and every whiskey nerd in the borough has snacked on their pork nuggets and crispy cheddar curds. But have you sampled their fried jambalaya rice balls with andouille aioli? For best results, wash ‘em down with an off-menu Sazerac.
Best Fancy Lunch
Al Di La
248 5th Avenue, between Carroll and President
This Park Slope favorite deserves its hype—enjoy it with less of a wait at lunchtime. Treat yourself to a pork belly sandwich or go bonkers with the funghi e polenta—the poached egg, wild mushroom, beet greens and parmigiano polenta combo is so rich you may skip dinner.