As mentioned in my New York post, when Miles and I visited the Big Apple we decided against staying in Manhattan, and instead rented an apartment through Airbnb in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg. We’d heard great things about the area and thought it would be nicer to stay in an place full of people our age rather than just being surrounded by hotels.
Bars and Restaurants:
Bar – Hotel Delmano
Miles and I visited this bar on Berry Street a couple of times. We came here for cocktails on our first night in the city and enjoyed alfresco cocktails in the bar’s outdoor area. We came back here a following evening and sat in one of the cosy nooks in the back room. This Bar has speakeasy/prohibition feel to it with hipster bar tenders, vintage décor and jazz playing throughout. It’s not exactly cheap but the drinks were amazing – my cocktail of choice here was called 99 roses – gin, orchard pear, ginger, lemon and rosewater. Delicious!
The Ideas Bar – The Wythe Hotel
This place is a must do if you’re in Williamsburg – I would even go as far to say it’s worth venturing across the river to from Manhattan. The Wythe Hotel is a trendy boutique hotel right in the middle of the neighbourhood on Wythe Avenue. At the top of the hotel there’s a really cool cocktail bar with the most amazing views back out across the Manhattan skyline. It’s not cheap and you do have to queue around the block to get in (they operate a one in one out policy at peak times) but it is absolutely worth the wait just for the view alone. One thing to bear in mind though – it doesn’t half get windy up there!
Radegast Hall and Beer Garden
I’m actually not normally a fan of German beer halls – they seem to have popped up a lot recently and remind me cheesy Christmas markets back when I was at University – this beer hall however converted me; we had so much fun.
One point to make is, the bar will be completely rammed; and I mean rammed – there wasn’t a spare seat in the house. There is however, plenty of room to stand and have a dance in front of the live bands that take the stage every afternoon. When we visited they had the most incredible jazz band playing – it was impossible not to get up and dance, so don’t let the no seat situation put you off. It’s the perfect place to grab a stein, a bratwurst if you so wish, and dance dance dance.
If you’re in and around Williamsburg, like craft ale and have a couple of hours to spare, you must pay a visit to Brooklyn Brewery! The master brewers take you around the brewery on informal tours and give you a great explanation of the brewing process and the types of house ales on offer. I’ve been on a couple of brewery tours now in various places and funnily enough always find it fascinating – perhaps that has something to do with the promise of tasters if I continue looking animated and enthused. The Brewery houses a bustling bar area which is always rammed – there’s long benches which everyone squeezes into enjoying the selection of beers on taps. It’s so worth a visit and the atmosphere is fantastic – just as, you’ll be pleased to hear, is the beer.
This chic little eatery serves the most delicious locally sourced, southern style breakfast and brunch dishes. Miles and I stopped off for a VERY late brunch date – brinner? brupper?. The restaurant isn’t huge, but its well-lit, minimalist decor with a modern industrial feel is the perfect place to grab a quick bite with a strong coffee and a glass of freshly squeezed OJ. Even better the table cloths are paper, and with crayons provided you can doodle away until your food arrives. Unusually, Miles and I both went for the same menu option – ‘Eggs Rothko’ – easy-cooked eggs in a slice of Amy’s brioche and topped with Grafton cheddar. Served with broiled tomatoes and a side of seasonal vegetables. It was delicious, and luckily for the restaurant’s name sake, the eggs were perfection.
Miles and I went for dinner at this gorgeous restaurants on one of our first nights in the city. The setting is intimate and cosy with a beautiful interior; a great mix of tin, aged narrow strip tongue and groove, old mirrors, nice banquette seating, lit with clustered French brasserie style globe lighting and little table lamps on a zinc bar. We had a really late dinner here which meant the restaurant wasn’t heaving as we heard it often got at peak time. We both had the most delicious three course meal with fantastic wine – it’s a great stop off and apparently is the place to go for brunch on the weekend!
I recently saw this restaurant described online as ‘so Williamsburg’ – I can totally see why; it is a pretty trendy spot with a downstairs courtyard and greenery hanging from the ceilings, cool cocktails and delicious food. Miles and I came to eat here one evening after a day spent treading the pavements of Manhattan so enjoyed the relative peace and quiet sat atop the restaurant’s roof terrace with fairy lights twinkling around our heads. The food was amazing and the setting and table staff just added to the experience. For starters Miles opted for the pan roasted marine diver scallops with polenta and wild mushrooms in a truffle butter. I went for the homemade parmesan gnocchi with imported speck and peas. For our main course Miles had the steak frites and I had the house burger which was delicious. Although this restaurant wasn’t crazy expensive, it did feel like a real treat and the rooftop terrace made the whole meal very memorable.
Coffee shops and quick bites:
So the bagel is pretty much synonymous with New York and you simply cannot start your new York day without one; well – that’s the mantra by which Miles and I lived anyway! We stopped off at Bagelsmith probably every day but one (the one day we visited the Bagel Store – see below) on our trip to grab our coffee and bagel before starting out day of exploration. Bagel Smith is right on Bedford Avenue, just next to the entrance of the subway so it was the perfect pit stop every morning before we crossed the river to Manhattan. The place is always busy (a good sign I think) but the queue moves quickly and before you know it you’re selecting your freshly made bagel and filling (from a whole list of more bagel accompaniments then I ever knew existed). I was always very boring an opted for a Williamsburg replica McDonalds sausage and egg Mctrendy. (ok I may have made that name up) but the bagels were delish! Just a tip – if you do ever come across this store, make sure you grab a slice of their apple crumble cake. To-die-for.
The Bagel Store
So the Bagel Store on Bedford Avenue is the place to go if you fancy a multi coloured rainbow bagel or their famous house invention ‘the cragel’. I turned down the chance to try their technicolour treats but instead chose a heart attack on a plate – the bacon and cheese cragel – a bagel/croissant hybrid served with sausage egg and cheese. I won’t lie – I felt like I could have rolled out of the place afterwards but it sure was delish!
Make sure you try their cold brew coffee – delicious. They also do public coffee cupping on Thursday afternoons which is interesting to watch.
Toby’s Estate Coffee
The coffee here is fab and the granola, which I bought by the bag load to take home, was amazing. We had many of their coffees to go on our way across to Manhattan.
Konditori is a cool Swedish coffee shop conveniently located right next to entrance to Bedford Avenue subway. They serve the most delicious coffee and amazing Scandinavian cinnamon rolls.
El Beit make the best iced chaï I have had. Oh and delicious peanut butter cookies! I recommend this place for a little break during a Bedford Avenue exploration –they even have a little garden which is fab when the sun’s out.
Black Brick Coffee
This cool coffee shop on right on Bedford Avenue with its exposed brick wall and cosy seats it’s the perfect stop off for a quick coffee and one of their delicious doughnuts.
We came to this map clad coffee shop one morning for breakfast (probably sick of our daily bagel as we had become so accustomed). The coffee was delicious and their huge almond croissants second to none.
Anna Maria Pizza
I’d always felt very hard done by in that I’d been to New York three times but had never tried a huge big slice of New York pizza pie . This time I was determined. It was going to happen.
We stumbled across this place on Bedford Avenue one evening after far too many cocktails. It doesn’t look that enticing from the outside, but the huge queue inside was a good indication that it was the place to go!
The pizza was INSANE, the slices huge and the prices cheap. My particular favourite was the pesto chicken slice – to.die.for. I won’t lie – we went here a few times on our trip…
These Brooklyn bred brothers are world renowned for their delicious chocolates made from the highest quality ingredients. Their stuff isn’t cheap – I’m talking £9 a bar – but it’s so worth it. They have a little store in Williamsburg where you can buy their bars (oh and they do tasters FYI). They also have a little bar at the back which sells the most amazing baked good you can imagine. I opted for their Cocoa Nib Fudge Cake – The fudgey cake contains cacao nibs mixed into its batter and is topped with toasted marshmallow meringue. One word – insane.
Smorgasburg is the most amazing food market every Saturday in Williamsburg right on the waterfront at the East River State Park. With over 100 vendors there is literally the most fantastic choice – almost too much choice. Miles and I took on the challenge however – these are a few of our favourite treats:
Bamberg Sandwich from Schnitz
Chicken schnitzel topped with pickled cucumbers, daikon, ginger and shallots and a caramelized onion dijon mustard in a brioche bun
Truffle Hand cut fries from Home Frite
Belgian Frites tossed in black truffle oil, Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Served with a side of lemon garlic aioli.
Lemon and Poppy Seed doughnut from Dough –
This place is a bit on an institution on the NY foodie map and I can totally see why – delicious!
Mini mouthfuls of heaven from Bite Me, Cheesecakes
These were perhaps my favorite treat from Smorgusburg (quickly followed by Schnitz) – mini baked cheesecakes in a crumb case topped with the most delicious ingredients. I opted for the peach cobbler and lemon meringue pie varieties – amazing!
Needless to say this was not my choice. I’m still not converted. Wrong, so wrong.
I literally could not recommend staying in Williamsburg more – if you fancy a trendy young neighbourhood with amazing bars, restaurants, shops and events then this is the place to base yourself on any New York trip! We rented a whole apartment right on North 9th Street through Airbnb. It was so nice to have the space to spread ourselves out and enjoy a taste of real Brooklyn life – even if it was only for a week…