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Leah Bhabha Headshot

Top 10 Tastes: Williamsburg Edition

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As the resident foodie in my group of friends, I'm often asked for restaurant recommendations. After I ask all the essential questions (price point, cuisine, location...), I can usually present a few good options to the resto requester. Now that I've lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for the last six months, I've become extremely familiar with quite a few eateries in the 'hood. Here are my top 10:

LUNCH/BRUNCH

Saltie
I'm a sandwich addict, and when I'm looking for a fix, I often find myself at Saltie. Their combinations are interesting and unexpected (think sardines, pickled egg, and salsa verde) and the ingredients (and homemade focaccia!) are very high quality. For a filling and refreshing salad, Saltie also fits the bill, with an oft'changing roster of seasonal greens with cheese, roasted veggies, nuts and a tasty dressing. If I want healthy with some carbs, I like to get the Clean Slate which comes on hummus-slicked naan, loaded with pickled veggies, bulgur, and yogurt sauce. For when you crave a hipster sandwich.

Bakeri
Yes, the servers wear light blue mechanic-style onesies, but no, that's not the only reason I'm obsessed with this artisanal bakery/restaurant. The tiny space is bedecked with cute, rustic touches and the baked goods and sandwiches are, well, fantastic. Everything at Bakeri is homemade, from the fluffy brioche to the jams and preserves and Euro-style sandwiches. Why wouldn't you want fresh smoked salmon with a side of brioche, dill and caper yogurt sauce, and avocado? When the weather is nice, there are few more delightful places than a table outside next to their bubbling fountain. For when you want all homemade errythang.

Pâtes et Traditions
It's not often that you sit in Brooklyn feeling like you're in Paris. At this corner crêperie, though, you're immersed in French culture down to the (extremely attractive) French accented wait staff. The savory buckwheat crêpes are fabulous--I particularly like the Popeye (spinach, cream, egg, garlic, Swiss) with ham and the Bergere (goat cheese, Swiss, fig, honey, caramelized onions, rosemary). For an impromptu trip to Paris.

Diner
Diner is known throughout the city for its great food, and although there's often a wait (particularly for brunch), it's always worth it. Artisanal is the name of the game, with the ever-changing small-format menu. Everything is thoughtfully prepared and presented, and the space (the restaurant is housed in a 1920s Kullman dining car) is particularly enchanting. Always get the bloody Mary. For a boozy, foodie brunch.

DINNER

Fette Sau
Barbecue spots seem to be opening up right and left, but Fette Sau does it for me every time. Diners choose from large quantities of expertly prepared meats (frequently changing but always including brisket, sausages, and ribs) which are then placed on a silver tray over butcher paper. The sides are delicious as well--particularly the baked beans and crunchy broccoli salad. Order a 14 ounce beer and sip it from an enormous jar with you go HAM on some meat. For breaking a vegetarian stint.

St. Charles Cellar
This spot is literally across the street from my house, but upon entry, I'm immediately transported to an old school speakeasy. The upstairs bar (St. Mazie) often features live jazz musicians while the cellar downstairs has super tasty home-style dishes like fettuccine with tomato sauce, breadcrumbs and basil oil (order two.) The cocktails are very lovely--I go for the Brown Derby--and the pasta specials hit the spot. For a second date with room for dancing.

Allswell
This is basically my go-to treat, particularly for celebratory solo lunches (yes, this happens.) The menu changes rather frequently, but it is always a mix of upscale European-inflected comfort foods like rabbit rillettes with pickles, housemade bread with ricotta, and fantastic pastas. The whole vibe has a Swiss chalet thing going on with lots of wood accents and the coolest wallpaper ever. For that perfect, casual dinner.

St. Anselm
Although the wait is always insanely long (go to Spuyten Duyvil next door for beer and snacks while you await your table), St. Anselm is worth the hype. At this hipster steakhouse, the main courses are deftly prepared on a large grill in the open kitchen, producing flavors I previously reserved for outdoor grills. Other dishes like the wine braised octopus and their amazing pan-fried mashed potato (yes), are equally excellent. For when you got a promotion or a 4th date and some time on your hands.

Traif
At this small plates spot whose name translates to "not kosher", there's a lot to choose from and no chance to be bored. The cuisine zig zags all around the globe, with super seasonal ingredients setting the stage for amazing flavors. Order everything that strikes your fancy, particularly if you're feeling flush with ca$h. For when you have food ADD.

Aurora
For really tasty Italian food, I turn to Aurora. The menu is approachable, well executed, and highly shareable. Sitting outside in the brick walled courtyard is the best (can you tell I'm jonesing for some summer weather?!), particularly when you're fortified with a glass of prosecco and a lump of fresh, luscious burrata. For when Tuscany beckons.