The best dishes to eat in Brooklyn right now

From fish in banana leaf to a fresh take on the McRib, Brooklyn is New York’s most delicious district.

By David Farley
Published 11 Mar 2023, 08:00 GMT
Bonnie's cha sui McRib.

Bonnie's cha sui McRib.

Photograph by Adam Friedlander

Considered by most to be New York’s coolest borough, Brooklyn is also the city’s tastiest, serving up dishes inspired by flavours from all over the globe. Whether it’s a Cantonese-inspired riff on a fast-food favourite or a Persian-style lamb stew (with fries thrown in for good measure), eating out in Brooklyn is never boring. Here’s our pick of the borough’s best things to eat.

1. Chilli-fried chicken, Pecking House

Having spent time in some of New York’s most esteemed kitchens, including Café Boulud and Eleven Madison Park, chef Eric Huang opened Pecking House, a spicy fried chicken pop-up in his parents’ Chinese restaurant in Queens during the pandemic. Word spread of the deliciousness like wildfire, and in 2022, he moved the operation to Park Slope. Now Brooklynites are lining up for tender, juicy chicken slathered in a scorchingly hot sauce made from Sichuan peppercorns, Tianjin chillies, MSG and sugar.

2. Grilled aubergine, Laser Wolf

Israeli chef Michael Solomonov made a splash on the Philadelphia dining scene with his restaurant Zahav, and in May 2022, he opened Laser Wolf, a New York outpost atop The Hoxton hotel in Williamsburg. With its charred exterior, the spiced and grilled aubergine has a deep smokiness to it, sitting in a shallow pool of tahini. On top is a salad of grilled cherry tomatoes, fried garlic, pickled peppers and a sprinkling of dill. 

3. Bhetki paturi, Masalawala & Sons

One of Park Slope’s hottest tables, Masalawala & Sons comes from chef Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar, who already have three other celebrated Indian establishments under their belts. This time, the pair are celebrating the food of their youth in Kolkata and West Bengal, particularly dishes rarely found on menus outside India. The bhekti paturi arrives at the table clad in banana leaves; unwrap it, and you’ll find steamed barramundi marinated in a thick mustard paste. Expect sharp flavours and a soft, almost mousse-like texture.

4. Gheymeh bademjan, Eyval

Persian cuisine has been booming in New York — particularly in Brooklyn, where Eyval opened its doors last spring in industrial-hip Bushwick. The kitchen is manned by Ali Saboor, formerly of lauded Park Slope Persian restaurant Sofreh, and the menu includes gheymeh bademjan, a braised lamb stew that strikes a perfect balance between tangy, sour grapes and tomatoes, umami-laden lamb and earthy aubergine. French fries are even added to the mix for an extra bit of crunch. 

5. Cha siu McRib, Bonnie's

The McDonald’s McRib sandwich has become the stuff of legend since the chain yanked it from the menu in 1985, intermittently bringing it back for limited periods, driving demand among the devoted. At Bonnie’s, in Williamsburg, Cantonese American chef Calvin Eng recreates the sandwich, but with an elevated twist. The filling of deboned baby back ribs is glazed with cha siu sauce, flavoured with honey, ginger, garlic, soy and five-spice powder, and topped with pickles and white onions. The result: an ultra-tender sandwich that treads the line between tang, sweetness and umami. 

6. Cochinillo, La Vara

Husband-and-wife chefs Eder Montero and Alex Raij have built a small restaurant empire in New York City with the Basque tapas temples Txikito and El Quinto Pino and the seafood-forward Saint Julivert Fisherie. At La Vara, located in quaint Cobble Hill, they focus on the flavours of Spain's Muslim and Jewish culinary heritage. Ironic, then, that one of the best dishes on the menu is the roast suckling pig. The hunk of pork has an ultra-crispy exterior giving way to a tender, juicy and oh-so addictive core that’s only emboldened by the shallow pool of tangy chimichurri sauce beneath. 

Published in Issue 19 (spring 2023) of Food by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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