If you’ve never met me before, you probably don’t know I used to live in New York. If you have met me, even once, for thirty seconds, then you probably do. Like those people who do crossfit, it’s one of the first things I always say about myself. I’m like that kid that did a year abroad in Bar-the-lona and turned it into their whole personality, except I’m not twenty years old and therefore have no excuse to be such a broken record about it. On the plus side, it’s finally coming in handy, because I consider myself uniquely qualified to write the following NYC neighbourhood guide, for your reading and visiting pleasure. You might notice a borough or two (or three) missing from this list, but whatever, it’s my list. Behold, the finest (by my highly subjective standards) eating and drinking spots in the best (by my highly subjective standards) city in the world. Sorry London.
Rhodora, 197 Adelphi St, Brooklyn, NY 11205
Rhodora was the bar my old roommate and I used to go pretty much daily after another brutally hot day working from home in our air-conditioner-free apartment (which, if you’re British, probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you try living in 40-degree heat with 10,000% humidity with no AC). I’m led to believe it has cute indoor seating, but I wouldn’t know, since we spent all our time on their gorgeous patio watching attractive yuppie families floating by and flirting with passing waiters. Their pours are teeny-tiny but what they pour is delicious, so get on board. If you’re not acquainted with NYC prices then these ones are going to send your eyebrows skyrocketing, but get used to it – New York money is Monopoly money, just close your eyes and put your credit card down. That said, beware their food pop-ups – I once spent $120 on a glass of wine and three yakitori that were so small they were invisible to the human eye. You’ve been warned. Oh, they have craft beer too, if you’re into that.
Petit Paulette, 136 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Petit Paulette is that rare beast that functions as well as a spot for morning coffee and people watching as it does as a gorgeous, Parisian-esque wine bar. The pastries are delicious, the wine list is amazing, the sardines on the snack menu are delectable. Staff are great. Running out of adjectives. On my most recent trip to New York I went twice in one day, and then again the next morning. Call it laziness if you like (it's a five minute walk from where I was staying), but it's also just that good. Go check it out and tell me I'm wrong, you can't, I'm not.
Roberta’s, 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206
If it’s your first time at Roberta’s, you’d be forgiven for thinking, upon looking at the entrance, that you were about to head into a building that you’d never leave alive. Double check the name on the door and go on in, however, coz this is some of the best pizza you can get your hands on in NYC, which, obviously, is saying something. This is the first place I ever had hot honey on a pizza, and if the thought makes you gag, well, you have no taste. I also hear it’s a great place for romantic dalliances, based entirely on an ‘Overheard NY’ Instagram thread I read about a girl whose honey-covered paper plate flew out of her hand in a gust of wind and got stuck to some guy’s face, and whose number she desperately wished she’d taken but didn’t so enlisted the help of the internet to locate him. I can’t remember if she found the guy in the end. Whatever. Go for the pizza.
Miss Ada, 184 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205
Mediterranean small plates? I couldn’t possibly eat another Mediterranean small plate, I hear you saying. Well you can, and you will. This is the best Mediterranean food I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot of it, some of it even in the actual Mediterranean. They have an adorable backyard as well, which is a major bonus point in a city where most places that advertise backyards are actually referring to a picnic table shoved up against a dripping AC unit with the neighbours’ washing flapping in your face. Miss Ada is also just down the street from my old apartment, so you can go wave at it, and check the mailbox to see if my immigration paperwork finally came through so I can move back there. Plz.
June, 231 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
There’s only really one word to describe June, and it’s bougie – but I’m not opposed to bougie, when budget allows. The interior is stunningly beautiful, the wine list is cracking, and the food menu prices are eye-popping. Again. Maybe just get a drink. If you do get food, make sure you read the menu carefully. I thought ‘Cheese’ meant it came with some kind of accoutrements, particularly since, if I’m remembering correctly, it was like $22, but it did not. It was just a piece of cheese. I guess I can’t technically say I was lied to, but still. Come on.
12 Chairs, 342 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
There are two 12 Chairs locations, but since I’m a Brooklyn girlie at heart, I recommend you go to the one in Williamsburg. This is some of the sickest Israeli food going, and they’re not stingy on the portions (not that anywhere in America is). Last time I went I made the mistake of ordering both five dips with bread and then a main course which was entirely unnecessary. Just get the dips and bread. I also seem to remember they bring you free bread refills, which is even more of a reason to just get dips and bread. If I’m wrong don’t @ me, @ them. Depending on your vibe I’d sit outside, the inside can be deafeningly loud. If you’re into that, great! America welcomes you and your loud, loud self!
Sauced, 331 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Sauced is the perfect place to go if you don’t know anything about wine, coz you just tell the bartenders what kind of wine you like and they give you a glass. No country, region or grape knowledge required. The only problem with this is having no idea how much it costs, so not a bad idea to state your desired budget, too. They’ve also got a gorgeous backyard which sort of looks like somewhere you might find at Coachella, with people lounging on various levels of wooden decking under trees and fairy lights. A cliché, maybe, but a nice one. Can also confirm the staff are great coz I had my last drink before leaving the country with my New York bestie here and I definitely cried a lot and did not feel judged at all. Win!
If you’re in NYC in the winter, autumn or spring – anytime other than the sweltering summer, essentially – go to Dynaco. They’ve got a roaring fireplace in the back which is cosy as heck, and they also do a mean hot toddy, so it’s a perfect spot to duck into when the weather’s gross. It’s also so dark inside that you can’t tell if it’s full of people you’ve been on Hinge dates with before, which, if you’re just in New York to visit, is perhaps not a concern of yours, but it certainly was one of mine. Last time I checked they were still cash only, which is weird, but whatever. You probably got loads of dollars at the airport that you don’t know what to do with, so spend them here. If the fire and/or general vibe is a bit much for you, roll out the door to the left and hit up Do or Dive, a – you guessed it – dive bar right next door. Dive bars, to the best of my knowledge, are like old man pubs except instead of being filled with old men they’re filled with young hot people drinking $5 beer + shot deals. Fun times guaranteed.
Sunny’s, 253 Conover St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
If you can be bothered to trek all the way out to Red Hook, which, I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t, you will be richly rewarded in the form of Sunny’s Bar. On Sundays they have a bluegrass jam sesh where musicians just rock up and sit in the bar until there’s space for them to join in with what I imagine are American classics, not that I would know. The jams used to be in the back room but during Covid they moved them outside – idk where they are now, but either way, it’s so much fun. Not a place to go for a gourmet drinking experience – this one’s about the music, so order a Coors Light and lean into it.
LunÀtico, 486 Halsey St, Brooklyn, NY 11233
LunÀtico is the ultimate neighbourhood bar, so neighbourhoody in fact that there’s almost no reason you’d be in that neighbourhood unless your Air Bnb was there – it’s all gorgeous brownstone houses as far as the eye can see, and then BAM, the greatest bar ever. They have incredible, eclectic live music every single night, cramming musicians and bar-goers into a tiny (‘intimate’) space in Bed-Stuy. Fair warning though – this is not a bar you go to for a chat, this is a bar you go to in order to listen to the music. You will be shushed if you make too much noise. The perfect place to go on your last night when you’ve run out of things to say to the person you’re on your trip with. You can shush them yourself if they try and make conversation with you.
Frog, 358 Marcus Garvey Blvd, Brooklyn, NY 11221
A relatively new addition to Bed-Stuy, Frog is the exact sort of cosy, neighbourhood-y bar I love, that happens to have a banging by the glass list. It has a cute back yard that'll make you feel like you're hanging out at your (rich) best friend's house, a bright red bathroom (idk why, just felt important to mention) and a delicious little snacky menu. It also has a pool table in the back if you get bored of drinking. Can't relate, but you do you.
St. Mazie, 345 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
St. Mazie is a sick jazz bar in Williamsburg which functions equally well as a place to plan to spend the whole evening eating oysters, drinking champagne and listening to live music or as a place to get an $18 ‘nightcap’ of Calvados (why did I do that?) on the way home. The inside is super vibey and the music is amazing. Perfect place to live out your Carrie/Mr Big old New York fantasy (what? I know you have one!), even though Carrie would never go to Brooklyn coz she’s a snob.
Colonia Verde, 219 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205
You may have cottoned on by now that I’m into a good backyard – I’m outdoorsy, what can I say! – and Colonia Verde has the backyard to end all backyards. It’s like a fairytale out there. Gasps guaranteed. The food stands up to the high bar set by the backyard – it has a ridiculously good Latin American menu plus a sick selection of Mezcal cocktails. I don’t even like cocktails, and here I am raving about them. One word of warning – don’t listen to the staff about how much food you should order, listen to your heart. Otherwise you’ll end up with a table full of food you can’t possibly eat and a bill full of dollars you can’t possibly pay. Order what sounds like a sane amount and if you’re still hungry, order more. Duh.
Birds of a Feather, 191 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
I’ll admit, I’ve only eaten two things at Birds of a Feather despite having been there upwards of five times, but if those two things (pan-fried pork buns and soup dumplings) are anything to go by, the rest of the menu is delicious. Actually, I think I tried a chopstick-full of the dan dan noodles too, but I can’t remember. There’s a reason I kept going back there and ordering the same thing, you should go there and order it too.
Nagle’s Bagels, 378 Tompkins Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
Ah, Nagle’s, my Covid working-from-home lunchtime saviours. Conveniently located (for me, at the time, probably not for you) across from my first Brooklyn apartment, Nagle’s is at the top of my list of bagel places, which is long. They’ve managed to achieve the impossible – a bagel stuffed with delicious filling but not so stuffed that the second you bite into it all the filling descends onto your lap. Great cold brew, too. 12/10, no notes.
Ten Bells, 247 Broome St, New York, NY 10002
Pre-Covid, which was only about six months of the total time I spent in New York (great timing, moving there in September 2019), this was the perennial hangout spot for me and my colleagues. It’s literally always popping, every day of the week, and the inside is all moodily lit with menus on chalkboards. Kind of like dan’s? Now I know why I liked it so much. They also serve wine in carafes, which is a good way of pretending you’re going to limit how much you’re drinking, for once. Order some empanadas to keep your carafe company. They have a location in Bushwick too, but this one’s better.
Skin Contact, 76 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
My roommate and I stumbled across Skin Contact on one memorable night where she was convinced we could get into the New York City Opera without tickets if we dressed like we were meant to be there (I’ll let you guess how that one worked out). At the time I didn’t know what skin contact wines were, I just thought it was a funny name. It was a simpler time. The low-lit interior was exactly what I pictured my New York life would be like before I moved there, so if you too have an ill-advised romcom-based NYC fantasy, go check it out. Bonus points if you dress like you just came from the opera.
Somm Time, 254 Broome St, New York, NY 10002
I would be lying if I said I remember everything about Somm Time, given it’s the bar we went to after spending quite a while at Skin Contact and the only visual aids I have are approximately thirty photos on my phone that my roommate took of a lamp, but I do remember it was a great time. It’s female-owned, which we love, and I just read that apparently if you go there after passing a wine exam, they give you a free glass of champagne. Wish I’d known that when I was taking my exam. Although the free champagne would have been offset by the £500 flight to get there, but whatever. They’ve got an awesome wine list and all the FOH staff are sommeliers (get the name now?) so you’re in safe hands.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013
As any restaurant-goer will know, a gigantic queue outside somewhere means it’s a good place to go. Unless said place is the Glossier store (why do people do that? Buy the make-up online?). Nom Wah is no exception, and if you can be bothered to wait in the queue you’ll be rewarded with some excellent, excellent food. It’s one of those great Chinatown spots where the staff act (act?) like they hate you and try and get you out the door as soon as possible. Which is fine! You’re in New York now baby, you don’t have time to linger over a long lunch! This isn’t Paris!