My friend from Japan and her mother recently visited NYC and I wanted to give them a self-hosted tour of Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn, areas that a lot of tourists do not get to. My friend even mentioned to me that in her New York guidebook, Brooklyn was only given one page. I decided to show her some of my favorite parts of the borough in one of my favorite ways: through food exploration.
We began the tour from the Lower East Side of Manhattan and made our way over the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn. The Williamsburg Bridge at one time in history used to be the largest suspension bridge in the world and it was the first with all steel towers. Looking out from the Williamsburg Bridge to the west, there are some really nice views fof both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.
A lot of tourists do not cross the Williamsburg Bridge by foot but rather opt to cross the more famous Brooklyn Bridge. In comparison to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge is more of an artistic bridge, which has been covered in graffiti, and is a lot less crowded. In addition, The J,Z,and M subway lines cross the Williamsburg Bridge which makes it one of the few bridges in NYC used by pedestrians, cars, and trains.
As we made the descent into Williamsburg after crossing the bridge, we headed to one of the first stops on our food tour for the day.
The Food: Williamsburg
Pies-N-Thighs (166 S. 4th Street), is known for two main things: their pies and their thighs (of fried chicken). We chose the “Chicken Box Meal” which was three pieces of fried chicken, a biscuit and a side (we went with the suggested macaroni and cheese).
I am not exaggerating when I say that Pies & Thighs has some of the best fried chicken I have ever tasted in my life. The mac and cheese was also delicious with a dash of hot sauce added for flavor.
The Bagel Store
The Bagel Store (349 Bedford Avenue) is known for its handmade bagels, and when in New York a bagel should definitely be had. The Bagel Store also has many unique bagels and one particularly unique item called a ‘Cragel’ (Croissant + Bagel) invented by owner Scot Rosillo. It is flaky, sweet, and delicious and definitely not like anything I have ever tried before. I even got to meet Scot briefly during my visit and learn about the Cragel and all of the coverage it has been getting both domestically and internationally.
Vinnie’s Pizzeria (148 Bedford Avenue) has some of the best pizza in all of New York City. I first found out about this gem about a year ago and I frequent it almost everytime that I am in the neighborhood.
Their thin crust pizza comes in a variety of options from meaty to veggie to vegan.Two of my favorites include the Caprese (pictured below) and the cheese – however there are loads of options to choose from.
The Food: Downtown Brooklyn
After we finished the food tour in Williamsburg, we took the bus over to downtown Brooklyn to have a slice of cheesecake at the original Junior’s.
Junior’s Restaurant (386 Flatbush Avenue Extension) is known for their cheesecake, and many people venture to the Brooklyn location to experience the cheesecake where it was first born. Their cheesecake has just the right amount of sweetness and their slices are huge (along with the prices); three of us shared one slice and still did not finish the entire thing.
Luke’s Lobster (11 Water Street) is located directly under the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park. They are famous for their lobster rolls, with 100% of their fresh lobster imported from Maine, Luke’s hometown. The lobster is fresh and delicious and can now be found both all around NYC.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (1 Water Street) is also located in close proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge. They make all of their ice cream themselves in both their Brooklyn Bridge Park and Greenpoint locations. They have 8 different flavors and each of them is equally delicious, including my favorite: butter pecan (pictured below).
Unfortunately due to time constraints, we were not able to sample all of the places that I planned, such as Vanessa’s Dumpling House (310 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg) and Grimaldi’s (1 Front Street). We did fill up quickly on the places that we did try however and we were almost bursting out of our seams. This food trip could have included so many more wonderful little shops that both areas have to offer, but our stomachs would not be able to bear it.
After eating, we decided to rest for a few minutes at one of my favorite places in Brooklyn: the Brooklyn Bridge Park area (near the carousel) between both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. The view of Manhattan is a amazing and it is never too crowded, which I enjoy. It is a great place for families to bring their children and for escaping the hectic city life.
Brooklyn Bridge: The Brooklyn Bridge is iconic and architecturally one of my favorite places in the city. It is romantic, it is beautiful, and it is no doubt one of the most magnificent bridges in the city. A note to tourists – walk in the walking lane and not in the bike lane.