Brooklyn is a culinary destination. Home to the original Smorgasburg that spread to LA, and Michelin star restaurants; this part of New York City is a haven for foodies. New restaurants are sprouting up across the borough, but before you embark on a tour of all the trendy new spots in Brooklyn, dine on the foods that made Brooklyn famous. From a decadent meal at a classic steak house to a legendary square slice at an old-school pizzeria, you won’t be disappointed devouring these ten iconic Brooklyn dishes.
Take a bite of Brooklyn history at these spots, and dine on old and new classics in Brooklyn.
Since 1950 folks have been flocking to Junior's Restaurant for a slice of their famed cheesecake. Choose from over a dozen varieties of cheesecake including devils food, strawberry, apple crumb, or stick with a slice of plain cheesecake. Junior's cheesecake is one of Brooklyn's most famous desserts, and once you take a bite of one of these flavorful cheesecakes you'll understand why they are a favorite. If you can't make it to Brooklyn, don't worry you can order one online. If you're also on the hunt for some authentic Brooklyn deli food, this is the spot to satiate your craving. The menu is filled with classics including matzoh ball soup, chopped liver, brisket, blintzes, and a selection of sandwiches. Don't forget to save room for the cheesecake.
Did you know there aren't any eggs in an egg cream? The classic drink contains seltzer, milk, and chocolate syrup. For decades Brooklyn was known for its classic egg cream, which you could find at the local soda fountain or pharmacy. As these mom and pop stores shuttered, the egg cream almost became extinct. Luckily the egg cream has been reborn. Stop in at the Brooklyn Farmacy, a family owned soda fountain where you can sip egg creams and malts at the counter. Located in a restored 1920's corner pharmacy in Carroll Gardens, the charming ice cream parlor also serves comfort food.
For years folks have been trekking to this beloved Bensonhurst pizzeria for a square slice. The restaurant evokes feelings of authentic Brooklyn, and locals hang out on the red picnic benches chatting as they devour some of the best pizza in Brooklyn. This place is a long haul from Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn, but it's worth it. An added plus, it's not far from Coney Island if you'd like to pair a visit with a trip to the beach. Just remember to leave room for spumoni at this Brooklyn staple.
When Scot Rossilo (owner of the Williamsburg Bagel Store) introduced the rainbow bagel in early 2016, it became an instant hit. After being seen on ESPN during the Super Bowl and on the Late Show with Steve Colbert, where Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer introduced the host to the bagel, launching them into a magical trip in an animated world, lines formed outside the store. The demand was so intense it forced a temporary closure of the Bedford Avenue location. A year later, the rainbow bagel has become a Brooklyn staple at The Bagel Store and many other bagel stores throughout Brooklyn. Have the authentic rainbow bagel at the Bagel Store on Bedford Avenue or at their Metropolitan Avenue location. There are still lines, but they aren't as long. Stop in and try Scot Rossillo's (the “World’s Premiere Bagel Artist”) other creations, which include the bacon, egg and cheese bagel, French toast bagel, pretzel bagel, “the cragel,” and many other inventive bagels.
Meat lovers must indulge in a steak dinner at the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse in Williamsburg. The historic Brooklyn restaurant, which started as" Carl Luger's Café, Billiards, and Bowling Alley" in 1897 has had quite a history. The Michelin star restaurant is one of NYC top-rated steakhouses. A Brooklyn institution, with its wood-paneled walls and bar, is a timeless, atmospheric steakhouse. Order a drink from the bar and share a steak platter. Reservations are recommended since it's a perennial pleaser and meat lovers make many return visits. The steakhouse is open for lunch. Just to note, Peter Luger doesn't take credit cards, but they do accept debit cards.
You can't visit Brooklyn without going to Coney Island, Brooklyn's seaside town. And a trip to Coney Island isn't complete without ordering a salty dog from this classic shop that has been open for over a hundred years. Although Nathan's does have a chain of restaurants, they don't compare to the Nathan's Coney Island location. Smell the salty beach air, as you stand in line to order your hot dog. Pair the hot dog with a side of cheese fries and you'll have a fantastic pre-beach meal. However, it doesn't have to be summer to enjoy this mealtime classic because Nathan's is open year-round. After you've chowed down on an original hot dog in the location where it all began, head to the boardwalk and stroll past the iconic defunct Parachute Jump, and if weather permits, take a ride on the Wonder Wheel. Don't forget to head to Nathan's on July 4th to watch their annual hot dog eating contest. If you can't make it, the event is televised.
If you want a roast beef sandwich, Brooklyn locals will direct you to this classic restaurant located in Sheepshead Bay. Even if you don't eat roast beef, this kitschy old school fast food restaurant is a must-visit. Dine on pizza and wash it down with lemonade. If it's your birthday, they let you spin a wheel (very similar to the one on Wheel of Fortune) to win free food. The restaurant is a product of the 70s and that era's vibe is still felt at Roll-n-Roaster. With the retro orange and yellow decor, you could easily imagine the Brady Bunch kids sitting at a table here. Afterward, stroll on the footbridge over the bay, which is right across the street. Warning, you might need to pop an antacid after dining here, but it's totally worth it. An added plus, they have a parking lot.
While there are many Chinese restaurants in this section of Sunset Park, a dim sum lunch at Pacificana is a Brooklyn tradition. This large second-floor banquet style restaurant stands out and folks line up for a table at Pacificana, so be prepared for a wait or get there before 11 am. The atmospheric restaurant, which is also a spot for weddings, has a menu of traditional dim sum, and the soup dumplings are a local favorite. Order sticky rice from a cart and pick from a menu of traditional dim sum staples. This is a great way to start your day. If you aren't an early riser, you should note that dim sum services end at 3 pm. You can head to Pacificana later in the day for traditional Cantonese family-style cuisine with familiar favorites like Chicken Chow Mein, Egg Rolls, and Fried Rice.
You won't mind the wait at Di Fara Pizzeria, as you watch Domenico DeMarco make your pie. The Midwood pizzeria is legendary and people make the trek deep into Brooklyn to have a slice of Di Fara's famous pizza. Although you might have to wait an hour to chow down on this slice of perfection, you can watch DeMarco, a master in action behind the counter. Unlike many of the new pizza restaurants opening up around Brooklyn, Di Fara's is an old-school storefront pizzeria, and you might not give it a second look if you didn't know that it serves one of the best slices in New York City. Try to go an off hour to avoid the wait.
The "Russian Style" banquet at Tatiana in Brighton Beach includes numerous appetizers, salads, beef stew, lamb, dessert, and much more. You can opt for a standard banquet or splurge for a deluxe. However, even though they serve incredible Russian food, it's not about the cuisine at Tatiana. It's all about the delightful floor show that rivals any Vegas venue or cruise ship entertainment. You can dine al la carte at this classic restaurant located on the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, but the true way to experience a visit is booking a banquet package on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, which comes with entertainment. The cabaret floor show is not to be missed, and either is the assortment of meats and other ethnic favorites. Dine family style as you watch costumed dancers. If the weekend evening show doesn't fit into your schedule, you can still watch the waves as you eat at the seaside restaurant and then soak in the sun afterward.