Brooklyn: A New Foodie Haven

Photo of Diner by Mel Barlow

I moved to Brooklyn in the late 1990s, before food became fashion. Back then, my personal favorites involved iconic eats like Russian fare in Brighton Beach.

It was the time before the then largely desolate Fifth Avenue in Park Slope turned chock- a-block full of eateries and before South Williamsburg became a foodie enclave. A little more than a decade later, Brooklyn’s creative culinary trends draw even Manhattanites across the East River.

When I crave delicious local eats on the cheap, I head to the Brooklyn Flea, a quirky weekend market with cool vintage finds for your home. But — don’t miss the food!

I love the funky franks from Asia Dogs with inspired toppings like kimchi and nori. I’m also a fan of Red Hook Lobster Pound’s rolls, filled with the good stuff from Maine, Salvadoran pupusas from Red Hook Food Vendors, and the perfectly moist almond croissants from Choice Market.

When I want a bite of down-home Americana in a bistro setting, I head to South Williamsburg. Sure, the celebrated steaks of Peter Luger are nearby, but just a few blocks down hide two of Brooklyn’s micro-gastro meccas.

I love the seasonally inspired fare dished out inside the quirky 1920s dining car at Diner, where waiters scribble the many daily specials on paper tablecloths. Marlow & Sons, next door, does double duty as a gourmet bodega and buzzing restaurant, serving grub with a Mediterranean twist in a dimly lit wood- paneled back room.

More creative comfort food: the Court Street restaurant row in Cobble Hill. Buttermilk Channel is a standout, a corner canteen that showcases American mainstays with the accent on local and organic such as its buttermilk-fried chicken with cheddar waffles.

In the hip neighborhood of Fort Greene, I make a beeline to the basement Stonehome Wine Bar & Restaurant to dine on stellar cheese and charcuterie as I sip on one of the 35 wines available by the glass.

The simple menu of contemporary American cuisine is a surefire palette-pleaser. A recent favorite: roasted Iowa venison with juniper-spiced sausage, cider-braised sauerkraut and fingerling potatoes.

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Fare

Of recent dining discoveries, two stand out. I was lucky to snag a coveted seat— one of only 18—at the semicircular steel counter of Brooklyn Fare, the borough’s only restaurant with two Michelin stars. At this downtown Brooklyn spot adorned with copper pots and pans, chef César Ramirez cooks up an inventive 20-course culinary storm with a seafood slant.

Dining out in Brooklyn — you never have to “settle” and it never gets boring.