Plenty of fleecy white ricotta nicely peppered, pickled artichokes, and mozzarella on a perfect coal-fired crust, from Verde Coal Oven
Bushwick is potentially one of Brooklyn’s best dining destinations. With its large Latin population, the cuisines of the Spanish diaspora are well-represented. The Mexican taquerias are among the best in the city — partly as a result of the close proximity of tortilla factories lined up along Flushing Avenue; the neighborhood also harbors institutions like Mole Poblano La Asuncion, where the chocolaty and nutty mole is handcrafted in a day-long grinding, roasting, and mixing operation, before being distributed to the city’s Mexican restaurants.
The hipster food is damn good, too, borne on the backs of artists who moved into the lofts of canal-side West Bushwick, where the Boar’s Head factory still stands at the center of the food scene, and also enjoyed by the students from Pratt, SVA, NYU, Baruch, and a dozen other schools who have more recently arrived in search of cheap housing. There are all sorts of other immigrants, too, plus an indigenous Italian and German presence now barely apparent.
There are plenty of dining venues in Bushwick to love, and following are our favorite 10, constituting places we want to return to again and again.
A Bushwick culinary landmark: the back end of the Boar’s Head plant
A pair of rice balls from Arancini Bros. makes an excellent snack.
10. Arancini Bros. — Nestled next to the Wreck Room bar, Arancini Bros. is one of the city’s most iconoclastic food providers. They make one thing and one thing only: the Sicilian rice balls known as “arancini,” so called because the finished product resembles an orange in size, shape, and color. At $3 each, they make great bar snacks, and three more than make a meal. Vegan varieties are often the most flavorful, such as the one which recently featured roasted cauliflower with capers, lemon, and parsley. 940 Flushing Avenue, 718-418-6347
9. La Isla Cuchifritos — The “Island of Fried Pork” is just that: a sunny corner storefront with a long lunch counter and piles of pork parts neatly stacked in the windows. The pig ear is appropriately bronzed and crunchy, the pernil garlic-soaked, fatty, and so rich you have to eat it in little nibbles. Nice rotisserie chickens, too, at this Puerto Rican-Dominican spot. 1439 Myrtle Avenue, 718-417-0668
8. Momo Sushi Shack — From the outside, it looks like a speakeasy, with a real peephole in the middle of the door. But maybe that’s the way you should feel seeing as how a certain proportion of the seafood offerings here are unsustainable. Nevertheless, the sushi can be spectacular, much of it offered in the “little button” and other creative formations. The inside — though none too comfortable — feels like a Bushwick clubhouse. 43 Bogart Street, 718-418-6666
Greetings from the Island of Fried Pork
The vegetarian arepa from Guacuco
7. Guacuco — Named after a beach on Margarita Island, Guacuco is the perfect casual Venezuelan café, and you’ll feel like you’re on an extended vacation, with its darkened interior and potted plants. Styling itself an “arepera,” it assembles sandwiches on the fleeciest white arepas you can imagine (the vegetariana is our favorite), but bigger feeds such as the national dish of pabellon criollo (shredded beef with beans, rice, plantains, and cheese) are also available, along with tart fruit juices. 44 Irving Avenue, 347-305-3300
6. Sol de Quito — The “Sun of Quito” offers an Andean take on Ecuadorian, including reasonably priced omnibus platters featuring several delectable dishes at once, sometimes involving eggs in unexpected places. The apex of the menu, however, is chaulafan, a South American adaptation of Chinese fried rice. 160 Irving Avenue, 718-417-4174
5. Cholulita — Whether you consider Cholulita to be located in Bushwick or Bed-Stuy is a matter for serious discussion, but suffice to say it’s worth crossing the street to get some of the best Mexican food in town. Hand-formed from masa, and filled with a choice of main ingredients, the quesadillas, sopes, and huaraches are the soul of the menu, but the soups are excellent, too, and the new dining room seems splendid if you were accustomed to the old one. 888 Broadway, 347-435-0813
Mole de olla at Cholulita comes with two tostadas.
In the basement of Verde — a real coal oven over 100 years old
4. Verde Coal Oven — Using a coal oven built into the basement in 1907 for an ancient Italian bakery, Verde is a new establishment that takes off where its predecessor left off, fabricating luscious small pizzas with unimpeachable ingredients, while turning out traditional breads in a variety of shapes and sizes. A handful of apps rounds out the menu, but the pies are the things to get here. 254 Irving Avenue, 718-381-8800
3. Tortilleria Mexicanas Tres Hermanos — The name sounds like a movie from Luis Buñuel’s Mexican period, but the place is a real tortilleria that turns out zillions of fine-textured white corn tortillas per day. These are readily made into antojitos at a long table on the side of the manufacturing floor, with a choice of fresh salsas. The tacos are the best (full size or taquitos), but the outsize quesadillas are worth getting, too. (Taqueria temporarily closed, will reportedly reopen in a week or two.) 271 Starr Street, 718-456-3422
2. Roberta’s — Pride of early denizens of the West Bushwick warehouse zone, Roberta’s grew from a wood-fired pizza place fitted into a garage, into a beer garden, radio station, ambitious restaurant, aerial farm, bread bakery and, finally, place with a rather expensive wine list. Oh, yeah, the spot now fills up with strollers at certain hours, and you’ll often have difficulty finding a place to sit at the trestle tables. Plan your assault carefully, because the food remains usually excellent. 261 Moore Street, 718-417-1118
The exterior of Roberta’s offers no clue as to the delights inside.
Burger with two cheeses, Brooklyn cucumber pickle, and tater tots fried in goose fat — $13 at Northeast Kingdom
1. Northeast Kingdom — A recent meal in preparation of this article blew us away: a ragu of chanterelle mushrooms on a schmear of finely pureed carrot that might have had a little cheese in it, rosemary flatbread coated with creamy goat cheese dotted with arugula and radishes and dribbled with honey, a juicy hamburger with two cheeses, freshly made pierogi fried and served in chicken broth. The food is a little beyond the pale, promptly and perfectly turned out, and about $5 less per course than you’d expect to pay. Simply wonderful! 18 Wyckoff Avenue, 718-386-38640
Rosemary flatbread with goat cheese and honey, from Northeast Kingdom