Bushwick Dining Crawl: 10 Restaurants to Try Now

By Elaheh Nozari  |  October 21, 2015

Not too long ago, if you were going to Bushwick for dinner, chances are that you were going to Roberta’s for pizza. But these days, there’s a lot more happening in the culinary scene in the land of warehouses, street art and hipsters. The areas around the Jefferson, DeKalb and Myrtle-Wyckoff subway stops have turned into food and drink destinations over the last few months with izakaya bar bites and attention-grabbing pastas. Here are 10 places to check out now.

Okiway: Though okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake whose name translates to “as you like it,” has a spot on almost every izakaya menu in the city, Okiway is one of the few eateries to specialize in the teppanyaki dish. The spot opened this summer from two Japanophile hairdressers, and the menu features both classic and eclectic takes on the pancake. Traditional Osaka and Hiroshima styles — the former with a cabbage base, the latter with fried noodles — are found alongside a Mexican version with chorizo and chipotle mayonnaise, and a pulled-pork barbecue variety. 1006 Flushing Ave.; 718-417-1091

El Cortez: Stephen Tanner made eating greasy fried chicken in a dive bar cool at The Commodore, and as of this summer, he’s giving the same treatment to Tex-Mex food at the kitschy El Cortez. The bi-level tiki bar is a destination for unapologetically American Mexican food, like ground-beef taco salad, chimichangas and queso nachos. Unpretentious cocktails like rum punch and frozen mojitos are served with the occasional umbrella or in a totem-pole glass — and meant to be consumed in large quantities. 17 Ingraham St.347-599-2976

Maite: To understand the cuisine at Maite, a cozy farmhouselike restaurant that means “loved one” in Basque, is to know chef Ella Schmidt’s culinary and cultural background. A former pastry chef at Il Buco, Schmidt draws her influences from Colombia, where she was born, and Spain's Basque country, where her mother is from. The menu revolves around small plates like burrata with squid ink, Spanish pizzettas and the signature empanadita, fried flour pockets filled with chicken or beef cheek. 159 Central Ave.; 718-366-3090

Faro: If there’s one restaurant that defines fine dining in Bushwick, Faro is it. The rustic Italian spot opened in May to critical acclaim and is quintessentially "Brooklyn." It’s located in a former warehouse, sources ingredients from local farmers and mills its grains in-house. Local grain porridge, squid-ink pasta and other carb-centric plates are the specialty, but don't overlook the wood-fired dishes, like octopus with gigante beans, peppers and chorizo. 436 Jefferson St.; 718-381-8201

Photo: Michael Tulipan

Hi Hello: There’s a fancy sandwich trend taking hold across the city, and Hi Hello, a gastropub from the guys behind Roberta’s and Momo Sushi Shack, is one of the prime players in Brooklyn. Open since last April, the table-service spot serves nonbasic sandwiches like roast beef with housemade truffle cheese whiz and spicy Jamaican jerk chicken at dinner, lunch and brunch. There are small plates and a few mains as well, like flatiron steak with chimichurri sauce, plus craft beer and refreshing cocktails like the Good 'n' Plenty (cucumber vodka, grapefruit, Aperol, Prosecco, lemon) and the Tio Miklo (rye, mezcal, grapefruit, mint, honey). 247 Starr St.; 718-381-7200

Lucy’s Vietnamese Kitchen: Lucy’s, a tiny Vietnamese restaurant that opened last spring near Myrtle-Wyckoff, specializes in the two dishes that New Yorkers most widely associate with Vietnamese food: banh mi sandwiches and pho noodle soup. The simple four-item menu offers three varieties of banh mi (16-hour smoked brisket, lemongrass chicken and tofu) and pho made with an atypical vegetarian broth. Owner Johnny Huynh grew up down the block and the spot resembles an extension of his home, complete with a communal dining table and family photographs on the wall. 262 Irving Ave.; 718-483-9837

Pizza Party: Down the street from Lucy’s is Pizza Party, part pizza restaurant, part time machine back to 1985. The bar-restaurant is decked out in memorabilia meant for a child of the nineties: Hot Wheels, Beetlejuice posters and a Super Mario Bros. mural. The pizza menu matches the kitschy vibe with pies like the God Hammit (spicy pepper jelly, ham, basil, ricotta) and the Hawaiian Shirt, a Taylor ham, mozzarella, and spinach pie with pineapple sauce and an edible orchid. Beer, wine, shochu cocktails and a 4 AM closing time on the weekend make it conducive for a late-night pizza hang. 254 Irving Ave.; 347-787-7947

Photo: Pizza Party

Moku Moku: Momo Sushi Shack has been serving up small plates and sushi in the neighborhood for the past several years, and this summer, they expanded their Bushwick brand with the opening of Moku Moku next door. If Okiway is an izakaya that focuses on okonomiyaki, then Moku Moku slants toward grilled chicken yakitori and beef, vegetable and seafood skewers. The signature dish is the Tako Corndog, a deep-fried octopus corn dog topped with Kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes and tonkatsu sauce. 43 Bogart St.; 718-418-6666

Lorenzo’s: The guys behind NoLita’s Mother’s Ruin opened this Latin-inspired bar and restaurant in a former garage on a corner near the Jefferson L station in August. Food and drink are served deep into the night (the kitchen closes at 3:30 AM, the bar at 4), and are on-theme with the airy cantina vibe. The menu includes ceviche, crudo, rotisserie chicken and wood-grilled skewers with sauce choices like salsa verde and chimichurri. The cocktail list features cachaça, pisco and similar Latin spirits, plus two slushies — one with a tequila base, the other with rum. 19 Wyckoff Ave.

Montana’s Trail House: If you’ve ever wondered where to get a taste of Appalachia in New York, Montana’s Trail House is your answer. The space is set in a converted gas station, outfitted with wood from an actual Kentucky barn, and features a bookcase revealing a hidden door leading to an outdoor patio. The kitchen serves what you’d expect from a spot boasting Appalachian influences: fried green tomatoes, sweet and spicy pig tails and chicken-liver mousse. As for drinks, there’s beer, wine and switchel, traditional mountain soda made with bourbon-barrel-aged apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger and maple. 445 Troutman St.; 917-966-1666