Downtown Brooklyn Dining Crawl: 9 Spots to Try Now

By Elaheh Nozari  |  November 10, 2015
Credit: Michael Tulipan

It was only a matter of time until Downtown Brooklyn turned into a major dining destination. It's not surprising considering the fact that most subways stop there, many on their way to the nearby Barclays Center and a housing boom will bring an influx of new residents over the next few years. As the commercial heart of Brooklyn, the neighborhood has long been home to fast-food joints, and though many of the city’s chains have already set up shop there (Shake Shack, Hill Country Barbecue, and the upcoming Papaya King), the area north of Atlantic Avenue has turned into a hub for food and drink featuring upscale sit-down spots alongside more casual bars. And coming soon: DeKalb Market will bring iconic eateries like Katz's to the area for the first time. Here are nine spots to try right now and a handy map to help you find them.

Grand Army

At the cusp of Downtown Brooklyn and Boerum Hill, Grand Army is a cocktail bar-meets-neighborhood restaurant from Mile End’s Noah Bernamoff, Rucola’s Julian Brizzi, Prime Meats bartender Damon Boelte and food photographer Daniel Krieger. Open since May, the spot emphasizes seafood with its raw-bar and oyster offerings, as well as small plates like smoked octopus with celeriac and olives, and burrata with smoked salmon. Drinks, which include cocktails and a large selection of local and international beers and mostly French wine, are the main draw. 

336 State St., Brooklyn; 718-422-7867

Grand Army, Photo: Daniel Krieger

Kimoto Rooftop

Every neighborhood needs a trendy rooftop bar, and that’s the void that Kimoto Rooftop is filling in Downtown Brooklyn. Open since the end of September, this beer garden atop the Aloft Hotel specializes in Asian riffs on American classics, featuring small plates like Spam sushi, uni with hazelnut butter and grape jelly, and beef brisket disco fries. The drink menu highlights Japanese microbrews and craft cocktails made with Asian spirits and housemade syrups. The indoor-outdoor Zen-like setting is open year-round and offers sprawling views that are a welcome contrast from the rooftop bars of Williamsburg and Manhattan.

216 Duffield St., Brooklyn; 718-858-8940

Michael Tulipan

Kimoto, Photo: Michael Tulipan

Livingston Manor

Some New Yorkers escape the city for the Catskills every weekend, but for the rest of us, there’s Livingston Manor, a self-described Catskills-inspired bar at Hoyt and Livingston Streets. There are rotating taps of local beer and uniquely named and crafted cocktails, like the Handsome Woman, a mix of aged cahacha, brown sugar, angostura & orange bitters and ground nutmeg. The food menu is heavy on cheese and charcuterie, but there are small bites like deviled eggs and goat cheese and tomato tartines. Nearly a year old, the tavern is set in a former bodega and is decorated with wood-paneled walls and exposed brick. 

42 Hoyt St., Brooklyn; 347-987-3292


Pete Entner, whose eclectic Crown Heights pizzeria Pete Zaaz closed in 2014 and reopened in April as Zaaz Pizza, is the brains behind this creative sandwich shop on Atlantic Avenue. Unconventional toppings and global influences make Entner’s sandwiches similar to his pizza creations (baked potato pizza and fried chicken pies were original hits). Standouts at Boomwich include a Cubano made with Dr Pepper-glazed-and-roasted pork butt (the sandwich is aptly named the Dr. Cubano), an herb-seasoned meatball hero with broccoli rabe, and Buffalo chicken with Frank’s RedHot and ranch dressing. The sandwichery is open for lunch and dinner.

311 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn; 718-643-9229

Photo: Boomwich Facebook

Yaso Tangbao

Downtown Brooklynites looking for a soup dumpling fix no longer have to head to Flushing thanks to the October opening of Yaso Tangbao, a counter-serve xiao long bao specialist. Aside from steaming pork and blue crab dumplings served in bamboo baskets, the fast-casual spot serves Shanghai-style shareable plates like sweet-and-sour ribs and kao fu wheat gluten, as well as noodle soups and fried rice. The spot is clean and minimalist with an exposed kitchen and communal wooden tables.

148 Lawrence St., Brooklyn; 929-337-7599

Myrtle & Gold

This airy 65-seat bistro opened in June at the intersection of Myrtle and Gold in anticipation of the residents coming to shack up in the neighborhood’s new developments. The brunch, lunch and dinner menus are quintessential New American featuring trendy and comfort classics like kale Caesar salad, chicken pot pie, and Sriracha honey chicken wings. The bar food sensibility matches the drink menu—there’s plenty of craft beer, wine and classic cocktails like whiskey sours, Manhattans and Negronis.

343 Gold St., Brooklyn; 718-858-8178

Ganso Ramen and Ganso Yaki

Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat are two restaurateurs that invested in Downtown Brooklyn earlier than most. In 2012, they opened Ganso Ramen, a ramen-ya on the corner of Bond and Livingston Streets whose menu includes six varieties of ramen plus Japanese comfort snacks like pork gyoza, short rib buns and chicken wings. In March of this year, they opened Ganso Yaki, a casual izakaya closer to Boerum Hill. The action at Ganso Yaki takes place on the grill and in the skewered meats, though there’s also tempera and street-food snacks like panko-crusted shrimp and deep-fried tofu. Their third installment, Sushi Ganso, is expected to open next door to Ganso Yaki soon.

Ganso Ramen: 25 Bond St., Brooklyn; 718-403-0900

Ganso Yaki: 515 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn; 646-927-0303

Ganso Ramen

Forno Rosso

For a taste of the city-wide Neapolitan pizza boom, head to Forno Rosso, which opened a little over a year ago near Jay St.-Metro Tech. The chef, Guiseppe Marrone, hails from Naples, the motherland of pizza, and his bubbly wood-fired pies are made with housemade tomato sauce and imported Italian ingredients. As extensive as the pizza offerings are (the menu includes pizza bianca and traditional Neapolitan deep-fried varieties), there are also pasta dishes like housemade fettuccine Bolognese and daily lunch panini.

327 Gold St., Brooklyn; 718-451-3800

Upcoming: DeKalb Market

The best is yet to come. Currently under construction, the massive food hall DeKalb Market is set to open in fall 2016 with 57 vendors representing the local, if not iconic, purveyors of the New York food scene. Katz’s Delicatessen will expand beyond the Lower East Side with an anchoring outpost, and other vendors include Ample Hills Creamery, the Arepa Lady, Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue and Forcella Pizza. The market will be more casual than the city’s newer food halls like Hudson Eats, and Trader Joe’s will occupy the lower level. 1 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn