Just a decade ago, Williamsburg was a gritty corner of New York City known for its cheap rents and indie leanings. Today, the area is dominated by luxury high-rise complexes and trendy boutiques, event spaces (the Music Hall of Williamsburg), breweries (Brooklyn Brewery) and more. Williamsburg is easily accessible from Manhattan via a cab ride or the L train, and here's how to see some of the best that this corner of the city has to offer.
Where to Eat
One of the neighborhood’s most longstanding and storied institutions, Peter Luger Steak House, has been serving up its famous porterhouse about 130 years ago. There are more modern dining experiences to be had as well, like Marlow & Sons, a leader in the farm-to-table movement, or Roebling Tea Room, which has a killer burger. For a satisfying breakfast, head to Egg, and you can’t beat one of the creative sandwiches at Saltie for lunch. If you are a fan of barbecue and craft beer, check out Fette Sau, or for another casual dining destination, visit Santos Anne where Mexi-French fusion plates pair nicely with live music in a cozy backyard dining room. And, on the pizza front, its hard to resist Yelp! reviews like this one: "Warning: only come here if you are prepared to have a delicious Italian meal that will undoubtedly blow you away." Fabulous Italian, including a huge variety of authentic pizzas and pastas, courtesy Baci & Abbracci.
Youth culture may be king in this part of town, but Momofuku Milk Bar has serious appeal to adults who cherish childhood cravings. One option is as delicious as it is novel: The signature soft serve ice cream is sprinkled with cornflakes and tastes like you just slurped it out of your breakfast bowl.
Where to Drink
Williamsburg’s nightlife scene offers an inspired watering hole on just about every corner. A favorite spots for feeling fancy is Maison Premiere, which trades in oysters and absinthe, among other things. Hotel Delmano mixes up some of the best cocktails in town, and Spuyten Duyvil is the source for rare Belgian beers served in fancy tulip glasses. And for cocktails paired with fun, Barcade® is packed with video games like Asteroids and Ms. Pac-Man. Huckleberry Bar serves top-tier cocktails, best enjoyed with bacon-wrapped dates out back.
Where to Shop
Catbird is a veteran small business that is known for its excellent selection of high-end jewelry from local, independent designers. For less expensive, bolder jewelry, as well as gifts and home goods, Milly & Earl is worth a visit. Bird carries fantastic boho-style clothing, shoes and accessories, and music buffs will love Rough Trade, a stellar record store and intimate concert venue. Want to bring home some great kitchen items? You will be smitten with The Brooklyn Kitchen, where you can drool over beautiful and functional pots, pans, barware and gadgets.
Old is new again at 10 Ft. Single by Stella Dallas, a gold mine for retro styles and lightly worn pieces, from Eisenhower jackets to silk scarves, letting you tastefully traverse time periods. And if you're looking for fashionable pieces from the mid to late 20th century, Antoinette is an ideal place to go.
A cab will always work, but for a scenic arrival by boat from Manhattan, try NY Waterway’s East River Ferry, or take the standard subway aproach (the L train will spit you out right at bustling Bedford Ave.)
Map of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
[Editor's note: This guide to Williamsburg by Kate Hooker combines select text and recommendations from our previous guide authored by William Frierson.]