I’ve lived in Bushwick for over three years now, and the Brooklyn neighborhood has changed tremendously. While at one time it was tricky to find new places to eat and drink, now it seems a week doesn’t go by without a new venue popping up. And all of them seem to offer high-quality and creative concepts, whether that be a children’s yoga studio that turns into a bar at night (The Cobra Club), spaces that mix disco brunches and aerial silks dance parties (House of Yes) or a craft cocktail bar turning out elevated food fare and freak shows (Bizarre Bar). Of course, the Latin and Spanish eateries that have stood the test of time should also not be overlooked (like Gaby’s Bakery).
Recently, I partnered with the team at Mollejuo, creators of the Terra Icons Augmented Reality App (available for iOS and Android), to help create new points of interest for their app based on my experience as a Bushwick local. Below, find some of my top food and drink picks for the neighborhood, or head to Brooklyn to experience it for yourself and tap my Jessie on a Journey layer in the app.
Tip: Don’t want to visit Bushwick without a guide? Take my Bushwick Beer Bites & Street Art #InstaWalk, or a private and custom photo safari focused on Brooklyn.
1. Fine & Raw Chocolate
I’ve talked about Fine & Raw Chocolate on the blog numerous times, and for good reason: it’s freakin’ amazing! The factory and tasting room was started by Daniel Sklaar, who began making the treats in his Williamsburg loft. After encouragement from friends and the local shops who he would deliver to by bike, he opened his Bushwick factory space, which has a very lived in, unpolished vibe (in a good way!).
Their products are void of refined sugar, dairy and additives. Instead, they focus on using organic and natural ingredients to create innovative raw and half raw/half roasted bars, crafted on low heat (raw chocolate must be cooked below 140 degrees Fahrenheit) to preserve the cacao’s raw characteristics. Bonus: they typically have three-to-five different free samples of their chocolate bars and spreads. My addictions: the coconut-laced dulce de leche and the raw chocolate mocha, shown above.
Hey, it’s said Katherine Hepburn credited her beauty to eating a pound of chocolate per day. While I don’t know if this is medically proven, for now I’m choosing to believe it.
2. 983 – Bushwick’s Living Room
983 – Bushwick’s Living Room was my original favorite when moving to the neighborhood. One of my favorite dishes I’ve encountered through my global travels is chilaquiles in Puebla, Mexico. At home in NYC if I see chilaquiles on the menu I order them and, along with Mayahuel in the East Village, 983 has stolen my heart for the best.
At this point I’ve eaten almost everything on their menu, and nothing has disappointed me thus far, especially paired with a mason jar cocktail. The decor is simple, though every touch from the large windows letting in natural light to the chalk board-written specials to the local artwork makes it special. It’s tiny and the tables are close together, but this has only helped me make new friends during my visits. I highly recommend this spot, along with the owners’ other space down the street Forrest Point.
3. The Noble Experiment
Did you know rum was New York’s first and most popular spirit back in the day? In fact, by the 1720s there were 16 rum distilleries in the state. The Noble Experiment works to bring this tradition back with their signature Owney’s Rum, made with 100% domestic ingredients. Their space is large with a big communal table, and they offer $10 tours that include tastings. I’m a big fan of their classic rum cocktails and free bar pretzels!
Step inside Tutu’s and be transported to the countryside through lots of wood, natural light and walls lined with antiques and chatchskis. In the warm weather I enjoy dining outside under the rotating 40-foot-wide Varet Street Mural and getting inspired while sipping a baked apple bitters-infused “Maple Old Fashioned” paired with dishes like bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp, made-from-scratch burgers, chicken bites served with spicy Sriracha cream sauce.
The best time to visit is brunch — don’t miss comfort foods like Peanut Butter & Jelly French Toast and biscuits smothered in Berkshire pork gravy — though their offbeat nightclub in the backroom is awesome for dancing (and people-watching). Spotted: last time I was there I saw a five-way kiss turn into an elaborate gymnastics act complete with nudity and flips. Very Bushwick.
5. Roberta’s Pizza
Roberta’s Pizza is Bushwick’s best restaurant and #1 attraction. It’s one of those places that gets rave reviews in the press all the time and you go sort of expecting to be underwhelmed…but then you’re not. Quite the opposite. Every time I go in — whether I’m ordering one of their many creative woodfire oven pizzas, chicken liver-laced orecchiette or, my cocktail go-to, a mezcal-based “Mutual Consent” with Fresno pepper vermouth and amaro, I’m always blown away. As I think ambiance is important, the mix of communal tables, open-kitchen, indoor/outdoor seating, rooftop garden and pizza-themed artwork enhances the experience. There’s also an apiary where they source their honey that tops my all-time favorite pizza, the “Bee Sting” blending Soppressata and honey. It’s sweet and savory at its finest.
What are your favorite restaurants in Bushwick? Please share in the comments below!
*A big thanks to Mollejuo for sponsoring this post!
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