A few years ago we moved from downtown Manhattan to Fort Greene Brooklyn. While the move was only 3 miles away, the river separation made it feel like a whole new city. We were so excited we got right to exploring and reviewed fun stuff to do in Prospect Park, DUMBO, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. As Manhattan has continued to become more and more sterile due to rising rents that only big names can afford, Brooklyn has exploded with adorable boutiques and independent, creative outposts that are worth crossing the bridge for. I find this to be especially true in the dining experience and count myself lucky to live in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Just a few stops from downtown NYC in Fort Greene the restaurant scene gets better and better every day. Great neighborhood joints for fellow Fort Greene residents are aplenty, and could take up a whole other post. These 5 spots, however, are well worth the trek across the bridge from Manhattan.
By train: Take the C train to Lafayette for the shortest walk to most of my recs. Take the B/Q/R to DeKalb for the second shortest walk. Take the 2/3 to either Nevins or Atlantic for a slightly longer walk (about 6-7min). Finish your meal with a walk through nearby Fort Greene park for the full experience.
Olea – If this place were not so close to my house I would eat here a lot more! Charmingly designed with comfy pillowed seats and lots of indoor greenery, Olea is a perfect casual Mediterranean eatery to linger in on a weekend afternoon in Brooklyn. I’ve never had a bad dish here and I’ve tried most of them. The best play is to get a bunch of small dishes and share. My teen can’t resist the orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. 171 Lafayette Ave.
Pro tip: Brunch is ALWAYS crowded – they open at 10am every day so be there for open. I frequently pass people waiting on the sidewalk as early as 9:45 but if you arrive for 10 you will get a table. Weekday lunch is pretty easy to get a table (because only the really clever NYC’ers can swing that!). Dinner starts at 5pm.
Colonia Verde – just around the corner from Olea is my favorite neighborhood Brooklyn restaurant – Colonia Verde. I could (and sometimes do) eat here twice a week. I lived in the neighborhood for a year before I even stepped foot in this place because the outside doesn’t look that interesting. What lies deep inside is a rustic interior with a gorgeous greenhouse and a surprisingly romantic spacious backyard decked out in fairy lights (open in warm months). Serving Latin American cuisine they are, not surprisingly, known for their meat dishes. But I also love the creative things they do with veggies. The dish I cannot live without though, is the Pao de Queijo burger. I never order burgers anywhere but I cannot resist it in this place. The bun is made with the well known Portuguese cheese bread Pao de Queijo which is indescribably delicious (and bonus points – gluten free!). My teens love the pee wee salt potatoes and spicy mayo. 219 DeKalb Ave.
Miss Ada – Dekalb Ave has become a hub of great restaurants for Brooklyn residents to frequent. Many are good and respectable neighborhood joints all within a few blocks of one another (Imani, Evelina, Walters). Miss Ada however is a standout that makes crossing the bridge worth the trip. The interior space with the open kitchen is smallish and always hopping. There is an adorable patio out back packed with space heaters in the cooler months. But the real star is the food. Israeli/ Middle Eastern cuisine, Miss Ada’s menu is best with lots of shared plates so you don’t miss out on a single flavor. The whipped ricotta with brown butter and honey is an absolute must, but don’t miss the carrot and/or beet puree as well. It comes with deliciously toasted pita but all I needed was a spoon! My teens especially loved the kebabs and the brick chicken was a big hit. 184 DeKalb Ave.
No. 7 Restaurant – For the supremely lazy Manhattanites, No. 7 Restaurant makes it super easy to dine out in Fort Greene. You need not step one foot further than the top of the subway stairs at the Lafayette stop on the C train. Entering No. 7 may feel a bit like your neighborhood pub but the chef has a way of mixing surprising ingredients that result in a fun and eclectic American menu. I have never had a disappointing meal at No. 7. It’s a great spot for brunch or dinner. Pro tip: Do not skip the broccoli tacos – believe me, even my teens like them. If you can’t decide between the fish tacos and the broccoli tacos ask for one of each. Sometimes the chef is feeling generous. 7 Greene Ave.
Locanda Vini & Olii – Locanda Vini & Olii was the first restaurant I actually crossed the river for and several years later, I was happy to discover it was right up the block from me. A century old former drug store called Lewis Drug Store this hard to find spot is actually tucked in among the brownstones of Clinton Hill but its’s still close enough to make this list. Those in the know, love the charming old pharmacy interior and the authentic northern Italian cuisine. It’s a perfect date night spot when you want to impress your date with your knowledge of Brooklyn. Come for the atmosphere, stay for the homemade pasta. Pro tip: the best subway stop for this spot is one stop past Lafayette on the C train to Clinton Washington. 129 Gates Ave.
***Unlike most of my other posts, none of the photos in this post are my own. I have given appropriate credit to each photo.