The Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus has long been affiliated with its famous canal and industrial landscape. Recently, however, the neighborhood has acquired a different reputation more reliant on a diverse and intriguing food scene epitomized by destinations like Ample Hills Creamery and Other Half Brewing Company. Taking a culinary tour of Gowanus is experiencing the true variety of New York cuisine. From southern basics to Peruvian staples, plan a visit and get to know Gowanus with these top ten restaurants.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que had already established itself as a high-end restaurant chain before debuting in Brooklyn. With locations in food-centric neighborhoods in Chicago, Syracuse, and Harlem, Dinosaur draws visitors for their authentic barbecue, live music and thoughtfully curated brews. The retro decor and venue space for concerts only enhances the already phenomenal food. Try traditional offerings like brisket sandwiches and chicken wings or go for something more exotic like lamb shoulder braised in Asian spices. Everything pairs well with a local East Coast beer from Brooklyn’s Six Point or Connecticut’s Two Roads.
Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood is often synonymous with Eastern European, notably Polish, bites. Expand your horizons to Gowanus and be enchanted by this cozy pierogi joint. Although Baba’s Pierogies has limited indoors seating, it is ideal for a take-away feast. Pierogies can be ordered boiled or fried and stuffed with potato, sausage or even macaroni and cheese. The spinach and feta and bacon and cheddar varieties are superb, and they nicely complement the vinegar-based slaw sides. For the pierogi-averse, Baba’s also offers sandwiches and sliders filled with similarly hearty ingredients.
Runner and Stone proves that bread is not only an essential part of life, but it’s also a key addition to any meal. Their artisanal bread can be found in the form of a buckwheat baguette, semolina, miche loaf, or walnut levain. Paired with salads, sandwiches and pickled vegetables for lunch, and with farm-to-table fish and meat at dinner, bread reigns supreme here. Select a Peak Organic craft beer and indulge in braided ricotta ravioli, grilled pork chop or the unorthodox rye whiskey brownie sundae for an unforgettable meal.
While Texas and North Carolina may be best-known for their barbecue, Gowanus delivers its own version of the informal barbecue spot. Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue exudes a relaxed vibe that puts the focus on the food. Platters of perfectly smoked and grilled ribs, burnt ends, and hot sausage are accompanied by finger-licking mac and cheese, baked beans, and pickles. Craft beer, a small whiskey selection, and banana pudding complete the menu. If you are looking to become a true Fletcher’s convert, devour the flavorful chopped chicken with white barbecue sauce.
Reliable seafood restaurants and inviting clam bars can be elusive in New York City. Littleneck surprises visitors by providing briny, creamy, and delicious maritime classics like clam chowder, lobster rolls, and Ipswich whole belly clams. Adventurous seafood eaters will be thrilled by spicy shrimp rolls and Thai-influenced mussels. Round out your seafood order with a beer on tap (the Ithaca IPA is highly recommended), and a tantalizing Jameson Cream doughnut.
Surfish Bistro,New York | Image courtesy of Surfish Bistro
Peruvian cuisine is incredibly delicious, but it can be challenging to find in New York. Thankfully, Chef Miguel Aguilar brings his take on Peruvian dishes to Gowanus. Visitors will find Latin-influenced favorites like churros, yucca and paella on the menu as well as more obscure dishes like oyster ceviche, chupe (a shrimp bisque with corn and quail egg), and lomo saltado (stir-fried rib-eye steak). Dining at Surfish allows customers to try well-executed, exciting dishes like anticuchos (marinated beef heart skewers) and zapallitos (zucchini filled with goat cheese and crab).
New American cuisine has been re-interpreted in countless ways and always yields different results. At The PINES, the emphasis is placed on a daily changing menu, fresh produce, seafood and meats, and surprising flavor combinations. The narrow, dimly lit space boasts a handwritten menu listing the primary ingredient and origins of that item. Although the menu can be unpredictable, look out for creatively prepared duck, peppers, cauliflower, pork, and their signature homemade bread with whipped butter. For risk-taking eaters, The PINES offers a thrill. Not many dining experiences revolve around the experimental work of the chef and the diner’s re-discovery of certain flavors and foods.
Wilma Jean is just outside the Gowanus boundary in neighboring Carroll Gardens, but its delightful Southern classics are worth the stroll to the other side of the canal. Pimento cheese is a must-have ingredient here featured in its tater tots, as a starter dip with tortilla chips, or lovingly melted on top of a finely seared black bean burger. Fried chicken with buttermilk dressing is meant to be slowly enjoyed in this bright, inviting spot. Local wines from The North Fork’s Paumanok and Macari Vineyards balance the robust menu items.
Looking for that alluring neighborhood restaurant perfect for brunch, supper and happy hour? Welcome to Bar Tano. This Italian bistro infuses prosciutto, fontina and pesto in its egg benedict and frittatas while also offering a perfect spaghetti carbonara and gorgonzola and fig jam panino. No matter the time of day, Bar Tano excels in Italian favorites with a slight twist. In the evening, a full meal can be made from the bruschetta varieties and grilled pizzas before even diving into the hanger steak with truffled potatoes and espresso panna cotta. Mangia.
No Brooklyn neighborhood wouldn’t be complete without an ode to the Neapolitan pizza pie. Table 87’s pizza is renowned for its blistered crust, paper-thin center and sublime toppings. Although Table 87 turns out a reliable orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe and quattro formaggi calzone, stick to the pizza. Simple is best when ordering a margherita pie with toppings like San Marzano tomatoes, ‘nduja (spicy spreadable sausage), and arugula. Table 87’s coal-oven pizzas can not only be enjoyed in Gowanus or Brooklyn Heights, but they’re also frozen and shipped across the nation as both whole pies and slices.