Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is a neighborhood not many people get to – even those who have lived in New York for years may have never been, but it’s truly an underrated foodie paradise. Once considered a Scandinavian neighborhood, then an Irish and Italian neighborhood, it is now predominantly Middle Eastern. On 5th Avenue between 67th street and 86th street you’ll find a mecca of Middle Eastern restaurants – from Lebanese to Syrian to Turkish to Egyptian and more – and there’s no better place to come for kebabs and other Middle East classics. That said, Bay Ridge is diverse like any other NYC neighborhood, and if you look beyond you’ll see there’s many cuisines to be savored.
Cafe, Restaurant, American, Middle Eastern, $$$
Stroll along 5th Avenue and you’ll come across many Middle Eastern favorites like Yemen Cafe. This take-out joint offers special dishes like salta (a bubbling pot of goo with pita for dipping), fatah (lamb porridge with more bread for dipping), and haneez (spiced lamb). All of these are delicious, sharable Yemeni dishes that’ll make you feel warm and cozy from the inside out.
Yemen Cafe, 7130 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 745 3000
Hazar Turkish Kebab
If you’re a fan of Turkish kebabs, high-tail it to Hazar Turkish Kebab for one of the best in New York City. Locals will tell you that they also make the best falafel in New York, and be sure to try their yumurtali pide – a sort of Middle Eastern-style stuffed pizza. In short, if you like Middle Eastern food, you’ll be happy at Hazar’s.
Bay Ridge has a large number of bakeries, and Cedar’s is one of the best. If you like things like baklava you’ll be in heaven, but there are plenty more treats to try. Don’t leave without tasting dondurma – Turkish ice cream – it’s got a thick, laffy taffy-like consistency that’s unlike any ice cream you’ve ever had. There are very few places to find dondurma in New York City, so don’t miss your chance.
Cedar’s, 7204 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 238 8111
Bakery, Dessert, $$$
Before it was a Middle Easten neighborhood, Bay Ridge was home to Scandinavians, and evidence of that can be found in places like Leske’s Bakery. This bakery and donut shot has been a favorite for years, serving classic black & white cookies, jelly filled donuts, and danish baked goods. It’s an old-school neighborhood spot that hasn’t changed, and counts a loyal clientele that has been coming back for years.
Leske’s Bakery, 7612 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 680 2323
Of course, Bay Ridge isn’t just for Middle Eastern cuisine, and if you’re in the mood for tacos you should head to El Puente. It’s a no-frills family run spot serving tacos fro $2.50, all made to order – and all delicious. Go for beef tongue or al pastor, or if you’re really hungry go for one of their tortas. And if you’re really feeling indulgent, fill it with breaded chicken.
El Puente, 9300 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 921 2580
The Owl's Head
Bar, Wine Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
The Owl’s Head
Like many other Brooklyn neighborhoods, Bay Ridge has had an influx of young people moving to the area. With the new community comes new restaurants like The Owl’s Head. Opened about five years ago, this natural wine and craft beer bar serves an enticing array of accompanying small plates. Despite being a sign of gentrification, the bar is approachable and low-key, making it a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
The Owl’s Head, 479 74th St, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 680 2436
Every New York neighborhood needs a classic New York pizza joint, and in Bay Ridge it’s Pizza Wagon. Hardly changed since it first opened in 1966, if you’re looking for an old-school slice joint, look no further. Grab a slice of plain cheese or a Sicilian and you won’t be disappointed – this place is often crowded for a reason.
Pizza Wagon, 8610 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 836 5725