Best Restaurants in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Julie Besonen

Now is the time to check out Bushwick’s burgeoning restaurant scene. The L train, which deposits commuters (and visitors) at the neighborhood's center, Morgan Avenue, may soon shut down temporarily for repairs. Never been to Roberta's? Get ready for exceptional pizza, plus baked goods and inspired vegetable medleys. Roberta's sprawling, bohemian complex includes Blanca, a tiny annex whose extravagant tasting menu earned two Michelin stars in 2015. Okiway serves killer Japanese street food, and tiki bar El Cortez serves hearty portions of Mexican-American–style nachos and burritos. Dear Bushwick is dear indeed for craft cocktails and British-inspired pub fare, its ingredients largely grown at local farms. Another casual spot that sources from nearby agriculture is Fritzl's Lunch Box, a diner extraordinaire that serves one of the City's best burgers. Faro also generates a lot of buzz for its amazing pastas and porridge—yes, porridge—currently thickened with black burgundy truffles, sunchokes and whey. Read on to get schooled on some of Bushwick's other cool, creative eateries.

BK Jani
276 Knickerbocker Ave., 347-460-5110, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Consider BK Jani an indoor Pakistani picnic. Halal meats are grilled and served on paper plates, the pace is leisurely and guests tote their own booze. Naturally, there's a hamburger, though it's refreshingly topped with mint chutney and yogurt sauce instead of ketchup. The narrow storefront displays local art and love notes from happy customers who rave about the creamy, spicy chicken tikka, steak sliders and lamb chops. All meats are pasture raised and hormone-free, which means the prices are somewhat higher than the other ethnic joints that line Knickerbocker Avenue.

Bunna Cafe. Photo: Aregawi Gebrewahid

Bunna Cafe
1084 Flushing Ave., 347-295-2227, Bushwick, Brooklyn
The warm, inviting vibe at this Ethiopian café makes patrons feel at home—particularly during the coffee ceremony, when the restaurant's staff roasts, grinds and brews coffee beans on an altar-like platform. They then serve it for free with a meal. Ethiopians normally use the ritual to welcome guests to their private homes, but co-founders Liyuw Ayalew, Kedega Srage and Sam Saverance decided to share it with the public. The hourlong ceremony is held four days a week (check the website for details). The best way to experience the vegan menu is springing for the “feast” ($15 for one person; $28 for two), which includes a platter of yellow split peas with ginger and garlic, red lentils stewed with spicy berbere sauce, portobello mushrooms scented with rosemary, plus several other colorful, well-seasoned vegetable mixtures, all to be scooped up with sourdough injera bread. There's also a full bar and frequent live music with no cover charge.

Le Garage. Photo: Melissa Hom

Le Garage
159B Central Ave., 347-295-1700, Bushwick, Brooklyn
A mother-daughter team has joined forces in Bushwick, opening a contemporary French bistro in a former garage. The mother, Catherine Allswang, has owned and cooked in several Paris and San Francisco restaurants. Her daughter, Rachel, spent a fair amount of her youth in kitchens, but made her professional name as an interior designer. At Le Garage, the decor is clean and minimalist, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a long bar fashioned from bowling alley wood. The staff puts care into its presentation of the seasonal, French-influenced cuisine—including herb-stuffed chicken for two with parsnip puree and persimmon and braised veal with roasted fennel and gremolata. They've named light aperitifs for French heroines; the Madame Bovary, for instance, combines gin, vermouth, lavender bitters and a rinse of pastis.

Moku Moku. Photo: Chance Johnston

Moku Moku
43 Bogart St., 718-418-6666, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Moku Moku, a Japanese joint with innovative bar food, shares a doorway with sister restaurant Momo Sushi Shack. The former features belly-warming ramen and a scrumptious tako (octopus) corn dog fluttering with bonito flakes. Even humble burdock root is a star here, shredded and lavished with tiny sesame seeds. Co-owner Phillip Gilmour is behind both places, and Mexican-born chef Ismael Alvarez is responsible for the tweaks on Japanese tradition in both kitchens. Whereas Momo Sushi Shack is all communal tables, Moku Moku offers separate seating arrangements plus a bar where patrons can watch Alvarez and his team quietly at work. To drink are several good sakes, Japanese tea steeping in glass pitchers and a concise list of wine and beer. Cash only.

Syndicated. Photo: Michael Tulipan

40 Bogart St., 718-386-3399, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Fans of movies, good food and drinks (and who's not?) will find that combo at Syndicated, a modern, cavernous restaurant and bar with a 50-seat cinema screening classics that are a riot to see with a group. Think: The Big Lebowski, The Walking Dead and Groundhog Day. Leading up to the Oscars, the proprietors plan to screen some nominees, including animated shorts and documentaries. Tickets, available only at the door, cost $3 per movie and $5 for a double feature. Diners can also eat and drink in a separate restaurant space, where movies and old TV shows silently play on giant screens. That’s a good place to consume noisier items, like duck confit nachos and crunchy kale salad with goat cheese and walnuts. For those who choose to eat during the screening (à la Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema), the hearty American menu offers quieter munchies like beer-battered mushrooms, tater tots loaded with pulled pork and cheddar cheese and a burger with caramelized onions on brioche. The theater menu features popcorn with eight seasoning options.