Whether you’re searching for farm-to-table goodness or delicious street-food-style fare, Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights has you covered. The neighborhood draws visitors from the five boroughs and beyond, eager to check out attractions such as the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park and Barclays Center. But many come for internationally acclaimed restaurants: you can find Persian fine dining, tasty Vietnamese takeaway and an array of places with some Michelin award or other. Read on to find out where to go and to hear from some of the chefs behind the magic.
601 Vanderbilt Ave.
Opened in 2015, White Tiger whips up what chef Liz Kwon calls a “fun twist on Korean cuisine” in a cheery, colorful environment. Diners should try a sizzling heap of bibimbap, Korean fried chicken with kimchi fries, the signature jaeyook gnocchi (stir-fried rice cakes and pork belly) or the spicy pork bulgogi. Since everything is packed with flavor, well portioned and priced right, you really can’t go wrong. The drink selection is no slouch either, including an array of soju (a popular rice liquor in Korea), wines and yummy house cocktails like the Southie, a warming whiskey on the rocks made with lemongrass-ginger syrup and orange bitters.
659 Vanderbilt Ave.
Not only was Olmsted a finalist for a James Beard Award in 2017, it also received a Michelin Bib Gourmand nod for its seasonal, rotating menu. It’s named after Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect behind nearby Prospect Park (a respect for nature plays a big part in the restaurant’s ethos). Chef-owner Greg Baxtrom sources ingredients both from the restaurant’s garden and from local farmers’ markets to bring his inventive dishes to life.
Whether transforming rutabaga into pasta during the wintertime or serving up warm heirloom tomatoes with house-made ricotta cheese in the summer, the kitchen is more than a standard farm-to-table spot. “We’re trying to be creative without it being exhausting to the customer,” Baxtrom says. While snagging a table without a reservation on the weekends can be tough, the variety of seating—out back, at the bar, in the front structure—makes this busy restaurant surprisingly accessible.
816 Washington Ave.
The once-vacant corner on St. Johns Place and Washington Avenue has gotten a revamp with The Social, a new family-friendly ice cream shop from the founders of Ample Hills. “We make all our ice cream in-house from scratch, as well as all our doughnuts,” says Jackie Cuscuna, who co-owns the creamery with Brian Smith. With plenty of outdoor-sidewalk space, complete with umbrellas for shade, the large corner spot has become a magnet for all ages to gorge on vegan minty coconut ice cream and other fun flavors; there are also ice cream sodas, egg creams and adult beverages.
552 Vanderbilt Ave.
It’s no surprise that chef Akhtar Nawab’s Alta Calidad earned a Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award in recent years. Blending the cooking styles of Mexico with the Indian cuisine Nawab grew up eating, the creative menu brims with rich, flavorful sauces. Snagging an indoor table on a Saturday night without a reservation can be challenging, but the delicious tacos (like the beef brisket adobo tacos with guajillo chili and chihuahua cheese or roasted fish tacos with mango salsa and pistachio mole) and mains (say, octopus and pork belly with lemon aioli) are worth rubbing elbows over. The mezcalero cocktail served with a touch of grapefruit bitters and cava is also a must-try.
824B Washington Ave.
Less than two blocks from the Brooklyn Museum, this no-frills Vietnamese spot brings in patrons hungry for fresh banh mi sandwiches, rice vermicelli salads, pho and bubble teas. You can’t go wrong ordering their classic sandwich (a crunchy-soft baguette packed with pâté, Vietnamese ham and roasted ground pork plus the standard banh mi trimmings) or the summer rolls with peanut hoisin sauce. Opened in 2015 by executive chef Patrick Li, Bahn Mi Place is an ideal stopover for grab-and-go food before heading to nearby Prospect Park. They often sell out of food by the end of the day, so plan accordingly.
75 St. Marks Ave.
As the City’s only high-end, fine-dining Persian restaurant, chef-owner Nasim Alikhani’s Sofreh has become a favorite since its opening in 2018. The menu, which previously earned the kitchen a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, features popular dishes like braised lamb shank with butter beans and lime broth, wild-caught fish with traditional stewed herb and tamarind sauce, and several vegetarian options. “I insert my personality into the food,” says Alikhani. “Once in a while I’ll introduce dishes that are founded in tradition, but I take liberty and add my own twist.” That twist, which involves spicy, sour and rich flavor profiles, keeps crowds returning. Alikhani recommends the Persian rice selection: “The way Iranians treat rice is [unique]. No one can do it the way we do. In the beginning I’d have to encourage our guests to try the rice, but now everybody knows.”
732 Classon Ave.
If you’re searching for authentic Mexican tacos, a stop at Mi Tierra is a must. Their al pastor, pollo asado and carnitas tacos rival those found in Mexico City, and this neighborhood joint is kind of a local secret. There’s limited indoor and outdoor seating, but with so many outdoor green spaces nearby, it’s great for takeaway too. Plus, Mi Tierra has daily lunch specials and tacos starting at $3.75 each.
791 Washington Ave.
Oxalis’ unassuming facade gives way to an open kitchen, an enclosed atrium and a garden room, where guests dine on a seasonal menu of small plates. Opened in late 2018, Oxalis is the only restaurant in the neighborhood to currently hold a Michelin star. The ever-evolving carte blanche menu ($120 per person; served in the main dining room near the chef’s station) comes with 10 courses and might include seasonal dishes like kampachi (yellowtail) over aji sauce with ginger or charred squash with wasabi mustard greens and drops of smoked egg yolk. Other options include a three-course prix-fixe meal ($65, in the garden, atrium or bar) and an à la carte menu of sweet and savory dishes at the bar. The upscale menu doesn’t mean it’s stuffy, though: “It’s very casual and understated; the service is elevated, but it feels very relaxed,” says Steve Wong, one of the three partners. While you need to make reservations for the set meals, walk-ins are welcome for the bar menu.
581 Vanderbilt Ave.
Although wine focused, LaLou’s intimate dining experience includes a creative menu of seasonal foods. Good for a date night or small gathering, this chic spot offers lunch, dinner and afternoon snack menus. Options include small plates such as chicories with summer herbs and crème fraîche vinaigrette, head-on prawns with saffron aïoli and ‘nduja (a spreadable sausage), and endive with grilled bread. Among the mains is the popular roast chicken with swiss chard and pumpkin seeds. The extensive wine list, more than 150 bottles’ worth, was created “between friends” (one of whom is Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year Joe Campanale) and features small-production wines from all over. Pair a glass with some oysters to enjoy at the bar or in the garden out back.
637A Vanderbilt Ave.
Nourish Thai is a popular spot with locals, especially for its well-priced lunch specials. The restaurant was opened in 2017 by owner Patama Wattanasongsit and executive chef Teerapong Ekwisitchaikul. The menu features shareable dishes from Thailand’s Central, Northern and Southern regions. Patama recommends trying items from the menu’s “secret grandma recipes section,” where you’ll find items like the popular Thai street-food lunch kao moo dang (barbecue pork and Chinese sausage over rice) and the Southern-style chicken curry kua khing gai. It’s dog-friendly in the outdoor seating area.