Across the Brooklyn Bridge: How to Explore Williamsburg

Find the best in Williamsburg, Brooklyn's cozy neighborhood right outside of New York City.

How quickly the New York world changes! In the 1970s, you went to Williamsburg for one thing: a Peter Luger porterhouse steak. The neighborhood was at that time, working class and lower class, dotted with barber shops and bodegas. But since the late 1990s, this area started to change rapidly and is now filled with trendy restaurants, a lively nightlife and avant-garde art galleries and shops. While this hot spot is still ever-growing, here are some of our tried-and-true favorites, along with a few new faces worth merit.

Interior of Peter Luger Steak house restaurant
Peter Luger's is a bastion of beef-centric meals in Brooklyn. (Courtesy Peter Luger's Steak House)

Where to Eat: The Best Restaurants in Williamsburg

From steak to innovative pizza, Williamsburg’s restaurant scene is constantly evolving, yet consistently stellar. There’s a lot to choose from at different price points, so walk around and work up your appetite.

» Peter Luger Steak House: The mac-daddy of the Brooklyn steak, Peter Luger's is a classic in this neighborhood. Come for a solo filet or bring friends—there are beefy options that can be shared with up to four people. The porterhouse and cream spinach are some of the joint's best, but the special sauces are worth dipping into as well. 178 Broadway, 718.387.7400

» Roebling Tea Room: Nestled snug into an old factory building's loft, The Roebling Tea Room has been slinging old-fashioned comfort food since 2005. Head in during the week for lunch or dinner and return on the weekend for brunch that features dishes heavy with Souther styled cooking techniques. 143 Roebling St., 718.963.0760

» Sunday in Brooklyn: In a city that never sleeps Sunday in Brooklyn that offers brunch every day of the week. Offering craft cocktails, rich yet light breakfast items, flaky pastries, sanwiches and full plates there is something for every brunch lover at this restaurant. 348 Wythe Ave., 347.222.6722

» Emmy Squared: Square pizza seems to taste better on Emmy Squared's white marble countertop or with friends at one of the dark wood high-top tables. The spacious restaurant also offers sandwiches and shared plates to be washed down with standard assortments of cocktails and a healthy wine menu. 364 Grand St., 718.360.4535

Peter Luger, Sunday in Brooklyn
Avocado toast at Sunday in Brooklyn. (©Gary Landsman)

Where to Shop in Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a haven for craftsmanship, vintage styles and nostalgia—whether in clothing, art, jewelry, furniture or music. These stores are just the tip of the iceberg:

» Artists & Fleas: This creative market place is a mash of stalls abuzz each weekend with artists who sell their jewelry, paper goods, pottery and homegoods to droves of art lovers and gift-seekers. Like a certain piece? More often than not the artist is there and can tell you all about the creation process and what the piece means to them. 70 N. 7th St., 917.488.4203

» Catbird: This boutique offers fun and chichi jewlery plus chic accessories. Need a new moisturizer or body lotion? Catbird also stocks well-loved beauty line with make up, hair care and skin care. 219 Bedford Ave., 718.599.3457

» Rough Trade: First opened in West London during the 70s this music shop never lost its edge. Among managing the records, CDs and music paraphernalia the shop also finds time to host live music events several nights a week. 64 N. 9th St., 718.388.4111

Oysters on a bed of ice and Champange in the background
Absinthe and oysters are two of the crown jewels at Maison Premiere. (Courtesy Maison Premiere)

Where to Drink

Pick your poison: There is virtually no corner where you can’t get a drink in this neighborhood, and there are just as many watering holes—from divey to classy—to sample.

» Barcade: Tapping into the current bar and video game haven trend, Barcade serves up retro video games—Wind Jammer, anyone?—alongside a rotating tap of more than a dozen craft beers. 388 Union Ave., 718.302.6464

» Spuyten Duyvil: Fancy a tart weisse or a wet hop ale? If Belgian beer and craft brews are your scene, Spuyten Duyvil is the bar for you. Belly up to the bar for tasteful charcuterie and cheese offerings to pair with your sips. 359 Metropolitan Ave., 718.963.4140

» Maison Premiere: The food and drinks at this Creole-inspired watering hole have earned the restaurant a reputation for quality and attention to detail. The absinthe and oysters are the real draw here. 298 Bedford Ave., 347.335.0446

» Tørst: This long, narrow boutique bar offers rare, European suds—on a daily rotating draft list—in addition to a menu of shared plates and interesting dinner fare. 615 Manhattan Ave., 718.389.6034

Williamsburg Bridge
Cyclists beneath the Williamsburg Bridge (©iStock)


Multitask by watching the latest indie musicians perform over dinner, grabbing a burger and cocktail while catching a movie or combining some culture with shopping.

» Pete’s Candy Store: This bar and live music venue hosts everything from derby day event to open mic and live indie performances. The cozy bar serves up cocktails and bottled beer: Sneak out to the garden when the weather is nice. 709 Lorimer St., 718.302.3770

» Nitehawk Cinema: This picture house serves up a modern take on dinner and a show: During a movie screening you can order dinner and drinks to your table in the theater. Train Spotting, Get Out and Personal Shopper are all films that have graced Nitwhawk Cinema's silver screen. 136 Metropolitan Ave., 718.782.8370

» Knitting Factory: This multi-level live music venue offers performances that range from bluegrass to Michael Jackson tribute bands to Dropkick Murphy and heavy metal bands. 361 Metropolitan Ave., 347.529.6696

» The City Reliquary: This quirky museum is run by the community and traces the history of NYC's beloved buroughs. Museum docents will point out the temporary and permanent exhibits. Don't forget to stop into the gift shop before leaving for special New York City souvenirs. 370 Metropolitan Ave., 718.782.4842