The last month of our wonderful winter in NYC was spent living in Greenpoint, the Brooklyn neighbourhood with the best views of Manhattan and the best food in the borough. Though the Lower East Side and West Village were but a subway ride away, we always seemed to get sidetracked by the endless eating and drinking possibilities in our own little district.

Williamsburg may have made its name as the centre of culture in Brooklyn, but we think Greenpoint holds a little more charm. Along the low rise streets there are a thousand Polish bakeries tucked in next to Scandinavian style bars, while microbreweries serve up cheap and delicious beer down the road from the best brunch you’ve ever had.

Greenpoint is as relaxed as it gets, but takes its food and drink very seriously. We had two burning questions during our time there: 1) Where the hell are all of the grown ups? 2) How does anyone get any work done with this much to eat?

If you’re heading to the Big Apple any time soon, bypass the Upper East Side, the West Village and Noho, and cross the bridge to Greenpoint. We blame our collective weight gain on the culinary delights of this area but it was worth every last bite. And if you’re worried about all that, you can always pop into ‘No Lights No Lycra’ on a Tuesday night for a solid hour of pitch-black, alcohol-free dancing in the local Church Hall. Oh Greenpoint, how we love you.

 

Five Leaves

If you want one snapshot of Brooklyn as hipsterville, this is it. Straddling the Williamsburg/Greenpoint boarder, this restaurant/coffee window/bar/brunch haven is the brainchild of the late Heath Ledger. And good God that man had style. Nautical, loud, rustic and warmer than the hot buttered rum on the menu, it’s easy to see why Five Leaves bursts with people inside and out every single day of the week.

The dinner menu here is beautiful, but the best time to venture here is for brunch. Highlights include their famous ricotta pancakes with maple syrup, blueberries, banana and honeycomb butter, their Moroccan scrambled eggs with sausage, spicy chickpeas and grilled sourdough. There’s also a brûléed grapefruit with pickled ginger and mint. And chia pudding with cardamom poached pear. And arctic char with herbed cream cheese. Oh – and the best bloody Mary on the planet. And devastatingly hot staff. And a record player. So yes, you can see why we made this our home four mornings a week.

Xi'an Famous Foods

Anthony Bourdain said something along the lines of “I would eat an old leather boot if you dipped it in Xi’an’s sauce.” We couldn’t agree more. Xi’an began in Chinatown, passed from father to son and turned into a mini noodle empire. Cheap as chips and indescribably delicious, Xi’an’s Greenpoint location is all about the food.

These satiating noodles are hand-pulled in the open kitchen to order, and can be paired with such delights as ‘spicy and tingly beef’, stewed oxtail and spicy cumin lamb; a personal favourite. But, as Anthony well knows, the sauce is the star of the show here. A million and one spices (roughly) make up this fiery, glowing, peppery sauce, which coats each ripped noodle and clings to every tender piece of meat.

Xi’an are so committed to their noodles that there’s even a warning to eat them fresh to avoid them getting ‘bloated and oily’. To avoid this ugly fate, pull up a stool by the window and slurp your way to noodle nirvana for as little as $8.

Selamat Pagi

Head chef of Balinese joint Selamat Pagi Vinh Nguyen became both our feeder and a friend during our time in Greenpoint. His passion for the restaurant comes pouring out of the kitchen, and his love of Southeast Asian cooking can be tasted in every dish. A favourite of many of Brooklyn’s top chefs, Selamat Pagi offers bright, colourful food bursting with flavour, from the chilli and coconut spiced nuts at the bar, to the lemongrass-spiked market fish curry and the coconut meatballs with sweet soy and crispy shallots, all the way to the silky lemongrass posset.

Selamat’s menu is seasonal, celebrating all the best of Balinese flavours; spice, zest and depth. Situated right on the edge of McGolrick Park, this place is only open for dinner during the week, and does a mean brunch on weekends. It suits the evenings perfectly, with candles flickering against the white walls and the smell of chilli and rice wine drifting from the kitchen. Come here and feel instantly at home. Just don’t tell us about it. Jealousy isn’t a good colour on us.

Van Leeuwen

If you’ve read our interview with the brothers (and wife) behind Van Leeuwen, you’ll already know what diehard fans we are of this magnificent ice cream company. Even in the arctic temperatures of the New York winter, Van Leeuwen’s Greenpoint branch was always brimming with people.

Old and young alike have been reminded of the joys of ice cream with Van Leeuwen’s decadent menu, every scoop made fresh in their Greenpoint Kitchen. Choose from a menu of classics and vegan varieties, including ginger, Sicilian pistachio, coffee bean and Earl Grey. Every decedent batch is made using the highest-grade ingredients; the richest nuts, the juiciest fruits, the silkiest cream and a whole lot of love. They also serve fantastic Toby’s Estate coffee, best served over a scoop of classic vanilla ice cream.

Milk and Roses

Dark wood walls lined with books, burgundy leather chairs, bunches of wild flowers and a piano that just calls out for a sing-along make Milk and Roses the most picture-perfect spot in Brooklyn. In here, it’s ok to order an old fashioned at 11AM, or spend the entire day pouring over a book in the sunlit conservatory.

Brunch includes apricot pancakes with apricot maple syrup, smoked trout with goat’s cheese and avocado and a grapefruit, raspberry and fig breakfast salad. If you’re anything like us, you won’t ever want to leave this little haven. Even if the sing-along never actually happens.

Glasserie

Oddly enough for a city of such culinary scope, New York has a serious lack of good Middle Eastern food. Which partly explains why Glasserie has had such a frenzied reception. Located on a quiet, unassuming street, this ex-glass factory has been done up with subtle nods to its cuisine; a cactus here, a tiled wall there, with many of the original factory features still in place.

It is always crawling with customers, from inner-city types to Brooklyn locals, and is the perfect place to end a trip. Which is exactly what we did. The food is as close to perfect as it gets, in our opinion. Every plate is colourful and perfumed with handfuls of herbs. The menu is constantly changing, but the roasted lamb with smoky butternut squash and pine nuts is our favourite thing on the menu. We usually split that along with the grilled squid in a warming tomato stew. Order as many sides as you can, every single one is zesty and addictive.

Five Leaves

Xi'an Famous Foods

Selamat Pagi

Van Leeuwen

Milk and Roses

Glasserie

You May Also Like

City Guides

You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? Yeah, that’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best parts and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local. Eat your heart out, shop ‘til you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.

Bundles

Enliven your senses through travel. Get stuck in to the culinary delights of Tokyo, explore the modern-art scene in Marrakech, dance the night away in Jaipur and listen to the beat in Ghana in the new Magazine Bundle, Senses.

Download Suitcase App
Learn More