Banana bread French toast from The Narrows
One of New York City’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods, Brooklyn’s Bushwick is known for it’s experimental arts scene. Additionally, it’s taking a cue from nearby Williamsburg’s slew of industrial restaurants serving farm-to-table meals and high-quality meals, but doing it with a Bushwick-twist. On your next trip to the city, slot some time in your itinerary to explore this bizarre yet delicious neighborhood, starting with the following five meals, curated by Epicure & Culture editor and Bushwick local Jessica Festa.
Insider’s Tip: Looking to explore more of Bushwick after your meal? Check out Avante-Garde Experiences In Bushwick, Brooklyn. Also, for NYC tour guide services from Epicure & Culture editor Jessica Festa please email jdfesta7 (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject “NYC Tour Guide” for information on customized tours.
1. Banana Bread French Toast With Chocolate Chunks, Pure Maple Syrup And Fresh Whipped Cream
Brunch-lovers should head to The Narrows on Saturdays and Sundays between 11am and 4pm for craft cocktails, $6 mimosas, buttermilk fried chicken, sourdough pancakes, and, possibly the best brunch item in Bushwick, banana bread French toast with chocolate chunks, pure maple syrup and fresh whipped cream. Mouthfuls of creamy banana meld with rich cocoa and thick syrup, while airy whipped cream adds a contrasting texture for an explosion of flavors and feelings on your tongue.
Pairing Suggestion: As this is a craft cocktail bar, it’s recommended to get one of their craft brunch cocktails, like the “Derringer Cocktail” with bourbon, gran classic, Peychaud’s and cava or the “Caulfield’s Dream” featuring rye, demerara syrup, lemon, spearmint and cava float.
The Pabellon Arepa
2. Pabellon Arepa
Bushwick’s Arepera Guacuco will transport you to Venezuela through empanadas, pabellon criollo, tajadas, pernil, and, the highlight of the menu, freshly-fried arepas with a number of interesting toppings. Some highlights include the “Mariscada Arepa” with squid, shrimp and mussels in red tomato sauce; a “Vegetariana Arepa” with fresh avocado, Venezuelan guayanes cheese, sweet plantains and tomato; and, the most delicious of them all, the “Pabellon Arepa” featuring shredded beef, white cheese, sweet plantains and black beans. The mix of savory meat, salty queso, saccharine fruit, and hearty legumes offer a divergence of flavors that comes together to please the palate.
Pairing Suggestion: Arepera Guacuco serves a traditional Venezuelan “Papelon con Limon,” a refreshing drink of raw sugar cane juice with fresh lemon.
Farm-to-fork chilaquiles from 983 – Bushwick’s Living Room
3. Farm-To-Fork Chilaquiles
I LOVE chilaquiles. In fact, when I was in Mexico I ate this dish — which consists of crispy tortilla strips, topped with salsa and/or mole, fresh cheese, pulled chicken (optional), scrambled egg (optional), refried beans and sweet Mexican cream — for almost every meal. I’d almost run out of hope of ever finding a restaurant that served the dish in as delicious of a form as in Puebla. That is, until I stumbled upon 983 – Bushwick’s Living Room. Their focus is on reinvented comfort food done in a farm-to-fork fashion. Tip: Try this dish on its own then top it with hot sauce for a nice kick.
Pairing Suggestion: 983-Bushwick’s Living Room features an impressive selection of craft beers, with a heavy focus on New York. Sample a “Brooklyn Blast!” by Brooklyn Brewery; a “19-33 Queens Lagrrr!” by SingleCut Beersmiths; a “Saison” by Kelson of Brooklyn; or, if you want to stay with the Mexican theme, a “Michelada” from Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma.
Delicious Roberta’s pizza
Roberta’s may look unassuming from the outside — if you don’t look up the address beforehand you’ll think the entrance is a door to offload shipment, as it’s housed in an old garage — but it’s a Bushwick staple. In fact, if you ask locals what the #1 thing to do in Bushwick is, many will tell you to grab a slice from this Morgan L-vicinity pizzeria, bar and restaurant. You can’t go wrong with ordering any of the wood-fire oven pizzas off their menu, with their crispy crusts, homemade mozzarella, farm-fresh produce, and mix of typical and unusual toppings. That being said, if you have to make a choice go for the “Little Stinker,” a rich mix of tomato, mozzarella, parmigiano, double garlic, onion and pepperoncini (Tip: Bring gum. And Tic Tacs. And mouthwash.). Along with delicious food, patrons love their communal tables, social vibe, rock music and hipster decor with mismatching chairs, concrete walls and exposed wood beams (and a rusty Mercedes Benz and garden outside).
Pairing Suggestion: When you find a venue that serves Trappist beer — brewed under the direction of monks in a Trappist monastery – you order Trappist beer. At Roberta’s, they serve a delicate yet spicy “Brasserie d’Orval” Trappist Pale Ale (Belgium) with notes of citrus, caramel and pepper. Other noteworthy beers on Roberta’s menu include a “Southhampton Double White” (New York); a “Hanssens Oudbeitje Lambic” (Belgium); and a “Hitachino Nipponia” (Japan).
Tutu’s Burger. Photo courtesy of Tutu’s.
5. Tutu’s Burger
While my true Tutu’s obsession is their brunch (their brioche French toast with vanilla, cinnamon custard and seasonal fruit compote is truly addictive), I wanted to share another supper item with you as I’ve already included a decadent French toast option in the list. Tutu’s makes THE BEST burger in Bushwick — and possibly in Brooklyn — thanks to their high-quality house-ground beef. While the Tutu’s Burger comes with a tasty combination of Gorgonzola, pickled jalapenos and garlic aioli, you can also choose to create your own topping selection with choices like eggplant pesto, fontina, Gruyere, oregano aioli, pickled Anaheim chilies, fried egg, caramelized onions and more.
Pairing Suggestion: Tutu’s has a delicious selection of craft cocktails, with a top pick being the “Maple Old Fashioned” made with Redemption High rye bourbon, maple syrup and baked apple bitters. They also do a fun “Three Bottles to the Wind” tasting where you can sample three different beers from one brewery for $19.