At Bushwick Daily, we firmly believe that a collective opinion is a lot better than even the most distinguished critic’s conclusion.
For the second year running, we’re working to create a reliable guide to all things food, drink, and culture in Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Ridgewood. We’ve been asking you, dear readers, to nominate and vote for your favorite local businesses in a number of categories.
This guide is an ongoing project and we plan on keeping it up throughout the year. We’ll ask you to vote on seasonally interesting categories, as well as on perennial favorites.
We will be updated this list with new winners all year long!
Best of Bushwick
Best Ramen: Lua Bar
1006 Flushing Ave, Bushwick
Lua Bar, a self-proclaimed “ramen party bar,” was opened in July 2017 by the same team behind Williamsburg’s Suzume. Here, they focus on “delicious, affordable, unfussy food for the nieghborhood.”
Though young, Lua has a lot of fans. And they’ve earned them. Their duck ramen, the dish that ostensibly won them the title, is perfectly composed — filled with duck flavor that never comes overpowering, perfectly cooked noodles, and simply prepared vegetables that complement the dish and cut through the richness.
Best Brunch: Sally Roots
195 Wyckoff Ave, Bushwick
Johnny De Piper and James Freeman opened Sally Roots in September 2016, and they’ve been slinging delicious Caribbean eats since then.
Their brunch menu brings an Islands flair to Bushwick, with Caribbean classics like braised oxtail and curried chicken. They don’t neglect stateside brunch favorites, either, such as Eggs Benedict and hash (theirs is made with pork belly and Brussels sprouts). They also throw in a few creative fusions, like shrimp and grits featuring shrimp grilled in garlicky mojo sauce. As an added bonus, all of their brunch-only cocktails are $10 or less.
Best Pizza: Archie’s
128 Central Ave, Bushwick (off the Central Ave stop on the M train)
Archie’s is a comfortable spot, equal parts bar and pizzeria. Their pizza doesn’t quite qualify as “fancy pizza” — if it’s guanciale you’re after (pork from pig cheeks), you’ll find none here — but it’s much more than your standard NY grab-and-go slice, too.
The pizza menu is augmented with a wide variety of hot grinders, baked pasta dishes, salads, and sides, and they offer a wide array or local and craft beer with which to wash your slices down.
Best Grocery: City Fresh Market
229 Knickerbocker Ave, Bushwick
City Fresh Market is a regional chain; its Bushwick outpost opened at 229 Knickerbocker Ave, next to Maria Hernandez Park, in 2004. More recently, it got a facelift and reorganization, but its commitment to fresh, high quality produce and options for every dietary restriction remain the same.
“We are blessed to be a part of the great community here in Bushwick,” said Store Manager Chris Macioch. “We are lucky to have such hardworking and loyal employees. We hope to be able to continue to give back to this community that has done so much for us .”
Best Chicken Wings: Salud Bar & Grill
1413 Bushwick Ave, Bushwick
Salud was opened by June Ramirez in 2015. Located at 1413 Bushwick Ave, Salud serves up Latin classics and Latin-inflected American classics, including chicken wings. It also has a formidable craft beer list.
The wings at Salud are top notch, among the crispiest around, and the meat is perfectly juicy and there’s not a jot of excess grease. And the flavors! Salud offers eight flavors: naked (unsauced ), barbeque, spicy barbeque, classic buffalo, sweet chili, chipotle, mango habanero, and fuego.
Fuego is Ramirez’s own homemade hot sauce, made with peppers he grows himself. It is bright, fruity, and floral to start, then assertively spicy, and finally mellows to the herbal flavors of a classic Jamaican jerk spice mix. Because every pepper crop is different, every fuego is different.
Best Patio: Fine Time
84 Central Ave, Bushwick (off the Central Ave stop on the M train)
Located at 84 Central Ave., Fine Time is more of a full-service bar. The beer list is a respectable mix of crafts on drafts and old standbys in cans, a handful of cocktails, wine offerings. Perhaps where the shine the brightest is their frozen drinks selection — they offer their signature frozen painkiller and seven frozen margarita flavors.
Then there is also the matter of their award-winning happy hour, where all drinks are $1 off and frozen drinks are $2 off, and the fact that every single drink purchase, on any day and at any time, comes with a free hot dog and popcorn.
Best Bakery: L’imprimerie
1524 Myrtle Ave, Bushwick (off the Myrtle-Wyckoff stop on the L and M trains)
L’imprimerie, located at 1524 Myrtle Ave., is among the younger bakeries in Bushwick; French banker-turned-baker, Gus Reckel, opened it only three years ago. Everyday, Reckel churns out croissants, chocolate chip cookies, granolas, curlicue pastries called escargots, and plenty of French breads, like sourdough and the classic baguette. L’imprimerie also serves coffee, espresso, and a limited menu of sandwiches.
Reckel starts baking L’imprimerie’s goods every morning at 4:00 a.m. for the 7:00 a.m. opening.
Best of Bushwick 2017
Best Chicken Wings: Clara’s
53 Wilson Ave, Bushwick
Clara’s, a bar/restaurant at 53 Wilson Ave., won squarely, snatching 50 percent of 4,500 votes.
We were initially surprised by Clara’s victory, as they have been open only for only a few weeks at the time of the poll (following Eastland’s demise), but with just one bite it was obvious that Clara’s makes some marvelous wings!
In addition to, of course, salt, Clara’s head chef John Klein adds thyme and garlic to his overnight brine, the clincher secret to making Clara’s wings so damn perfect.
Then it’s straight in the oven for the chicken wings where Klein reveals that he cooks them “really slow and low.”
Best Date Spot: Faro
436 Jefferson St, Bushwick
Faro is drenched in the kind of lighting that seems specifically engineered to make everyone’s cheekbones pop. The entire staff is friendly, and when we got the chance to speak with the restaurant’s chef/owner, Kevin Adey, he seemed appreciative but not entirely surprised that Faro was at the top of the list of Bushwick’s best date spots.
Flattering lighting, Michelin star food, Sex and the City-caliber cocktails, and desserts that caused us to have an out-of-body experience all contributed to an experience ideal for the perfect Valentine’s Day, or any date!
Best Bagel: Los Primos Grocery
105 Central Ave, Bushwick
At Los Primos Grocery, the bodega powerhouse on Troutman Street and Central Avenue, they make the most scrumptious toasted bagel with cream cheese for only ONE DOLLAR.
Los Primos is great because it’s pretty much the city’s most friendly bodega with great food to match. In addition to selling exquisite bagel sandwiches and other hangover-curing food items, Los Primos is a family-owned business with an endearing staff and convenience like no other. A jewel in Central Avenue’s crown.
Best Brunch: Terra Firma
119 Ingraham St, East Williamsburg
Oh boy, do we get the hype. The brunch atmosphere at Terra Firma is an exposed brick and hanging plant lover’s dream. We were greeted by a lovely staff and was seated quickly, despite the place being very busy with Sunday afternoon brunch traffic. One of the best features of Terra Firma’s brunch is their $15 bottomless mimosa special, which is definitely the most affordable brunch special we’ve encountered in a long while.
Best Pizza: Tony’s Pizzeria
443 Knickerbocker Ave, Bushwick
Tony’s Pizzeria has been a family-owned North Brooklyn pizza stalwart for over 40 years. Tony’s manager, Salvatore Polizzi, says that the Knickerbocker Avenue mainstay has been thriving on regular customers and an ever-changing menu since the restaurant opened in 1975.
Local favorite pizza is Tony’s new pico de gallo slice. We tried a margherita slice with garlic knot crust because we’re a suckers for pizza novelties.
Best Patio: Left Hand Path
89 Wyckoff Ave, Bushwick
2,356 Bushwick Daily readers gave their vote to the patio of Left Hand Path bar, and that’s not a small feat.
Left Hand Path is definitely a Bushwick favorite for beer-lovers all year round, but during warm weather months, the bar’s outdoor space is especially appealing. The bar’s patio has good vibes and ample intimate seating, which makes Left Hand Path a romantic destination for local residents.
But don’t let the atmosphere be the only thing that draws you to Left Hand Path; the extensive beer selection, cocktail menu, and the scrumptious dumplings they serve from Flushing’s Dumpling Galaxy are just a few main reasons we love LHP.
Best Live Music Venue: The Footlight
465 Seneca Ave, Ridgewood
Ridgewood’s Footlight bar is a staple of the neighborhood that hosts more than just concerts; The Footlight also hosts a smattering of comedy shows, fundraisers, and film screenings.
Laura Regan, The Footlight’s owner and operator says she thinks of the venue as a community space for the neighborhood. “The Footlight is a labor of love among long-time friends. We work really hard to create a safe space for people to be creative and experience new things,” she said. “At a time where there’s a lot of turmoil in our scene we strive for excellence and to play our part in Bushwick and Ridgewood’s artistic community. We’re thrilled to be recognized and will continue to be that goofy fun rad place in the northern north side of Ridgewood.”
Best Burger: Clara’s
53 Wilson Ave, Bushwick
The winning Aristocrat burger is made with two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and a “special sauce” on a sesame seed bun. It sounds like the recipe for a Big Mac because chef Klein wanted to pay homage to the McDonald’s menu classic.
“The name of [our] cheeseburger is The Aristocrat. That was one of the early names of the cheeseburger that is now known as the Big Mac,” he said.
The burger does not disappoint. The pickles are amazing but not overwhelming, the bun is fluffy and absorbent, and while Klein refused to tell us what is in the secret sauce, the sauce is what puts The Aristocrat over the top.
Best Summer Cocktail: The Commodore from El Cortez
17 Ingraham St, East Williamsburg
The El Cortez owners also own the Williamsburg fried chicken haven The Commodore. So we’re not surprised that their Bushwick venture has a cocktail paying homage to their other spot.
The Commodore cocktail is the jewel in the crown that is El Cortez’s long frozen cocktail list. It’s essentially a piña colada with a refreshing finish and flawless presentation. It is made with rum, coconut puree, pineapple juice, blended with ice for a frozen finish, and garnished with a cherry, pineapple slice, and an amaretto float.
The Commodore makes us feel like we stepped out of the city and onto a beach.
Best Wine Vendor: Henry’s
69 Central Ave, Bushwick
Henry’s opened in 2013 as a premier hotspot for organic and natural wine and spirits at affordable prices (a normal bottle at Henry’s will set you back about $10-$15).
“Thanks to Bushwick Daily and everyone who voted,” said Henry’s eponymous owner, Henry Glucroft, “[We are] honored to be the neighborhood destination for fine natural wine and spirits. If you haven’t checked us out yet, please come by and see all we have to offer.”
Best Tacos: La Lupe
9 Jefferson St, Bushwick
Since there are so many amazing taco vendors in the neighborhood, we honestly had no idea how this particular poll would turn out. But La Lupe, located at 9 Jefferson St., a few minutes from the Myrtle-Broadway JMZ stop, ran away with the taco title with over 40 percent of the vote.
La Lupe’s owner Karla Munoz is more than excited to hold the title.
“The most important thing about running this beautiful business are my employees and the fact that my family are a huge part of the business operations. La Lupe is my mother’s name and I am trying to make her proud and represent her the best I can,” Karla said. “[I have] been part of the Bushwick community for three years now; it’s been so enjoyable. We have met great people and made friends … Life is so much better with tacos, mezcal and tequila.”
Best Coffee: Caffeine Underground
447 Central Ave, Bushwick
The winner of Best of Bushwick’s coffee vendor poll goes to…Caffeine Underground!
Since there are so many amazing coffee shops in the neighborhood, we had no idea how this particular poll would turn out. But Caffeine Underground, located at 447 Central Ave., just barely won the coffee title with 29 percent of the vote.
Best Happy Hour: Fine Time
84 Central Ave, Bushwick
This year’s winner of the Best of Bushwick: Best Happy Hour was Fine Time, one of the neighborhood’s youngest bars, only 4 months old at voting time.
Fine Time, located at 84 Central Ave, offers their happy hour special from opening time until 8pm every single day of the week. And the special itself? $1 off any drink, and $2 off their specialty frozen drinks — plus a free hot dog and popcorn with every drink purchase.
Cover photo: Bart Koscinski for Bushwick Daily
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