The Latino community in North Brooklyn – Greenpoint and Williamsburg – is mostly Puerto Rican, but in regards to restaurants the offerings extends to all corners of Latin America. I’ve tried most of the restaurants listed below and there are a few others that I have purposely left off the list. Unless otherwise mentioned the quality is generally good and most of the restaurants even serve brunch.
El Almacen (557 Driggs Ave, Williamsburg, 718-218-7284) This is where Argenitna meets Brooklyn. The hipster kitchen and wine bar pumps out mostly small plates and charcuterie. The main menu is meat heavy with Costilla de Res and Skirt Steak, as well as tacos.
Beco (45 Richardson Street, Williamsburg. 718-599-1645. www.becobar.com). A new boteco in Williamsburg with a decent wine list and Caipirinhas. The food centers on Abre Bocas (small plates) and sandwiches and it is reasonably inexpensive.
Miss Favela (7 South 5th St (at Wythe) Williamsburg, 718-230-4040, www.missfavela.com) It took me a while to even realize this place existed. Directly underneath the B-Burg bridge about a block up from the river, this neighborhood gathering place serves up tasty pão de queijo and on Saturdays they have feijoada. On most nights there’s either a DJ or live Brazilian music. The restaurant opens on to the street and it is particularly pleasant on a nice day.
Cafecito Bogota (1015 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint, 718.569.0077, www.cafecitobogota.com) This Colombian Café and Wine Bar in La Punta Verde (that’s Greenpoint for you gringos) is probably the top spot in all the city for a decent arepa that’s not from a street cart. The menu is much more gourmet that you might expect, with tapas, sanwichcitos, and a large selection of Arepas Montadas (arepas topped with ingredients like smoked salmon, chorizo, bacon and carmelized onions, etc).
Zero Latitude (84 S. 4th St., nr. Berry St.; Williamsburg) Opened in December 2008, this is more of a general South American international restaurant from Ecuadorian chef Eduardo Polit, formerly of Soho House. Highlights: quinoa salad, Choclo con Queso, Lomo Asado con Yuca y Chimichurri, pannacotta herba luisa.
Bonita (338 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, 718-384-9500, http://bonitanyc.com) The owners of B-Burg favorites Diner and Marlow & Sons, runs two Bonitas – the other is in Fort Greene. The food is simple, yet authentic and ingredients fresh. Mains: Burritos, Tacos, Tortas.
El Diablo Tacos (484 Union Ave, Williamsburg) This taco truck parked in the courtyard of the Union Pool Hall and open until 3:30am. Two tacos=$5.
Elote (366 Union Ave, Williamsburg, 718-599-2655, www.eloterestaurant.com) A simple taqueria on Union with three types of tacos, Green Chile tamales, and Nachos with marinated steak or chorizo.
Endless Summer Tacos (Bedford Ave, Williamsburg) This taco truck that is a staple on Bedford Avenue serves fish tacos (and a few others) into the wee hours of the morning.
La Superior (295 Berry St, Williamsburg, 718-388-5988, www.lasuperiornyc.com) This is my favorite taqueria in all of New York. The South Williamsburg eatery offers authentic, high quality tacos and other Mexican dishes from the state of Guadalajara. With ten varieties at $2.50 a pop (except for the beef tongue at $3.50) you cannot go wrong here. Read our review of La Superior.
LA Burrito (287 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg,) Los Angeles style burritos, if this is what they are, should just stay in LA. I’m not a fan of this place. I have heard the enchiladas here are good though.
Mesa Coyacan (372 Graham Ave, Williamsburg, 718-782-8171, www.mesacoyoacan.com). On the new Bedford, Graham avenue, this promising restaurant that opened in mid-2009 serves up excellent gourmet Mexican fare like ceviches, Sopas (Azteca, de Mariscos, Pozole Garibaldi), enchiladas, and interesting mains like Chiles en Nogada (roasted poblano pepper stuffed with shredded pork, peaches, pears, apples and almonds covered in a walnut sauce then topped with pomegranate seeds). Their tacos are OK, but they aren’t nearly as good as those in La Superior. Their brunch is quite good as well, though that menu is rather limited.
Papacito’s (999 Manhattan Ave, 718-349-7292, Greenpoint, http://papacitosbrooklyn.blogspot.com) The same owner as Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Label opened this small eatery with a large and much better courtyard in place of a mediocre Thai restaurant in 2008. The food is more LA-Mex than Mex-Mex, but the large burritos are quite good and reasonably priced. The restaurant announced a huge new brunch menu in June 2009.
Yummy Taco (941 Manhattan Ave, Williamsburg, 718-349-7731) I’ve seen Yummy Tacos around Brooklyn and I don’t think any of them are yummy. They share a menu with Chinese food if that tells you anything.
Chimu (482 Union Ave., Williamsburg, 718-349-1208) Not far from the Lorimer Stop on the L, Chimu is probably the best straight Peruvian restaurant in North Brooklyn. Peruvian national dishes are all prepared similarly to how they would be in Peru. The ceviche, lomo saltado, and tacu tacu are fair. On Sundays they make picarones (pumpkin fritters with honey) on the back patio.
Pio Pio Riko (916 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint, 718-349-5925) A block from the India Street subway station on Manhattan avenue, Pio Pio Riko is the place to go for Pollo a la Brasa, or rotisserie chicken. Standard Peruvian dishes are also on the menu. Simple. Easy. Cheap.
Tacu Tacu/Rice Republic (134 N. 6th St, Williamsburg, 718-218-7889) This Asian and Peruvian restaurant (there are menus of each cuisine) is big and brash. The food is alright for no Peruvians working in the restaurant, though you won’t find that authentic flavor anywhere on the menu.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.