Anna Polonsky doesn't consider herself a pioneer. The U.S. Associate Director of Le Fooding remembers a time when she only went to Williamsburg to shop in thrift stories. But the hipster enclave has won her over—especially its food scene and the fact that "everyone here loves to eat or to be around food."
Polonsky is a champion of the Brooklyn culinary scene, which she describes as dynamic. In many ways, Brooklyn's popularity reflects Le Fooding's popularity: there's a focus on taking the pretense out of dining.
When Polonsky isn't meeting chefs and tasting food at restaurants all over the city as part of her job in growing Le Fooding—English-translated guides debut in January as well as a hotel guide—she always looks forward to coming home. Here are some of her Williamsburg favorites.
Pizza: I love Best Pizza. It's in the former Brooklyn Star space. It's very cheap, maybe two to three dollars a slice. They're not very business-driven I would say. I usually do mozzarella, pepperoni and garlic oil to go. I like the garlic knots, too. I also like Motorino, they just reopened.
Dinner: Marlow and Sons was my first contact to the area. I like the room at Diner and they have a great burger, but really the food for me is awesome at Marlow and Sons. It's the style I like to eat. You can go for one plate of chicken liver and a glass of wine or have a feast. It's not original, but I love their brick chicken there, which everybody loves. It's to the point where the chef is sick of cooking of it. The raw bar is good and they have a pasta special every day. They were also one of the first to have a natural wine selection.
Burger: For an awesome late night burger, The Commodore. So good! I love The Commodore. I love their cheese burgers. They do awesome margaritas, too. It's kind of this hipster-dive kind of vibe. I just get the burger very simple: rare to medium rare, cheese, plain fries, and lettuce. I actually also love the burger at Peter Luger at lunch. People criticize it for being touristy, which is funny because cool chefs go there.
Sandwich: I love Saltie for sandwiches. I usually get the Clean Slate. It has hummus, bulghur, pickled vegetables, and yogurt sauce on naan. It feels really earthy and wholesome and the vegetables give it some spice. I go to so many restaurants for work that I'd rather eat this simple stuff that gets right to the point.
Fried foods: Brooklyn Star I like when I feel decadent. It's all fried food basically. When I'm ready for a whole fried dinner, I go to there. The Dr. Pepper Ribs stand out—they're almost caramelized and very tender.
Cocktail: The Shanty has no pretension. You see the whole distillery. It's also quiet, which is a real luxury for Williamsburg. It's a great gin bar. Maison Premiere I liked but too bad there's no place to sit. They have great absinthe.
Wine: I know much more about wine than cocktails. Being French, I drink much more wine than other other alcohol. The Ides at the Wythe Hotel has a really nice view and I like the wine collection. They carry a lot of natural wines.
Bagels: Bagelsmith. It's a chain. It's probably not the best in the world. But it's packed. Super unpretentious. I always mix cream cheese, avocado, turkey and cheese on a sesame or poppy seed bagel. I love the creaminess, it's kind of ridiculous.My other staples is lox with cream cheese and onions.
Coffee: I currently go to El Beit on Bedford. Again, nothing original, but it's very reliable. They're very nice. They have good music and make their own granola bars, which are very good. I just found Otha's in South Williamsburg. There's nothing on Broadway for now, and I want to mention this place because it's not a big chain.
Chocolate: Mast Brothers is awesome. It's beautiful. When you walk in, it smells amazing because they make their chocolate on premises. They have a salted caramel chocolate that's probably my favorite. Even the simple dark chocolate I like.
Cheese: It's really wonderful Bedford Cheese Shop. They try to make it like a small French epicerie. They have really delicious cheeses. I always trust them. They're very hospitable.
Breakfast: At Whirly Bird they have an amazing breakfast taco. I think it may be the only thing they serve at breakfast. It's more like an omelette. It's perfectly cooked and there's a bit of cheese on it.
Ice cream: I'm a huge fan of Van Leeuwen, They have a truck on North 8th. My favorite is probably Earl Grey. The chocolates are delicious, too. The ice cream is like if you would make it at home, and it's not too sweet.
Outdoor seating: Sometimes I go to The Woods for Mexican and tequila. It's not the best, but it's completely decent when you have a few tequilas in the summer.
Scandinavian Fancy: Aska is obviously the best example. Fred [Berselius] is probably the sweetest chef I've met in my entire life. I can't eat there every week, but I prefer is the bar menu. Generally speaking, I sit at the bar (that's true for almost every restaurant). Everything is so good, but the Swede dogs are amazing. The Swede dog is served on a sheet of soft, house-made tunnbrod--a Swedish flatbread--with hot mashed potatoes, fried onions, brown mustard, and feathers of dill. If you want a cocktail they can improvise anything you like.