Max and Eli Sussman--the brothers, chefs (Eli works at the popular Mile End Deli), and cookbook authors--live away from what they call the "L zone." In other words, their shared apartment in South Williamsburg is removed from all the restaurants and bars on and around Bedford Avenue. Still, the Sussmans, who recently released "The Best Cookbook Ever," love the adventurous character of their neighbors' appetites and a restaurant culture that rewards them. Here are their favorites south of the L train.
Pizza Max: Williamsburg Pizza seems to be pretty popular, but still under the radar. I usually get a regular slice or a regular pie while Eli, my roommate, will get the pepper and sausage and basil. It's whoever wants to spring $25 bucks for pizza gets to pick the topping. I just go with the standard thing. Eli: I order the vegan pizza and add sausage to it. They have a lot of vegetables on it. The place is solid. Max: I think they're taking that little extra step. The ingredients are good. The pizza is consistent. The crust is crunchy. It's not a soggy mess when you go pick it up. The sauce is properly seasoned. Good quality cheese, it's stretchy just right. They make good salads, too. It's surprisingly difficult to find a good salad.
Burger Max and Eli: Blue Collar. Max: It's a thin patty and you don't order to temperature. There's nothing dry aged, nothing heritage about it. They cook them to order. E: It's closer to a slider or a steamer. It's so cheap. That's part of the reason they're so popular. You could eat a full meal there for under $10. M: And that could include a milkshake. E: I think that place is totally good and better than Shake Shack.
Diner Eli: I don't care what everyone says about Kellogg's Diner. I'm fully aware it's not good. There are not that many options when I'm working late. I don't want to necessarily get carry out. I actually want to sit down. I've been there a lot when I'm wasted but other times I get a turkey club and a pop and hash browns. There's always weird things happening. It's a weird blend of people eating there. Truck divers, partying people, and random people hanging out in a diner. I've never eaten there when it's light out.
Bar Eli: It kinda looks like you're in someone's living room at Duck Duck. It's pretty friendly in the sense that you can go in and grab an entire space with your friends. It's never insanely loud or crowded. Sometimes they only have one bartender. I would never go out of my way to have drinks there, but Duck Duck is very relaxed. I would take visiting friends to Commodore. It's very representative of what people do in Williamsburg. I usually drink whiskey. Max: Noorman's Kill. I think it's pretty awesome. They have a huge list of whiskey. That bar is very expert at what they do but is still super friendly. It's great when there's a list of 50 bourbons. They're really knowledgeable.
Brunch/breakfast Eli: I like Campbell Cheese. I like to pick up meat and bread. I'm very sympathetic to the brunch crowd and the people who work it, but it's very rare I eat brunch. Max: I don't go out for breakfast or brunch very often. I'd walk to Roberta's for brunch to make it count.
Coffee Max: I always go to Gimme Coffee. It gets the job done. I'm one of those guys that loves coffee, and it's hard to function without it. I go to what's closest to me. It's hard for me to function without it in the city. There's one on the way to the L. They make good espresso drinks and they have good pastries, too. Eli: I don't drink coffee. Gimme is underrated, I think. But I'm no authority.
Bagels Max: Brothers. It's just a few blocks east of where I live on Bushwick. They do a nice job there. They're usually pretty fresh. I don't like a huge bagel, and they have a good dough to crust ratio.
Date Night Max: I go to St. Anselm, which is primarily a steakhouse. To me that's one of my favorite restaurants. Everything they do is very well prepared. It's simple and it's delicious. Friendly service and an intimate feeling. Eli: That's the place I go to the most. They do everything so well. You can go there and get a hanger for 15 bucks or spend 20 and get long beans on the side. It's my favorite steakhouse by a mile. The only problem is it's hard to get in there. Last time I went there was three hour wait. Max: It's always packed. Eli: You once texted me a photo of what you ate there while I was at work.
Pastries Max: There's this place Napoli bakery. It's old school Italian. They do semolina bread and semolina rolls fresh every morning. I go there and get a roll and then go to Campbell for cheese. They have all the provisions like fancy mustard and prosciutto.
Mediterranean Eli: Zizi Limona. I love that place. I go there for lunch by myself and I go there quite a bit with my girlfriend. It's consistently delicious. They have awesome pita.
Indian Max: There's a palce called Taj Kabab King. When your order comes you think they messed up because there's so much food. Eli: It's literally like 10 pints of food. Max: Chutneys, rice, pakoras, soup, samosas, two entrees, daal. It's like everything in one order. You can pick chicken curry and you get all that.
Vietnamese Max: Nam Nam is little neighborhood spot. It's one of those places that's good to have right down the street from you. Everything is ready pretty quick. I like a classic spicy banh mi. For me, the key is in the bread. It's not a French baguette, but it is crusty on the outside.
Take-out Max: China Express. It's the best local greasy Chinese spot. It's not going to win any critic awards. Eli: I'll agree on that. Max: The lo mein. Eli: The Singapore noodles. Max: All the guilty pleasures like General Tso's. Eli: They have something called "jade vegetables." It's in a black garlic and corn syrup sauce. The restaurant is maybe a tenth of a mile from our apartment—it's embarrassing that we even get it delivered.