Bedford Cheese Shop
Mast Brothers Chocolate
Mast Brothers Chocolate. Photo courtesy of Gentl & Hyers Photography.

While Manhattan has long been considered the epicenter of New York City’s food and drink scene, more and more people are noticing Brooklyn’s worthwhile epicurious offerings, especially in the neighborhood of Williamsburg. Home to breweries, wineries, artisianal chocolate factories, farm-inspired shops and affordable brunches and rooftops, Williamsburg is the perfect place for the hungry traveler who wants a quality experience in a laid-back atmosphere. To help you plan a delicious itinerary, here are some top food and drink experiences in Williamsburg.

Travel tip: Most stops in Williamsburg can be accessed by taking the L train from 14th Street in Manhattan via the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, F, M, N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6. Consult for precise transit directions.

Looking for an NYC tour guide? Please email jdfesta7 (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject “NYC Tour Guide” for information on customized tours.

Chocolate Sampling At Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory

At Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory (111 N 3rd Street) they focus on American craft chocolate in single origin and single estate varieties. A few of their many past partnerships have included Maine Sea Salt, Crown Maple Syrup and Stumptown Coffee, which have helped them to create incredible chocolate pairings. Tour the factory on Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm, enjoy free samples of artisanal chocolate in the shop or buy a bar for yourself (the beautifully-designed butcher paper wrapping is enough reason to). All bars are dark chocolate and made from cacao harvested on small farms in Madagascar and South and Latin America. Some popular varieties include the “Fleur de Sel” made with sea salt; the spicy “Serrano Peppers” bar; and the creamy “Black Truffle.”

Budget-Friendly Booze Brunch At Cameo

No trip to New York City would be complete without experiencing a booze brunch. One of the most budget-friendly booze brunches can be enjoyed at Cameo Gallery (93 N. 6th Street) on Saturdays and Sundays. For $19.99 you’ll get a filling meal — choices include old fashioned pancakes, an organic egg omelet with toast and potatoes or an organic egg sandwich with toast and potatoes – with three brunch drinks or beers. Wood tables and accents and dim lighting give the venue a cozy atmosphere.

Brooklyn Winery Wines
Brooklyn Winery wines. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Winery.

A Wine Tour At Brooklyn Winery

Brooklyn Winery (213 N. 8th Street) is a must-visit for anyone who loves to experience local culture through vino. The boutique urban winery uses grapes from nearby Long Island and the Finger Lakes to make small-batch artisanal wines. Winemaker Conor McCormack uses a traditional “hands off” approach, letting the fruit speak for itself with minimal interference. You can tour the facility, where the winemaker will tell you all about the space, how they makes their wines and wine in general. Afterward, relax in their ambient wine bar and order a glass, bottle or even some wine on tap (tip: buy a refillable wine growler to fill it with exclusive tap varietals like barrel-fermented Riesling, their Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend or a Rosé of Old Vine Zinfandel, to name a few of the many choices). Brooklyn Winery also hosts an array of events and classes, from trivia nights and film screenings to workshops on food and wine pairing and red wine aromas.

Wine And Whiskey At Brooklyn Oenology

Brooklyn Oenology (209 Wythe Avenue) is a winery and spirit-tasting venue that makes delicious wine, provides affordable pairings and serves up artisanal make-your-own charcuterie boards. Wine tastings start at $3 with generous servings and an expansive menu of house varietals and guest labels. They also offer spirit tastings of gin, moonshine, vodka, vermouth, absinthe and, whiskey. The emphasis is on whiskey, with some of the labels you can sample including a “Kings County Chocolate Flavored Whiskey,” “McKenzie Rye Whiskey” and the three-times distilled “Cornelius Applejack by Harvest Spirits.” Bonus: Their winery tasting room features a small gallery showcasing works by local artists.

One of the many artisanal meals you can find at Smorgasburg. Photo courtesy of erin & camera.

Artisanal Food Trucks At Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg (90 Kent Avenue at N. 7 Street) is a food fair that takes place on Saturdays in Williamsburg’s East River State Park from April through November. Here you’ll find the best artisanal eats Williamsburg has to offer, with both established and non-established vendors.

No matter what you order — pie shakes, organic vegan beef patties, fish curry with sprouts, arepas, ice cream sandwiches made with fresh baked sea salted cookies, artisanal donuts, tempeh salads, traditional Mexican cemitas, hot dogs topped with kimchi or Japanese curry, brisket wrapped in rice flour or Lebanese chicken sandwiches, to name a few of the myriad options — you can bet its made with local, natural and high-quality ingredients. Have a picnic on the water or relax in the onsite beer garden while taking in a skyline view.

Oh, and speaking of views, there are a number of Manhattan skyline tours you can book to continue enjoying the beauty of NYC.

Craft Beers At Brooklyn Brewery

Williamsburg is home to one of the most popular breweries in the world, Brooklyn Brewery (79 N. 11th Street), as bars and restaurants across the globe serve these craft beers. You can tour the brewery Monday through Thursday (online reservation only, $8) at 5pm, which is a group tour of 30 people or less and includes a guided tasting of four beers; Friday at 6pm to 11pm (no cover); Saturday from 12pm to 8pm (no cover); and Sundays at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm (no cover). You can also skip the tour and simply purchase a beer token — $5 for one, $20 for five — to enjoy a giant cup of one of their delicious craft beers at one of their communal wooden tables.

Bedford Cheese Shop
Artisanal cheeses from the Bedford Cheese Shop. Photo courtesy of the Bedford Cheese Shop.

Artisanal Cheeses At The Bedford Cheese Shop

As soon as you walk into The Bedford Cheese Shop (229 Bedford Avenue) you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a farmer’s country store. Everything in the shop — from the cheeses to the jams to the cured meats to the brined pickles — is sustainably produced, which you can tell by the flavor. With a focus on farm-sourced cheeses purchased at peak season, your English farmhouse cheddar, handmade American tomme and washed rind wedge from Italy will all be at their best quality. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to answer your most pressing cheese questions and offer samples for you to learn about cheese firsthand.

Rooftop Cocktails At Upper Elm

Located in the King & Grove Hotel, the Upper Elm (160 North 12th Street) is one Williamsburg’s newest rooftop bars. It sits right across from McCarren Park for a mix of green, city and water views. Enjoy music spun by talented DJs, craft cocktails by Jimmy Swet, and a trendy yet laid-back vibe. The Ides at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Avenue), Berry Park (4 Berry Street) and Night of Joy Bar (667 Lorimer Street) are some of the other great Williamsburg rooftop options.

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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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