These days, when talking about the culinary world in New York City, you just can’t leave out Brooklyn. Of course Manhattan has not only the most restaurants, but also the most acclaimed. But don’t sleep on Brooklyn, the influx of young people to the borough has brought a whole new world of restaurants with them. And don’t forget about the ones who have withstood the test of time. It’s worth the trip, of that I’m sure, and recently I made a couple of trips to some of my favorite spots, just to let you know where to pick up a bite!
LIsa Fernandes owns this small eatery in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She’s one of the many Bravo Top Chef contestants, having appeared in season 4 (where she made it all the way to the finale, only to have to give up the crown to Stephanie Izard), and the lastest season of All Stars LA, where she bowed out in round 4, which is no shame at all, being that the whole season was jam packed with amazing talent. I have previously visited her food truck, which was of course awesome, but now she has a restaurant, and I love to sit down to eat!
Her spot is on Flatbush Avenue, it’s Bushwick at its most illustrious. There are old buildings with tenants of decades, brand new buildings with hipsters, and even the Bushwick projects are not too far down the road. It’s just how I like it, it’s how New York is supposed to be. The restaurant is rustic, with an old school flair, however, I had to dine outside due to the coronavirus, but it was a sunny day, so I didn’t mind. I ordered a bunch of stuff, some to eat there, some to take home, I wanted to try as much as possible. I had the Crispy Pork Dumplings with honey glazed chili, which I practically inhaled. So sweet and spicy, delicious. If you know me, my favorite thing in the whole wide world to eat is pork belly, and hers (served with rice), made with honey chili, sriracha and cilantro, is simply outrageous. She said all her dishes are her babies, but the pork belly is her pride and joy, and I can only say: hell yes. It was fluffy and crispy all at the same time, just amazing. I took home the Sweet Chili Chicken (also served with rice), and I had it for dinner, made with scallions and crispy shallots. It had a nice kick to it, and I’m in awe of these dishes, I wish I could have more. Like right now.
For more info on Sweet Chili click here
Stuf’d is another food truck converted into a restaurant. Actually they took over the kitchen in a bar named Rusty Nail. I’ve been following their truck since my fist bite, which I had here in the Bronx. What makes them special (like seriously) is their bread. It has a Parmesan-Panko crust that is just heavenly. And I’m quite certain that nobody else makes it, and it makes whatever you put on top of it even more delicious. Of course I ventured out to Brooklyn, as soon as I heard about their new eatery.
What did I eat? First off, I just had to have the Reuben Sandwich, which is a big hit at Citi Field (yes, they have a stand there too!), and it was everything I thought it would be. It was prepared with Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing, and a scrumptious purple slaw. I also tried the Beer-BQ Brisket sandwich, made with Vanilla Porter beer, slow cooked for at least 6 hours. Hmmmmm. The pickles on the side? They’re from The Pickle Guys located on the Lower Eastside, which in my humble opinion have the best pickles in New York. It all makes for a perfect combo.
For more info on Stuf’d click here
For more info on Rusty Nail click here
My Cuban Spot
It’s just literally a little spot. A Cuban one. A kitchen and a window, a couple of benches, that’s it. They call it a Ventanita, which I’m assuming means little window, my Spanish is limited to a few curse words…. But don’t be fooled. Chef Louie Estrada serves some of the best Cuban food out of here. He’s Cuban, he’s passionate, and he doesn’t mess around with his food. The recipes are authentic and original, with flavors he learned in Cuba, dishes he learned from his grandparents, it all comes together here, and it will blow you mind. Or tastebuds.
When I say: this was the best Cuban sandwich I ever had, then I absolutely mean it. It is ridiculously good. The name for the sandwich here is The Boss, and it makes total sense. It’s served with all the usual fixings, on top of Cuban bread, but it’s the boss, don’t call it the usual, because it’s not! I also took home a rice bowl (“I Heart Chicks”) with sofrito seasoned chicken served on top of a bed of rice and beans with a maduro in the middle. A true taste of Cuba. I also couldn’t resist to get an order of Pork Cracklins, known as Chicharron. It’s hot and crispy, bursting with flavor, and served in a paper bag that says “crack” on it, and nothing has been truer, maybe ever. It’s a hot treat for carnivores, be sure to order it on the side….
For more info on My Cuban Spot click here