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A couple walks along Greenpoint Avenue, a busy corridor on the Brooklyn waterfront.
Taku Sando is one of several new food businesses opening on Greenpoint Avenue.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

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A New Restaurant Row Blooms in Brooklyn

The dead-end cul-de-sac at the end of Greenpoint Avenue is fast-becoming one of the borough’s hottest restaurant blocks

When Homer Murray opened 21 Greenpoint in 2016, he was the only restaurant on the short stub of Greenpoint Avenue between West Street and Transmitter Park. The dead-end cul-de-sac near the East River waterfront was home to a coffee shop, Ovenly, but no places for a proper sit-down meal. “It was a sleepy, little isolated section,” he says. “When the winds blew in the winter, there were tumbleweeds.”

On a recent summer night, children danced, while adults gossiped over martinis. The block, mostly protected from traffic, is lively with people shuffling between a half-dozen restaurants that serve beef curry pot pies and fashionable items like tinned fish. “It’s a magical place,” Murray says of the blooming restaurant community.

A half-decade after 21 Greenpoint opened on the block, Greenpoint Avenue is on its way to becoming the city’s next restaurant row — the result of real estate development along the Brooklyn waterfront, and in Greenpoint more specifically. In the last two years, three new restaurants and bars opened on the end of the block. There could be three more by the end of the year.

Greenpoint has seen an explosion of new restaurants in recent years. At least 60 restaurants, bars, and coffee shops have opened in the neighborhood since 2021, based on openings data from Eater. Once an area defined by Polish food, today its restaurants serve a wider range of cuisines ranging from Korean fried chicken to Japanese dashi. Several businesses that are based in Manhattan have chosen the area to open their first Brooklyn locations, including Upside Pizza, the ice cream shop Caffè Panna, and the Chinese restaurant Málà Project.

The wave of openings on this stretch of Greenpoint Avenue started in November 2021 when El Pingüino opened its doors. It was one of several new cocktail bars in the area that were so popular, reservations were mostly the only way through the door. Panzón, a restaurant and bar, influenced by Mexico City, followed in March 2023. Lingo, a Japanese American restaurant helmed by a popular chef, opened a month later. On the other side of the street, Ilegal Mezcal, a spirits brand, has a headquarters at 38 Greenpoint Avenue.

The enclave’s transformation has been in the works for years, concurrent with other developments in the area like the expansion of ferry service over the last decade and the completion of WNYC Transmitter Park in 2012.

Brad Barr, a partner at BNS Real Estate, the company that owns 13 Greenpoint Avenue and the 11-story apartment complex at 30 Kent Street, says it can be profitable for residential buildings to turn their ground floors into commercial spaces. The first floor of an apartment building can be one of the hardest to rent due to factors like noise and natural light. “It’s not a desirable residential location,” he says.

Up and down the street, restaurant owners are taking over ground-floor spaces that historically weren’t commercial. Nick Padilla, an owner of the El Pingüino cocktail bar, is the first commercial tenant at 25 Greenpoint Avenue. So are Nicole Onisick and David Taft, who opened Panzón at 23 Greenpoint Avenue. They say part of the draw was the promise that other food spots would follow.

Michal Kuras, the owner of William Green Real Estate has helped sell some of the buildings on the one-block stretch of Greenpoint Avenue, as well as was the rental agent for Panzón, Taku Sando, and Lingo. He says the current average price for storefronts on the block is “about $100 per square foot,” adding that it tracks with busier streets in the neighborhood.

City Councilmember Lincoln Restler says the completion of Transmitter Park, “was the critical building block that allowed for this dynamic world [of restaurants].” Much like the rest of the city, Greenpoint is undergoing an “intense gentrification” process, he says, but he adds that he’s glad this strip has become a destination for “small business owners doubling down on the community…that employ more folks and provide more great places for people to hang out.” He nods to public programming, like a ten-year-anniversary party for the park, that has helped activate the dead-end street.

Still on the horizon: Taku Sando, a Japanese sandwich shop “coming soon” to 29 Greenpoint Avenue, from the team behind Long Island City ramen shop, Takumen, and Radio Star, a restaurant opening at 13 Greenpoint Avenue this fall from the owner of the Mediterranean restaurant Glasserie.

Grand Republic Cocktail Club, a bar at 19 Greenpoint Avenue, closed after six years earlier this month. Murray is taking over the space. “I felt obliged to this block to do what I could to keep its spirit,” he says. He filed a liquor license for what he’s calling a “neighborhood bar.” He hopes to open by the end of the year.

For the 21 Greenpoint owner, it’s not a surprise to watch a neighborhood adjacent to Williamsburg grow. He’s weary of change, but he’s also excited that his new neighbors are independent businesses, “not a giant conglomerate pushing everyone around.” Not all of his ventures have worked out on the row: Murray opened River Styx, in 2013, before closing it three years later to transition it to become 21 Greenpoint. He describes his current restaurant as once struggling, but with more life on the block, he’s seen an increase in sales on weekdays, a customer base that’s notoriously hard to capture.

As of August, there are no commercial spots left on the one-block street where the avenue meets West Street. Like one of New York’s hottest restaurants, this stretch of Greenpoint is all booked up.

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