There isn’t a high volume of restaurants in the mostly residential Cobble Hill, but the small spaces are one of the area’s assets, yielding cozy restaurants with a down-to-earth neighborhood vibe. Italian restaurants reign supreme, though there are other gems, too, including one of Brooklyn’s best natural wine bars and standout Ethiopian food.Read More
17 Cozy Restaurants and Bars in Cobble Hill
Amid the brownstones, find standout Italian, wine bars, and more
1. Henry Public
Outfitted in lots of wood and featuring a fireplace in its dining room, Henry Public has warm, cottagey vibes. It serves standard bar fare like a solid burger and grilled cheese, but it also has some throwback bar snacks such as radishes with butter, juniper pickles, and deviled eggs that give the place a bit of a 1960s feel. For drinks, the martini is a timeless option. Bonus is a happy hour Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with an $8 cocktail of the day and $5 draft beer.
Three years after closing in the East Village, cocktail bar Elsa was reborn in Cobble Hill. It’s a place for drinks, although a limited menu of snacks including cheese and charcuterie plates are available. Owner Natalka Burian has said she wants the cocktail bar to feel “very feminine,” and as such, the space — co-owned with her husband Jay Schneider — is full of flowers and white marble, and a neon sign depicting a woman hangs out front. Standout cocktails include the “Night Silo,” made with espresso, whiskey, bourbon cream, maple, heavy cream, and absinthe. Bonus: It has a great bathroom for mirror selfies.
3. Lillo Cucina Italiana
This 17-seat Roman restaurant serves unfussy, carby food like gnocchi, cacio e pepe, and chicken Milanese. Its pastas are saucy and traditional. Chef-owner Giampietro “Lillo” Remia sometimes takes people’s orders himself, lending to the restaurant’s down-to-earth vibe.
4. Yemen Café
The Cobble Hill outpost of this Bay Ridge restaurant serves traditional Yemeni food in a casual setting. The lamb dishes stand out here, along with the slow-roasted chicken over rice. Meals come with a warming bowl of bone broth and the portions are plentiful, so expect to be very satisfied.
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5. Shelsky's of Brooklyn: Appetizing & Delicatessen
Shelsky’s is a classic Jewish deli and a staple in the neighborhood when it comes to pastrami, bagels, lox, pickled fish, and delicatessen eats. A Shelsky’s bagel is the ideal start to the day, but don’t sleep on the pickled herring.
6. The Gumbo Bros
Critic Robert Sietsema once declared the Gumbo Bros. destination-worthy in a three-star review of the tiny restaurant. It has a small menu, too: three kinds of gumbos and four kinds of po’ boys, including an excellent fried green tomato version. There are sides and desserts to fill in the gaps. The narrow space with its exposed brick wall gives the restaurant a homey look.
7. La Vara
Alex Raij and Eder Montero have become major players in the Cobble Hill dining scene, and their Spanish tapas restaurant La Vara is a dependable destination for Moorish and Sephardic fare. It’s great for brunch, with big windows in the front looking out onto the very cute Clinton Street. The Gibraltar-style grilled chicken hearts salad and simple, salty anchovy-sesame conserva with charred bread are some standout snacks. Raij and Montero also recently added the international seafood restaurant Saint Julivert Fisherie to the neighborhood.
8. Charlotte Patisserie
This bright and charming French bakery, which also has a full cafe in Greenpoint, serves top-notch cakes and pastries. It also doubles as one of the better options for coffee and espresso drinks in the neighborhood, best enjoyed with a simple chocolate croissant.
June is a go-to spot for natural wine in Brooklyn, with by-the-glass offerings that change regularly and an extensive bottle list that also includes sparkling oranges. All of its wines are natural, and the staff is very knowledgeable when it comes to recommendations. There’s also a solid menu of seasonal small plates to accompany the wines. In warmer months, opt for the secluded back garden, but the low-lit, dark-wooded interior is cozy, too.
10. Ssam Korean Bistro
The exposed wood beams and hanging lightbulbs of Ssam Korean Bistro give the space a very rustic look, like a casual Korean restaurant set in a barn. There’s a fusiony menu of small plates, including bulgogi nachos and kimchi fries, but go for the bibimbap, which can come topped with the usual ribeye or pork shoulder but also other options like eel, spicy squid, or salmon. The drinks — which include beer, sake, house wine, and simple cocktails — are very affordable, with cocktails topping out at $10.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Founded in 1930, Sam’s is a longstanding red-sauce Italian icon in the neighborhood. It sports classic red booths and checked tablecloths as part of its old-school charm, which includes very stiff cocktails. In addition to classics like spaghetti and meatballs and cheese ravioli in tomato sauce, it has pizzas made in a brick oven.
12. Awash Brooklyn
Awash serves homey Ethiopian fare in an industrial setting, after the restaurant updated its look in a 2015 remodel. It’s ideal for groups, especially since the best way to order is by choosing one of the combo options, which have vegan and meat variations. There are also cocktails and Ethiopian beers as well as tej, an Ethiopian honey wine.
13. Clover Club
Standout Brooklyn cocktail bar Clover Club has an elegant, throwback look, but it’s just as good for a casual after-work hangout — happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with excellent $8 cocktails — as it is for an intimate date night. And the food is far from an afterthought, with a reliable menu that includes hanger steak frites, fried chicken with honey and hot sauce, and fry bread with braised rabbit. The kitchen stays open until 12:30 a.m. on weeknights.
From the same team behind Clover Club, Leyenda is another stellar food and drink option in the area with a great happy hour: Its rum and tequila-heavy cocktails that usually cost $12 to $14 are just $7 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The bright space is ideal for brunch, which includes breakfast tacos, a watermelon and cucumber gazpacho topped with Maine crab, and a fried chicken torta.
This cash-only, casual neighborhood restaurant serves inexpensive northern Italian fare, like a very simple spaghetti al limone and tagliatelle bolognese. At brunch, there are various egg dishes like poached eggs polenta with shaved fennel, prosciutto di parma, and parmigiano. As expected at an Italian restaurant, the wine list is mostly Italian, though there are cocktails, too.
When it opened in 2012, Battersby became a hot spot in the neighborhood, and while the vibe has chilled out a bit, it’s still a solid dining option. The move is the $75, five-course tasting menu, to which all reservations are defaulted. The menu changes frequently — often multiple times a week — and has tinges of Italian, Spanish, and Mediterranean in dishes such as grilled bacon with sun gold tomatoes, gorgonzola, and celery or bomba rice with duck confit, octopus, chorizo, and piquillos.
17. White Maize
As far as fast-casual goes, White Maize is the top spot in Cobble Hill, serving arepas bursting with fillings like pulled beef and gouda or shrimp, octopus, and calamari. There are a few tables and communal tables, and when the weather allows, the whole front of the restaurant can open up to Smith Street. Don’t skip dessert: The quesillo, or flan, is silky-smooth.