Brooklyn, the land of thick black glasses and lumberjack flannel. But it wasn’t long ago that Brooklyn was seen as the less desired area code, with a few oyster bars, pizzerias, mom-and-pop coffee shops and bodegas with good burritos. The restaurant scene was a footnote to big sister Manhattan. Now, you’ll find bearded bartenders with their own line of bitters, single-origin chocolate laboratories and a whole community of trend-seeking foodies who could give ol’ Manhattan a run for her money.
Full disclosure: Brooklyn is the home of Mouth HQ—we’re right in the middle of all the foodie action, exploring the open-air markets, chatting up makers and eating nonstop. Here are our latest and best food finds (that also make delicious gifts) from the borough we call home...
For the Friend Who Loves Their Ironic Baristas: Coffee & Tea
Brooklyn loves its baristas. The mid-20 year-old, clad in a slouchy 80s sweater and beanie, smells of coffee grounds and is here to pour some irony into your morning cup. For your friend who always needs their caffeine fix, there’s nothing like a cup from these Brooklyn Makers...
- Grady’s Cold Brew — Manhattanite GQ producer by day, coffee fiend by night, Grady debuted his 20-hour-brewed chicory-spiked smooth cold brew Ethiopean coffee at Smorgasbord, the famed Brooklyn waterfront market. We’re totally addicted.
- Brooklyn Roasting Company — This maker is right down the street from us in DUMBO, and their coffee is not only super delicious, we feel good knowing that each cup supports impoverished coffee farmers around the world.
- Dona Chai — Inspired by the local food movement, Amy sources all the spices for her wholesome chai and turmeric tea concentrates in Brooklyn, grinds them in Gowanus and composts the grounds locally.
For the Friend Who's Still a Kid at Heart: Grown-up Treats
Brooklyn loves a reimagined childhood snack. Bacon turned into a spreadable jam. Macaroni and cheese transformed with duck and mascarpone cheese. A donut sprinkled with hibiscus dust. For the friend who loves a sweet TBT, we would never forget...
- Megpies — A reinvention of the toasty childhood favorite, Meg started selling her frosted jammy handpies on a Park Slope brownstone stoop outside of the subway.
- Salty Road — The hand-pulled taffy confections, creations of Marisa Wu, are nothing like the plasticky store-bought variety. We like to think they get their salty bite from the sea air in Far Rockaway.
For the Friend Who Likes to Get Sauced: Condiments & Sauces
The condiment of the moment comes and goes faster than a fedora-clad gent on a vintage bike. Sriracha exploded onto the American food scene about ten years ago. Then, local single-flower varietal honey was the sauce du jour. In 2015, small-batch ketchup and something called harissa started popping up everywhere. But before these sauces went wide, Brooklynites were dowsing and dunking their foods in them. If your friend can’t get enough of the sauce, these Brooklyn makers are ahead of the next trend...
- Tin Mustard — The company is named for Red Hook-based chef Tin Dizdarevic who has created a mustard with crunchy whole mustard grains. It’s the caviar of spreads.
- Mike’s Hot Honey — Mike was early to the Brooklyn scene, drizzling a Brazilian-inspired, chile-infused honey on top of pies at Paulie Gee’s pizzeria.
For the Friend Who Has a Sweet Spot for Sweets: Cookies & Chocolate
A Brooklyn sweets freak doesn’t settle for your break-and-bake cookie or factory-produced chocolate bar—they need unusual ingredients and small-batch techniques. Well, Brooklyn delivers with cutting-edge, disruptive flavors...
- Whimsy & Spice — Sunset Park-based Mark Sopchak and Jenna Park teamed up for a company that bakes up inventive spins on cookies. Hazelnut sandwich cookies with whiskey-infused ganache? Yes please.
- Jacques Torres — The French chocolatier was on the Brooklyn food scene in 2000, long before anyone had heard of DUMBO or single-origin or absinthe speakeasies. When he’s not crafting chocolates, he’s sleeping in his boat, docked on the Hudson. Now that’s hipster.
For the Friend Who Likes to Get Crafty: Cocktails
The Brooklyn bar scene is one of contradictions. On one hand, you can get $2 PBR… but on the other, you can get a craft cocktail that features two liqueurs you definitely can’t pronounce, infused with African bumblebee honey and strained through sustainably-farmed algae. Then, it’s lit on fire and costs $17. For a friend who always likes to have the latest in their glass, two Brooklyn makers rep the scene...
- Morris Kitchen — Starting out as a secret supper club (yet another trendy idea), this brother-sister team based in Williamsburg makes mixology a snap with their all-natural elixirs.
- Pickett Brothers Beverage — Raised in 1960s Cleveland, three brothers learned the art of the cocktail party (as well as the art of cocktail syrup) very early on.
Brooklyn hipsters (or whatever the new hipster word is for hipsters) always want to find the next big but currently little-known discovery, so it’s no surprise that the borough offers so much to the small-batch scene. This Brooklyn gift guide covered many of our favorites, but you can check out all our New York finds here, including that cute Brooklyn towel at the top. When it comes to Brooklyn, we have to say… the hipster food scene is lit!