January 11, 2016: It’s Saturday afternoon in NYC and you and your bestie are overdue for some catch-up time, you are both STARVING and you’re feeling exploratory. What do you do? You open up YPLan, a super cool mobile app designed to help you find fun things to do in the city at any time of day. From free activities, to discounted tickets to shows, YPlan is perfect for planning some fun with your friends, a date night when you don’t want to “Netflix & Chill”- or check out local sporting events.
I pulled up Yplan and clicked on a super colorful confetti-infused picture of a bagel and quickly purchased tickets for a Williamsburg Foodie Tour. I’m a visual girl, what can I say? I see something pretty, and I must eat it, buy it or own it.
Now, unlike many New Yorkers who refuse to go to Brooklyn, I am actually quite fond if it. I enjoy visiting it very much. I find the bars, the food and the crowd to be completely different than the vibe in the city. And, even if hipsters are not your thing, Williamsburg is definitely worth checking out, even if for the food alone.
If you want to play tourist, check out “Like a Local Tours”- they are a fun, affordable way to get to know the hidden gems, while learning a little bit of history about the places you visit. The tours are great and honestly the best way to get to know a neighborhood is by walking in the shoes of the people who live it and love it every day. For $45 we stopped at about seven local foodie spots and got to taste everything from pizza, to gourmet chocolate, southern food and of course, my favorite, ice cream and more ice cream.
Allow me to explain.
First stop, Best Pizza. Now, in my opinion, to call it Best Pizza, and back it up, I’d say I would have preferred to have visited and devoured various pizza spots, to decide for myself if it really is the best. But, I will say, it was pretty damn good.
A little background on the place: Best Pizza was opened in the winter of 2010 by pizza man Frank Pinello. Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in a former bakery, Best Pizza utilizes a century old, wood-burning oven to turn out some of the best slices in town.
We ordered two kinds and they were both amazing. Traditional red sauce with basil and my personal favorite was the caramelized onion white pizza. It was our first stop, and I could have eaten a whole pie, but I am glad I didn’t because this was only the beginning of an afternoon of gluttony.
What I found unique about this place is the massive amounts of paper plates that line the walls. They are composed of local artists drawings and align the walls of this tiny and quaint joint.
Next stop, one of my NY favorites, Momofuku Milk Bar. I ordered the crack pie, the compost cookie and we got to sample their famous Cereal Milk Frozen Yogurt, which I happen to love, but my friend thought it tasted like breast milk.
Milk bar, called “one of the most exciting bakeries in the country” by bon appétit magazine, is a culinary empire and lifestyle brand founded by award-winning pastry chef and masterchef judge Christina Tosi. Christina focuses on putting a playful spin on familiar home-style desserts and savory snacks using quality ingredients and locally sourced dairy. She is the creator of the highly addictive cereal milk™ ice cream, compost cookies® and crack pie®, all of which have gained worldwide recognition since she opened milk bar’s doors in 2008.
I’ve never met Christina, but she is my hero. She is to blame for my love affair with birthday cake truffles-which I can never get enough of.
Next up was Pies ‘n’ Thighs for some old fashioned Southern comfort food. Pies ’n’ Thighs started in 2006, in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. The owners took over a beer storage closet and transformed it into a tiny kitchen with six stools, serving huge donuts, two-napkin smoked pork sandwiches and salty, crispy fried chicken.
The place is small, and there were people lined outside waiting for a table. But clearly one can understand why.
The owners all share a love for comfort food (I mean, who doesn’t?)- Their fried chicken and savory flakey, warm and soft biscuits are the best I’ve ever had.
After feeling greasier than a fried chicken, we waddled our way to what was for me, the highlight of the tour (and the main reason I booked it): The Bagel Store.
What can I say about the bagel store except for the fact that I am drawn to beautiful colorful and funfetti, looking things. I am also obsessed with anything cake batter related and will try anything that involves sprinkles. So when I found out we were going to the place that made the rainbow bagel famous I could not contain myself.
Despite the fact that I was super full I made sure I tried every single bagle they offered us.
French Toast, Rainbow (my fav of course), the famous Kragel (who owner claims he invented), Super Cinnamon Raisin, Pretzel (more rainbow) and sourdough.
Cream Cheese flavors- (get ready):
Birthday Cake Funfetti, Cookies & Cream, Sun Dried Tomato, Nutella, Red velvet, Strawberry & Blueberry.
The line for these bagels is out the door and the owners claims to have gotten the idea from his kid playing with Playdough.
The Rainbow bagel tastes DELICIOUS, kinda like Fruit Loops, or some other sugary cereal! If you want one, you have to call the day before to reserve one. You cannot just walk in a buy one. They are so popular, but they only make limited batches! Why? Because these rainbow bagels take much longer and have a need for a much more intensive process than a regular bagel.
I was told they can make 5,000 regular bagels in the same exact amount of time it takes to make 100 rainbow ones.
Check out the gallery below!
I will def be back for another sugary overload of bagels!
To help settle this overload of food, we stopped at Devocion Café: a super hipster Colombian-brewed coffee shop that was once a warehouse. It now caters to trendy hipsters who flock to the café for some inspiration on whatever it is hipster minds think of these days.
It has a beautiful skylight, is decorated with beautiful greenery (almost makes you feel like you’re in a greenhouse) and will serve you every kind of overpriced latté your hipster heart desires. But there is magic in their coffee- Devocion coffee beans are sourced from farms deep in Colombia’s most inaccessible zones, and the beans are dry milled in Bogota where they are then sent to the US for roasting. This means the price tag ensures you can still smell the Colombian breeze in your cup.
And as if the sugar overload had not been enough, we made another sweet tooth stop at OddFellows Ice Cream Parlor. Apparently it’s a Brooklyn staple.
They have the coolest, strangest but most unique flavors of ice cream I’ve ever seen. Plus their ice cream is made from scratch, with no added stuff and nothing but organic, fresh ingredients. How about a Foie Gras Drumstick, a boozy popsicle, an alcoholic ice cream or what they call "OddFlavors" like Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Melon? Makes you wonder what they were smoking when they came up with these flavors!
The décor cracked me up too.
Check out Jesus and his ice cream. It doesn’t get anymore spiritual than that!
Our last and final stop was at Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. A gourmet chocolate spot that is a chocolate lovers dream. Or worst nightmare, depending on how you look at it. They’ve got gourmet classics like sea salt, smoked & almond butter. Their warehouse space is even cooler and you can tour the facility and see how all that deliciousness gets made. Don’t forget to try the free samples!
I don’t know if it was the overload, but I couldn’t really appreciate the chocolate tasting at this point. All I was ready for was my PJs and my bed.
The tour ends with a stop at the beautiful DUMBO area. AL though it was cloudy, the view of the Manhattan skyline was breath taking.
All in all, the tour was worth the $45. You got some history, some culture, A LOT of food, and some pretty picturesque spots, along with some history and some street art.
Here are some pics I snapped along the way, in between stuffing my face.