I’ll admit it right now: free food is usually a ploy. Samples at Costco are just tricks to make you buy that 20-inch chocolate cheesecake, and if a restaurant sends you a basket of free fries, you can be sure your food is on it’s way … about a month from now. But I don’t care — I love me some free food anyway, especially in Williamsburg, where the restaurants lately have been trending away from free snacks and toward overpriced toast.
Too few restaurants understand the power of serving delicious freebies along with their delicious meals. I mean seriously: where-oh-where has the bread basket gone. Are we in Europe!? Some people get it though. Here’s a list of my favorite Williamsburg spots that understand the power of freebies.
Meadowsweet – Olive oil rolls (pictured above)
149 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211 btwn Driggs and Bedford
Lately, it’s been dark times for bread lovers in New York. Carbs are out, and when you do get a basket of gluten-tastic goodness, it’s usually more of an afterthought than a main feature. Not so at Meadowsweet!
This Michelin-starred joint knows what the good people of Brooklyn need: namely dense, slightly sweet olive oil rolls. I kid you not, this might have been the best thing I ate there the entire night and they have burrata on the menu.
Bonus: At $65 for 5+ courses ($13 a course), the ever-changing tasting menu is one of the best bang-for-your-buck splurges around. Or, if you’d rather eat light, go for share plates like Shishito peppers ($10.50).
Bedford Cheese – Cheese and meat samples
229 Bedford Ave. on the corner of N. 4th
Admit it: the only reason you go to farmers markets is for the free samples. I get it, I used to be the same as you … until I moved across the street from Bedford Cheese Shop. Now whenever I’m in the mood for semi-soft Vermont cheeses, I just run over and ask for something similar to brie but you know, not. Wondering what the difference between soppressata and capicola is? They can help with that too. They’ll slice you as many samples from their cheese and meat cases as it takes to find you the perfect snack.
Bonus: You can take home their cheeses by the quarter pound if you want. Prices start around $7 per pound, and they sell chewy chocolate covered artisan caramels for about $1 each.
Fat Goose – Seed butter and bread
125 Wythe Ave. between N. 9th and N 8th
I’m only going to say this once: Butter is back. Not in a serve-everything-drenched-in-artery-clogging-gold kind of way. Just in a this-stuff-tastes-really-good kind of way.
Fat Goose has definitely caught on to the trend. When you sit down to a meal here, you are immediately greeted with some hot, homemade sourdough bread and one of the most delicious creations known to Kent Avenue: seed butter. The rich, salty spread is covered with fennel, chia and lord knows what else. No shame if you use your finger when the bread is gone.
Bonus: Eating at the bar might be the way to go here. If you start your meal during happy hour (5-7pm, Tuesday-Friday), you’ll get $8 seasonal cocktails and $5 bar snacks like anchovy toast.
Delaney BBQ: BrisketTown – Pickles and potato bread
359 Bedford Ave. between S. 4th and 5th.
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re eating at Delaney BBQ’s BrisketTown. Pile on those pork ribs, some smoked turkey and of course the signature beef brisket, and suddenly you’ve got yourself a true feast — and a bill to match. Thank goodness every serving of slow-cooked meat comes heaped on top of thick, fluffy potato bread toast and a pile of sweet pickles. Not to mention: Sides like cole slaw ($4) and “Tasty Beans” ($4) are worth a look-see too.
Bonus: If you join their mailing list, they’ll send you a coupon for 1/2 lb of free meat of your choice for your birthday.
Skinny Dennis – Peanuts
152 Metropolitan Ave. on the corner of Berry Ave.
Grabbing a drink before dinner? Head to Skinny Dennis, where the brews are cheap, the boys wear flannels and the hot peanuts are free. Who cares if the salt makes you thirstier? They’ve got $5 beer + a shot! Grab a bowl (or two, or four) and get ready to shell. At Skinny Dennis, the shells belong on the ground and peanuts are unlimited.
Beehive Oven – Veggies and ranch
182 S. 2nd St. on the corner of Driggs Ave.
Usually, by the time I sit down for brunch at Beehive Oven, I’m so hungry that I consider running down the block for a quick appetizer cragel. But that’s precisely why one chooses Beehive (aside from their insanely flaky build-your-own biscuit sandwiches for $5+): as soon as you place your order, a plate of fresh crudite and the creamiest ranch you have ever taste appears at your table. Presto, chango: hangry no more!
Bonus: When you spend $10+, they’ll give you a booze-free drink on the house (Tuesday-Friday).
Masha & the Bear – Flavored vodka shot (with check)
771 Grand St. on the corner of Humboldt St. What’s better than washing down your ginormous
Russian feast with a shot of house-infused vodka? Washing it down with a free shot of infused vodka. After you’ve had your fill of pirozhok hand pies ($3), blintzes with sour cream ($7) and borscht ($6), this East Williamsburg eatery doles out a final shot of along with your check. Just like being back in the old country. Nostrovia!
A photo posted by Dokebi (@dokebibbq) on
Dokebi – Banchan
199 Grand St. between Driggs and Bedford Ave.
Korean BBQ is one of my new favorite ways to stuff my face, but there’s just one problem: that meat ain’t cheap. Enter Dokebi. They know that the best way to convince you it is ok to order a $26 plate of raw bulgohki is by presenting you with a smattering of seasonal Korean sides (aka banchan) like kimchi radishes and japache to soften the blow. Not into cook-it-yourself? Get in on their Korean tacos for just $5 a piece.
Bonus: All their meat is served ssam style – with a side of purple rice, fresh lettuce and lots of sauce.
Did we miss your favorite free food in Williamsburg? Tell us in the comments!
Follow Rebecca on Twitter for more appe-teasers: @beccastories.