This Rooftop Restaurant & Bar in Brooklyn Hosts Art-Centric Decor with Potted Plants, Colorful Furnishings, and Panoramic Views

Few places are better than a swanky rooftop spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to kick off a night out in New York City—where sweeping views of Manhattan’s daunting cityscape provide a picture-perfect backdrop. For your next upscale evening, Penny Williamsburg’s elevated 11th-floor restaurant and bar, ElNico, is where you should plan to dine next.

New York-based hospitality firm Stonehill Taylor styled the restaurant’s interiors with ample vegetation to create a lush jungle infusion and cohesive indoor-outdoor feel. Befitting Williamsburg’s hipster-chic personality, the neutral-toned, concrete-gray space is brightened up with expansive windows, allowing natural light to spill in, as well as eclectic punchy-colored furnishings swathed in shades of fluorescent green, magenta, and electric blue. Plus, custom art installations evoke the aura of a local artist’s studio. 

When an establishment is this design-forward—and dare we say Instagrammable—it’s hard to believe the food and drinks will match its dazzling motifs. But ElNico’s gastronomy experience does just that. Chef Fer Serrano concocted an imaginative Mexican-inspired menu that pays homage to her life growing up in Mexico, fan-favorite family recipes, and cooking in some of the world’s best kitchens. 

Starting with delectable small plates, the Guac with chive oil and totopos is a perfect segue dish into the Scallop Aguachile with a pale pink-hued sauce, and the Pink Mole salad containing vibrant reddish-purple beets,  sesame, fennel, kumquat, and garnished with pine nuts. The Caviar Sope is a one-bite wonder made with a generous osetra caviar dollop, salsa cruda, and a dash of crème fraîche, whose flavors are intended to transport guests to the Mediterranean Coast.

For large plates, the Pulpo Pibil is a delicious grilled octopus served alongside a dash of Xnipec (a spicy sauce native to the Yucatán peninsula), garlic foam, housemade potato chips, and warm tortillas to build soft tacos, if you choose. Under the “Tacos y Tostadas” section, the Birria Tacos—lamb, avocado, onion—and Lobster Volcan Tostada—queso oaxaca, avocado, lemon verbena—are worthy additions to the appropriately portioned meal.

And while we could go on about the food, it would be a travesty not to rave about the picturesque drinks. The cocktail program under the direction of Leo Robitschek adequately complements the food with fresh, seasonal flavors with an emphasis on agave-based spirits as well as classic cocktails and a lengthy wine selection. Playfully named libations, including the Kiwi Me Softly, Turn the Beet Around, and Bidi Bidi Bom-Fashioned, spin-off titles from history’s biggest musical hits. 

As a refreshing and aesthetic cocktail, we recommend trying the Santo Pepino, comprising Boatyard Gin, Lillet, lime, lacto-fermented cucumber, epazote, and dill. (Pro-tip: ask for the Hot Lips—a secret drink item containing spicy tequila, mezcal, lemon, and pineapple—if tequila is your preferred alcohol to sip.)

With a front-row seat to Manhattan’s remarkable skyline, a design-centric dining room, and knockout food and drinks, we foresee Penny Williamsburg’s ElNico becoming one of Brooklyn’s newest hot spots.

Top Takeaways

Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Address: 288 N 8th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Cuisine: Mexican

Price Point: $$

Takes Reservations: Yes – Resy & Opentable

The vibe: A dynamic, design-forward restaurant in Williamsburg with deliciously crafted cocktails, flavorful Mexican/Mediterranean cuisine, and sweeping Manhattan and Williamsburg’s skyline views.

Our favorite thing on the menu: Foodwise, the Pulpo Pibil is an outstanding dish that combines Chef Fer Serrano’s Mexican-influenced cooking techniques with Coastal Mediterranean ingredients. 

The attire: Smart casual

Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner: Brunch – Saturday & Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner – Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. and Friday & Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

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