During my sabbatical in Queens, I became obsessed with two things: The Wire and restaurant ambiance. I thought the battle not to get fat was tough when fought on the Greenpoint front, but I quickly found that in Queens, aka Food Disney Land, “plump” was always just one bite away.

And I became spoiled: extreme ambiance is the standard in Queens. In German restaurants, it’s always Oktoberfest. I found a Nepalese restaurant that made me worried a yeti would jump out at me when I went to the bathroom. I spent three months in what felt like a food theme park.

Back in Greenpoint, I have been on a mission to pursue ambiance-based fine dining and last weekend, I found Karczma on Greenpoint Ave. I didn’t have my camera with me, so I have no photographic evidence, but picture this: you have had a long journey on your horse across the polish country side and are weary (i.e., hung over from raging with your cousin at the Pencil Factory the night before). You see a dim light on the horizon coming from the window of a quaint cottage. You tie up your horse and upon entering the warm den, you are greeted by the prettiest, shiniest, nicest Polish girls who immediately offer you a strong ale and a reasonably priced menu with all your Polish favorites on it. When the food comes, its homemade and extremely fresh. The dining room is dimly lit by wagon wheel candelabras and you devour your pierogies hungrily as you sit in your worn, wooden booth. When the bill comes, it is surprisingly cheap and you pay willingly for the feast you have just consumed. As you leave, you are sent off by friendly waves and smiles that for days afterward remain in your head, beckoning you to come back.

I know I sound crazy, but this was five-star ambience. Not to mention, I’m always broke, and I didn’t feel remotely close to an overdraft fee when I laid down my debit card to pay. It’s cold these days and Polish food is comforting. Cold weather + Karczma + Recession = dining like a king or a queen or a weary hipster.

136 Greenpoint Ave


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  1. I haven’t been to Karczma, but it looks beautiful inside…I really need to check it out.

    I really enjoy Lomzynianka on Manhattan near Nassau. They are super cheap, and while they don’t have beer to sell they do let you bring your own in (making it even cheaper). It makes me feel like I am in someones dinning room. No frills, but wonderful in it’s own way.

  2. not in Greenpoint but lower Manhattan.
    Aside from that, you have to visit Ben’s Best on Queens Boulevard, across the street from Marshalls.
    Order pastrami on rye-you won’t regret.
    Tha is, hands down the best sandwich I have ever had!

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