Though Queens boasts the largest area, Brooklyn is the most populous borough. It’s where I’ve made my home for the past six and a half years (except for a weird 8-month stint in Manhattan) and where I’ve cooked thousands of meals. I’ve lived in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Ditmas, Crown Heights and Brooklyn Heights and loved everywhere in-between. I’ve lived across the street from fabulous markets and lived in food deserts, subway rides away from fresh fish.
In my years here as both a human and active recipe developer and food writer, I’ve consistently sleuthed out the best markets for any ingredient. I know where to find sour oranges, fresh turmeric, fresh curry leaves, foie gras, corn husks, you name it. I’ve frantically sought out fresh langostines on Sunday night for a last minute assignment. Which is all to say, if you need to find something and your local market doesn’t have it…I’m your girl.
But today we’re here to find something that shouldn’t be as hard to find as it is: fresh fish. We’ve got tons of water on all sides and some of the world’s best restaurants, or at least the best bagels (which obviously need smoked fish). As the world’s oceans become warmer and commercial fishing tightens its grip on our food supply, fresh, delicious and sustainable fish can be very hard to find and will never, ever, be cheap.
It’s been more than two years since my first foray into these waters: the 25 Best Fish Markets in NYC appeared in April of 2015. I’m older, wiser and ever so slightly richer so without sounding like too much of cliche, the world is my oyster and I’m going to tell you where to find the freshest ones in Brooklyn. These markets vary in location, price, quality and variety and I’m sure I’ve missed a few. If you’re a fish lover, you may want to consider a “fish share” and connect directly with fisherman for the very freshest. Fish shares or Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) work a lot like CSA shares (Community Supported Agriculture) in that you pay up front for a weekly share of whatever the producer has on hand. I’ve heard very good things about the fish share at Mermaid’s Garden, which has pick up points all over Brooklyn. Manhattan-based Village Fishmonger offer shares through Crossfit South Brooklyn (how Brooklyn of them). If I didn’t live across the street from my number 1 pick, I’d certainly consider a CSF. Without further adieu, here are the 20 best fish markets in Brooklyn.
Borough Hall Farmers Market, Grand Army Plaza Farmers Market
In my humble opinion, this is the best fish money can buy in Brooklyn. Huge luscious tuna steaks, sea scallops so sweet they can be eaten for breakfast, and select buckets of fresh cod, halibut, and blue fish make this stand at the farmer’s market my favorite stop.
Best for: Sushi-grade tuna, flaky cod, oysters, and scallops.
Various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn
This gourmet paradise is a cook’s dream. The fish is fresh and plentiful. I find the prices to be either affordable or oddly high so look for what’s on sale and talk to the fishmongers, they are generally friendly.
Best for: pretty much everything.
290 Graham Avenue, Williamsburg
When Okonomi opened in Williamsburg a few years ago, I lost my mind. Delicious Japanese breakfast (usually some kind of fish, seaweed, miso soup and rice), expertly prepared and displayed on pretty ceramics was mine for a small fortune. Now, years later the same owners have brought us Osakana, a Japanese fish market selling fresh fish for cooking and expertly sliced fish for sushi and sashimi. Daily selections appear on their website and include everything from blue fish to tuna belly.
Best for: Japanese cooking supplies, exotic cuts, sushi-grade fish.
114 Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
This newcomer to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Greenpoint is a possible game-changer. There are very few places to get good fish in the area (read: non) and though the prices are steep (very steep!) the quality is amazing. I’ve never been disappointed and would like to rave about the sea bass. You can also stay and dine in for delicious oysters and an original concoction of seaweed noodles.
Best for: seaweed noodles, bluefish, fresh fish.
5. Fish Tales
191A Court St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
This Cobble Hill spot is a neighborhood favorite. Fish is fresh and the prices don’t seems as outrageous as you’d expect them to be. Fish is definitely fresh and staff very knowledgeable and friendly.
Best for: tuna, salmon, related fish-cooking products.
680 Fulton St., Fort Greene, Brooklyn
This Fort Greene gourmet mecca is welcoming, inspiring and extremely expensive. I’ve never walked out of there for less than 50 bucks but the limited fish counter is a life-saver in central Brooklyn. Beautiful salmon and arctic char snuggle next to each other in the corner display case, not far from an exciting (and always local) fresh herb section for all your fish needs.
Best for: salmon, arctic char, white fish, everything else you need for your meal.
30 Gem Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Imagine the best smoked salmon you’ve ever had displayed not in a glass case, but on the back of a truck inside a giant warehouse. That’s the feeling at the Greenpoint outpost of ACME smoked fish. Only open to the public 8am to 1pm on Fridays, this is the smoked seafood mecca of your dreams. The pastrami salmon melts hearts but come with a buddy and a stack of money because sometimes the line goes around the block.
Best for: smoked salmon, lox, pickled herring, whitefish salad.
644 Vanderbilt Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
There are cases of delicious pre-made items like crab cakes and steamed claws as well as fresh fish with inspiring recipes. A fairly extensive offering of seasonings and spices is appreciated! Side salads are available to round out your meal. There’s also the option to buy shares of fresh fish deliveries each week at other locations in Brooklyn, check out their community supported fish program here.
Best for: CSF, pre-made fish entrees, crab meat.
141 Court St., Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Get the salmon bacon. Also get the whitefish salad and pretty much anything fishy and smoked.
Best for: salmon bacon (trust me), smoked fish, Israeli delicacies.
320 Kingston Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Kosher fish mecca serving the conservative Jewish population of Crown Heights and their recent yuppie neighbors. Can be busy and sometimes feel a little grimy but don’t walk away. Great prices on fresh fish and the house-canned tuna is awesome.
Best for: canned tuna, fresh salmon, great prices.
11. Park Slope Co-op
728 Union St. Park Slope, Brooklyn
While I am not a member of this much-ridiculed and tightly-run yuppie food emporium, I was lucky to visit as a guest of a member last year. I had to wear a giant neon VISITOR sticker and sign away my basic human rights ans swear I was only there to observe my friend. NO SHOPPING FOR VISITORS. A few winks to my friend scored me an eight dollar bag of Blue Bottle coffee (that’s very cheap my friends) and some delicate French cheeses but the whole experience was stressful. Still, the store has beautiful, fresh produce, meat and fish for very low prices. The fish counter is of course limited to what is local and available so come with an open mind. I’ve heard the squid is excellent.
12 . Whole Foods
214 3rd St., Gowanus
238 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg
There’s a lot of back and forth about the quality of fish at Whole Foods.Though the quality is definitely hit or miss, if you’re searching for a particular type of fish for a particular recipe, Whole Foods is likely to have it. I’ve had some of the best Salmon filets on sale at Whole Foods and some barely edible wild Alaska salmon at more than $25 per pound. I’d like an expert to weigh in but I’m confident in purchasing salmon, shrimp and tuna from this organic behemoth. The fish mongers range from incredibly helpful and knowledgeable to rude and useless but I’m a big fan of the guys in the basement of the Union Square store. I buy salmon often enough here to say that it’s consistently very good. Yes, the cheap farmed stuff. I use it in my favorite dish of all time: broiled salmon.
Best for: selection. Extensive offerings that vary in quality.
251 Schenectady Ave, Crown Heights, Brooklyn
When I first moved to Crown Heights I was a little disappointed with the local grocery stores (my produce place burned down within two weeks of me moving and it has since re-opened). That was before I found Mario’s, a local spot with choice cuts of fish (you can’t get a salmon filet, only a cross-cut steak) for weeknight eating.
Best for: conch, large and inexpensive cuts for stew, whole fish for frying.
14. Fei Long
6301 8th Ave, Dyker Heights
The market, not the Street Fighter character. Brooklyn’s Chinatown is like the chill kid-sister to Manhattan and Flushing. Here at the vast Fei Long market is an intimidating fish counter with lots of whole fish and slimy eels for delicious soup making. Not exactly welcoming to non-Chinese speakers, but if you know what you want it’s going to be cheap.
Best for: shellfish, whole fish.
1513 Fulton St., Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
This Bed Stuy staple is vast and affordable. Many varieties available each week. The staff is helpful but it’s best to know what you want before coming in.
Best for: whole fish, good prices.
359 Court St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
A small family-owned store. Great for to-go sushi and small fillets.
Best for: lemon sole, small fillets.
2704 Avenue U, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
Old school fish guys selling fresh fish. Pretty far out there but I appreciate them adverting the fact that they can grind your fish for you (for making fish loaves or gefilte fish).
Best for: large quantities, white fish.
635 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This is a nice neighborhood spot but the fish doesn’t always look appealing. Prices are fair and I especially like that they have a little basket of onions, lemons and herbs to save you an extra trip to the grocery store if you’re just out for fish.
19. Union Market
754-756 Union St, Park Slope
Your friendly neighborhood overpriced grocery store happens to have an excellent fish counter. Though not as extensive as Fairway or Whole Foods, there’s plenty of variety and great quality at high prices.
Best for: salmon fillets, shellfish.
20. Royal Seafood
3100 Ocean Pkwy, Brighton Beach
Caviar caviar caviar. At the end of the main Brighton Beach shopping strip (which lies right under the Q-train tracks) is caviar mecca. One counter is devoted entirely to Salmon Roe and another to pure Russian caviar. I’m certainly not an expert and a command of the Russian language is certainly an asset here, but perfect “red” salmon roe seemed affordable and “black” caviar by the ounce was going for as low as $19.99 and as high as $89.99. Yelpers say the Kaluga is to die for.
Best for: caviar.
Oh hey…I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: Foursquare. You know…that app your weird cousin used. Remember him bragging when he became the “mayor” of Magnolia Cupcakes. Well, that app has a secret and awesome feature called “lists” which are exactly what they sound like. Make a list of your favorite spots in a city (or a list of places you want to go in a city you plan to visit) and then use the map function to show your proximity to said places. It’s way better than Yelp or Google’s “My Maps” (which I’m told work on non Apple devices but whatever). I’m just starting to get the hang of it but if you want to see this list mapped out, check out my NYC Fish Markets List.