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What's on the other side of the Park? (Ditmas, Lefferts, Windsor...)

  • m

We're planning a move from South Slope (12th St @ 4th Ave) to the other side of the park (Lefferts Garden? Ditmas Park? Windsor Terrace? - it all depends on where we find a place) and I'm curious about restaurants, cafés, and bars in that corner of the world. The posts I've found are around two years old, and I'm looking for a more current lay of the chow land. Where we live now, we tend to pick up our dinners at Song, grab late-night burgers at Bar Toto, and scarf down burritos from Rachel's (embarrassing, in light of the plethora of other Mexican offerings in that area). The greatest loss is moving away from Café Regular and their cappuccino, and I kind of can't think about it, so now seems like a good time to stop.

If you all have any tips about life on the other side, please let me know. By the way, I'm not a die-hard Sloper: I'm just sad about no longer being a two-minute walk away from my favorite coffee place in the whole wide world.

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  1. Well, the bad news is that you won't be in Kansas anymore, so you just have to get over that. I get over it every time I make a mortgage payment, but then I have a car. You will want one too.

    That said, you can find a number of recent posts about Ditmas Park (Picket Fence, The Farm, Cinco de Mayo) and even a few about my nabe, Prospect Lefferts Manor Gardens or Whatever... which is pretty short on Slope-style sit-down restaurants, but has a terrific coffee shop/patisserie/lunch room (KDog & DuneBuggy)(sic) and really interesting Caribbean take out.

    1. We too are looking for a place across the park, and found the blog, planetplg.com to be a nice resource. Unfortunately the food options are bleak: http://www.planetplg.com/food-drink/

      1 Reply
      1. re: EJC

        food options are only bleak if you dont consider the local food selection to be an option - what I see on the "other side of the park" is a vibrant but different food culture. When I was younger and lived on the upper-UWS, we just loved exploring all of the "spanish chinese" places up there - really, all that there was other than a few hang-on but good chinese restaurants. Learned a lot about chowing and enjoying unfamiliar food types in those days. I eat west indian food every sunday at my church, and while there are a lot of similarities, there are also differences from island to island and cook to cook. So I am looking forward to hearing about more great food choices from the folks moving into Flatbush, etc.

      2. Thanks, jmj and EJC. Sigh. So we move, and we save money, and the money we save we spend on buying a car so that we can go have a cappuccino at Café Regular. I'll take a look at the posts about Ditmas Park and planetplg.com.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mums

          You can get a GREAT cup of coffee at KDog, and enjoy it on the subway platform which is only a few steps away. And EJC is right about the blogs; there's also http://acrossthepark.typepad.com/. Re: disco dining's query about Tavern on Nostrand, in the next post, we had a terrific family meal there shortly after it opened (no haute cuisine, but very good food in a very pleasant sit-down environment) and decided it would be our default where-to-eat-after-driving-all-day-to-get-home spot.

          Now that I have my requisite food references out of the way, let me get to that "sigh." My wife and I have lived all over the city in the last 20+ years--Washington Heights, East Village, Park Slope, Tribeca, Murray Hill. And PLG is far and away our favorite neighborhood. As just one example, we've been two musicales (live performances by professional musicians) in not one but two houses on our block alone. The quality of life--the quality of people--can't be beat.

        2. I just had a two dollar lunch from Ali's Roti shop (Flatbush and Midwood street) of two orders of doubles, a puffy bread sandwich with chana (chickpea curry( pluss a little chicken curry gravy plus hot sauce and tamarind sauce, and yes all for two dollars! I don't think this would qualify as a diet lunch but it sure is good. Ali's roti is also very good.
          I also like Mikes International up the block on Flatbush for Jerk Chicken, eat in or take out. K Dog and Dune buggy has all you on the go breakfast needs met, plus soup from hale and hearty soups and sandwiches. The soups have a bit too much sugar for my taste but in general, it's a great place.
          I finally tried New Peking Chinese take-out also on Flatbush (or is it Washington?) off Lincoln Rd. And was suprised to find it as good or better than other brooklyn chinese eateries in non-chinatown brooklyn. But again, I ask them to cut back on the sugar and bump up the spice of the spicey garlic chicken. No brown rice though. There is also a greaat Jerk take out down Flatbush by Parkside called Pepper's , I believe. Only been there twice but it was very good.
          I heard about Tavern on Nostrand, about ten blocks away near Eastern Parkway, but don't know much about it.
          Other than that, we cook at home, shoping at the PS Food Coop keeps prices down and quality up. Or we bus in Sushi on the B41 or Q train from Geido or other food destinations.
          Jonny "disco dining"

          1. I'm all about these issues.We live in Kensington. Please don't come! :) I don't want to have to leave again. Pretty soon I'll be back in my grandmother's kitchen on Brighton Beach (she was a better cook than my aunt on Ocean Pky).
            Here's my skewed as usual take: The way I see things below Church, between OP and McDonald, is that it's a very hard working family oriented neighborhood. There are lots of produce stands and Helal places owned by and serving the Russian, Jewish, Indian, Pakistani, Polish, Mexican people. There's little need for or value put in restaurants. All of the pizza pretty much sucks. There's a better than you'd expect Chinese place, Yen Yen, that delivers. Inside its fairly 70s style Brooklyn/LI dark red "column A/column B"! There's a Thai place too up by Albermarle that is shockingly OK. On McDonald at Church however is a totally great Bangladeshi steam table place that bathes almost everything in yellowy mustard seed. But, my wife gets skeeved out by steam tables (so, I don't make her go to Fujan places). Though the young men behind the counter can be very happy to have her come in, she feels uncomfortable in what is very clearly a male environment.
            There's no Fresh Direct delivery to us yahoos below Church, and the Foodtown at Albermale is not downright dismal but has little general selection and below average produce and meat.
            There's a Chinese fish store on Church I've never been to and plenty of Polish and Russian places for meat and light provisions. But I don't even bother.
            So, yeah, the point is you'd do well to have a car. I've always been some combination of musician, parent and dog owner so I've rarely been without wheels in my life. Those bills have always been included. But it gets you to DiFara's of course, on Ave J., Picket Fence when we don't feel like walking to Cortelyou., and Pho Hai on Avenue U. We're 5 minutes from World Tong on 18th St.; a jump over the Gowanus to Fairway (and Red Hook restaurants); and of course have our choice of the Slope...and outer Brooklyn and Queens (wasn't Chowhound built on exploring Coney Island Ave and furrowing beneath the 7 train?).
            Yes, I'm having a slow day at work.

            1. I'm in Kensington between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Ave, closer to the Ditmas Park area. It took me a while to get used to the sparser selection of restaurants coming from the Slope myself (we do get spoiled!), but there are some good places (as mentioned in the above posts) and more to come I'm sure.

              For a coffee shop, there's a great one called Vox Pop on Cortelyou Rd. near Coney Is. Ave. which is maybe a 3-5 min walk from me. I love being near Ditmas Park and the McDonald/Church Ave area so whichever area gains, I am never too far from either. And I don't have a car, so you can still find good eats without one.

              For groceries, Cortelyou has an Asoociated, a Flatbush Co-op (could use some improvements, but has some good organics). There's also a huge C-Town a block away from Cortelyou on Con.Is.Av., but I wasn't impressed. The other spots are better.

              1. Thanks to everyone for filling me on the life that awaits us. All in all, it doesn't sound too bad - I'm inclined to think that necessity makes for more interesting solutions than sheer desire and plentitude (read: Park Slope). Also, I'm always excited to explore a new coffee place. jmj, it was heartening to hear that you love PLG, and Disco Dining, I'll see you at the Coop. Also, I have friends from Berkeley who are coming to NY this fall, and I realized that I can tell them that we're close-ish to DiFara.

                1. If food is a concern, then Ditmas Park is your best bet for a new neighborhood. We currently have two decent/good restaurants - Picket Fence and now the Farm, Vox Pop which has decent coffee and carries Balthazar baked goods, organic sandwhiches and snax. Also, rumor has it a wine shop is opening in the near future. Decent eats were an issue for our family, so we pretty much bypassed Lefferts, despite the fabulous architecture. We don't have the choice you'd find in Park Slope of course, but at least there's dining on our doorstep now. We still drive or sometimes (gasp!) take the Q train over to the Slope or Manhattan. We live close to Cortelyou Road, and that makes a huge difference in terms of taking advantage of the convenient new food establishments and also a quick trip to the Slope/Union Square/China Town for other destinations.

                  1. The thai place on Flatbush and 7th delivers down here to PLG as does a sushi place on Flatbush. One of the new Chinese places is pretty decent, and a Pacifico-esque Mexican place is opening soon - like this week.

                    You can check out "Eating" category on acrossthepark.com

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: acrossthepark

                      what's the deal with that pacifico-esque mexican place? anyone tried it yet? where is it anyway?

                      1. re: BKchompchomp

                        Cafe Enduro: 51 Lincoln Road (next to the Q stop & KDog). Eaten there twice (res ipsa loquitur) and met a friend for drinks as well. That's right, you heard right: full bar with $5.00 Margaritas while they last. What can I say--there doesn't seem to be an empty table at 8:00pm any night of the week. And yes, the food is tasty--same kind of deal as Pacifico when it started (b4 the long decline), with a bigger selection of platos mexicanos and entrees; no combination plates, and you have to order sides to get rice & beans. But basically, this place is going to change the neighborhood!

                      2. re: acrossthepark

                        I've been on this side of the park since 2000, and am glad to see how things are starting to pick up. To add to the mix: Chikurin, a Japanese restaurant on Ocean Ave/Ave M that delivers to Kensington and Ditmas Park. Their sushi prices are super-cheap, and the food is good. My partner, a sushi addict, loves it. I prefer my fish cooked- they do a pretty decent teriyake, and the box combos are generous. 718-338-1818

                      3. I'll be a voice for the Windsor Terrace contingency for now. We moved to Prospect Ave and Terrace three months ago from 7th Ave and 13th Street. Needless to say, I'm having Steinhof withdrawal...

                        We're still exploring, but Sushi Yama on PPW and 17th is a pretty decent, small sushi joint, with some interesting roll creations. On the same block, Flora's on the corner is pretty fun and casual mexican food. I've yet to try Hot Diggity Dog for my wiener fix, as I'm not much of a hotdog eater, but I've heard good things from dog aficionados.

                        Up by the F train subway stop on Reeve, Crossroads Cafe makes nice simple sandwiches and burgers - I bought two one night I was too lazy to cook. Plus, they a funky art gallery by local artists up right now.

                        1. I've been told Lonelyville Coffee is quite good- you are right though, cafe regular currently features the best espresso products in town, imho. and i've spent too much time drinking spro's all over italy- regular gets it right- nice crema, rich sweet blend, just bitter enough but never burnt, uses la columbe beans, good luck finding anything as good. but lonelyville is i believe in the seattle (of old, pre-starjunks) coffees and should be pretty good. i'll try and check it out soon and report... enjoy fb

                          p.s. the good news is you will be closer to DIFARA's- best pizza in town... also good is Essex on Coney the kosher deli on CIA and J. and turkish restaurant next to the OTB on E.16 between kings highway and P (i think) is off the hook 24 hour grub...

                          1. Having written this days ago, I never sent it:

                            I have yet to go to Enduro, though I live around the corner and walk by at least two or more times a day. It's on Lincoln Rd just off Flatbush (the Prospect Park Stop on the Q/B line, B41 bus or the dollar van if you prefer to travel on style). For those of you unfamiliar with the neighborhood it's Lefferts Gardens/Flatbush. It is indeed owned by the same owner as Pacifico. It's more or less a gringo style mexican on the cheap, if you call tacos at $8 a pop cheap. They have $5 margaritas, some beers are $4 and... they have a fireplace! The look from the outside peering in is sort of tex-mex-east village/aprés-ski if that makes any sense. A bit like the buritto spot on Avenue A and 6th street, but more narrow and longer and next to no windows.

                            The prices are very "reasonable" but they're charging for chips, salsa, an old ploy. I ate at Pacifico once and though it was tasty for what it was I still prefer the soccer fields or going out to sunset Park, but it's sort of a different animal altogether.
                            The one thing I couldn't get my head around and it's the kind of thing that makes me a bit crazy, Pacifico doesn't serve pickled jalapenos, not even as a side you can to pay for. That's my trepidation at going to Enduro, ordering a burrito or tacos and being given a blank look by the wait staff, being told, "I'll ask the kitchen" only to be told sorry we don't have them.
                            For me pickled jalapenos with Mexican street style food is like heinz with a burger and fries, Dijon with cold steak, horseradish with gefilte fish or wasabi with sushi. It's just so un-Comida Mexicana that I'd be tempted to hop next door to Papa and Sons bodega and get a can of jalapenos myself which would be a bit rude as a customer. Of course this is all in my head, my own paranoid delusional dining fantasy.
                            The main reason I haven't been to Enduro though, is I have two boys, two 1/2 and four. It's easier to hop across the street to Ali's Roti shop for chicken roti to go and they'll give me as much homemade pepper sauce as I ask for. I've told the kids we would go to Enduro so I'll let you know what they think.


                            1. Well... I've been to Enduro, today for lunch without the kids no less AND, we had liquor!
                              The serve a house beer on tap, I was told a pilsner which it was thought no one could tell me the brand or the origin. Not great, but the beer was cold, tasted good and it was $3, yes three bucks a pint. That in itself is a reason to go back. the place is cute, and I mean that in the positive sense. The service was friendly, my wife had a margarita which I might stop short of calling awful had to be sent back. After talking to the bartender we first thought it was the sour mix, an ingredient that should be kept far away from margaritas but after he re-made it with just tequila, lime juice and triple sec although better it still tasted a bit chemically. We figured it must be the ol' high quality bar tequila. So we know next time to order it with something a touch more, how do they say "Up market". And, hold the sour mix.

                              As for my pickled jalapeno paranoia, it was unfortunately well founded. Not a pickled pepper in the place ;( I'm leaving the food for last because it's best left as an after-though, I'm sorry to say. I had pork mole taco and my wife had chicken enchiladas mole. They were both fairly bland, both in heat and overall spice. they have a fairly wide selection of hot sauces in bottles so I did my best with that. We had a green sauce with our chips as an appetizer. the sauce was tasty, not typical tomatillo, but again it could use a bit more heat and I tasted a bit too much sugar. So that's my 2 cents.

                              I with they would open a Paquito's in our area of Brooklyn. Cheap, decent mexican fast food. But, I'm sure we'll be back to Enduro, it's the only show in town at the moment. I'll be bustin' out my own Jalapenos from under the table.

                              1. One more vote for Ditmas Park and Cortelyou Road. Picket Fence is a great place with kids and has yummy brunch, the Farm has excellent food and a really nice bar. Cinco de Mayo is good mexican. And the takeout outlook is improving -- good thai from amthai, decent sushi from chikurin.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: benobserver

                                  Regarding Enduro: I live right around the corner and walk past every day, and, with my friends and family, would potentially have been a regular, but - on the night of their opening party, I happened to walk by on my way home from work, and some close friends/neighbors of mine ran out of the restaraunt and dragged me into the party to join them for a drink. One of them even went to go get me glass of wine, and I relaxed, settled into a conversation, and thought to myself "well it's a little cutesy, but thank god for a BAR"....
                                  Suddenly I found myself being ordered to LEAVE by a WASPy blonde, fresh off the gentrification boat! "Do you have an invitation? tonight is invitation only. sorry!" She took my drink and actually marched me out! I live right around the corner!
                                  Perhaps I'm being unfair, but I could not help reading race/class/caste into my expulsion.
                                  Anyway, I'd rather stick with my excellent doubles and poulorie spot by the laundromat on Washington & Lefferts than spend too much on lousy, cheesey, bourgeois-bland "mexican." And go to Farm on Adderly if I want something nice.
                                  Feliz ano nuevo.

                                  1. re: daiquiri ice

                                    Wow, that is really rude. That is terrible that you were treated that way. What happened to your friends? I just had lunch there today, which was fine except that they didn't have any lime to go with my tortilla soup. How can you serve tortilla soup without lime? I agree its gringo Mexican, which can be okay in and of itself, but if they are going to be nasty to the neighbors, then I can't see spending my dollars there.

                                2. ps - try the spicy-hot ginger beer and rum cake at Errol's bakery, on Flatbush between the Prospect Park and Parkside stops - unbelievable!

                                  1. We'll, maybe we should do the right think and buy them one of Diana Kennedy's books, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Ke...
                                    and a book of etiquett, http://www.amysedarisrocks.com/ilikey....
                                    It never sieses to amaze me how the VIP party police can turn up where you least expect it.

                                    1. Went to Enduro last night to meet a friend for dinner. Have to say it was rather nice to go out to a restaurant in my neighborhood instead of hopping on the Q train to Prospect Heights and Park Slope. House margarita okay, but it was $5. Upgraded to the $7 one. Spot on margarita yumminess, though not as blissful as the margaritas at Maria's in the Slope. Watched the bartender make a pitcher of margaritas for another customer and noticed that it was 8/10ths filled with tequila and ice and a splish splash of mix. At $25, maybe I'll be ordering that with friends next! Good deal. Draft beer ranges from $3-5. $3 for the house brew and $4 for Dos Equis.

                                      Atmosphere was genial -- except for a strange low level altercation between two men at the bar that carried out onto the street. Enduro has a fireplace, which was nice as it started snowing a bit.

                                      As for the food, it was okay. Chicken mole poblano tacos were in need of salt and lime big time (or some other acid to wake up the flavor). Dessert of chocolate bread pudding also seemed to be missing something. Perhaps too dry? But what can I say . . . the food wasn't awful. Prices were good, location was a definite plus for me. $7 for tacos. $10-12 for larger platters. $6 for dessert. I'd definitely consider trying to get my Park Slope friends to come my way for a drink instead of vice versa. And I'll give Enduro a few more passes only if to support a local business. Maybe by then they'll work out the kinks in the cooking.

                                      Oh and PS -- it's cash only. Make sure you hit up the ATM first.