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Ditmas Park vs. Sunset Park

My boyfriend and I are planning to move in March. I currently live in Carroll Gardens, which I adore, but it seems there aren't too many affordable apartments available. Given our budget, it looks like we're likely to end up in either Ditmas Park/Kensington or Sunset Park (ideally near the 36th St subway). Which neighborhood has better restaurants/delivery? We checked out Ditmas Park the other night and ate at the Farm on Adderley, which we found to be okay but not great. Would we have better luck in Sunset Park?

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  1. in a word, unless things have changed greatly in the last two years, no. We lived in Sunset Park for a couple years. GREAT Chinese/vietnamese on 8th ave and excellent Mexican all down 5th ave. But not much other than that. Maybe someone could prove me wrong? You'll eat very well and cheaply, but we got tired of only having a chioce between Asian and Latin. Shopping is also a major drag except for these two cuisines. You can get good Italian products further south and east, but it's a trek.

    1 Reply
    1. re: quentinC

      You are correct. Things haven't changed much in 2 yrs. Your assessment is very accurate.

    2. What's more important to you - cheap ethnic or Farm on Adderly (ethnic haven) type places?

      2 Replies
      1. re: guide boy

        id go with ditmas park...i couldve sworn i heard the farm on adderley was expanding to a french restaurant in the area. i think the restaurant is great...i wish i ate there more often. you have picket fence, that coffee shop...and if you walk to coney island ave, you have paki joints galore...you also are closer to difara and a bunch of other solid ethnic food.

        1. re: sam1

          I mean it really depends what kind of person you are.

          If I were going to move to either of these neighborhoods my first instinct would be Sunset Park. It isn't eerily quiet and full of baby strollers, and has some of the most incredible, richly developed (however limited) ethnic food in Brooklyn. The commute to Manhattan is similarly fast on the D as it is on the Q, and Park Slope, for bars or restaurants or whatever, is accessible by bus as well.

          But I am young and single and without child, and with limited experience in Ditmas Park. The Middle Eastern strip on Coney Island Ave is tempting though, as well as the affordable quiet that the neighborhood offers.

      2. I live in Ditmas Park, and I think the food situation is decent, but not great. One decent Chinese delivery option (Yen Yen in Kensington), a pretty good Thai place that delivers (Am Thai, also in Kensington), a couple of OK Mexican options, some very good (to me) Pakistani/Bangladeshi steam table places on and near Coney Island Ave., Israeli/Kosher falafel joints. Not too shabby, but not Smith Street, by any stretch. THe Farm at Adderly people are involved with a small bistro-ish restaurant that is supposed to be opening sometime soon on Newkirk. I'm sure other joints will come along. Also, the Flatbush Food Coop on Cortelyou is moving into larger quarters, and while people complain about it, I think it is nice to have in the neighborhood. Vox Pop, the conspiracy theory-advancing coffee shop on Cortelyou, is fun and has free WiFi. I think those last two (the coop and Vox Pop) are the kinds of things you would be less likely to find in Sunset Park, but I don't know much about that neighborhood except that it has great Asian and Mexican food.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gnosh

          lol at Vox Pop description. Right on. "Buy a coffee, read some Chomsky, feel good about your liberal self, join the revolution!" lol.

          To the OP - I would favor Ditmas Park. There will be more Farm/Co-op places popping up there (there is also Connecticut Muffin). And the fact that I see Corcoran signs all over the place is a good sign in itself. In addition, Ditmas Park allows you easy transportation options to Midwood (DiFara's + excellent Turkish options), and Brighton Beach (Russan Food, beach).

          1. re: nokitsch

            Corcoran signs a sign of good things to come? Hmmmm. Maybe they serve as a welcome mat for those priced out of Skippy Slope and Cobble Whatever. Feel good about your liberal self indeed. May the wealthiest win.

            For those not freaked out by the old neighborhood, check out the spicy, fragrant Haitian cuisine at Le Boucanier, 1368 Flatbush Avenue near Farragut Road.

        2. I live right in between the two hoods, have a car, and am thankful for it. There's a lot of good in both directions (though I've heard Picket Fence is under new management and not doing so great these days.)
          But for the Sunset Park side of the discussion, let's not forget the places on 6th Ave and 20th St. I know, it's not Sunset Park, but it's close, very very close, and has the BBQ place, Kitchen Bar and the new Kitchen Bar pizza place (which i don;'t think is open yet). Also on 5th there's my favorite pizza place in the hood, Luigi's, and a new groovy little bar on the same block that may serve food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: HankyT

            I used to live on 49th near 5th in SP (2002-ish) and would def. not rec. that part at of the nabe at least. It might be nicer further east, but the immediate, everyday 5-block radius options were way slim (the Chinatown was a bit of a hoof for everyday). In the western bit there are no decent places to eat (outside of maybe the Los Pollitos), there are no bars, bookstores, or coffee shops, a depressing C-Town (or was it a Met?), filthy streets with 24-7 loud music, and you're on the R train. Ditmas Park, if you're gonna live that far out, seems to have a better mix of stores and food options, and there's some beautiful old buildings to boot, and it's on the B/Q, so it's a little faster to get around.

          2. Definitely Sunset Park. Ditmas Park is surviving off of a handful of faux Park Slope restaurants. If you live in Ditmas Park, you will end up shopping and eating in Park Slope. The closest magical place to you would be Di Fara, but it pretty much ends there. Furthermore, Ditmas Park has bad subway access and is not as gentrified as your real estate agency wants you to think.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JFores

              I disagree. Subway access is good...it is faaaar from Midtown, though. Also, Ditmas is QUITE gentrified.

              Most importantly, cuisine-wise, I think Ditmas puts you in a good spot. You've got Slope-esque bougie food so you can brunch it up when you feel like it, and also some of the better Indian-Pakistani food in all of Brooklyn nearby on Coney Island Ave. Cruising over to Flatbush puts you in touch with the Caribbean. You are near to DiFara's. You are closer to interesting Russian food. You could also potentially consider yourself closer to Bay Ridge Italian. The ethnic mix is there, it's just not the Chinese/Mexican of Sunset. But for variety, you can't beat the proximity to a number of great ethnic neighborhoods.

            2. Oh my! Such wildly differing opinions. Ideally, I'd like a mixture of restaurants. The thing I love most about Carroll Gardens is that I can easily get amazing pizza from Lucali, Italian from Frankie's, Middle Eastern from anywhere on Atlantic and newish American from Chestnut and The Grocery. I also do a lot of cooking, so great grocery shopping is important to me. My suspicion is that Ditmas would be best for shopping, since there's the Co-op and it's easier to get to Union Square and Trader Joe's/Whole Foods. I'm very upset that I won't be able to shop at Fairway anymore. Also, just to clarify, if I move to Sunset Park, it would be on the west side, near Park Slope.

              Please feel free to carry on! Everything so far has been very helpful.

              5 Replies
              1. re: leilalovestelevision

                I lived in park slope/cobble hill/boerum hill areas for 10 years, thought about moving to Ditmas Park or Kensington. Decided on Queens. Something to think about if you're looking to save money.

                1. re: Widmark

                  I'll second that-- Moved to Astoria for the food shopping alone- never looked back-- should have done it years ago!

                2. re: leilalovestelevision

                  In Ditmas Park your best local grocery option is Fresh Direct. The pathetic current situation may improve when the Flatbush Co-op moves to a larger space but we drive to Atlantic Ave or the Chelsea Market to shop (and have a nice dinner too). Shop Rite on MacDonald Ave has been recommended but I haven't been there.

                  1. re: efdee

                    I've gone to the grocery store on CIA once or twice recently (it is around Cortelyou, on the Kensington side of the street) and it is not good by any stretch, but is much improved from a few years ago. Fine for milk, cereal, eggs, etc. If you have a car (as I do) there are a lot of places to go. The Stop and Shop over by the Old Navy is quite good.

                    1. re: gnosh

                      Its true nothing but mexican chinese in sunset. But only a few stops away there 77th, 86th and 95th you have bay ridge where the food varies from indian to italian to thai, meditteranean, chinese, russian, polish. Many dinners steakhouses and so forth. Im sure theres some more there and if youre not feeling too lazy you can hop on the N and go to Bensonhurst and check out some of the best Italian bakerys in BK maybe even better than the crap you seem to over pay for in the little italian bakeries. On the other hand Bay Ridge has a bunch.

                3. Hey OP - do you have a car? Major part of your equation. I live in Kensington. By car we're super close to ALL kinds of options and much easier parking and getting around than Slope, Boerum/Cobble, C. Gardens. But it's pretty much served only by the F train.

                  Ditmas and Sunset both have Express trains. Ditmas has oodles of astounding Victorians and two little main drags with some Smith St/5th ave (Slope) junior activity.

                  Kensington has little in it, besides the great Israeli falafel and Bangla and Pakistani steam tables on McDonald and down CIA. But, with a car we're minutes from great stuff and like I said come back to an easier parking situation. We can always get to the Slope or Smith St., and to Fairway in seconds over the Gownaus hump. But the real pleasure is easy access to DiFara's, Ave U for Vietnamese, and all kinds of Russian/Uzbek/Ajerbajan (sp?) down CIA. But what I find wonderful especially is very quick access via Fort Ham. Pky to Sunset Pk. Sure, it's not entirely Flushing or Manhattan for Chinese in quantity and variety but there's great dim sum, the city's only Yunan noodle shop (my daughter demands it twice a week), and great Malaysian at least. And plenty of bakeries and bubble tea joints. Down in the Latino nabe is stuff from all over Central America. Again, it ain't Queens but the parking's better. And for whatever it's worth you can get to Bay Ridge via FHP two mins from Sunset.

                  But, yeah, there's always Queens (tho, IF you're automotive, the parking's hellish).

                  1. I do not have a car. I've had a great time every time I've gone to Queens and I love the food in Astoria, but my theory is that Queens is only great to live in if that's where your friends are, and all mine are in Brooklyn.

                    Thanks so much for the help everyone! Ditmas Park is definitely emerging as the frontrunner.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: leilalovestelevision

                      (most) all our friends are in brooklyn, but we have a car. Queens + Car = pretty nice. Being in Woodside/Sunnyside area puts us right above greenpoint and on the BQE, so we shoot down to greenpoint/WB, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens etc all the time. Better G train service would really help.

                    2. Granted I've never lived in Sunset Park, but I have lived in Ditmas for five years and I was a big take-out fan, coming pretty much directly from Manhattan with a quick pit stop in the Slope (where I found the food options to be comparatively lacking).

                      While I would still love more fast, fresh food in this 'hood, it has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. I love the Farm, although it's true, Picket Fence has declined. For "regular eats", I like the Afghan place on CIA, DiFara's, of course, but you have to have time to wait and don't think ordering in advance will make any difference, the tamales at the Mexican bakery on Cortelyou. When I'm in the car, I'll stop at AM Thai on MacDonald, or drive over to Sunset Park for great Vietnamese. That said, I think, for my tastes, there's a lot more variety in the Ditmas Park area than in Sunset Park. So to get my Asian fix, I hike over there maybe once or twice a month. But you know, it's just as easy to get to Chinatown on the Q. If you don't have to get to mid town, the Q is a pretty quick trip to Chinatown and Union Square.

                      The neighborhood pizza place is currently expanding. 40 more seats and a more varied menu and a bar, so you will be able to sit down and grab a pitcher of beer with your very acceptable NY style pie. The Co-op is opening in April. They will have a salad and soup bar, a fish and meat counter and an actual deli counter. This is great news. I do shop at the new Organic Market now and then, as well.

                      I can't stand Fresh Direct, and we do have a car (and kids) so we make the trip to Fairway. I hear people are carpooling there now. Check the Flatbush Family Network. Bet you could get in on that.

                      To sum up, I await the opening of the new French Bistro on Newkirk and Argyle. Now if someone would just, please, do something with the old Cornerstone space!