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Nov 17, 2008 11:29 AM

Deprived in Downtown Brooklyn. Where to eat?

After years of having regular access to Little Italy, Chinatown and Tribeca, I am now in downtown Brooklyn on Hoyt/Smith Street and State Street. From what I have been able to tell this is a vast wasteland when it comes to good food at low prices. I am accustomed to stepping out of my door and having a plethora of interesting and good choices that will let me walk away satisfied for less than $9 including tax and tip. Actually, I was spoile - I used to eating lunch for $6.50 nearly every day. $9 was a splurge. It almost made no sense to bring in my own. Let’s not even talk about the 5 dumplings for $1 across the park from my building.

When I came here to Brooklyn and said there was nothing to eat, I was told I was nuts – there are tons of places to eat. And they are all excellent. They beat anything I could find in lower Manhattan! When I asked for specifics I was only given locations that would require me to take a long lunch break due to the time it takes to travel to that destination. I should not have to take a bus or train to eat a quick, good, inexpensive lunch.

So, here I am with all the fast food and fried chickpeas I could ever want, overpriced mediocre grub and not even a decent neighborhood after-work watering hole. HELP! I’m going into foodie withdrawal. Please guide me. Thanks.


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  1. How about Nicky's Vietnamese on Atlantic btw. Smith and Hoyt? Bahn Mi and Pho.

    8 Replies
    1. re: boccalupo

      Having lived around that block on and off for the past 11 years, I feel your pain, but trust me - things ain't as bad as they were back in the 90s. Anyways, there are some decent, inexpensive joints around, but it's mostly a dinner neighborhood. Most, if not all of the restaurants in downtown that weren't chains have been closed due to new developments:

      1 - Fast & Fresh Deli - Hoyt b/ State/Atlantic - Mexican, especially tortas and weekend specials
      2 - Bedouin Tent - Atlantic b/w Bond/Nevins - Jordanian - so much more than just "fried chickpeas" - their lahmajun is great, as is their spicy merguez sandwich
      3 - Justin's - Lawrence b/w Fulton/Willoughby - decent Guyanese/Trini - rotis are nice - not the best, but nice
      4 - Patty Plus - Livingston b/w Bond/Nevins - decent Jamaican patties. Slightly further afield, Stir It Up on Atlantic near 3rd is actually very good Jamaican food, with a $5 special every day (often brown stew chicken). Also, on Duffield N of Willoughby there's another Jamaican resto that does a mean jerk pork, a rarity. Avoid Brawta, they're terrible these days.
      5 - Victory has Ruben's Empanadas, which are very good, and surprisingly tasty after being put on a sandwich press. OK sandwiches, but dreadful coffee. (Go to Blue Marble or Boerum Hill Food Co. for your morning cup.)

      As for decent watering holes, well, the neighborhood is full of them. Brooklyn Inn is probably the best, but there are dozens of great bars in Boerum Hill.

      1. re: lambretta76

        Hey Kim. Just to clarify, are you closer to Smith Street or Hoyt (they are parallel)?

        If you are near Hoyt and State, you are very close to Fash & Fresh (mexican deli) and Victory Cafe (small coffee shop/bakery with some savory food), which lambretta76 mentioned above. A little outpost of Le Petit Marche (French stuff like salade nicoise, baguette sandwiches, potato/leek and other soups) is also on that same block. I also second lambretta's motion for Bedouin Tent on Atlantic Ave. If you ever want a not-so-quick, sit-down lunch, try Downtown Atlantic, also on Atlantic Ave. Finally, if you walk in the other direction toward downtown, there's a decent place called Tio Pio (78 Willoughby St.) for roasted chicken, pernil and other "latino" food.

        If you're closer to Smith Street, you are near tons of Middle Eastern places on Atlantic. You can definitely pick up a quick, reasonable lunch at Sahadi's and/or Damascus Bakery. If you ever want a sit-down lunch in that area, you could also wander further south down Smith Street (below Atlantic Ave.) for places like Bar Tabac.

        Have fun exploriong, and let us know if you find anything else!

        1. re: lambretta76

          I second lambretta76's recommendations for Fast-n-Fresh, Bedouin Tent, and Victory. All good and cheap.

          How do other Chowhounders feel about The Soul Spot and Stir It Up? Both are cheap and nearby, but I haven't tried them.

          And, just in case you were tempted, the New St. Clair is dreadful, and expensive to boot.

          1. re: BklnChicken

            Unfortunately New St. Clair is the closest to my desk. I can't get over how they managed to get chicken soup wrong. But I was OK with the expensive burger on a particularly hungry day.

            I just discovered a very useful service called Seamlessweb, so I can order food froma little further than I might otherwise be willing to walk. But they only have a handful of restaurants from around here. Hopefully they will expand.

            I used them the other day to order fish tacos from Pita Grill. I am not recommending that dish. It was aklso moe than I wanted ot spend - (delivery minimums and all that ). But trial and error is expected here.

            I can't believe Brawta charges $23 for lunch - OR dinner!

            I'd like to know about Soul Spot too.

            1. re: NYCKim

              Try the soups at Boerum Hill Food Company, or Chop Chop, which serves hale and hearty soups. There's also a proper Hale and Hearty downtown. diners are strictly for early morning eating in this neighborhood...

              1. re: NYCKim

                I enjoy the Soul Spot when I want fast, hearty food. I like the chicken and dumplings, collards, mac and cheese and the jerk chicken isn't bad (not as good as stir it up). Definitely worth a try for lunch. One main and two side are like 5 or 6 bucks with cornbread.

                1. re: NYCKim

                  yes the NEW St. Clair is a shame.

                  I really miss the Kolokithopita, Cypress Spinach pie and cheesecake. And the unbelieveable prices.

                  I've had some luck with Otherwise I'd invest in a good lunch box and bring your own.

            2. re: boccalupo

              Be careful with Nicky's Vietnamese. That meat is questionable.

            3. Stan's on Atlantic has some good lunch sandwiches under ten bux. Their friend chicken for dinner however is probably the best I've had in Brooklyn: A buttermilk battered fried boneless breast (save for the winglet) that's juicy, super crispy and flavorful served with garlic mashed and red eye gravy with a totally huge (and unnecessary) biscuit. I believe it's 12 dollars.

              For bars try the Brazen Head (for serious beer lovers) or Hanks Saloon both on Atlantic. Jeannie, the day bartender at Hank's is a scream. Not sure what time she leaves but there's usually a good and diverse after work crowd in there.