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Sunset Park/Brooklyn

Hi guys; I'll be spending a week in your city next month and I wanted to do my homework for eating recs. I'll be staying at the Day's Inn on 39th street in Sunset Park. I haven't been to NYC in about twenty years so I'll be moving around a lot, mostly in Manhattan. I'm going to post on the Manhattan board as well so what I'm looking for here are recs for the Sunset Park area as well as elsewhere in Brooklyn.
As you can see from my choice of lodgings, money is an object so I'm not looking for the poshest place in town, as well I'm travelling, dining and drinking solo so the place needn't be romantic. I've done a lot of backpacker type travel in Asia and the Middle East so I'm not scared of going to rougher places as long as the victuals are tasty. Let's say maximum price for a meal including drinks around $60.
I come from a city (Toronto) with a lot of Asian food, and I live in Chinatown so I'm not interested in that. What I am looking for, if it still exists, is an old school Italian-American place; red sauce, meatballs, checked tablecloth kind of thing. You may groan at that but here in Toronto, in spite of a very large Italian community, those places have all but disappeared and been replaced by a much higher end, haute cuisine version. New York Pizza! Got to have it, cold beer and a pizza in a place that doesn't offer sundried tomatoes or goat cheese or Thai sauce on their pizza.
Another thing I'd like is American food. What's American food? I'm not quite sure myself but if you know of any non-ethnic places that serve good, honest American food I'd like to know about them. If I can have a great sandwich/burger in one hand, a beer in the other and be seated around locals, I'll be a happy guy.
Good deli/Jewish food. Again, something Toronto once had when I was a kid but have now all given way to more Israeli -style falafel and the like places. I know Katz's in Manhattan is the go to place but it seems a bit touristy. Anywhere else?
Good Latin/Mexican food; these are woefully underrepresented in my part of the world and always a treat to look forward to when I travel to the US.
Polish or other Eastern European food, I've read that there's great Polish food to be had in Brooklyn.
Also, places to drink. I'm neither a wine drinker nor a fancy cocktails guy. Beer and Jim Beam keep me happy. I favour rock and metal music. The place can be sketchy but not so much so that a wayward traveller is likely to get his butt kicked for looking the wrong way.

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  1. i have walked past that hotel many times, sounds like you are on a stringent budget. having been to toronto one thing the city is missing is mexicans. your hotel is steps from some of the best mexican food in nyc. you are so close to pueblo mini mart, you have to stop in for a torta. for tacos go to tacos matamoros and try the tripa and cabeza tacos. 3 "pequenos" of each is a pretty huge meal for 9 bucks. you asked for jewish and it sounds like you have not been to barney greengrass. they are nyc legends, located on the upper west side. sturgeon is their specialty. for polish get on the G to Greenpoint. dine at a neighborhood stallwart

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    Tacos Matamoros
    4508 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

    Puebla Mini Market
    3908 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11232

    5 Replies
    1. re: AubWah

      Thanks for that info. It's good to know about those two Mexican places, I haven't had decent Mexican since I was in San Francisco a couple of years ago. And it does indeed look like Pueblo Mini Mart is just steps from my hotel. I've never heard of Barney Greengrass but I'll look into it.

      1. re: ziggystardust

        Tacos El Bronco is also in your area. They have a food truck at 43rd and 5th and a sitdown location on 43rd and 4th.

        For old school, red sauce you may want to consult this thread.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/559371
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/735223
        Sam's restaurant in Cobble Hill would also fit your bill. They do pizza too.

        For Polish food, I like Lomzynianka. Cheaper than my old standby of Cafe Polonez in Toronto. http://www.lomzynianka.com/

        Luigi's in Windsor Terrace has cheap, tasty unpretentious slices.

        Burger and beer-the Double Windsor in Windsor Terrace has a great burger and a good beer selection.

        Happy eating!

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        Lomzynianka
        646 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

        Luigi's Pizza
        686 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

        Sam's
        238 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

        The Double Windsor
        210 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215

        Tacos El Bronco
        4324 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

        Tacos El Bronco
        5th Ave 43rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11232

        1. re: deabot

          Deabot, thanks for the tips. I'm a big fan of Cafe Polonez too so I'll definitely check out Lomzynianka.

          1. re: ziggystardust

            Ziggystardust-a few more thoughts.

            Tulcingo Deli in Sunset Park has delicious tacos arabes.

            Just thought of Korzo as well in the South Slope, they have eastern european fare and you can get some nice cold beer in a casual bar. They also have a sister restaurant in the east village called Korzo Haus and it offers deep fried burgers and beer as their specialty. Might be worth checking out as well.

            A pertinent thread for your Jewish deli fix.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/768221

            Lomzynianka is a comforting standby but you'll have no shortage of spots on Greenpoint/Manhattan ave. Just like Roncesvalles!

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            Lomzynianka
            646 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

            Korzo
            667 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

            Tulcingo
            5520 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

            1. re: deabot

              Deep fried burgers? My god, that must be worth a try. Is South Slope near Sunset Park? I've never been to Brooklyn so I have no idea how difficult it is to find your way around.

    2. Just had a casual dinner at Tacos El Bronco and I think they surpass just about every other Sunset Park Mexican I've been to for tacos. They are large, absolutely delicious, and beautifully presented, especially for the price. It's very casual but clean and friendly. Very close to your hotel so definitely check it out - you'll want to go again!

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      Tacos El Bronco
      4324 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bookistan

        Thanks Bookistan, I will definitely check it out. I have a soft spot for well done, inexpensive ethnic food.

        1. re: Bookistan

          what kind of tacos did you have? they have great buche

          1. re: AubWah

            Lengua and carnitas (the low-cal stuff!). Yummy yummy yummy.

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            Tacos El Bronco
            4324 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

            1. re: AubWah

              The al pastor is also first rate, though of late we've been patronizing their truck and not the storefront - the truck is an amazing operation, for those who havent seen it. Its a converted airporter van/bus thing which on busy nights is literally rocking - they usually have 4 guys working inside, two guys taking orders (including over a land line phone, the logistics of which perplex me) and 4-6 guys delivering orders and or ferrying supplies from one of the adjacent cargo vans. The food is terrific, the value is unbeatable, and we're clearly not the only people who think so! (to-go cups that i could fill myself with their delicious - and really spicy - salsas would be just about the only improvement i could think of, other than relocating to directly in front of my apartment).

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              Tacos El Bronco
              5th Ave 43rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11232

          2. "I know Katz's in Manhattan is the go to place but it seems a bit touristy"
            So what? It's still good. If you've never been, give it a go.
            P.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Polecat

              Good point. If I pass it and it's not too crowded I'll give it a try.

              1. re: ziggystardust

                it will be crowded - though i cant guess what your own measure of "too crowded" is. There is a highly idiosyncratic ordering system in place: you have two choices, you can sit at one of the tables along the wall and get "service" from a waiter (this is not traditional and really only something i do with a big group or people who are too put off by the other way of ordering) OR you can wait in line in front of the counter and order from the cutters behind the counter. in either case you take a ticket - either the counterman or your waiter will write the price of your items on it and you present it to the cashier on departure for payment. If you go to the counter pick ANY line, there are usually 2x more people in the first line and at least 75% of them will be tourists who dont understand the system. push right past them and find one of the lines further down the counter. Also, ive stopped ordering pastrami on rye because i find their bread to be totally worthless and im of the opinion that tradition is only worthwhile where it means something - you can order your sandwich on "club bread" which is just a sandwich roll for a better (IMO) experience. oh, dont stand in line twice, the same guy who cuts your sandwich will yell down the line to get whatever else you want (beer, hot dog, knish etc) brought to him and passed over the counter to you.

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  That's as helpful information as I could've possibly hoped for. Thanks for taking the time to write that. If I do end up there, I'll be ready for it.

                  1. re: ziggystardust

                    Be sure to tip the counter guy a buck - he'll make a huge sandwich even more massive for you. You will not be able to get your jaws around it.

            2. In addition to the many great taquerias in the neighborhood, you should also consider El Tesoro on 5th Avenue and 40th Street for Ecuadorian food. I recommend the hornado (roast pork), ceviche or rice with black clams (concha) and the shrimp chupe. Cheap beer, too.

              As far as bars go, I'm not too sure about the immediate area. There are a couple of Irish dive bars quite near to your hotel, and granted I've only walked by them and not gone in, but they give off a pretty heavy locals-only vibe. If you go much further down 4th Avenue, you'll find a couple of good pub-type places: Cherry Tree and 4th Avenue Pub (I prefer the latter). Both are around 4th Ave and St. Marks Place. Around 4th and Carroll, you've got Mission Dolores and the Rock Shop.

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              El Tesoro Ecuatoriano
              4015 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11232

              Cherry Tree
              65 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

              Fourth Avenue Pub
              76 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

              Mission Dolores
              249 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

              Rock Shop
              249 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

              2 Replies
              1. re: gort

                About those Irish dive bars; I'm of Irish descent and look like it, I'm a blue-eyed redhead. I wonder if that earn me some cachet with the patrons and thus allow me a taste of something really New York.

                1. re: gort

                  One block from Mission Dolores and the Rock shop is the Canal Bar - a friendly neighborhood joint with a back yard - Third Ave between Union and President - if you're in the neighborhood! Gort is right, some of those irish bars do have a forbidding vibe - I'm also of irish descent, but my husband and I got frozen out of one of those places. Still, they are always worth a try, you might find a gem.

                  -----
                  Canal Bar
                  270 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                2. You're not far from Toby's Public House at 6th Ave and 21st St. They do great brick oven pizzas and good craft beer. You will be very comfortable eating at the bar there. Pacific Standard is another bar that completes the "triangle" of Cherry Tree and 4th Ave Pub and is a very easy R train ride for you.

                  Speaking of the R Train, it will also take you close to Colandrea New Corner Restaurant at 8th Ave and 72nd Street in Bay Ridge. They are old school Italian.

                  Speaking of Bay Ridge you might enjoy a trip there also; it is the next neighborhood up from Sunset Park on the R train. 5th and 3rd Avenues there offer many bars and places to eat.

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                  Pacific Standard
                  82 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

                  Colandrea New Corner
                  7201 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11228

                  Toby's Public House
                  686 6th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                  Cherry Tree
                  65 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nychas

                    Thanks nychas. The information about the bars is helpful, as is the information about the R train and Bay Ridge. I'll be moving around by public transit and since you mentioned it, I've found that the R train meets most of my travel needs. When you talk about 5th and 3rd Avenues, do you mean the ones (I know there must be only one but just to clarify..) that run parallel to the R line? I'm looking at a NYC transit map and these streets seem to run through Park Slope and Bay Ridge as well as Sunset Park at least. The "action" (restaurants and bars)on 5th and 3rd is better in Bay Ridge than the other places?

                    1. re: ziggystardust

                      first, yeah by 5th and 3rd avenues nychas is referring to the avenues that parallel the R train (which runs underneath 4th ave).

                      As for where the action is, it depends on the neighborhood - up here in park slope most of the commercial action (restaurants and stores) are on 5th and 7th avenues (though near the end of 4th ave at atlantic there has been a relatively recent emergence of a pretty cool bar scene on 4th - see the rec's for pacific standard, rock shop, mission dolores, etc).

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                      Pacific Standard
                      82 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

                      Mission Dolores
                      249 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                      Rock Shop
                      249 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215