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Canadians Visiting Bedford-Stuyvesant

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Hi All,

I was hoping to get some helpful suggestions for our mid-July trip to Brooklyn. We visited NYC about 2yrs ago in the dead of winter and stayed in Fort Greene. We really liked the Brooklyn neighbourhood and decided to return in the summer. We will be staying in Bedford-Stuyvesant for a week (10min walk from Bedford-Nostrand subway stop).

Just some background information...we are twenty-somethings from Toronto and are unafraid to try new foods. Our budget per person per meal (before drinks/tax/tip) would likely be in the $10-20 range for lunch and $20-30 for dinner. However, we don't mind setting aside one splurge meal. We will be getting a subway pass for the week and don't mind commuting for something really special. A quick Yelp search revealed a ton of interesting options nearby...but was hoping you local CHs could further narrow it down.

Here are a few suggestions the SO made already...
- Do or Dine
- Scratchbread
- Dough (been here last time)
- Smorgasburg (any vendors in particular?)
- pok pok (worth the hype? read that the lineups are quite long...)

We are also planning to head down to Coney Island for an afternoon. I've done some research on the board but am specifically looking for a no frills fresh seafood or pizza place (as a frame of reference...have been to John's of Bleeker and enjoyed that)
- Randazzo's (saw this on an Anthony Bourdain episode...CHs here seem to dislike it...any other suggestions?)
- Totonno's
- L&B Spumoni Gardens
- Brighton Beach for better food options?

We'll be splitting out time between Brooklyn and Manhattan but wanted to maximize our food-tasting opportunities. Thanks in advance!

***as an aside...we are generally going to avoid Asian/SE Asian food (Cantonese, Mainland Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian) as we have a lot of good quality places in Toronto already. with that being said, if it's a can't miss experience we'd consider it. for example, we're meeting up with another couple here and want to try the seafood hotpot at sik gaek in queens.

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  1. I have not been that way in a long time but that area used to be kind of dangerous. You know people there that can ease you around the rough spots? And times? NYC is a 24 hour place but it can change after dark.

    4 Replies
    1. re: divadmas

      Thanks for the heads-up divadmas. No...we don't know anyone there...we are renting an airbnb property. How bad is it??? I'll admit I did do a Google streetview before booking and the houses/cars didn't raise any red flags...

      1. re: blitz

        If you're comfortable hanging around Jane & Finch area or the old Regent Park, you'll be fine.

        Nah, I'm kidding. It's better than both those places. By a little bit. Google crime stats for whatever neighborhood you're interested in to see what's going on.

      2. re: divadmas

        «I have not been that way in a long time» you certainly haven't. Though, like many neighborhoods, not all blocks are the same, Bed-Stuy has changed a lot recently, including a lot of new very good restaurants. As a reference, one-family rowhouses are now selling there for upwards of $2,000,000.

        To the OP, probably not far away from you,There is a Tuscan restaurant located in a restored former old-fashioned apothecary shop, that is pretty unique. It's called Locanda vini e olli . It's probably at the upper end of your price range, but I suggest you have a look.

        1. re: bobjbkln

          Thanks for the suggestion bobjbkln. We've been there before during our first trip actually. We quite enjoyed the food and atmosphere!

      3. Dough - You can't swing a dead cat in Toronto w/o hitting a Tim Hortons. Don't you get enough doughnuts there? No? Try Von Doughnuts on Danforth, then with that in your memory, try Dough and Doughnut Plant to compare.

        Smorgasburg - Dough is available there too. Get there early, wear sunblock and bring lots of money and an appetite. Personal faves are Bon Chovi, the fried pork tent, Buttermilk Channel, and Lumpia Shack.

        Randazzo's - It's Sheepshead Bay, it's old school, it's Brooklyn the way it used to be. Lots of CH'ers don't like it, but plenty of regular people do.

        Totonno's - If you're gonna be out in Coney Island, that's the spot for pizza. It's a couple blocks in from the boardwalk so no ocean view.

        The Nathan's on Surf Ave. at Coney Island also has a raw bar, but otherwise, the seafood and frog legs are fried.

        L&B Spumoni Gardens - It's Benshonhurst, it's old school, it's Brooklyn the way it used to be and I have no idea why anyone would make this a destination unless you like old school Bensonhoist.

        Sik Gaek - want the squirming octopus tentacle sashimi and the moving hot pot, huh? Unless you want them sticking to your teeth and cheeks, bite down directly on them to stun them for the trip to your stomach.

        Other choices:
        - David's Brisket House
        - Tchoup Shop - Southern/Cajun
        - Tortilleria Mexicano Los Hermanos
        - The Bagel Hole
        - Purple Yam - upscale Filipino. Much better than La Mesa in Toronto.
        - Xian (Williamsburg) - Spicy northern Chinese. Not much like it in Toronto. Lots of hand pulled noodles, lamb and cumin.
        - Korean Fried Chicken - mostly in Queens and Manhattan. Bon Chon, Kyo Chon, UFC and Mad for Chicken are the usual suspects to choose from. Ajuker on Bloor does a pretty horrific rendition.
        - BBQ - Fletcher's, The Smoke Joint, Fette Sau and Dinosaur are scattered around Brooklyn.

        9 Replies
        1. re: GoodGravy

          Great list. I second Fette Sau,,I think it is way better than Dinosaur but Dinasaur is a bit roomier.
          Purple Yam I think is OK, I don't think its really that upscale . Actually it's less upscale than Romi's old place in Manhattan Cendrillon. For the best Filipino food in NY go to Tito Rad's in Woodside, Queens.
          Coney Island is a must , just because it's Coney Island. Maybe get some Russian food on the Boardwalk by Brighton Beach, that would be different. I second Totonno's. Spumoni Gardens I like the square pizza, it has more sauce than cheese, which I like. ( not a destination , i agree)
          Frankie's 457 is a good place to check out.
          Pok Pok is worth checking out for sure.
          Peter Luger is worth checking out but above your budget.
          For Old School, Italian Bamonte's is the spot to check out. It is on border of Greenpoint and Williamsburgh. The Soprano cast used to eat there often.
          Yemen Cafe in Bay Ridge. Very authentic and delicious.. They have another place in Brooklyn Heights but Bay Ridge is better.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            Tito Rad's is good for straight up Filipino, but I wouldn't call it the best. I'd pick Ihawan over Tito Rad's. Purple Yam beats both in execution, but it's also a different animal in that it's fancied up Filipino food vs Tito Rad's traditional preparation and presentation. However, it's upscale when compared to what we had previously such as Elvie's Turo Turo and the aforementioned Ihawan.

            1. re: GoodGravy

              for these Bed Sty visitors Id suggest the much closer by and very good Umi Nom - filipino and SEA style cooking
              in Clinton Hill -
              http://www.uminom.com/

              1. re: jen kalb

                I have to admit the Filipino food scene here in Toronto is still in its infancy...I'm quite a fan of the sweetish pork/chicken skewers though. Before you'd see nothing but pork souvlaki and Chinese lamb skewers at street festivals...now you'll see the odd filipino stand doing turons, lumpia and meat skewers as well.

                I was intrigued by a place in Manhattan called Jeepney after watching one of those YouTube Vice Munchies videos...but these nearby restaurants in Brooklyn/Queens sound just as good. Thanks for the tips!

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I hesitated to suggest Umi Nom since I haven't been there, but I have been to its sister restaurant, Kuma Inn and found the food was fine, but a little light for the price.

                  Jeepney and Maharlika, both a few blocks from each other in Manhattan, are good, but I'd still say Purple Yam executes best. BUT, Maharlika has spam fries and fried chicken skin chicharron while Purple Yam does not, so a point to Maharlika. However, Purple Yam's ukoy/okoy (shrimp fritters) are light, crisp, and shrimpy and the best I've ever had which reminds me, it's time for a return trip to Cortelyou Rd.

                  1. re: GoodGravy

                    We did manage to make our way to Maharlika on our last night! The chicken skin was really good. We didn't try the spam fries as I was afraid it'd just be way too salty. We got the adobo pork ribs and sisig. Huge portions! In hindsight we should've ordered maybe 2 appetizers and a main or just 2 mains without an appetizer. It was a toss up between Maharlika/Jeepney and Pok Pok...but I didn't want to gamble on Pok Pok since I heard the lines are quite long and it's located pretty far from the subway line.

                    1. re: blitz

                      Spam salty? Nah! If you dunk it in vinegar, u don't notice the salt so much.

                2. re: GoodGravy

                  Just FYI Tito Rads's moved next door to much expanded space. I'm still assessing how the kitchen will handle it, In my last visit the food wasn't quite as good as before the move. I do feel that Purple Yam's execution is better, but the be aware the portions are very small.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    Purple Yam is not attempting to fill the ethnic niche where you get a lot of food for your $ and people eat just like back in their home country. They are also not attempting to fill the supercheap food for nurses niche.. They have a soothing, attractive space, polished service and nice presentation on the plate. Umi Nom likewise though their space is not as attractive (to me) These two also will use some creativity and do not limit themselves to filipino standards - they tend more to a fusion approach. Both are recommendable - Im not up on the Woodside scene enough to comment on the choices there.

            2. Fulton Street has evolved and you'll have no problem strolling up and down looking for local, authentic eats.

              A & A Bake and Doubles...on Nostrand just north of Fulton...excellent Trinidad treat shop. Saltfish, chana, aloo pie...all good, especially the doubles...and won't bust your budget.

              Ali's Roti - on Fulton from Nostrand going towards Bedford...try the curry goat buss-up-shut roti.

              EMILY Pizza - Terrific newish wood-oven pie place with supremely fresh ingredients. Salads excel and good tight tap beer selection. Try a "Q" pie with added housemade sausage...picture-perfect.

              Also nearby...Saraghina's, Peaches Fried Chicken, Alice's Arbor (best mussels in gingery lemongrass broth) at happy hour.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Mike R.

                Thanks for the suggestions Mike R and GoodGravy. Will be adding these to my short list.

                1. re: blitz

                  L&B, to me, is more for the atmosphere than for the pizza, which I did not like much.

                  If you do make it to Brighton Beach/Coney Island (you can take the train to one, and return from the other), I would highly recommend a stop at Georgian Bread at 265 Neptune Ave, a 5 minute walk from Brighton Beach Blvd.

                  . This is a hole-in-the wall where Badri, the elderly baker, turns out spectacular "cheese bread," of khachapuri. buy one and snack on it while wandering around.

                  http://newyork.seriouseats.com/201106...

                  1. re: erica

                    Erica, have you been there lately?

                    After recently recommending it, I did some web searching and looks as if it's morphed into a cafe (Tone Cafe). They are serving kabobs now along with the khachapuri and cold salads. Their khachapuri was great, so I'm psyched to try their other offerings. Of course, I may be confusing it with the place on Brighton 11th Street. ;) Stranger things have happened.

                    1. re: foodiemom10583

                      No, I have not been in awhile, but very interested in this possible new development..

                      Great photos on the Tone website, but crazy menu page and prices...mysterious!

                    2. re: erica

                      See how it's made: Chow put up this video from Georgian Bread a few years back ... http://www.chow.com/food-news/72306/g...

                    3. re: blitz

                      I see you went to none of them.

                  2. Hi,
                    I noticed Do or Dine on your list and just wanted to say that personally, I would avoid it! We had a TERRIBLE experience there a few months back. I was soooo looking forward to trying it, but everything and I mean everything we tried was mediocre to downright bad. I do not know if it was an off night or what...but we were very disappointed and angry. Especially because we don't often splurge on restaurants in this price range. While the menu descriptions were all cute and appetizing sounding... all I can say is...just don't. If I were you, I'd go to Wlliamsburg and try XIXA or TRAIF instead. Plus both do reasonably priced 10-course tasting menus in the $40.00 range (though I think you may need 3 people, they will sometimes make an exception).

                    I went to Pok Pok once and while I did not hate it, I felt it was overhyped and overpriced and that SRIPRAPHAI in Queens totally trumps it.

                    Scratch Bread, on the other hand, is great!

                    I was in Toronto last summer for the first time btw, and fell in love with your food scene! We especially loved Guu and had these amazing porcetta sandwiches in this cute little neighborhood and incredible (tofu!) baos at this quick service type place.. We loved Nadege as a patisserie... And I remember this amazing Duck Poutine Pizza. Oh and we had some lovely Dim Sum too. Having been to both Quebec City and Montreal before, I have to say the one thing we really missed from those cities, was good French breakfast pastry like croissants, pain au chocolat, kouign amman (sp?), clafoutti
                    etc. And I preferred their outdoor food markets. But we really did fall in love with Toronto. You are very lucky!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: brooklynsabra

                      Thanks for the heads-up. I'll take a closer look at the reviews before trying Do or Dine and Pok Pok.

                      Wow sounds like you hit up a bunch of great food places here in Toronto! Sounds like you visited Porchetta & Co as well as Banh Mi Boys. Both of which are very solid in my books. Funny you mention kouign amann, me and my SO just tried it this past winter in Montreal. There's a place there named after it. Yes, Guu is quite the full sensory experience! The small plates and constant shouting is quite a show.

                      Thanks for the Maison Premiere suggestion! Decor looks pretty cool. Definitely going on the short list!

                      1. re: blitz

                        Yes.... Porcetta & Co. & Bahn Mi Boys! Ironically the Bahn Mi @ the latter were just okay; it was all about the baos. And Guu... we fell in love with the whole experience as you say...especially my son who found all the mayhem hysterical...but the food was great too. I remember trying an oreo-filled croissant during the height of the cronut craze not too far from Nadege...and that I did not like. at all.

                        Re: Montreal...yes, I think I went to the Kouign Aman bakeshop you mentioned.... In a little neighborhood either in or near the Latin Quarter? We also stayed at a hotel (that doubles as a hospitality school; great place) right across from this boulangerie called Madame Claffoutis. Lovely everything there, incl. their namesake claffoutis..

                        Re: Do or Dine, honestly just thinking about our experience makes me angry. I totally fell for all the hype. And we wound up meeting the Chef that night and based on his less than charming (just really introverted and shy) interaction with us... I can see why the Food Nework never gave him his own show...but I digress. If you decide to go, I hope you will report back...I also hope you will consider going to either XIXA OR TRAIF instead... Both have fun atmospheres and are really solid... really better than solid choices food wise (esp. if you do their tasting menus) Re: Pok Pok, I think I am just really biased re: the Thai restaurants I love in Queens--but without them as a standard, I could see where maybe it would be a fun experience to try it once.

                        If you are at all interested in BBQ, we recently tried HOMETOWN in Red Hook...It would be a schlep from Bed Stuy...but it's near the waterfront--and a great view of the Statue of Liberty and not too much further than Pok Pok. Anyway, the place is like what I imagine a Texas Honky Tonk to be like.. Food is served cafeteria style and it's every man for himself for a table. There is live music (if I recall correctly) and you can actually smell the smoke; it's just a fun atmosphere assuming you get a table and the line for food isn't too long. As for the food, we really loved the brisket (the best we have tried from BBQ spots in NYC by a longshot), and the pulled pork and jerk baby backs were great too--the latter *almost* fell off the bone--which is about as good as it gets in these parts) They are apparently known for their lamb belly but they were out when we were there. Their Mac & Cheese side was surprisingly good too; it was nice and creamy, with a spiy kick... The owner (also pitmaster) is a big gregarious guy who goes from table to table and schmoozes--which adds to the experience (he is the anti-Justin Warner--Do or Dine's Chef)

                        Hometown is near a lovely bakery called Baked (famous for their brownies) among other treats--where you could pick up dessert (though I think they close pretty early). The restaurant is also near a few interesting looking bars where you could grab a drink afterward.

                        Sorry for getting so carried away! (Also, I am wondering if you could recommend a town in Canada, (driveable from NYC) that would have some fun food options--other than Toronto, Montreal, or Quebec City...) Am curious... Thanks!

                        1. re: brooklynsabra

                          No problem! It's nice to be reminded of all these spots in my very own city. Hmmm, with regards to suggestions I think you'd have better luck posting on the Ontario board for help. I don't really travel outside of the city much except for vacations.

                          There was a lobster roll place in Red Hook (Red Hook Lobster Pound) I wanted to check out so this BBQ place wouldn't be too too far out of the way actually.

                          1. re: blitz

                            If you're down that way, and if you like key lime pie, Steve's Key Lime Pie is in Red Hook. While you're there, DeFonte's sandwich shop is also in Red Hook for some old school Brooklyn flavor.

                            1. re: GoodGravy

                              Yes, Steve's key lime pie is great---but fwiw, they do serve it for dessert @ Hometown. What they don't serve at Hometown, however are Steve's chocolate covered frozen key lime pie slices on a stick--called Swingles, believe... They are great, and though it's been awhile since I was there, if memory serves, the setting outside Steve's is pretty.. DeFonte's is great too; very old school Brooklyn. Huge sandwiches...limited hours though I believe....

                            2. re: blitz

                              Okay...I just thought you might have an idea re: what other Canadian cities offered great dining... Thanks...

                              I have not been to the Lobster Pound but have heard good things; still after eating Lobster Rolls in Maine last summer on our way back from Toronto--I just don't don't think anything NYC has to offer will compare (Portland, ME makes a great food-centric pit stop between Toronto and NYC btw...) But yeah, Lobster Pound is very close to Hometown and also Baked, and Steve's Key Lime Pie...

                              You can also apparently get Lobster Pound Lobster Rolls at SCHMORGASBURG I saw them offered at the Waterfront/Brooklyn Heights/Dumbo one yesterday... I also tried a RAMEN BURGER there... interesting to try once but not so sure it was actually good... And you can also try bbq sandwiches there from MIGHTY QUINN--another popular BBQ spot in the East Village... though stick with the pulled pork--was not a fan of their brisket...

                              I hope I have not overwhelmed you!

                              1. re: blitz

                                Woops re: the Portland, Maine pit stop and Lobster Rolls...We actually stopped there on our way home from Quebec City the summer before. Not on your way at all...

                                The Finger Lakes make a nice pit stop though. We stopped in Ithaca--where they have a lovely farmer's market with lots to snack on... and went othe lengendary veggie restaurant, Moosewood, among other places... not as great eats as Portland, but a pleasant stop nonetheless...

                        2. ps.. We also ate at Chantecler (in Toronto..a lovely experience) and wound up chatting with our twentysomething server who was planning a visit to Brooklyn. She was excited about trying MAISON PREMIERE for seafood in Williamsburg... I have not been there... but you may want to Google it...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: brooklynsabra

                            Maison Premiere is terrific. It also has a wide range of oysters for $1 each M-F, 4-7PM and is generally pretty bonkers then.