I just turned 30, so I asked The Brooklyn Paper to help me cheer up, so my short-armed, deep-pocketed editor coughed up some big bucks so I could consume 30 of the borough’s best dishes! But you won’t need a special occasion to try them — or even a big budget! — as most of these treats top out at $10. The Big 3-0 never tasted so good!
Brennan and Carr
The Gargiulo Burger, $6.50
What’s better than the roast beef sandwich dipped in au jus at this 70-year-old institution? A burger topped with roast beef — plus onions and cheese — and then submerged in au jus. You heard us right.
3432 Nostrand Ave. between Avenue V & Gravesend Neck Road in Sheepshead Bay, (718) 769-1254
Mill Basin Kosher Delicatessen
Latke chips, $5.25
If pastrami and corned beef are king at this 30-year-old classic kosher deli, the ingenious latke chips, fried crisp and dipped in applesauce, make a truly tasty queen.
5823 Ave T between E. 58th and 59th streets in Mill Basin, (718) 241-4910
Istanbul Fast Food
Lamb Doner sandwich on homemade bread, $6.50
Forget stale pitas or ho-hum wraps, this juicy gyro excels when stuffed in black sesame-studded homemade bread. Douse on the accompanying white garlic and red chile sauces.
2202 86th St. between Bay Parkway and Bay 31st Street in Bath Beach, (718) 714-4300
Grand Sichuan House
Sauteed loofah, $8.95
You don’t scrub with this mild-tasting Chinese sponge gourd — simply sautéed, it’s an addictive antidote to Grand Sichuan’s other sinus-clearing, peppercorn-laced specialties.
8701 Fifth Ave. between 87th and 88th Streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 680-8887
B8 sandwich on brick oven bread, $13.50
You won’t argue the price when you check out the generous assemblage of goodies piled on unimpeachable Royal Crown Bakery bread — silky prosciutto, smoky mozzarella, fried lozenges of eggplant, and whole roasted red papers. Dose liberally with fruity olive oil and house-reduced balsamic vinegar — nirvana!
9124 Third Ave. between 91st and 92nd streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 680-2347
Cauliflower Salad, $6.50
Side dishes are where it’s at this Middle Eastern dining destination, especially the unique —and impossibly tasty — combo of browned cauliflower florets, nutty tahini and zippy pomegranate molasses.
7523 Third Ave. between 75th and 76th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 748-5600
Pio Pio Riko
This Peruvian fast food chicken joint might not be an obvious stop for a fried seafood fix — but the mammoth mélange of squid, shrimp, mussels, crab legs, white fish and yucca — sided with green chile sauce, creamy white sauce, and tangy onion salad — beats the pants off of a sad plate of tentacle-less, red-sauce calamari.
5911 Fourth Ave. between 59th and 60th streets in Sunset Park, (718) 492-4505
Great Taste Dumpling
Pork and chive pan-fried dumplings, $1, vegetable pancake, $1.25
At five for a dollar, it’s hard to argue the value of these browned bottom dumplings laked with soy and Siracha. Add in a wedge of the foccacia-esque sesame bread stuffed with carrots, cilantro and chile — like a meatless banh mi — and you’ve got one delicious (and highly affordable) lunch.
4317 Eighth Ave between 43rd and 44th streets in Borough Park, (718) 436-2516
Blue Ribbon Brooklyn
Smoked fish, $26
It’s hard to get out of Blue Ribbon Brooklyn for less than a kings ransom, but the house-smoked plate of under-the-sea delicacies — salmon, trout, scallops, and shrimp, dotted with capers and onions and flanked with seeded toast, onion cream, and fennel slaw — feels (and tastes) like a comparable steal.
280 Fifth Ave. between First Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 840-0404
Flame grilled chicken, $8.95 (half), $15.95 (whole)
This new Park Slope poultry joint has found a way to make chicken exciting — by preparing it simply, and well. Fork over the extra 50 cents for one of the intriguing house sauces, like roasted lemon and parsley, quince chutney, or jalapeno-caper puree.
82 Sixth Ave. at St. Marks Place in Park Slope, (718) 857-2473
Green apple and cinnamon ravioli with duck ragu, $18
Admittedly, this dish sounds like it shouldn’t work — yet avoids cloying gimmickry by striking the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
68 Fifth Ave. between Bergen Street and Prospect Place in Park Slope, (718) 857-1833
Mitchell’s Soul Food
Fried chicken, $7.50 dark meat ($8.50 white meat)
Do you feel like chicken (or catfish, or meatloaf, or smothered pork chops) tonight? Get your down-home fix — sided with collards, mac and cheese and cornbread — at this casual Prospect Heights spot.
617 Vanderbilt Ave. between Bergen and St. Marks streets in Prospect Heights, (718) 789-3212
Brooklyn Ice House
Pulled pork sandwiches, $3 each (2 for $5)
The barbecued piggy sandwiches are squeal of a deal at this laid-back Red Hook saloon — along with just about everything else. 70+ beers from $3-7! Bacon wrapped hot dogs with exemplary fries for $5!
318 Van Brunt St. between Pioneer and King streets in Red Hook, (718) 222-1865
Doug’s pecan pie sundae, $8
It’s hard to pick just one great item from this menu (did someone say, “Duck meatloaf”?), but a slab of warm pecan pie shoved in a glass and topped with whipped and iced cream? C’mon!
524 Court St. between Nelson and Huntington Streets in Carroll Gardens, (718) 852-8490
Frankie’s 457 Spuntino
Vegetable antipasti, $6.50
There are plenty of lovely meats and cheeses to choose from at Frankie’s, but why not let the kitchen do a little work? Farro with parmagiano, hot pine nut polenta, roasted carrots and Jerusalem artichokes take this veggie plate way beyond humdrum marinated mushroom and sundried tomato fare.
457 Court St. between Fourth Place and Luquer Street in Carroll Gardens, (718) 403-0033
Quail egg and tomato sandwich, $6.50
Why settle for an egg and cheese on a roll from the corner deli? Start your day off right with this luxurious beauty — quail eggs, heirloom tomatoes, truffle salt and Bulgarian feta on freshly baked pugliese bread.
120 Smith St. between Pacific and Dean streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 852-0200
Omakase sushi ($30) or sashimi ($40)
Prices for omakase, or chefs tasting platters, can go sky high, making $30 a mere pittance in the world of quality sushi. Five extra dollars will upgrade your omakase to Supreme — featuring fish air shipped from Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market.
122 Smith St. between Dean and Pacific streets in Boerum Hill, (718) 935-0575
Vinegar Hill House
Red Wattle country chop, $25
Signature dishes are few and far between at seasonally inspired restaurants, but at Vinegar Hill House, customers can always count on the appealingly rustic chop — thickly sliced and glistening in its own juices on a cutting board.
72 Hudson Ave. between Water and Front streets in Vinegar Hill, (718) 522-1018
Mushroom-saurkraut pierogi ($6.75, full order, $4.75 half)
It’s Eastern-European comfort food at its carby, fatty best at Theresa’s — pasta pockets stuffed with potato, cheese, meat, or mushroom and sauerkraut, topped with dollops of sour cream. Don’t forget to order a side of Polish kielbasa!
80 Montague St. between Hicks Street and Pierrepont Place in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 797-3996
Robicelli’s at the DeKalb Market
The Sarah Zorn cupcake, $3
A cupcake named after our food writer? No wonder it’s one of the most delicious dishes in town! When the apple cake with goat cheese buttercream and honey almond brittle first debuted, Zorn was just 28 — and Robicelli’s had yet to become a household name. Look how much they’ve grown!
332 Flatbush Avenue Ext. at Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn, (917) 509-6048
Ali’s Trinidad Roti
Buss up shot with curry, $8
We go for the hard-to-find conch at this tasty Trini spot, but you can’t go wrong with fish, chicken, shrimp or goat. They’ll ask if you want veggies too (potato, chickpea, spinach and pumpkin curries) — the obvious answer is yes. Drizzle with tamarind or as much hot pepper sauce as you can handle, and sop your potage up with delicious wads of flaky, buttery roti.
1267 Fulton St. between Arlington Place and Nostrand Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, (718) 783-0316
French lentil salad with lardons, $10
Crown Heights has good eats too — especially at the new wine and “scratch foods” bar, Thirstbaravin. A warm lentil salad with lardons and hard-boiled egg is a classy little number — and the perfect accompaniment for a moderately priced glass of vino.
629 Classon Ave. between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific streets in Crown Heights, (718) 857-9227
Labne sandwich, $7
Mimi’s may be a master of the chickpea, but its Labne sandwich displays a deft hand with a full range of Middle Eastern ingredients. Strained yogurt cheese is deployed alongside cilantro spice, cauliflower salad, cumin mushrooms and green tahini. Yum!
1209 Cortelyou Rd. between Westminster and Argyle roads in Ditmas Park, (718) 284-4444
Butchers steak, $15
We questioned St. Anselm’s recent transformation from gut-bomb haven (deep fried hot dogs!) to demure meat and seafood grill — but their heavenly garlic butter-basted hanger has us convinced. Order it bloody with a side of cast-iron crusted truffled mashed potatoes.
355 Metropolitan Ave. between Fourth and Havemeyer streets in Williamsburg, (718) 384-5054
Tacos with mushrooms, huitlacoche, cactus salad, $9
Sure, you can order your tortillas al pastor, or stuffed with carne asada or chicken tinga, but these tasty tacos had us at huitlachoche. Hooray for Mexican corn fungus!
372 Graham Ave. between Conselyea Street and Skillman Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 782-8171
Oyster Happy Hour, $1 each from 4-7pm
It doesn’t get sexier than oysters and absinthe — especially when the oysters run for a third of the price. Up to 20 briny beauties are on offer from the 30-strong list during happy hour, including Wellfleet, Naked Cowboy, Hama Hama and Fanny Bay.
298 Bedford Ave. between Grand and First Streets in Williamsburg, (347) 335-0446
The Hellboy, $16
What’s tastier than the Delboy, a delectable pizza pie topped with Fiore di Latte and parmagiano cheeses, Italian tomatoes, and spicy sopressata? Try the Hellboy, which comes with a side dish of chile-spiked honey.
60 Greenpoint Ave. between West and Franklin streets in Greenpoint, (347) 987-3747
The NEK burger, $14
Only one burger is needed on the menu at this eatery, inspired by the farming communities and deer camps of Vermont. The fab NEK burger is topped with duxelle mushrooms, tobacco onions and swiss, and sided with duck fat fried tater tots.
18 Wyckoff Ave. between Jefferson and Starr streets in Bushwick, (718) 386-3864
City white bread, $6
Pizza schmeetza — save yourself an impossibly long wait for a table and grab a loaf of this superior wood-fired bread to go. Even better, pick one up at Anarchy in a Jar at Smorgasburg, along with a vat of wild blueberry jam or grapefruit and smoked salt marmalade.
261 Moore Street between White and Bogart streets in Bushwick, (718) 417-1118
Reach reporter Sarah Zorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-4504.