So, here’s a thing that happened to us recently; we went to Chipotle on our lunch break because it’s close to our office and we were starving and Chipotle is very filling and the meat isn’t loaded with hormones and antibiotics and blah blah blah, but also because it’s fast food, so it’s cheap, right? Well! We had kind of thought it would be, but after going down the burrito bowl assembly line—making sure to get guacamole (because otherwise what’s the point, really) and hoping we weren’t going to get a Malcolm Gladwell essay on our to-go bag—until we were all set to enjoy our gut-bomb of rice and beans and barbacoa only to stop short once we realized how much it was going to cost. Reader, it was $13! For fast food! That was undoubtedly going to make us feel bad an hour after we ate it! And that isn’t even all that good! This, we feel, is ridiculous.
Why should filling, healthy (enough) food that tastes good cost so much money? It shouldn’t! And, in fact, it doesn’t. Not that anyone living in Brooklyn would ever feel limited to Chipotle (unless, you know, their company just relocated to Downtown Brooklyn, which, while not a culinary wasteland, is sort of riddled with chain restaurants and not too much else and one cannot live on Seamless alone), but dining out in Brooklyn frequently feels like an all-or-nothing proposition. Sure, there’s plenty of really cheap eats, but they tend to fall in the “pizza-falafel-dumplings-tacos-street meat” category. Which, that’s a totally solid category! But also gets really redundant after awhile. And so we thought we’d round up our 10 favorite things to eat that are filling, relatively healthy, objectively delicious and all $10 or under. Never pay a king’s ransom for guacamole again.
Cornmeal Battered Oyster Mushrooms ($8)
Pickle Shack has, by our measure, some of the best waitresses in Brooklyn, and so when one of them told us that the fried mushrooms were amazing and that she didn’t know how the chef did it, but the mushrooms tasted “just like real oysters, which is great if you like oysters,” we paid attention. And she was right. The crisp, cornmeal shell shattered under our teeth, revealing a tender, succulent mushroom underneath. A dip into the house made cocktail sauce (maybe the best we’ve ever had) practically renders these mushrooms into their bivalve namesake. Plus, they’re really filling, a meal unto themselves.
Pickle Shack; 256 4th Avenue, Park Slope
Frito Pie ($6)
There’s plenty of big, heavy, heaped with meat platters on order at Texas BBQ-joint Morgan’s. But for a real bargain, and something that isn’t all that common in New York City, you want to go straight for the Frito pie. Served right out of the gold-and-red bag, this dish is an amalgam of curly, crispy corn chips, Texas-style (that means no beans!) red chili, roughly chopped white onions, and a generous helping of sour cream and shredded cheese. All of this adds up to an incredibly delicious BBQ treat.
Morgan’s BBQ; 267 Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights
Southwest Chik’n Salad ($10)
If we told you that a vegan salad would not only be the most filling thing on this list but also feel like one of the most decadent, you probably wouldn’t believe us. But it’s true! Champs isn’t just any old vegan spot, this diner is the real deal. And the Southwest Chick’n salad is loaded with fresh greens, avocado, corn, black beans, tomatoes, grilled faux-chicken (or “chik’n”) and comes with a side of some truly spicy, wonderfully creamy (or, we guess, “cream”-y) chipotle dressing. Our mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Champs; 176 Ainslie Street, Williamsburg
The Ollie ($9)
Obviously sandwiches are a no-brainer when it comes to loading up for less, but we can all do better than whatever they cobble together at the corner. Though a relatively new arrival, Court Street Grocers is one of the best delis in Brooklyn, and their Ollie sandwich is a thing of beauty. Laden with roasted turkey, gooey provolone, broccoli rabe, mayo, and SRIRACHA HONEY (what? yes!), this sandwich is perfect.
Court Street Grocers’ 116 Sullivan Street, Red Hook
Jamaican Patties ($4/each)
There are plenty of places to go to get Jamaican patties in Brooklyn, but how many of those spots also serve Dark & Stormy slushies? None. Also, the food at Battery Harris is among the best Caribbean food we’ve had. Patties are only four bucks a pop, so eat two. We like to get one brisket/potato and one jerk chicken/sweet plantain, but the curry veg is also great. Basically, you can’t go wrong.
Battery Harris; 64 Frost Street, Williamsburg
Pimento Cheese Fries ($10)
Yes, this is a side dish. But so what? Sides are filling too. And this isn’t just any side dish. Not even close. It’s a pile of crisp fries (which would be nice enough as is) that come with salty, tangy pimento cheese, Benton’s country ham and green onions. Which, that’s all your major food groups covered right there, you know?
Alameda; 195 Franklin Street, Greenpoint
Fried Chicken Banh Mi ($10)
You could get cheap, filling banh mi at many spots around Brooklyn, but if you want something really out of the ordinary, your best bet is to go to Nightingale 9 and try the fried chicken banh mi. The fried chicken itself is succulent on the inside with a perfectly crispy skin, but it really goes to the next level when paired with the accompanying chicken pâté. This is the kind of sandwich you’re going to want to keep coming back to eat, again and again.
Nightingale 9; 345 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens
Pelzer’s Pretzels ($4/each)
Ok, so pretzels do not exactly a meal make. But the pretzels at new Windsor Terrace bar Adirondacks are made right here in Brooklyn (Pelzer’s is headquartered in Crown Heights) and are the best pretzels we’ve ever had. Get a plain one or an everything or a bacon-cheddar. Just get one. And wash it down with an Ithaca Flower Power, because that beer is insane. It tastes like marmalade! It really does.
Adirondacks; 1241A Prospect Avenue, Windsor Terrace
Vegan Apple Sage Sausage ($7.50)
This San Francisco import has every kind of sausage imaginable from a classic kielbasa to a more exotic wild boar option. So it may surprise you to learn that we’re partial to the vegan apple and sage (smoked with potato and ginger), but this savory link is unbelievably delicious and comes with two free toppings of your choice. We like to get it with the grilled onions and sauerkraut, but, you know, you do you.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill; 285 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
Oxtail Sloppy Joe ($8)
The Rookery feels like more of a bar than a restaurant, but it just so happens to have some of the best bar food in Brooklyn. And the oxtail Sloppy Joe is bar food at its finest—a mound of impossibly tender, braised oxtail sits atop a featherlight bun and is spiked with chopped onions for texture and sharpness of flavor. So. Good.
The Rookery; 425 Troutman Street, Bushwick
Mushroom Hummus ($9)
We actually dream of Mimi’s Mushroom Hummus, that’s how good it is. While lots of Americans think of hummus as nothing more than a dip or a snack food, in Middle Eastern countries, it’s treated as a main course. And Mimi’s gives hummus that same respect, serving it alongside fluffy pita bread and tart, vinegary pickles. This particular version is our favorite, coming as it does with a richly spiced, cumin-y mushroom stew. Perfection on a plate.
Mimi’s Hummus; 1209 Courtelyou Road, Ditmas Park
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