Considering we’re compelled to bare an exorbitant amount of naked flesh in the summer, it seems counterintuitive to regularly indulge in fatty, starchy, cheesy, deep-fried fare. And yet, warm weather libations like beer, daiquiris and salt-rimmed margaritas simply beg to be paired with all manner of crispy, crunchy goodies; so invest in a few good cover-ups, and chow down on the best fish tacos, belly clams and funnel cakes in Brooklyn.
Curd’s the Word: Being that Smorgasburg is currently overrun with pan-Asian tacos, smoked meat sandwiches, ramen noodles and ice pops, it’s hard to believe no one previously thought to focus on deep-fried cheese curds, that delightfully squeaky, county fair favorite. Obtained from a dairy in Woodhull, NY, and battered with Brooklyn Brewery beer, these molten nuggets of locally sourced deliciousness are piled into paper boats alongside zesty buffalo, creamy pesto, or jalapeño ranch dip.
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El Gran Castillo de Jagua: This longstanding Dominican restaurant has proudly served the neighborhood from morning till midnight, for over 40 years, dishing out massive platters of fabulously meaty things (breaded steak, stewed oxtail) fried things (tostones, pasteles, alcapurrias) and meaty fried things, such as masita de cerdo frita, aka fried pork chunks.
355 Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights
Kittery: Happily, whole belly clams are a lot easier to find in Brooklyn than they used to be, and gone are the days of diners peddling sinewy, seafood-lite strips. The bulbous, cornmeal-crusted mollusks served at Carroll Gardens’ Kittery—named after the historic, coastal Maine town—are the next best thing to lining up for bivalves at the famed Bob’s Clam Hut—minus the 6-hour drive.
305 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens
A&A Bake and Doubles: As the name would suggest, this Trinidadian storefront in Bed-Stuy specializes in doubles—pairs of deep-fried, turmeric-tinted flatbreads known as bara, sandwiching fragrant stews of curried chickpeas, and topped with mango and apple chutney and as much Scotch bonnet sauce as you can handle.
481 Nostrand Avenue, Bed Stuy
Greenpoint Fish and Lobster: There’s little that’s more evocative of summer than beer-battered, chipotle-lime mayo-topped fish tacos, cradled inside of pliant grilled tortillas—even when you’re eating them off of a white marble counter inside a seafood retailer, in a still largely Polish, far-from-the-water section of Greenpoint.
114 Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint
Wilma Jean: Brooklyn’s fried chicken game is strong, and Rob Newton has more than stepped up to the plate at his Southern comfort spot on Smith Street, inspired by his grandmother, Wilma Jean. We only wish we’d grown up with poultry as good as this. Picture legs, thighs, and breasts brined for 18 hours in salt water, soaked in buttermilk overnight, fried and then served alongside cheese grits, cornbread slathered with molasses butter, braised collards with country ham or—if you want to go full bore with the deep-fried thing—battered pickles or crispy okra chips.
345 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens
Streets BK: This Williamsburg newcomer specializes in street food from all around the world, but has demonstrated real finesse with Caribbean cuisine. In fact, we’d recommend opening an offshoot selling nothing but bake n’ shark sandwiches—hollow discs of fried dough, filled with filets of spiny dogfish, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, tamarind sauce and streams of pureed shadon bennie (a verdant herb similar to cilantro).
The Red Hook Lobster Pound: In addition to fleshing out their new full-service menu with raw oysters and cocktails, the original Red Hook Lobster Pound is now serving that carnival stalwart—funnel cakes! Topped in true Maine style with wild blueberry compote and ice cream, this is the best fried dessert in Brooklyn.
284 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook