While many (most?) of us see Mardi Gras as an isolated excuse for an evening of unchecked excess, for others, it really is a final hurrah before the abstemious season of Lent. And while many (most?) of us might think nothing of stuffing our faces with porky melts from now until Easter Sunday, others still have a parade of meat-free Fridays stretching far ahead of them. That being said, it’s relatively easy to steer clear of fleshly indulgences in our increasingly veg-friendly climate, so here’s a guide to expertly navigating menus at Brooklyn’s most protein-focused spots.
Pork Slope: Instead of the Porky Melt… Get the Filet O’ Fish Sandwich
Of all the hog-adulating items at the suitably named Pork Slope, the grilled cheese and bratwurst sandwich has emerged as its signature dish. But there’s absolutely no shame in your game if you default to the filet o’ fish (which one-ups its McDonald’s progenitor with crispy catfish, shaved cabbage and sriracha) instead, and as long as you get it sans bacon—thanks to a green light for seafaring creatures—it’s a total go for Lent.
247 5th Avenue, Park Slope
Peter Luger: Instead of the Porterhouse…Get ALL the Sides
It’s admittedly pointless to order either of the meatless mains at Lugers (wan Atlantic salmon and insipid filet of sole), but as long as you—again—avoid the side of extra-think sizzling bacon, you can compose a totally solid steakhouse meal out of vegetables and apps. Granted, there’s no mistaking a bloodless winter tomato and acrid raw onion—sized for two and slathered in sauce—for a USDA prime porterhouse, but piety won’t keep you from those other Peter Luger must-haves, the voluptuous creamed spinach, famous German fried potatoes, and apple strudel draped in schlag.
178 Broadway, Williamsburg
Dinosaur BBQ: Instead of Smoked Brisket… Get the Smoked Veg Melt
While all Dinosaur BBQ branches boast Big Ass Pork Plates, and Pick-Three combo platters of brisket, hot links and ribs, they custom-design items for each of their locations; and unsurprisingly, the Gowanus spot leans heavily veg. Not only will you find barbecued cremini, quinoa and chickpea burgers, Brooklyn’s Dino peddles wood-smoked vegetable melts as well; a fire-kissed Dagwood of cauliflower, poblano peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and swiss, served with sides like mac and cheese, collard greens or black-eyed peas with kale.
604 Union Street, Gowanus
Rosamunde Sausage Grill: Instead of Cheddar Brats… Get Vegan Apple Sage Sausages
For a German/Austrian sausage spot, it’s a breeze to avoid meat at Rosamunde; likely because the mini chain originated on San Fran’s Haight Street. In addition to multiple chicken links (still forboden during Lent), you’ll find four inspired vegan options: a Polish-style kielbasa, a Mexican chipotle, a red wine, garlic and fennel-infused Italian, and a robust apple sage, smoked with potato and ginger.
285 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
Prime Meats: Instead of the Sukrut Garnie… Get the Herb & Gruyere Spatzle
When we made the inexplicable decision to go meat-free during our college travels abroad in Germany, the airy egg dumplings called spatzle were our saving grace. And while a plate of herb and gruyere-tossed pasta may seem a poor substitute for a board of bone-in pork belly, knackwurst and brats; coupled with starters like squash and crème fraiche salad or charred, caper chimichurri octopus (that’s a Bavarian restaurant in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn for you) they make for a totally viable Lenten feast.
465 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
The Smoke Joint: Instead of Dinosaur Ribs… Get the Crispy Catfish
Counting Hothouse, Peaches, and Marietta as sister restaurants, Southern influences abound at Fort Greene’s favorite ‘cue destination, Smoke Joint. There is a dedicated seafood section (including crispy catfish with coleslaw and pickles, and deep-fried shrimp with barbecue aioli), as well as a series of especially soulful sides, such as slow-cooked, meatless collards, ‘Bed Stuy’ potato salad, spice rub-dusted corn on the cob, and four cheese mac and cheese.
87 S Elliott Place, Fort Greene