Downtown Brooklyn is a place where many people work in offices (or have jury duty, or buy Broadway tickets) and need to eat lunch. But until Dekalb Market Hall opens this fall, with its small purveyors of local tasty food, there is a (seeming) dearth of nearby places that offer delicious sit-down meals that are not chain restaurants. However, we can not live by Chipotle alone. And particularly since you can factor in nearby Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill if you’re willing to take a 10-minute walk, there is no shortage of establishments that offer a quick turnaround, great meals, and tables and chairs at which to eat them. This is a list of the best of those places.
Last fall, Chi Zhang and high school friends Kevin Gu and Chong Wu Du had a brilliant idea: Bring Shanghai soup dumplings to a part of Brooklyn that would weep with joy to have the delicious, hearty, and fortifying traditional Chinese street food at its disposal. Now, Lawrence Street is home to a lovely and delicious soup dumpling lunch. The menu is fairly big and varied: veggie pot-stickers, traditional soups (mostly meat but one veggie offering, too), fried sticky rice, yummy braised pork meatballs, and, of course, those soup dumplings (our fave is the blue crab and pork combo).
148 Lawrence Street, Downtown Brooklyn
Sometimes you want lunch to be a big sit-down affair and sometimes you just want a sandwich. But just because you’re eating sans knife-and-fork it doesn’t mean you need to skimp on quality, or inventiveness. At least, not if you’re getting a sandwich at Boomwich, where chef Pete Entner consistently comes up with some of the most surprising and delicious combinations to ever get served between sliced bread, which, in this case, is a pillowy pretzel roll. Yum.
311 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill
News of the closure of Cobble Hill’s unapologetically quaint Ted & Honey was a bummer. But closures lead to openings, and in this particular case, it led to a very welcome one. From the owner of neighboring La Vara comes Tekoa: Like Ted & Honey, it is a cafe with real breakfast and lunch, and La Vara chef Alex Raij’s also leads this kitchen with house-baked pastries, egg dishes, and fine lunch options, too: sandwiches, like the broccoli rabe and amnouri cheese concoction, soups (butternut squash with poblano chile crema), and a baby gem salad with avocado, bacon, and blue cheese.
264 Clinton Street, Cobble Hill
Right on Atlantic Avenue exists the ultra-reliable Two8Two Burger. You like burgers, right? And fries and beers? Then Two8Two Burger is right up your alley. The beef is sourced locally from Los Paisanos and then turned into things like the official Two8Two Burger, with roasted poblano chiles, cheddar cheese, and eponymous Two8Two Sauce. For non-beef eaters, there are also turkey, lamb, veggie and protein burgers at your service. Pick your own toppings to maximize this experience. You can go the salad route, too. But why?
282 Atlantic Avenue, Cobble Hill
Myrtle and Gold
At the intersection of, yes, Myrtle and Gold, is this relatively new lunch destination in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn. Some of the partners behind the Double Windsor bring some no-joke good eats to a corner of town that happened to really need it. There’s a hot chicken sandwich that will satisfy the hot-sauce obsessed; brick chicken; mac ’n’ cheese; wings; and more. Plus, craft beers and a full cocktail menu are available for lunches and I once saw Peggy Olson eating here, by which I mean Elisabeth Moss. So there’s that.
343 Gold Street, Downtown Brooklyn
Building on Bond
At this point, Building on Bond in Boerum Hill is a neighborhood institution, and it’s a very walkable distance from Downtown Brooklyn. Inside, all is re-purposed—largely in wooden form—and cozy. There is a heck of a mac ’n’ cheese on the menu, a fine burger, a lot of great vegetarian options (those brussels sprouts are to die for), plus, a strong beer and cocktail list. The crowd is highly local and seems to treat this enduring neighborhood spot as an extension of their own homes.
112 Bond Street, Boerum Hill
Open every day at 11:30am, French Louie delivers delicious food in a classy environment all day-long. The lunch menu offers a Mediterranean take on salad Niçoise (think chick peas and flatbread) that is out of this world; but you can also get a French Dip, a grilled trout Po’ Boy, and paté in either traditional (chicken liver) or vegetarian (lentil and walnut) form. You want classy lunch? You go here.
320 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill
Bien Cuit is a wonderful bakery any time of the day, but it’s also a not-so-secret lunch spot offering mouth-watering tartines (think: smoked salmon with sea beans, radish, and crème fraîche on campagne bread), sandwiches (ham and cheddar with green apple, red onion, and honey mustard on Ciabatta), and quiche. Plus, they make some of the best coffee in the area and have a super-cute backyard to boot.
120 Smith Street, Boerum Hill
The sprawling Mexican lunch and dinner spot known as Rocco’s, is right in the center of Downtown Brooklyn. Here’s the thing: it seems like a chain restaurant from Florida, in part because the owner comes from, well, Palm Beach Florida, and opened his first Rocco’s Tacos there in 2007, but maybe that’s ok? Because it’s the kind of weird, kitschy spot that can make jury duty seem like it’s not the worst thing in the world. There’s freshly made guacamole, plus all the standard Mexican dishes you crave: empañadas, tacos, ceviche, tortilla soup, and much more.
339 Adams Street, Downtown Brooklyn
When Rucola—and its straightforward, northern Italian menu—opened in Boerum Hill in 2011, only Building on Bond and Mile End offered remotely similar quality dining experiences in nearby blocks. The neighborhood took to it immediately, especially because it started early with a sit-down breakfast 8:30am—but then kept on going straight through lunch and dinner. A list of simple veggie and meat sandwiches are expertly assembled with lots of fresh ingredients, but are not overly, needlessly large. There will be no food-coma-having back at the office. Thank goodness.
190 Dean Street, Boerum Hill
When Noah Bernamoff opened Mile End in 2010, it felt like the beginning of a new dining era in the neighborhood; Bernamoff offered delicious smoked meat sandwiches, Montreal style bagels, and poutine. A recent lunch trip there resulted with me holding a chicken schnitzel sandwich (it comes with maple bacon, tangy pickled green tomato, lettuce, mustard and mayo, all on a fresh onion roll). Plus, there’s a great beer selection.
97A Hoyt Street, Boerum Hill