We’re not trying to play into the idea that certain neighborhoods only become food destinations once they start serving Crop to Cup coffee, speakeasy cocktails, and local, seasonal small plates. And when it comes to Crown Heights, we have much respect for the jerk chicken at The Islands on Washington Ave., the migas tacos at Gueros on Prospect Place, and the curry conch roti at Gloria’s on Nostrand. But there’s no denying that in the last few years, Franklin Avenue has exploded with excellent new dining options — from the wood-fired pizzas at Barboncino, to the spiked Blue Marble ice cream shakes and the brisket and short rib patties at Dutch Boy Burger. That’s why Franklin is next on our list of drink-to-dessert neighborhood mini crawls, where we tackle one gastronomically blessed BK block at a time by spreading the love — and your dollars — among some of the tastiest restaurants within them.
Pre-Dinner Drinks: Chavela’s
This homey Mexican spot (relocated from its original, Classon Avenue location), has a terrific happy hour ($2 tacos, $3 beers, $4 margaritas and sangrias from 4-7pm), and a truly impressive list of tequilas and mezcals — white, barrel-aged, ultra-aged, and vintage. Try the Sotol; made from a plant called the Desert Spoon that takes 15 years to mature, and generates just one bottle of alcohol. Just the thing for kicking off a food and drink-fueled evening in Crown Heights.
736 Franklin Ave, (718) 622-3100
Small Bites: Black Tree Sandwich Shop
Since you’re just looking to whet your appetite, stick with nibbles like Northfork chips with sauce (think ramp relish, mint chimichurri, and kumquat jam), or a board of house-smoked ham, cheeses, honey, and fridge pickles at this unique sandwich shop. Return during lunch hours for veg-friendly “from the farm” sandwiches, like pan-roasted heirloom cauliflower with Prairie View cheddar sauce, and herb-crusted butternut and spaghetti squash with Alleva mozzarella.
724 Franklin Ave, (818) 585-0506
Crown Heights’ own addition to the increasingly overwrought “seasonal American,” scene, Mayfield certainly checks off the required boxes. Fluke ceviche, shredded kale salad, roasted brussels sprouts, and dayboat scallops are all present and accounted for. But chef Lev Gewirtzman really excels when he follows his own groove, expressed in dishes like a Berkshire Maple BLT, house corned beef tongue with kraut, and buttermilk fried quail with spoon bread and collards.
688 Franklin Ave, (347) 318-3643
The crazy adorable ice cream parlor/sweets shop, The Candy Rush, would have been a no-brainer dessert choice for a food crawl on Franklin Avenue. Sadly, it shuttered in January, after less than two years in business. So either stick with Mayfield, for plated treats like apple upside down cake and lemon cheesecake, or move on to our last stop, The Crown Inn, for a simple panna cotta (choose vanilla, chocolate or ginger), or a particularly dessert-y cocktail (the Snow Glow, with strawberry and pineapple-infused pisco and elderflower liquor, or the Candelit, with Irish whiskey, Lillet Blanc, orange liquor and bitters).
After-Dinner Drinks: The Crown Inn
Whether or not you’ve chosen to have dessert here, there are plenty of terrific alcoholic options to really cap off your night. Try the Cherry Smash cocktail, with cognac, cherry and orange liquors and lemon juice, or choose from a variety of ports, brandies, and digestifs, like Limoncello, Sambuca Luxardo, Amaro Meletti, or Crème de Violette.
724 Franklin Ave, (347) 915-1131