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FOOD AND DRINK
Best Place to Pig Out
Purple Yam, Ditmas Park
The Philippines was obsessed with pork
long before New Yorkers ever heard of the term "pork belly." Although chef Romy Dorotan's menu isn't entirely Filipino (it contains influences from all over Asia), it's clear he knows his way around a pig. Start out with lumpia Shanghai, crowd-pleasing fried spring rolls filled with pork, mushrooms, carrots and jicama. Sisig sees pig ears, cheeks and snout chopped up and served with lime and chilies, while the lechon kawali destroys your dreams of a slim waistline by deep-frying pork belly and pairing it with pickled papaya. Take that, arteries!
Best New Brooklyn Outdoor Scene
Hot Bird, CLINTON HILL
This Clinton Hill bar
was a hit from the week it opened, and it'll only get more popular once people learn that a food truck serving chili dogs, lobster rolls and more will be setting up shop outside. The spacious interior, a former body shop, is nice enough, but it's the yard out front that's the big draw. It's huge, isolated from complaining neighbors and packed with young Brooklynites sitting on picnic tables crowded with pitchers of craft beer (there are 12 different types on tap).
Best Place to Pretend You're Marty McFly
Hey, McFly! Are you looking for a way to get that 50s feeling, complete with chocolate egg creams, vintage decor and soda jerks? Well then head down to Brooklyn Farmacy
, run by the affable and always enthusiastic Petey Freeman. Aside from shakes and sundaes, the place also stocks all kinds of artisanal goods, candy and even organic produce. Musicians even occasionally pop in to play a set.
Best Makeshift Foodie
Red Hook Mercado
charmingly ramshackle market is reason enough to make the arduous trek to Red Hook. Every weekend it pops up like magic, located in an empty lot surrounded by verdant overgrown fences and red brick walls. Expect to see old Red Hook Ball Field favorites like Rafael Soler (pupusas) and Vendy Award-winner Fernando Martinez (tacos), plus gourmet corn dogs from Grindhaus and crazy flavors like Chicken 'n' Waffles from Allison and Matt of Robicelli's Cupcakes.
Best Unlikely Korean
Mrs. Kim's, Greenpoint
What was once the River Barrel Cafe became Mrs. Kim's
after chef Jonathan Meyer tasted owner Lisa Kim's cooking and decided to ditch the contemporary American menu for something more Korean. It's now something akin to upscale Korean comfort food Wagyu brisket bulgogi, grilled fava beans with fish sauce, house-made sausage topped with kimchi. Best of all, it's all served in a cute and cozy spot on charming Frankling Street in Greenpoint, where you can watch the people walk by as you sip a cold Captain Lawrence or a Dark and Stormy.
Best Place to Kick the Comfort Food Blues
Tired of gourmet burgers and 19th-century design schemes?
Enter chef Jason Marcus and his delightfully inventive
and decidedly un-kosher menu of small plates, including tender seared scallops on a bed of snap and English-pea risotto, lamb and chorizo meatballs and Thai chili-glazed calamari. The space is blissfully free of antique bric-a-brac and even has a beautiful backyard, half of which is devoted to a grassy lawn and leafy plants.
Best Catalyst to
Oh, it's just fried chicken, you'll say. Sure, it's juicy to the point of bursting and it comes with a buttery biscuit and one delicious side, but how often can someone eat here? Then it comes. The craving for the chicken biscuit with its intoxicating mix of spicy barbecue sauce and sweet, sticky honey. And for only $5! Collard greens, mac and cheese, chocolate peanut butter pie; soon you realize that you've been coming here weekly for the past few months and you've gained 10 pounds and, yes, it was worth it.
Best Casual Meet-Up Spot
It's 9pm. Half of you have eaten, half haven't. You don't know how many people are meeting you or when they are coming. What do you do? Head to The Commodore
, of course. The Pat LaFrieda burgers and fried chicken from Pies 'n' Thighs alum Stephen Tanner are some of the best in the neighborhood, especially for the price. Order from the bar, grab a Schlitz and chow down. Already eaten? Then just order a retro cocktail. Now everybody is happy.