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Posted: Oct 18, 2019
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By: Sarah Saxty

Crown Heights: Top 10 Date Night Picks

You might have been to Crown Heights but not even known it. It’s that area that you seem to wander through when you make a visit to the Brooklyn Museum, or Prospect Park, and find yourself saying “Oh! That place looks cute!” or “That place looks cool,” or “Where are we? We should come back here sometime and check out all these bars and restaurants,” or “OMG, that brownstone is SO gorgeous…”

The main thoroughfare of this neighborhood is Eastern Parkway, a tree-lined boulevard designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (AKA the guy that co-designed Central Park) which almost feels like something you’d discover in Paris. This is a diverse neighborhood rich in history and culture, from the colorful and vibrant West Indies influences to the more private Hasidic population. Everyone here has a story to tell and a lot of those stories are told through food - so here is our guide to eat and drink your way through Crown Heights, date by date, and likely, make a few new friends along the way given the friendliness of this community.

01

Barboncino Pizza

781 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn

01

Seriously one of the best, authentic Neapolitan style pizzas we’ve had outside of Naples - with thin and chewy, but crispy dough, these brick-oven pizzas are served up with tasty traditional toppings using freshly sourced ingredients. It’s hard to move past the simple perfection of the margarita, but another Barboncino classic are the Neapolitan Meatballs, with organic italian tomatoes, fior di latte, house-made meatballs, parmigiano reggiano, basil and extra virgin olive oil (YUM!). They also have a good selection of antipasto, like fire roasted peppers, charcuterie, and cheeses plus salads which are a good side dish to your pizza. Bonus points for having “Mike’s Hot Honey” on the menu and award-winning cocktails.


02

Butter and Scotch

818 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn

Butter and Scotch


Have your cocktail and eat it too. These 2 (women, ah-hem) bakers first met at Smorgasburg operating their own dessert stalls, and over post-market drinks, decided to bring together their 2 loves, desserts and cocktails. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to open “the feminist bar and bakery of your dreams,” Butter and Scotch was born, and all our dessert date dreams came true. Here you’ll find cocktails to rival any speakeasy in Manhattan and desserts that will rock your socks off, like “The Absolutely Best Birthday Cake in NY” as voted by Grubstreet, boozy shakes, cookies, pies and some savory things, but why would you? PLUS - since 2017, they’ve donated $1 from every drink on their (extremely enticing) seasonal menu to Planned Parenthood. Another round, thanks!


03

MeMe's Diner

657 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn

MeMe's Diner

657 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn

A diner making a mark, Meme’s is a “cool modern” version of your traditional dive, using international ingredients (chili oil, fish sauce, and tahini) combined with farmer's market produce and bodega standards (Fritos, potato chips, and wasabi peas) to create distinctly American food. What does that even mean? How about “Nancy’s Chopped Salad” with the usual iceberg, radicchio, provolone, chickpeas, salami, pepperoncini, red onion, oregano, red wine vinaigrette - BUT - the chickpeas are deep fried crispy balls of deliciousness, or Fried Giardiniera - olives, carrots, peppers, and cauliflower, pickled and fried. Pair that back with a nice big menu of good cocktails, natural wines of all shades, good service and colorful, modern design and you have yourself a date.

04

Alenbi

887 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn

04


Reserve this one for ‘date night proper.” Alenbi is a modern Israeli restaurant, with a six seat chef bar looking straight into the kitchen, and an intimate dining room with custom designed and made in Israel furniture - also with a great view into the open kitchen. The space is moody and sexy, the food is more than satisfying, with things like the Babaghanoush, which is actually a full charred eggplant, or the elevated Israeli Souvlaki, o4 the Shuk Tasting - a culinary journey with Chef Elior Balbul. Alenbi is kosher too, FYI.


05

The Food Sermon

335 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn

The Food Sermon

Bringing it back to something a little more "fast-casual" - think Dig Inn but West Indian inspired (and yes, that means JERK in a bowl). The Food Sermon has answered all our prayers with their build-your-own service. Choose from braised lamb, chicken, fish, or a vegetarian option, steeped in your choice of savory sauces like coconut-ginger or spicy-tomato, then lathered on a base such as rice with red beans or chickpeas. The space is simple, with a few chairs and tables, but for the win on a nice day, take your bowl and run to the nearest patch of green to "dig in."

06

King Tai

1095 Bergen Street, Brooklyn

King Tai

1095 Bergen Street, Brooklyn

We told you Crown Heights was a tight-knit neighborhood, didn’t we? Keeping with the community vibes over at King Tai. You’ll feel like you’ve just walked into a friends’ back garden or “very chic, and cool” living room for a drink or 5. Once a Chinese American Fish Kitchen serving Crown Heights throughout the '80's & '90's, this women-owned space is now home to a sunny, breezy little bar “with a big heart." There’s no food here, but they do serve empanadas and a pepita snack mix, and you’re welcome to bring in your own food or have it delivered. You basically live here now.

07

Oxalis

791 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn

07

I mean, it always feels a bit special when you enter a restaurant directly through the kitchen. But wait, where’s the menu? Oh, there isn’t one. So just trust us, and them. Oxalis offers a carte blanche tasting menu each night, which changes regularly and includes six courses for $70. The menu changes often and is revealed to you only when you sit down, and to be honest part of the experience is the unknown, so don’t go trying to find the it on Google now. If surprises aren’t your thing, they also offer an a’la carte menu in the bar and garden room backyard. We’d suggest putting this one on the calendar for a night when you’re feeling Eleven Madison style, but without the stuffy style itself - Uptown class with Brooklyn vibes, what a fabulous thing.

08

Bunsmith

789 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn

Bunsmith

We know, we had you at buns. But Bunsmith goes way beyond, with menu items like Sticky Fries with rice syrup and smoky paprika (OMG), Fried (or Roasted for the conscientious) Cauliflower Nuggets (no explanation needed) Korean ramen, 5 different types of bowls...Fried Chicken to kind of die for, and a vegan “Impossible Bun.” We lean toward this place for a hangover fix, or a date night to let it all out - and by that we mean wear your comfy clothes and forget the calories. The small and cozy space also serves beers, wines, cocktails and sake - what’s not to like?

09

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn


Some may consider this Prospect Heights, but the Washington Ave. entrance is so close to the shops and restaurants on Franklin Ave., we’re calling it close enough. Despite being an outdoor garden, BBG is actually a great place to visit year-round. Take a respite from the cold in the greenhouses, under a big fat palm tree pretending you’re in Miami and sneak in a little PDA. Make sure to visit again in April when the cherry blossoms are in full-bloom, an explosion of pink and green is a feast for the eyes after the dull winter slush.

10

Lowerline

794 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn

10

The closest to NOLA you’re going to get in NYC, Lowerline is a “Classic New Orleans Joint,” and in true NOLA style, it comes with a nice big helping of friendly southern service too. Haven’t been to New Orleans? Well, you’re in for a treat - expect a good amount of spice and seafood - freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, hot roasted beef po-boy sandwich, dripping with gravy, or a steaming bowl of seafood gumbo (a Creole specialty), all made from scratch, every day. Enjoy it all in a gorgeously, intimate, cozy space and a few icy cold beers.


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