A Day in Ditmas Park

Expect made-from-scratch tamales, a flower shop with a whiskey bar alter ego and a late night haunt dishing dumplings.

The rumors about Ditmas Park are no exaggeration: It’s a seeming suburban haven just 30 minutes from Manhattan that’s complete with Victorian houses, somewhat affordable rent and a slew of delicious and diverse restaurants.

Even with just seven places on this list, there’s no way this culinary day in Ditmas could be completed by anyone with a less-than-gargantuan appetite.

Don’t fret though: One of the neighborhood’s best qualities is its walkability, so count on a tree-lined stroll to help you recover from one of these meals. You may even stumble across other restaurants that didn’t make it onto the list but are still more than worth a visit, like gastropub Ox Cart Tavern, the romantic wine bar Castello Plan, hummus lover’s haven Mimi’s Hummus or Filipino-fusion Purple Yam restaurant (get the traditional iced halo halo for dessert).

I lived and worked in Ditmas Park for three years, and as a bit of a homebody, I always preferred eating out nearby to trekking to better-known spots in other neighborhoods. This list represents those favorites, including made-from-scratch tamales, a flower shop with a whiskey bar alter ego and a late-night haunt dishing dumplings.

Have a favorite Ditmas Park spot that’s not on this list? Let us know by leaving a comment.

milk and honey

Photo credit: Facebook/Milk & Honey Cafe, LLC

Coffee: Milk & Honey
1119 Newkirk Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11230

This gorgeous cash-only coffee shop greets the bleary eyed with the energizing smell of ground beans, a wall full of open windows and even a living wall filled with green plants. If coffee isn’t your thing, they also offer refreshing alternatives like a watermelon-mint cooler and a food menu. Though the weekday crowd is full of the same laptop-bound workers like any other coffee shop, Milk & Honey goes laptop-free on weekends, making Monday feel that much farther away.

the farm on adderly

Photo credit: The Farm on Adderly

Brunch or lunch: Farm on Adderley
1108 Cortelyou Rd., Brooklyn, NY 11218

Full disclosure: If you ate at this restaurant between 2010 and 2012, then there’s a good chance that I took your order. But any restaurant that can inspire its employees to eat there on their off-days (and even trek back now that I no longer live in the neighborhood) is worth a spot on the list. In addition to their farm burger, which is served on an English muffin with a side of the farm’s delicious house-cut fries, another of my brunch favorites is the red flannel hash, which mixes beets, corned beef and eggs into a dish that is somehow both light and able to put you into a post-brunch food coma. Even their omelet — a fluffy eggy pocket filled with oozing cheddar cheese and sweet caramelized onion — is both simple and revelatory.

shayna's restaurant

Photo credit: Shayna’s Restaurant

Lunch: Shayna’s Restaurant
907 Church Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11218

Ditmas Park is home to a large Caribbean community. One of my favorite island-inspired spots is Shayna’s: an order-at-the-counter, cash-only restaurant with a dining area that can’t be much more than a hundred square feet. The relatively cheap and made-to-order entrées are a choice of rice platters or roti, both of which come filled with options like curried goat, stewed chicken, oxtail and there’s even a veggie roti. Go for the goat.

la nueva union

Photo credit: Facebook/La Nueva Union Bakery and Grocery

Afternoon snack: La Nueva Union
1114 Cortelyou Rd., Brooklyn, NY 11218

This Mexican bakery may seem unassuming on the outside, but it’s home to what I think are the best tamales in New York City. For about the same cost as a large latte, you can feast on a meal of chicken, cheese or pork options. The only catch? They’re only available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and supplies can be limited. Go early and get one (or six) while it’s still steaming hot.

cafe tibet

Photo credit: Cafe Tibet

Dinner: Café Tibet
1510 Cortelyou Rd., Brooklyn, NY 11226

Café Tibet, a brightly decorated restaurant right next to the train station, served me my first taste of Tibetan food. Bring your cash because this restaurant has something for everyone and doesn’t take cards. Their menu includes vegan and carnivore options, as well as everything between, with dishes like veggie coconut curries and beef momos (a Tibetan dumpling). A more adventurous option is a spicy appetizer called “La-Phing,” a Tibetan street food made from mung beans, covered in an addictive-but-will-burn-your-mouth chili sauce. To cool off after sampling, try the butter tea.

sycamore

Photo credit: Facebook/Sycamore Brooklyn

Drinks: Sycamore
1118 Cortelyou Rd., Brooklyn, NY 11218

For years, Sycamore has been the go-to quirky neighborhood bar/flowershop that just happens to have a huge whiskey selection. It gets bonus points because you actually have to walk through the flowershop to get to the booze. And even though it doesn’t officially have a kitchen, Sycamore now hosts a rotating pop-up Flatbush Food Court in their garden alongside other food- and drink-related events.

Late Night Noshes: Bashi Channel
1120 Cortelyou Rd., Brooklyn, NY 11218

The grand opening of Asian-fusion restaurant Bashi Channel in May marked an important step in the Ditmas Park dining scene: late nights. Other than the inconsistent halal or taco cart, there was always a dearth of delicious food on Cortelyou Road past 11 p.m. Savory ramen and dumplings await you behind their heavy wooden front door. They’re open until midnight for now, and Bashi’s owners have already said that they’d like to keep the food flowing even later if there’s enough neighborhood demand. It’s up to you, Ditmas!

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Tove Danovich is a food and agriculture journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a contributor to Modern Farmer, Miracle of Feeding Cities, Civil Eats, and others. Follow her on Twitter or visit her website.