Historic Brooklyn Neighborhood Guide

Historic Brooklyn Neighborhood Guide

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Originator of the city's recent bahn-mi craze, the final resting place of Basquiat, and home to one heck of a cool bowling alley, Sunset Park is a neighborhood with countless charms.

20 Places
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    There was a time, long, long ago when Brooklyn was full of bowling alleys. Now only a few remain and this one, in the same spot since 1958, is the real thing. Steve Buscemi stopped by last month and if you go, you can get a pitcher of Bud for $10 at the old school bar.
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    This 13,000-square-foot beer garden features 60 beers on tap, a seasonal menu, a bocce court and special events including pig roasts.
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    The name is a bit of an overstatement since there are others in the borough and this one isn’t all that tiki-ish, but there are some powerful tropical drinks. A DJ and an outdoor space make it popular with locals.
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    This is pinata central with lots of choices. Besides paper plates and wrapping paper and all the usual, the store has bins and bins of the kinds of things you need to decorate a cake or make a centerpiece.
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    Step into this large, spotless space and you’re in Mexico. But it’s the food that makes it so popular. Oven- roasted goat, at $13, is the most expensive entree.
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    The vibe at Zona Sur is New American and reflects Italian, Central and South American influences — “we serve all the dishes that we love to cook.” The most popular dishes so far are the huevos rancheros and chicken torta.
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    Dishes are served family style at Sunset Park's go-to spot for Cantonese cuisine. You'll get the most out of a visit if you come here with a large group and share appetizers and entrées. Try the signature dish: the Pride of Lucky Eight, a seafood stir-fry with abalone, squid, and scallops. The lunch special—three dishes for less than $20—is a steal.
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    Indulge your sweet tooth with slices of cake at this Latin bakery, open since the 1970s and these days run by the children of its founding family. The bakers fashion a silky tres leches cake, but also somehow manage to slip in two more milks to create a cinco leches extravaganza, itself worth a trip here. Open 24 hours, the bakery also makes sandwiches, doughnuts, cookies, and many other cakes.
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    For unbeatable cheap eats, take a slight detour off 8th Avenue to this unassuming dumpling house. Its sparse dining room doesn’t offer much in the way of atmosphere, but the four-for-a-dollar pork-and-leek dumplings are a real deal (and the real deal). Other deliciously affordable fare includes scallion pancakes, steamed buns, and beef noodle soup. You'd be hard-pressed to spend more than $10 for a filling meal here.
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    For a traditional dim sum brunch experience, visit this Sunset Park Chinatown institution. Not much English is spoken, so be ready to take a guess and point at whichever plates look good as servers wheel them on carts through the cavernous restaurant. Local families with young children pack this place; the atmosphere is chaotic but great fun. Arrive early on weekend mornings, or expect a long wait.
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    One in a row of traditional Chinese bakeries along 8th Avenue, this busy café is a good stop in the morning or afternoon for a pastry and a sweet milk tea. Savory and sweet treats are available, from Chinese classics like the flaky egg tarts and steamed buns to raisin twists and airy slices of green-tea sponge cake. At only $1 apiece, try as many as your appetite allows. Get your snack to go, or try to nab one of the few small tables.
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    A hole-in-the-wall at the north end of Chinatown, this place serves oustanding bánh mì sandwiches that cost just $5. Try the No. 1, with several kinds of pork, pickled vegetables, and a mound of cilantro on a baguette that's perfectly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Order one to go, with an avocado shake, and enjoy lunch alfresco in Sunset Park, just a block away.
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