If you walk to the bottom of Prospect Park, then take a left at Duck Island (which is a real place), eventually you’ll wind up in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. It’s not a huge neighborhood, but it has a couple of busy streets and a lot of good food. It’s also shaped more or less like a square. So whether you live in the area, or just hang out here occasionally because you like squares and islands named after ducks, here are all the places where you should be eating.
Aside from deodorant before junior prom and a three-pack of Tylenol PM before a red-eye flight, a meal at Peppa’s Jerk Chicken is the best use of $7 we know of. This counter-service spot serves a few different Caribbean dishes, but the jerk chicken is what you’re here for. A small portion, which is $7 and definitely enough food for one person, comes in a styrofoam container, and includes several pieces of juicy, smoky, charred meat over rice and beans. Definitely get at least one festival, too. They’re basically long, sweet hushpuppies, and they’re only $1 each.
If you need to have an impressive sit-down dinner in the neighborhood with people who occasionally try to make their own pasta, go to Camillo. It’s a nice-looking Roman restaurant with brick walls and little wooden tables, and they serve things like porchetta, octopus, and pinsas (a.k.a. oval pizzas). They also have your typical Roman pastas like carbonara and cacio e pepe, and there’s a bar where you can drink a negroni while eating any of these things.
For something Italian that’s a little more casual than Camillo, try Bonafini. It’s just one long room with a low ceiling, brick walls, and a single vintage speaker playing music in the corner, and the servers will probably know your name after a few visits. The pastas are pretty solid, and it’s a great spot for either a low-key date or a dinner with your kids when you need to get out of the house.
This casual Middle Eastern spot has about 10 tables and a few beers and wines available, but we like it best for takeout. It’s a block from the B/Q subway stop, so it’s a good place to grab a bite on your way into or out of the neighborhood, and it’s also within eyeshot of Prospect Park, in case you want to eat some shawarma at a picnic table while watching people walk their kids around on leashes. Whatever you order, make sure to ask for extra hot sauce.
Sure, subway directions and real estate knowledge are useful, but knowing where to find a high-quality BEC is just about the most important piece of neighborhood information you can have. In Prospect Lefferts Garden, PLG Coffee House is the spot. Order yours on a cheddar chive biscuit, and if you have time, eat it at a sidewalk table out front.
The people and food at MCG Grand Cafe make us want to set Google Flights notifications for Grenada right away. This small Caribbean spot on Nostrand doesn’t have much on the walls besides a few Grenadian flags, but the very friendly staff and chef will come make small talk if you look bored. The menu ranges from jerk chicken wings to lots of seafood dishes, and we particularly like the jerk salmon with mango salsa (which comes with rice and peas that help sop up the extra sauce). Keep this place in mind for takeout and delivery, too.
El Patron is a casual Mexican restaurant about a block away from Prospect Park. It has two connected spaces with a ton of big tables for groups, as well as some sidewalk seating during the summer. We particularly like the al pastor tacos and the fact that the chips and salsa are free, but there’s a huge menu of burritos, fajitas, and house-special tacos as well.
Come to this all-day cafe in the morning for a croissant BEC, or later on for pizzas topped with things like homemade meatballs and pickled chilis. The front room, which looks like a nondescript coffee shop, is a good place to have coffee and read a book on a couch or lounge chair, and the dining room and backyard are both good spots for a casual afternoon snack with a beer or glass of wine (but there are better places nearby for a full sit-down meal).
It’s 5pm, you’re having dinner a bit later, and you need a snack to hold you over. Go to De Hot Pot. It’s a Trinidadian spot serving doubles (flatbreads stuffed with chickpeas) that are mildly sweet, a little spicy, and less than $2 each. If you want something bigger, go for a roti stuffed with oxtail, goat, or some other kind of meat or vegetable. This place is perfect for a quick lunch or a takeout dinner you can eat on your couch - just keep in mind that it’s cash-only.
Risbo is a counter-service place that looks more like a nice Soho boutique than a restaurant. But it is, in fact, a restaurant, and it serves rotisserie platters with your choice of protein (like duck, lamb, or a whole roasted fish) plus some vegetable sides. If you want something a little lighter, get a grain bowl or salad - and there’s also a full bar in case you want a drink.
Silver Rice is a tiny, counter-service sushi spot on Flatbush Ave, and the menu has a few different rolls, sides, and chirashi bowls with things like tuna, salmon, and yellowtail. They also sell little paper coffee cups full of rice and raw fish, which are the perfect size when you need something between a snack and a meal. Seating is pretty limited, but the food here works best for takeout anyway.
If you’re looking for fried chicken and mac and cheese in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, you should be at Katie O’s. There are only a few tables inside, but it’s great for takeout, and if we made a ranking of potato salads in the city, theirs would be near the top. Just be aware that they make their fried chicken to order, and it takes around 20 minutes. So call ahead of time, or hang out in the little dining room and watch sports on the big flatscreen TV while you wait.
For an early-in-the-game date, your best move is Glou, a one-room wine bar serving small plates and mostly-natural wines. This dimly-lit corner spot has bar seating and a handful of small tables, and wherever you sit, the bartender/owner will come over to recommend wines and pour tastes from the unusual list. If the date goes well, take your relationship to the next level by ordering some food (you’ll find shareable small plates like escargots with grilled bread and lamb terrine with bacon and fig jam).
Parkside is the best place for a late-night sit-down meal in the neighborhood. The Neapolitan pizzas here range from standard pies to more creative ones topped with things like miso cod, and you can get food until 11pm during the week and midnight on the weekends. The bar, which does some very good house cocktails (we like the one with tequila, sherry, and black tea), is open even later - until 2am every day.