photo credit: Noah Devereaux

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BrooklynRed Hook

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap EatsClassic EstablishmentSerious Take-Out Operation
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Defonte’s is the complete opposite of what you see popping up on so many Brooklyn corners. It’s not a cute sandwich shop on a cute Brooklyn street. It’s not new, it’s not trendy, and it’s nowhere near gluten-free. Instead, it’s an old school sandwicheria that specializes in homemade ingredients and big *ss heroes. Defonte’s doesn’t do its take on a classic. Defonte’s is the classic.

No frills, yes turkey gravy.

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This place, which has been open since 1922, is a deli, not a restaurant – no tables, no waiters – but the menu goes way beyond your normal spread of cold cuts. Between the trays of parmigiana and house-brined meats, you can legitimately come to Defonte’s for three meals a day without repeating the same taste twice.

We wrote that sentence and instantly realized how true it was that we set out to prove it: we started with the egg and potato on a sesame seed roll for breakfast, moved over to the Italian combo with extra hot peppers for lunch, and finished off strong with an eggplant parm for dinner. It was one of our best days of eating in a long time and we didn’t even go as big as we could have (see: the Giuseppe Special).

Good luck to whatever opens up next door.

Food Rundown

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Egg And Potato

Somewhere between a scramble and a frittata, this guy is served on an excellent, fresh sesame seed roll. Get peppers on top if you like. (Hint: you like.)

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Italian Combo

A classic at any Italian deli. Good meat and lots of it.

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Turkey With Turkey Gravy

The homemade, hand-carved turkey is aces, but the ladles of turkey gravy on top make it something else entirely. Turkey with turkey gravy, extra turkey gravy. You can say that here and get a “sounds good” instead of a “you have problems.” That’s special.

Pastrami With Pastrami Gravy

Aaaaand you can do it with pastrami too. God is good.

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Eggplant Parm

Great red sauce, great bread, and some damn fine eggplant. A bit sloppy, so not the best to eat as you walk, but otherwise a can’t miss.

Meatball Hero

If eggplant isn’t your thing, stay on the red sauce and get this instead.

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Giuseppe Special

The only thing better than eggplant parm or meatball parm is eggplant parm with meatball parm on top. No joke, and not on the menu for novelty. This is something anybody who cares about sandwiches should take seriously. Save it for a special occasion, AKA tomorrow.

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