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.
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.
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.
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.