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Eat and Drink

Sunset Park dining guide: Where to eat in the Brooklyn neighborhood

Only in a neighborhood like Sunset Park can you find such diametrically opposite cultures living harmoniously together. To the west of Fifth Avenue, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Peruvians and all manner of Latin Americans have made their homes, spreading the gospel of tacos and tortas. On the eastern side, Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian and other Asian Americans have filled up the streets with bubble tea outposts and dim sum halls.

Today, these lines are more blended than ever as the population grows and communities expand. Fortunately for foodies, that translates to a unique medley of cuisines, all within walking distance of each other.

Hop on the D-N-R to 36th Street and let’s get eating.

Mister Hotpot

Remember those Subway ads that promised you could
Photo Credit: Mister Hotpot

Remember those Subway ads that promised you could stack your sandwiches with "everything you like and nothing you don't"? Think of Mister Hotpot like Subway on steroids. Choosing the broth here is simple: There is only spicy and non-spicy. Beyond that, the options are endless. The menu offers nine versions of beef, six versions of pork, a whopping 17 variations of seafood, and almost four dozen "other" choices from boneless duck feet to pork small intestine.

Don't go too crazy; the prices here can get steep. On the other hand, the club-like interior, sultry lighting and pop music blaring through the speakers could make for the perfect Friday night blowout with a large group of friends. (5306 Eighth Ave., 718-633-5197)


Few restaurants in New York City do Malaysian
Photo Credit: Nyonya / Jordan Cheah

Few restaurants in New York City do Malaysian food; even fewer do it as well as Sunset Park's Nyonya. Thai, Indian and Vietnamese influences come together splendidly at this heavily wooded franchise establishment to create a menu fit for any adventurous foodie looking to get away from pad thai and tandoori chicken.

At Nyonya, it's best to head straight for the roti canai (pictured), crispy pancakes with a side of curry dipping sauce that's practically Malaysia's national dish. The achat, pickled vegetables sprinkled with nuts, and the sarang burong, a unique-looking meal made with fried taro and stuffed with shrimp, chicken and vegetables, are also deeply satisfying meals.

Come early if you want to sit in for lunch or dinner as Nyonya fills up quickly during rush hour. Strictly vegetarian? Not anymore. Almost everything at Nyonya comes with meat or fish. Even the "Vegetables" section features items like bean curd Thai style, which is topped with minced pork. (5323 Eighth Ave., 212-334-3669)

Ines Bakery

Though Ines Bakery boasts an extensive variety of
Photo Credit: Ines Bakery

Though Ines Bakery boasts an extensive variety of delectable pastries, cakes and cookies, it is always the tres leches cake that is on the cusp of being sold out. During lunch hour and after school, the little Mexican bakery on Fourth Avenue -- at the northern edge of Sunset Park at 36th Street -- fills up quickly with customers, young and old, eager to satisfy their sweet tooths with this classic, south-of-the-border dessert.

But to write off Ines Bakery as simply a pastry shop would be a disservice to the real star of the menu here. That award goes to the torta, savory sandwiches made with the softest of breads baked in-house. Each one is perfectly toasted, generously stuffed with an array of meats, cheeses, spices and beans, and comes with a free can of soda. Of course, quesadillas and burritos are also suitable backup options if you're looking for a quick bite. (948 Fourth Ave., 718-788-0594)

Tacos El Bronco

With tacos at $1.50 a pop (for the
Photo Credit: Polly Higgins

With tacos at $1.50 a pop (for the small size), it's no wonder that Tacos El Bronco reigns over not just one, but three areas of Sunset Park. Most people know the two trucks that sit along Fifth (pictured) and Ninth avenues, dishing out paper plate after paper plate of tacos to a never-ending line of hungry customers. But Tacos El Bronco also has a brick-and-mortar shop on Fourth Avenue near 45th Street where the scene gets just as crowded. There's more to choose from at the restaurant than at the truck, like breakfast, meat and rice dishes, seafood, and dessert. But with almost two dozen taco varieties, all cheap in price yet rich in quality, it's hard to notice anything else on the menu. (4323 Fourth Ave., 718-788-2229)


Now that bubble tea and matcha have been
Photo Credit: TBaar

Now that bubble tea and matcha have been firmly implanted into the American food vernacular, TBaar's neon green exterior has become a beacon for Sunset Park locals eager to jump on the bandwagon. This store is one of two in the neighborhood -- and among the many located across country -- serving up tapioca-rich teas, thick smoothies, fresh juices and more. Matcha aficionados will particularly enjoy TBaar's mille crepe matcha cake, a rich, cream-laden pastry that's practically a meal in itself. Service here is pretty fast, most likely a consequence of how quickly the corner shop fills up with young customers. (4823 Eighth Ave. and 6317 Eighth Ave., 347-350-3522)

Park Asia

Like East Harbor Seafood Palace and Pacificana just
Photo Credit: Park Asia

Like East Harbor Seafood Palace and Pacificana just a few blocks over, Park Asia's grand, L-shaped dining room is a hall fit for a wedding banquet. The ambience at this dim sum eatery on Eighth Avenue, however, is a bit more subdued than its more bustling counterparts. Many locals will even argue that the dumplings here are prepared better, the siu mai (shrimp and pork dumplings) full of flavor, the skin of the har gau (shrimp dumplings) perfectly delicate and translucent. For other traditional, Cantonese-style dishes, try the chicken feet or spare ribs with black bean sauce. (6521 Eighth Ave., 718-833-1688)

Green Fig Cafe and Bakery

Come for the coffee and bagels, stay for
Photo Credit: Green Fig Cafe and Bakery

Come for the coffee and bagels, stay for the Caffè Latte alla Nocciola and Bello Ragazzo sandwiches. Green Fig Cafe and Bakery is deli fare taken to the next level. Tourists love this cute little bakery for its proximity to the 36th Street express subway station. Locals love it for its plentiful vegetarian and vegan options, like the Ladybug Sandwich (mixed greens, avocado, roso balsamic glaze) and the Green Leaf Sandwich (mixed cheeses, arugula, raisins, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil).

If the crowd is thin, grab a seat on the second floor to have your food delivered via dumbwaiter -- it's cute and efficient. After lunch, choose from a wide variety of cookies and pastries. Although some, like the $4.20 shortbread fig bar, might have you rethinking dessert. (462 36th St., 718-369-8937)

Ba Xuyên

What this cash-only Vietnamese shop lacks in ambience,
Photo Credit: Trenda Bran

What this cash-only Vietnamese shop lacks in ambience, it more than makes up for in flavor. Ba Xuyên is famous for its banh mi, savory Vietnamese sandwiches packed with mouthwatering combinations of meat and the restaurant's signature mix of pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumbers and cilantro. If made incorrectly, banh mi can be overly crusty if the baguette is too hard, or messy and wet if the sauces are too liberally applied. But Ba Xuyên gets it just right, with expert proportions attracting droves of people around lunchtime.

Popular options here include the banh mi thit nuong (grilled pork with pate and butter) and the banh mi xiu mai (meatballs in tomato paste). For drinks, try the avocado shake, a creamy concoction that's more sweet than savory, or a simple iced coffee made with condensed milk. (4222 Eighth Ave., 718-633-6601)


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