On one sunny morning recently, I was laid off. After the initial shock wore off and I figured out how to apply for unemployment, I decided to make the best of it. My first move: taking advantage of late-night inspiration. I’m an industrial designer, and like lots of creative people, my most productive stretch is from evening to the wee hours, so that’s when I work on my resume and portfolio. Waking up around 11 works out well, because while I can’t afford dinner prices at the trendy new places, I can still swing a $12 lunch. Here are some of my favorite new lunch haunts around Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights. What are yours?
662 Fulton St. (corner of South Elliot Place & Fulton St.) (Fort Greene)
Lunch: Monday – Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Deniz wins my award for the most food for your dollar, starting with an abundant bread basket, soft and fluffy straight out (free refills!) This Turkish Mediterranean joint’s lunch specials include a choice of entrée plus an appetizer, or soup or salad ($10.95). I’m a fan of their falafel plate entrée, which comes with large falafel balls surrounding a dollop of humus. As for the appetizers I like the lentil soup or the spinach tarator, or spinach sautéed with onions, garlic, homemade yogurt, and olive oil. Grab a window seat and don’t fill up too much on the bread!
Two locations (Fort Greene and Prospect Heights)
86 South Portland Ave. at Lafayette / 601 Vanderbuilt Ave at Bergen
Lunch: noon – 4 p.m.
If you love brunchy foods, Pequeña serves a few weekend brunch options during the week. Their Breakfast Burrito ($8.50) is a large tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, chipotle mayo, and pica de gallo, so big you can take home half. They also have lunch specials that come with rice and beans and free pico de gallo and chips, and range from $7-$9. For $1 more you can substitute their tasty homemade guacamole for pico. My lunch buddy Matt’s favorite is the Poblano Relleno Queso ($8), a huge poblano pepper filled with cheesy, spicy goodness. During lunch, margaritas are at reduced prices ($5), including the in-demand Grapefruit Habeñero margarita.
848 Fulton St, between Clinton Ave and Vanderbuilt Ave (Clinton Hill)
Lunch: 11:30a.m. – 4p.m. Everyday
I’ve been getting takeout from Fulton Thai for years. While they may have gone through many décor and menu changes, the food still remains the following: cheap, good, and fast. It’s packed for lunch, owing to a choice of 12 entrees and soup, salad and spring roll for only $7. Entrees come with your choice of chicken, pork, vegetable, or tofu, and various other meats and seafood cost $1-3 dollars extra. My favorites: the Thai Basil (stir-fried onion, string bean, bell pepper, and basil) and the Thai Cashew Nuts (stir- fried onion, cashews, broccoli, carrots, and scallions). Dishes come with a large helping of rice. I can also suggest trying their large appetizers like the Vegetable Pancakes ($4) which are small pancakes filled with mixed chives and flour and served with sweet soy sauce, this portion size is definitely big enough for a meal.
609 Franklin Ave. (Bed-Stuy), 644 Flatbush Ave. (Prospect Lefferts Garden) 884 Fulton St. (Clinton Hill)
Lunch: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
I’ve been ordering their peanut butter and avocado rolls for years (don’t knock it till you’ve tried ‘em): a perfect mix of sweet and salty. Lunch specials are a choice of an entrée served with Miso soup, garden salad and white or brown rice. The lunch bento box has one California Roll, One Harumaki, salad or Miso Soup and a choice of one of 12 options that include various types of teriyaki, katsu, tempura, or yakitori. My choice would be to go with the lunch special maki, which is a choice of two rolls for $7 or three rolls for $10 and comes with Miso soup or salad.
329 Flatbush Avenue (between Park Place and Prospect Place) (Prospect Heights)
Lunch: Noon – 4 p.m.
Meat-free enough for vegetarians, but tasty enough for meat eaters. This bright, spacious and relaxing Asian-y spot has 16 lunch specials, ranging from $6-$8, all including Miso soup, a spring roll, and brown rice (except for the noodle dishes). My favorite is their Sweet Citrus Soy Protein ($8) (served with kale and almonds) which I’m seriously addicted too. If you have any room left and want a treat to hit your sweet tooth, you must try the peanut butter bomb ($6.50) which is a delicious chocolate cake with peanut butter mouse icing. Really, who says you can’t take dates to lunch?