I want to share one of my favorite budget food shopping destinations with you: Kings Highway, between Coney island Avenue and roughly East 20th Street, in Midwood. I would never have discovered it, but for the fact that I teach once a week down there.
To begin with, there’s a great little Turkish grocery store called King’s Gourmet (1508 Kings Highway, 718-376-1585), which sells fabulous olives, feta, breads and cold cuts, alongside shelves stocked with every kind of pickle and pepper. They also have lots of colorful snacks, candy (acres of Turkish Delight), nuts and juices (my favorite is visne—sour cherry).
Moving on, there are a number of fabulous Russian and Jewish grocery stores. In the latter category, I’m fond of Big Banana (1617 Kings Highway, 718-375-2579), (“You Ring, We Bring” is their motto, I believe). Lots of produce, hummus and other good stuff. In the former category, I just love Domino (1824 Kings Highway, 718-627-4008), which again has produce and lots of great imports, like all kinds of delicious pickled vegetables, condiments, juices and preserves from all over the former Soviet Union.
And they have a dazzling—actually rather intimidating—array of prepared foods. On one side are baked goods, savory items, and cheeses, and in the center are all manner of stuffed/roasted/cooked things along with tons of smoked fish and meat. In the back they have fresh fish. If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive just as they’re taking fresh bread out of the oven. The prices are fantastic—it’s Zabar’s quality at a fraction of the price. Caveat: you won’t find organic produce in any of these places. But there are plenty of things that don’t need to be organic.
There are a bunch of other places around there, both of the Russian and the older Jewish type, that are excellent, I just can’t remember their names. To do one price comparison, at the Flatbush Food Coop, gefilte fish is something $8 bucks a jar, which is just criminal. Down there, it’s about $4. And right across the street from Domino is Memo Shish Kebab, (1821 Kings Highway, 718-339-8001), where you can get a sandwich the size of a bike helmet, on fluffy Turkish bread, and split it with a friend while you watch Turkish TV. Best is when there’s a soccer game on and the place is full of fans. And Kings Highway has a lot of fun discount clothes and housewares, too. I have heard, however, that the shoes there are overpriced. My Russian students told me that.
On Coney Island Avenue itself, right around the corner from Kings Highway, is the best Turkish restaurant I’ve ever been to, Taci’s Beyti (1955 Coney Island Ave., 718-627-5750)/ It’s half the price and ten times better than any joint in Manhattan. It’s as good as the food in Istanbul.