Bath Beach in one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn and one of the sunniest, too. Wedged between Coney Island and Bensonhurst, and adjacent to the sinister-sounding Gravesend, this neighborhood is notable for its range of good and cheap restaurants, and streets that rival a Middle Eastern bazaar in color and commotion. Just off the shopping main drag of 86th Street, you find neat houses with front-yard flower gardens competing with well-maintained red-brick apartment buildings for housing supremacy. You won't encounter hipsters searching for cocktail lounges.
Pause a moment to admire the view from the elevated D platform at Bay Parkway, then descend the stairs into the hubbub.
First stop is Istanbul (2202 86th Street, 718-714-4300), a corner storefront with blue tiles on the façade, a window into an open kitchen where several doner (a/k/a gyro) cylinders spin, and a pretty sidewalk cafe where customers sip their espressos and read Turkish newspapers. Grab a freshly cooked kebab (best is the oniony ground-lamb adana) or one of the composed salads or dips – many featuring eggplant.
Follow the subway tracks southeastward down 86th Street past a bewildering array of delis and restaurants, including a branch of the well-regarded Malaysian eatery Nyonya (2322 86th Street, 718-265-0888). You'll also note Chinese bakeries and duck shops, Italian butchers, Irish bars, and market stalls selling housewares and budget clothing hung out to flap in the cooling maritime breezes.
A few blocks from the station, Pho Tay Ho 86 is one of the city's better Vietnamese spots, offering a whopping 20 versions of pho and related soups, including renditions featuring egg noodles rather than rice stick, a favorite of the Mekong Delta region. Seafood fondues (hot pots) are a sideline.
Two blocks oceanward from the Bay Parkway D-train stop is a Central Asian neighborhood harboring what may be New York's only Kyrgyzstani restaurant, Café Avat (2158 Bath Avenue, 718-676-4667). The menu is similar to what you might find in a Uzbek cafe, with standards from other Silk Road destinations (Xinjiang, China for example) thrown in. Anything that comes in a bamboo steamer is fab, including the bulging lamb dumplings called manti, and the roll-ups of peppery potatoes in noodles served with red sauce called hanim. Expect the usual over-charcoal lamb rib and chicken kebabs, rice-pilaf "plov," plus some Russian stuff involving preserved fish and pickled vegetables. Anything featuring the homemade noodles called lagman – offered in several regional variations – is desirable. The meat may be halal, but this splendid place allows you to BYOB anyway.
For dessert, why not step down the block to Carvel (2166 Bath Avenue, 718-946-1020). Because nothing goes with summer in Bath Beach quite like a soft-serve cone dipped in sprinkles. And in case you wondered: the area is named for the English spa of Bath. In the 1920s this wealthy and fashionable neighborhood was known for its yacht clubs, resorts, and big-ticket restaurants. I bet the food is much better now.Read More