7 Incredible Sandwich Spots Near Brooklyn's Best Parks
A view of Brooklyn Bridge | © Squidocto / Pixabay
You have a simple plan in mind for a sunny day off in Brooklyn – grab a takeout lunch and eat it in the park. The question is, where? Before you go down the Googling-and-mapping rabbit hole, check out these seven perfect sandwich and park pairings. No matter which part of Brooklyn you’re in, or what kind of sandwich you’re craving, this shortlist has you covered.
Restaurant, Sandwich Shop, American, $$$
Chicken isn’t just on the menu at Purbird, it is the menu. This place takes its birds seriously, and the dedication shows in the unbelievably juicy flame-grilled chicken that finds its way into the sandwiches. The exceptional chicken burger makes you wonder why you’ve been so obsessed with the beef version your whole life: The hot, perfectly spiced chicken patty arrives on a buttery brioche topped with sweet grilled onions and Purbird’s signature sauce. Another must-order sandwich here is the chicken thigh wrap, which rolls up the tender, chargrilled red meat with pickled onions and sauerkraut-style cabbage. Round out your order with one of the multiple types of mac and cheese, mashed potatoes or French fries on the menu. Once you’ve got your takeout order, walk a few blocks from the corner of Sixth Avenue and Flatbush up to Grand Army Plaza, and enter Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s 526-acre wonderland of lawns, forests and trails. Find the nearest picturesque spot on the grass, and get to work on your sandwich while it’s still hot.
Banh Mi Place
Restaurant, Sandwich Shop, Vietnamese, $$$
Craving banh mi? Just remember this straightforwardly named spot and you’ll be in excellent shape. It’s hard to find a better stateside version of the Vietnamese sandwich than Bahn Mi Place’s classic, which arrives on a crisp baguette smeared with mayo and butter and layered with exactly the right amount of roasted ground pork, Vietnamese ham and pate: not overstuffed, not stingy. The cucumber, pickled carrot and cilantro make each bite of your sandwich perfectly sweet and sour, salty and meaty – everything you’d want from a banh mi. You can also find chicken and seafood versions here, and vegetarians get an impressive roster of meatless adaptations. Since the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is just a couple of blocks away, plan to take your banh mi in a bag and walk on over. Hint: The garden offers free admission on Friday mornings until noon for most of the year, and Banh Mi Place opens at 11:30am; time your visit right and you can eat in your sandwich in a beautiful al fresco setting.
Luke's Lobster Brooklyn Bridge Park
Restaurant, Sandwich Shop, American, $$$
The views of Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park are so hypnotic, the idea of gazing up at the skyline while indulging in a lobster roll from Luke’s is almost too much. Human life may be nasty and brutish, but not at the particular moment when you’re staring at the blue sky, the sailboats and the two bridges—Brooklyn and Manhattan—while diving into a buttery roll layered with fresh lobster chunks and lemony mayo. Luke’s, now a national chain with multiple locations around New York, has been dishing out some of the city’s best rolls ever since they opened in Manhattan’s East Village in 2009. The portions are generous (there’s a quarter pound of wild-caught shellfish in the lobster, shrimp or crab rolls), but these rolls still tend to disappear in a few quick mouthfuls. Better to eat your sandwich very slowly, breaking after every bite to stare at the cinematic vista in front of your eyes.
Restaurant, American, $$$
epic fried chicken and waffle sandwich will make you want to do one of two things: pass out immediately, or go for a five-mile run. That makes Williamsburg’s 35-acre McCarren Park
—just a couple of blocks away—an ideal place to consume one. Grab a takeout sandwich stuffed with juicy pieces of bird flavored with a molasses-bourbon glaze, spiced up with crunchy jalapenos, layered with blackeyed pea spread, and held together by two fluffy waffles. (A vegetarian fried-chicken version even exists here.) Then sprawl out on one of McCarren’s lawns, your front seat for prime Williamsburg people-watching. You can always go for that run later. Or never.
Cafe, Sandwich Shop, Coffee Shop, Contemporary, $$$
This Fort Greene coffee shop inspires cultish loyalty among locals, who march over every morning to stand in the long line (often with their dogs in tow) and make pre-caffeinated small talk with neighbors. But it’s not just the intense, aromatic La Colombe coffee that keeps regulars coming back. BitterSweet also serves a small menu of excellent sandwiches, especially the salami with salted butter and the popular Hangover Helper (Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, fried sage and boiled egg). To get your hands on one, arrive before the place closes at 5pm, and ideally before the lunch rush, when the sandwiches often sell out. Meatless eaters can opt for the crunchy apple, brie and arugula sandwich. Once you’ve finally got your lunch and coffee in hand, your work is done – Fort Greene Park, with its rolling hills and Prison Ship Martyrs Monument (built in 1908 to commemorate the Revolutionary War), is just down the street.
Market, Sandwich Shop, American, $$$
is mainly a specialty foods shop, but it also happens to serve some of Brooklyn’s most exciting sandwiches. The Peking duck banh mi alone is sufficient reason to stop by, but the menu at the bar and deli in the back offers other unmissable options too, like the roast beef with horseradish cream, the New Orleans shrimp po’boy, and the veggie sandwich of creamy burrata and heirloom tomatoes. Grab a pint from the heavily curated craft beer list and drink it in the backyard while you wait for your lunch order, then find a peaceful lawn to eat it on at the Pratt Institute
campus a few blocks away. The landscaped grounds of this renowned art and design school are home to a rose garden, a rotating collection of more than five dozen outdoor sculptures, and stately 19th-century red-brick buildings.
Defonte's Sandwich Shop
Sandwich Shop, Italian, $$$
No other sandwich spot in New York City makes an Italian hero quite like Defonte’s
. Nearly a century since it opened in Brooklyn in 1922, Defonte’s still draws crowds at its original Red Hook location (and newer branch in Staten Island). The menu lists nearly every permutation of Italian hero ingredient you can dream up, from salami to chicken parm, prosciutto, mozzarella, meatballs, potatoes, eggs and much more. Or you can simply invent your own combo. Stumped? Get the signature Nicky Special, which goes all out with its layers of salami, capicola, ham, provolone, fried eggplant, marinated mushrooms and assorted condiments. If you’re with a group, plan to split a few different sandwiches, and move your party to nearby Coffey Park. The recently renovated, compact eight-acre green space offers picnic tables, lawns, playgrounds for kids, and a relaxed place for soaking in the rhythms of Red Hook
, one of Brooklyn’s most tenaciously out-of-the-way neighborhoods.
These recommendations were updated on July 24, 2018 to keep your travel plans fresh.