Tired of going all the way out to Red Hook for Steve’s Key lime pies? Or to the Lower East Side for a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s? Now you can get them both—plus paella and pierogi, báhn mi and burgers, olive oil cake and ice cream—in one spot in Downtown Brooklyn. The new DeKalb Market Hall in the lower level of City Point, a building that also houses Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn and a Trader Joe’s, is a lazy foodie’s dream.
But with 40—and counting—carefully curated vendors, most of them local Brooklyn entrepreneurs, where do you start? How do you order without food FOMO? We tasted our way through DeKalb to find the best booths, whether you’re looking for a savory snack or a sweet Swingle.
A Meat Lover’s Dream
Where to go: Katz’s Delicatessen
What to order: Pastrami on rye
The most popular and highly anticipated eatery in the market is Katz’s, making it’s outer-borough debut 129 years after opening in Manhattan. The current owner of the family-run business, Jake Dell, decided to open the DeKalb location to accommodate regular customers who had trouble getting to the Lower East Side. Your order of choice (other than the cult-fave hot dog) should be the pastrami on rye. Towering at almost a foot high, the sandwich overflows (in the best way) with 30-day cured meat crusted in salt and pepper, held together between perfect slices of rye bread slathered in mustard.
Small and Savory
Where to go: Guss’s Pickles
What to order: Half-sour pickle
There is a reason why sandwiches are served with a pickle on the side; it’s the perfect crunchy and savory complement, especially when it’s from Guss’s. After Izzy Guss immigrated to the U.S. more than 100 years ago, he started selling the now wildly popular pickles old-world style—out of the bucket—on the Lower East Side. At DeKalb, you can snag one for a dollar, fresh from the bucket like the good old days.
The Perfect Snack
Where to go: Arepa Lady
What to order: Arepa de choclo
You can’t miss the second permanent location of this Queens gem (the first being in Jackson Heights). Also, you literally can’t pass by without eyeing the massive neon sign boasting Maria Cano’s face (the former lawyer and judge better known as the Arepa Lady) and articles about her rise to street-food fame lining the stand’s exterior walls. On paper, the arepa de choclo is just ground fresh corn filled with white cheese, but it is so much more, especially if you decide to add any toppings or sauces. Bite into the cheesy, greasy, sweet yellow Colombian corncake…and you’ll get what all the hype is about.
For Veggie Lovers
Where to go: Two Tablespoons
What to order: Sun Bowl
For vegetarians, the most frustrating feeling is going to a restaurant and discovering that there is only one menu item you can eat. There’s no such problem at Two Tablespoons, a Manhattan-based pop-up (its first location is in the consistently busy Urbanspace Vanderbilt in midtown) committed to a delicious veggie-forward menu. On the recommendation of the cashier, I tried the seasonal Sun Bowl; the unlikely ingredients—hummus, roasted potatoes, sun-dried tomato paste, and olives—came together to create a well-balanced, deeply satisfying dish of complementary flavors, textures, and temperatures.
Where to go: Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies
What to order: The Swingle
Steve is a South Floridian transplant who opened his shop after visiting an “authentic” shop in Key West and discovering that other bakers were taking the simple and easy route when it comes to authenticity and freshness. After that trip, he has been committed to keeping the integrity in Key lime pies, juicing fresh limes, making all crusts from scratch, and using handheld baking materials instead of machinery. DeKalb is the only storefront outside of Red Hook to snag these delicious and fresh pies (but you can curb your citrusy craving via its online store and some specialty supermarkets). Steve’s is most famous for its Swingle, which is a miniature tart dipped in dark chocolate. Who doesn’t love when an unlikely duo are married to perfection?
Where to go: Bunker
What to order: Papaya salad (vegan or with beef jerky)
Never feasted on báhn mi (a Vietnamese baguette sandwich) or slurped Pho (Vietnamese noodle bowl filled with veggies, meat, and rice noodles)? You can’t go wrong with any of the flavorful combinations offered at Bunker, a Brooklynite favorite serving homestyle Vietnamese street food. Their beef pho is out of this world, but the day I went was as steamy as their noodles, so I ordered the cool vegan papaya salad instead—and didn’t regret it. Tossed with crispy tofu, red onions, tomatoes, peanuts, and sesame, the salad is a surprisingly filling sweet-and-savory snack or small meal.
DeKalb Market Hall
445 Albee Square West, Fort Greene
11 a.m.—9 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday; 11 a.m.—10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday