La Flor Bakery
If you're feeling less than yourself—sick, hungover, or just in need of a sandwich hug—check out the breakfast-ish torta at La Flor Bakery. The pillowy soft, slightly sweet bread is stuffed with creamy eggs, bits of ham, refried beans, onions, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and a generous squirt of crema. It's all about creaminess four ways: tender egg, ripe avocado, beans, and slightly tangy cream. This isn't the most flavorful or balanced torta you'll find, but it's total comfort food in the best of ways. Crisp iceberg adds just enough crunch to keep it interesting.
4021 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (map); 718-633-1254
Freshly squeezed orange juice is frothy to the point of creamy, just sweet enough and almost like an Orange Julius all on its own.
El Tesoro Ecuatoriano
Right next door to La Flor is El Tesoro Ecuatoriano, an Ecuadorian restaurant with purple lighting, a disco ball, and interior design not out of place in a Doctor Who episode from the '70s. It's just the place to visit once you've settled your stomach with an egg monster sandwich. A plate of popcorn comes free before your order, along with a cup of fruity, creamy, slightly hot sauce. This is a common beach snack in Ecuador, and it's easy to see why. It went real fast at our table.
4015 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (map); 718-972-3756
More of a ketchup-spiked cold soup than the ceviche we're used to, this is an Ecuadorian version of the dish with crisp, tender shrimp, onion, tomato, and crunchy corn nuts. It comes with rice, but it's better augmented by leftover popcorn (and that addictive hot sauce). This is the antidote to all the gross heat summer has to offer.
Puebla Mini Market
The small, straightforward tacos make a decent snack on the way to larger meals. The barbacoa is tender with crisp edges; not the most goat-y, but that's what lime juice and pickled chilies are for.
Taqueria El Maguey
Okay, some more tacos—from Taqueria El Maguey, which has some cute benches outside for eating on the sidewalk. Of the four we sampled (toungue, ear, carnitas, and nopales), crisp, chewy pig's ear was the clear winner. Cartilage lovers, rejoice.
3910 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (map); 718-768-2846
Tacos El Bronco
Does anyone else really love sopes? The small shallow fried masa snacks are like little disks of love. "Regulares" here are topped with refried beans and two kinds of cheese: simple bites with crisp exteriors and moist innards. They're satisfying plain, but sing with the verdant green hot sauce. Tacos El Bronco also has a truck with a limited menu of tacos and birria on the weekends; you'll need to head to the taqueria for these sopes.
You'll see vendors scraping blocks of ice by hand all over. The sno-cones are a little more chunky than your ideal shaved ice, but they're plenty refreshing. Tamarind and coconut work well together.
The same excellent chipotle sauce as the Orientales, but with gamey lamb in a larger flour tortilla that's better suited to the messy filling. It also solves the major problem at Ricos: stiff, stale corn tortillas that aren't worth eating. This is one of the best tacos I've had in Sunset Park.
It's also worth noting that the outdoor seating at Ricos is lovely. If I lived nearby, I'd hang out there weekly with a soda and a taco while watching the summer go by.
Served in a goblet to make Robert Baratheon proud, the "Mamey" tastes a little like a raspberry-cereal smoothie. There are several blended fruit drinks at Ricos; the mamey tastes a little unexpected, perhaps more creamy than you want on a hot day, but a nice drink nonetheless.
Case in point for the outdoor seating: the chance to meet this dude, who rescued a baby raccoon when its mother died and now strolls around the neighborhood with his adorable "pet" on his shoulder.