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Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Eli Collins' South Slope and Greenwood Heights

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Eli Collins' culinary path wasn't exactly traditional: he studied painting and spent a summer in the South of France, which awakened a passion for French cuisine. Luckily, he had a talent for food as well as art, and after working in the Oak Room and Bar at the Plaza, he landed a job as part of the opening team at Daniel Boulud's DBGB. As Executive Chef, he's known for both his hefty sausages and warming, hearty work with vegetables. A study in contrasts, it's fitting that Eli lives with his family in an unusual intersection of Brooklyn: in between Greenwood Cemetery and Park Slope, in a tight neighborhood called Greenwood Heights, or maybe South Slope, depending on who you ask.

Eli's Picks

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D.O.C. [Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Pizza: Toby's Public House has a great pub feel with a fantastic wood oven pizza. It's a good place for my family and me, because it's not a big deal if we get a little rowdy. I go with the D.O.C. (buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and basil), or the quattro formaggi (they put gorgonzola dolce on it, which is really nice). They usually have a pretty seasonal and local selection of beer on draft. If someone comes into town, we usually take them to Toby's, because it's interesting: a bar atmosphere in a pizza restaurant.

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Dram Shop's cheeseburger [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Burger: Dram Shop has a fast food style burger, like Shake Shack or Five Guys, that's two thin patties cooked on the griddle, served on a potato roll. It's kind of a surprising place to have that burger, since its just a little bar that you wouldn't expect to have a good hamburger like that. Being the chef at DBGB and serving burgers all the time that are sort of considered upper-class burgers, I sometimes crave a fast food-style burger.

Coffee: Roots Cafe is a quiet place to hang out. The owner is always behind the counter, and there's a lot of local musicians that hang there, because there's a studio next door. They serve Stumptown, so their coffee is the best choice in the neighborhood. In the morning I get a drip coffee with cream, but on my day off, I go later in the afternoon for a latte, because I'll usually have had two coffees by then.

Bagel: I go to the Bagel Factory every day for coffee, bagels, or lunch with my son. It's at the bottom of my street so it's very convenient, and the guys behind the counter are super friendly. They know me there; they call me "the chef." On my day off, I usually stop in for an everything bagel with cream cheese, or a bacon, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel. My son's go-to is a corn muffin, toasted with butter.

Delivery food: Nuevo Mexico is a pretty decent little Mexican place. I've never actually gone in there, but I found out about it when I read that the owners of Mile End go there. My wife and I always get a large cup of posole and the chorizo dip, which is chorizo, black beans, and queso fresco. It's like nachos; it's a little over the top, but it's good.

Dive bar: Freddy's Bar is a place that was originally over by where the Barclay's Center is. When I was a lot younger, I used to hang out there really late in the night. They re-opened just down the street from us a year or two ago. It's just a kind of old school New York bar hangout. They have live music there, and the beers are relatively inexpensive. It's a fun, rowdy place to hang out.

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Charred radicchio tartine at Brookvin [Photograph: Howard Walfish]

Wine bar: Brookvin is a wine bar with a really nice selection. They always have some tasty small plates: stuff on toast and good cheese. My wife and I go there on dates, and we munch on small plates and have a couple glasses of wine. Everything is really seasonal. They use a lot of stuff from the farmer's market by the park.

Chinese: Hunan Delight is just our local Chinese food place. I love their pad thai: I always order that and an egg roll. It's actually a nice place to sit down too, but we usually get delivery because it's a little further into Park Slope.

Austrian: I've been living in South Slope for four years, but before that, my brother lived here, and we used to hang out at Cafe Steinhof. They have nice Austrian food, especially a sausage and sauerkraut plate that's really good.

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Wedge salad [Photograph: Alice Gao]

Date night: Talde does a really nice job. When it opened, it was a great option in the neighborhood—nice to see someone who had a national rep open a casual, fun place to eat—but the food is really good. It's one of my favorite spaces—huge plate glass windows—it used to be a laundromat, and I remember thinking it was an awesome space. A little more serious and grown up, but the food is really fun. We really like the wedge salad with "sri-rancha" dressing.

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