Talde, Dale Talde's popular, irreverent restaurant in Park Slope, is many things to many people. For locals, it's the corner pub that fills otherwise dull weeknights with great wings, pretzel dumplings, and lemongrass-flavored branzino. For Top Chef tourists (and some hungry but provincial Manhattanites), it's one of the few restaurants that will send them into Brooklyn.
With a menu that's equally suited to cheap, casual meals and big celebratory experiences, Talde's kept a crowd of regulars and newcomers lining up at the door since it opened two years ago. This is well deserved success, but a bummer if you stop by for dinner and find a two hour wait for a table. Fortunately Park Slope has you covered—here are some low-key alternatives for a meal.
Just Around the Corner
Applewood pre-dates Talde by eight years, and it's taken that time to settle into a comfortable groove of farm-to-table Italian that's familiar but hardly boring. There's a pasta with spicy tomato and mustard jus buried beneath a lump of fatty head cheese to keep your attention, a dish that almost tastes like something Talde would cook were he riffing on Italian one night.
More Neighborhood Spots
Talde's such a fun place because it's a neighborhood joint that's low on pretense (see .gif up top for chef Talde's general attitude). Head a few blocks south and you'll find South Slope's version of the same: Lot 2. The food here is New American, not Talde's brand of Americanized Asian, but the cocktails, pickled things, and spectacular burger (one of my favorites in the city) will have you too happy to care.
Closer by is Thistle Hill Tavern, a pubby neighborhood restaurant with a kitchen now coincidentally run by Talde. But if the southeast Asian flavors Talde draws on are what's calling you, consider hitting up Java, an Indonesian restaurant that specializes in rijsttafel, a 20-course feast of small bites like beef rendang, cod coconut curry, and shrimp with shrimp paste. The food is hit or miss, but it's a good place for an affordable, frenetically varied meal with a crowd.
If you've decided to wait out your table at Talde, there are plenty of bars where you can do so, and many offer solid food to tide you over if need be. A couple avenues over by Prospect Park you'll find The Double Windsor, an archetypical neighborhood bar with great craft beer, a solid burger, and a dark wood, clubby-yet-approachable feel not unlike Talde.
There's also Der Kommissar, a German/Austrian beer hall with a sausage-heavy menu and outdoor seating in warmer months, and Dram Shop, which features billiards, darts, and tabletop shuffleboard in addition to a bar menu starring a fatty, salty burger.
What are your local favorites in this part of Park Slope? Share them in the comments.