Hometown Barbecue feels like a well-loved, terribly-kept secret, serving some excellent smoked meat in a massive space on the Red Hook waterfront.
'Red Hook' on Serious Eats
Hurricane Sandy may have delayed the opening of Court Street Grocers' Red Hook hero shop, but the wait paid off. The counter service shop, an offshoot of the Carroll Gardens original, offers spins on American classics like roast beef, Italian combos, breakfast sandwiches, and other regional specialties—all on crisp, airy hero bread from Caputo's.
Nearly 12 months after it was supposed to open, Hometown Barbecue has arrived in Red Hook. Here's our first taste of the 'cue, which, despite its possible flaws, holds great promise.
Marcos Lainez and his family have run the city's best pupusa business (and just announced Vendy-finalist) for decades. Serving 18 variants of the Salvadoran staple, El Olomega personifies the Red Hook Ball Fields Vendors—a family forged in food at the edge of a soccer field.
In addition to the typical corn-based Salvadoran griddle cakes, this pupusa star is doing some incredible things with plantains.
On Saturdays and Sundays from April to late October, street food and Latin American food lovers of all stripes flock to Red Hook Park's ball fields to savor foods from the legendary Red Hook Food Vendors. Since 1974, vendors have operated on the edges of the park on Clinton and Bay Street. But this year is different. In the words of veteran vendor Marcos Lainez from El Olomega Pupusas, "This is the beginning and it could be the end."
The flood waters of hurricane Sandy were deceptively cruel to the Red Hook seafood restaurant. "At first, it seemed like all items above the flood line were okay," says chef Kevin Moore. "We thought we'd replace the sheetrock, the wainscoting... but then we noticed the floor tiles were buckled, and the fear of mold became paramount... there was a dull quiet in the place like the life had drained with the sea." But after a long rebuilding period, the restaurant, which opened in 2008, has returned.
Some good news from Red Hook: after months of post-Sandy repairs, two neighborhood favorites—Fairway and Red Hook Lobster Pound—are back in business as of today.
Hurricane Sandy devastated low-lying Red Hook when it surged through the metropolitan area on October 29th, destroying property and forcing two neighborhood supermarkets to close. Now, workers at Added Value Farm are organizing ways to get fresh food back into the kitchens of Red Hook residents. Those at the farm see food justice and food availability as key issues in the neighborhood's rehabilitation.
One of the hardest hit neighborhoods during Sandy, parts Red Hook have slowly been springing back to life, reopening restaurants and bars in bits and pieces. While places such as the iconic Sunny's Bar are still closed, others are open, albeit with limited services or menus. The beloved dive bar Brooklyn Ice House is one such place
Sam Sifton may have left the New York Times' Dining section, but has hasn't stopped eating out. The now-National Editor tells us where to eat in his Red Hook neighborhood and beyond, including a sandwich "best consumed with a Manhattan Special coffee soda and two tabloid newspapers in 30 minutes or less, sitting in the front seat of an American-built vehicle."
Never been to Red Hook? It's a neighborhood that feels like it's made for lazy summers. Part home to small industry, part seaside town, all tightly knit community, it's home to some pretty special bites and incredible views. We paid a visit recently to hit up some of our favorite bites and make some new finds. Follow along on our crawl.
Here's the thing about Brooklyn Crab: it's the Epcot Center version of crab shacks. The waits are long. The service is questionable. Parents bring their young children. And the seafood will not change your life. But if you arrive with low expectations, few plans, are willing to hang out with a pitcher or two of cheap beer while you wait for your table (or if you have one of those young children), you can have a lovely time here, and a surprisingly tasty fried oyster sandwich.
If you happen to end up in Red Hook—whether by bus, bike, or long sketchy walk across the BQE from Carroll Gardens—Fort Defiance welcomes you with open arms, your journey rewarded with delicious cocktails and hearty food. Café by day, bar by night, Fort Defiance serves smart but simple fare befitting its artisanal-minded neighbors.
The Red Hook ballfields might not be the first venue that pops into mind for weekend brunching. But hey, if you don't mind queuing up at a different truck for each course (and between elotes, huaraches, and pupusas, there will be multiple courses) and if you appreciate free entertainment courtesy of the ballfield matches, then it's a fun outing.
There is no lack of entertainment in and around Rhinebeck, the pretty little town about an hour and forty-five minutes north of New York. Between grand estates, lovely hikes, welness centers, Gehri-designed art performance center, and even a very cool art film theater, New Yorkers will find plenty to do during a weekend or day trip. But who really needs entertainment when there is so much to eat in Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Tivoli?
It's no secret that we at Serious Eats love Baked in Red Hook (they won our search for the best cupcake in NYC in 2011). Since Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito opened Baked in 2005, the duo has been churning out baked goods tasty enough for the trek out to Red Hook.
If this were a competition, the pork, cheese, and jalapeno pupusa would definitely win.
There are only four seats at The Good Fork's bar, but if you can score one of them, some of the best small plates in the city can be yours. On a recent Friday night, every table was booked for dinner, but I sidled up to the bar with three friends to try some appetizers and sides at this Red Hook New American-Korean joint.
The Muffaletta ($10) at Fort Defiance defies normal sandwich proportions.