Pupusas from El Olomega at Red Hook Ball Fields
The Red Hook Ball Fields, and the ring of Latin American food trucks that surround them, are a neighborhood treasure, and offer some of the tastiest Latin American food in the city. We have a hard time resisting the Country Boys truck, with their quesadillas and huaraches the size of your face, but this time we fell to the siren call of the pupusa.
You may have seen these Salvadoran tortillas (stuffed with meat, cheese, beans, and more) at the Brooklyn Flea or Smorgasburg from vendors like Vendy award winner Solber Pupusas. But our favorites are the only-in-Red-Hook El Olomega. The line moves slowly here, but with good reason: they really take the time to griddle these puppies well and get some serious crisp on them. The tender masa innards stuffed with cheese, pork, and loroco, an edible flower with a flavor sort of like papalo, are pretty amazing. Cabbage salad, crema, and hot sauce come on the side.
Note that the Ball Fields will stay open Saturdays and Sundays through October, according to their website.
Fried Plantains from El Olomega at Red Hook Ball Fields
The fried sweet plantains, covered in both salty, crumbly white cheese and sour cream, are a must-order. The ripe plantains are fried until their edges turn crisp and the innards become custardy and candy-sweet. A flood of salty dairy keeps this just on the savory side, but only just.
Don't confuse these with fried green plantains, which while good, aren't the same.
Elotes from Juice Truck at Red Hook Ball Fields
The truck right on the corner by the entrance to the ball fields sells great agua fresca and elotes: charred corn on the cob, brushed with mayo, and dusted with salty cheese and chili. As good as food on a stick can get.
Fried Oyster Sandwich at Brooklyn Crab
As I wrote earlier this week, it's hard to recommend Brooklyn Crab without a heap of qualifiers. The waits can be painful, the staff inexperienced, the seafood not life-changing. But if you go with low expectations at an off hour with the commitment to have a good time, you can enjoy some lazy bites in the sun with a great view. Drink some pitchers of beer overlooking the water while waiting for your table, play some mini golf in the back, then tuck into this totally respectable fried oyster sandwich, so stuffed with bivalves you'll have trouble picking it up.
And if the waits are too long, or you're just not feeling the scene? Nearby you'll find...
Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie
Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie
There's a little patio in the front with picnic tables.
Key Lime Pie
Find a nearby nook overlooking the water, kick off your shoes, and take this little bite of summer for the perfect thing that it is.
Yup, that's a frozen mini pie, dipped in chocolate, and put on a stick. And it's awesome. If you want to really taste the delicacy of the lime, go for the naked pie; but this frozen chocolate wonder, pretty heavy on good quality dark chocolate, is at least worth a bite.
Why make the trip to Red Hook? Beyond the food, this.
Don't fill up too much at Steve's, because you'll need to save room for Baked. Seen here: a fudgy salty brownie, a malt-infused chocolate chunk blondie, a chocolate cloud cookie (rich enough to equal lesser brownies, but with a meringue-crisp crust), and cupcakes, lemon and red velvet.
Lard Bread at Mazzola Bakery
If you're going by bike, or are willing to hoof it a little, Carroll Gardens is well within reach of your Red Hook crawl, and will put you closer to the subway.
Near the border between the two neighborhoods you'll find Mazzola Bakery, which makes a lard bread that we're pretty obsessed with. There's salumi, provolone, and black pepper baked right into the slightly sweet, tender loaf.
Francesco's across the street, which was bought by Mazzola a few years ago, uses lard bread dough in one of their pizzas. They didn't have any on our visit, but we'll definitely be hitting it up next time.
About a block away is Brooklyn Farmacy, a new soda fountain painstakingly restored to look and feel like the sweet shops of old.
Egg Cream at Brooklyn Farmacy
There you'll find a proper Brooklyn egg cream, frothy with tiny bubbles and the ting of Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup. Egg creams are a disappearing species in New York; it's great to see a new place give them the respect they deserve.
Coffee Soda at Brooklyn Farmacy
Brooklyn Farmacy also does a very nice homemade coffee soda, which tastes like a less sweet and syrupy version of Manhattan Special.