Who says “slow food” can’t be fast?
Personally, I’m always searching for a quick bite that’s tasty and healthy to boot — which is why I recently decided to go on a quest to find the best tasting, most sustainable fast food take-out spots in Brooklyn, the borough I call home. Here’s what I found (note, this list includes options for carnivores and vegans alike):
1. Radish (Williamsburg)
Not to be confused with Manhattan’s The Fat Radish, Radish of Williamsburg is at the top of my list for healthy take-out in Brooklyn. The restaurant and shop on Bedford Avenue serves a wide variety of seasonal foods that are exquisitely prepared with the freshest, local ingredients. You can’t go wrong with the lunch special — try the Free Range Chicken Tender Sandwich with house-made horseradish mayo, paired with the Signature Radish Salad (made with mangoes, poblano peppers and black sesame seeds) and house-made, unsweetened pomegranate soda. Your taste buds will be beaming and you’ll be left with energy to hop on your bike or peruse the neighborhood. (Note: Don’t miss the plentiful wall of Brooklyn-made artisanal food products for sale, including local honey and Irving Farm seasonal coffees by the bag.)
2. Brooklyn Larder (Park Slope)
Brooklyn Larder is the across-the-street daughter of Franny’s, the highly acclaimed pizza spot and Clean Plates critic’s pick. Specializing in cheese and provisions, the Larder features impressive sustainable picks by the pound, including poached local swordfish, Berkshire ham, and pork and fennel sausage. It’s the sides, though, that will win your heart, like the freekah and farro and borlotti bean salads, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, and polenta triangles. Their sandwiches are equally irresistible — try the speck and mozzarella panini or ham and gruyere sandwich with local McClure’s pickles. Enjoy your nibbles right there if you can snag a bar stool, or take a short walk over to Prospect Park; either way, just like Franny’s, Brooklyn Larder is worth a special trip into Brooklyn.
3. Nile Valley Eco-Juice & Salad Bar at Dekalb Market (Boerum Hill)
At Dekalb Market, temperature controlled shipping containers house its vendors in every season (except for a few months in the winter) — hence its nickname, “the Container Market.” Nile Valley is the healthiest option at the market by far, and arguably in most of Brooklyn: It’s menu is 100% organic, seasonal and vegan, featuring raw specialties that would make even the most die-hard carnivore swoon. The smoothies aren’t the only pick-me-ups — don’t miss the live raw pizza with dehydrated nut/seed crust (trust me, it’s delicious). Nile Valley is also the epitome of sustainability, as most of its produce comes straight from the Dekalb Market garden a few feet away.
4. Brooklyn Standard Deli (Greenpoint)
Brooklyn Standard may look like a standard New York deli, but its local, organic and seasonal offerings for vegans and carnivores alike make it stand out from the crowd. Here, the coffee is fair trade, and the only “creamer” you’ll find is organic milk. Vegans and vegetarians have a choice of nine different sandwiches; standouts include the Olive Tapenade, Portobello and my personal favorite, the BQE, which stars the Standard’s own house made hummus, tomato, cucumber, pickled red cabbage, romaine, and smoked red pepper remoulade on a toasted multigrain baguette. Flexitarians and carnivores will enjoy the organic BBQ Chicken Sandwich with vegan potato salad, crisp romaine lettuce, and house-made BBQ sauce (among other options). Pair your sandwich with house-made salads. While you’re at it, stock up on some local, organic, and seasonal groceries, such as Granola Lab granola and Long Island market vegetables. Though you may have to wait a few minutes longer for your food than you would at a typical deli, it’s well worth the wait at the Standard.
5. Purbird (Park Slope)
Pronounced “Purebird,” this Park Slope chicken joint is Brooklyn’s answer to Manhattan’s Dirty Bird To-Go. Pete and Christina Lekkas, longtime owners of Bay Ridge fine dining Greek restaurant Elia, have taken southern fast food to a new level with their specialty flame grilled, Amish, free-range, hormone/antibiotic free, vegetarian-fed chicken. Try the boneless, skinless chicken thigh, paired with tomatoes, sauteed cabbage and pickled onions inside a whole wheat wrap. Sides lean on the healthy side of southern fare, such as Whole Wheat Mac & Cheese, Creamed Spinach, and Vegetable of the day. KFC, eat your heart out, a new wave of southern fast food is on the bound.
Thinking differently about fast food yet? Try it for yourself and you won’t be disappointed. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of our Brooklyn guide for more tips like these!