In New York, there are good food neighborhoods and decent food neighborhoods, and then there are great food neighborhoods. Sunset Park is a great one. It has some excellent Yunnan, Szechuan, and Cantonese restaurants, and if you walk around long enough, you’ll find your new favorite Mexican, Salvadoran, and Vietnamese spots as well. It’s an ideal area for a fun group meal that might involve a whole fish in an enormous heated pan, and if you’re just looking for something to pick up and eat on your couch, it’s perfect for that as well. For all our top picks, check out this guide.
East Harbor Seafood Palace is our favorite dim sum spot in Sunset Park. Stop by with a group around noon on a weekend, and there will almost definitely be a wait - but the space is enormous, so you’ll probably be eating shrimp and watercress dumplings within 20 minutes of walking through the front doors. The beef ribs are especially good (and peppery) here, and the taro pork dumplings should be on your table. And if you’re eating later in the day, this place is also open for dinner with an expansive Cantonese menu.
One of the top dim sum spots in Sunset Park, Bamboo Garden makes some especially good siu mai and har gow - but the roast meats are why we keep coming back. You’ll see duck and pork on display near the entrance, and it’s important that you have these things in front of you at some point throughout your meal. Stop by on a weekend morning or afternoon with a big group, or just get married and have a wedding banquet if you’re looking for an excuse to throw a massive dinner party here.
A huge restaurant at the southern tip of Sunset of Park, Park Asia is perfect for when you’re looking for a grand space with high ceilings, big windows, and lots of round tables. There are a few other nearby Cantonese spots we like a little more than this place (we slightly prefer the food at East Harbor Seafood Palace and Bamboo Garden), but it’s still a fun spot for a group meal, especially when you’re grabbing dim sum and feel like enjoying some natural light. Anticipate a wait on weekend afternoons, and be sure to get several orders of the glutinous rice dumplings filled with pork.
If you want a quick, inexpensive lunch that’s probably more delicious than you deserve, go to Fei Long Food Court. It’s attached to Fei Long Supermarket (another place worthy of your time and attention), and it consists of about eight vendors situated around a sea of tables. Shall We Eat, Inc. tends to be the busiest one, and for good reason. They make some excellent roast meats, and you can get two of them over rice with sauteed greens for about $7. Shanghai Dumpling House is another popular spot, specializing in soup dumplings with moderately thick, slightly chewy skin. Get an order, find an open seat, and eat these dumplings before they cool down.
The Tacos El Bronco Truck is usually parked at the corner of 37th and 5th, and they make some of the best tacos in the city. Sure, these tacos are a little small - but they’re only $2 each, and the undersized tortilla is part of what sets them apart. (It creates the perfect ratio of filling-to-tortilla.) Try the cabeza if you want some rich chunks of veal head, or just go with the carnitas. There’s no wrong answer here. All roads lead to happiness.
If you need a place with tables, a roof, and people who will take your order, Tacos El Bronco also has a brick-and-mortar location. It’s about a 10-minute walk south of the truck at 4th Ave and 44th Street, and the tacos are nearly identical, but you can also get a bunch of full entrée options like steak, tostadas, and chile rellenos. We still prefer the truck (it’s a little more charming, and the food is marginally fresher) - but chairs are also nice, so keep this place in mind.
The food is slightly better at Tacos El Bronco, but we still prefer Tacos Matamoros for certain scenarios. Like when we’re with a group, for example, and we want to drink a pitcher of frozen margaritas with a side of queso fundido. The dining room is more spacious than the one at Tacos El Bronco, and the menu has everything from pork chops and cemitas to sopes and whole fried fish. There are also small and large taco sizes, and the larger ones come absolutely stuffed with meat (try the chorizo).
Ba Xuyen is our go-to spot in Sunset Park for a banh mi. They make 11 different kinds, most of which you’ll see in pictures behind the counter, but our favorite is the classic #1 with crispy bread, plenty of pickled vegetables, and pork in various forms (ham, paté, pork roll, etc.). Our second favorite is the #7 (the sardine variety), which pairs well with a durian shake. This is mostly a takeout spot (and it’s cash-only), but there are a couple of tables in the cafe-like space.
If you’re looking for a quick bowl of pho or a banh mi near on the southern edge of Sunset Park, go to Thanh Da. It’s an extremely casual spot with a couple of tables and a serious takeout operation, and you probably aren’t going to spend more than $20 on dinner here (or maybe even $10, if you go with a banh mi). And, while we do enjoy the pho, the real MVP is the bún bò hue. The soup is a little spicy and a little tangy, with some pork, thick noodles, and basil and lime to round things out. Get a bowl, and don’t take it to go. It deserves better than that.
At the northwest corner of Sunset Park (near the water on the other side of the BQE), you’ll find a utopian-looking development filled with massive buildings. It’s called Industry City, and it has a bunch of great places to grab food, like Hometown Bar-B-Que, Yaso Tangobao, and Sahadi’s. To see exactly where you should be eating there, check out this guide.
As the name suggests, this place specializes in Yunnan food, specifically something called crossing the bridge noodles - a one-dish meal that’s one of our single favorite things to eat in Sunset Park. It arrives disassembled at your table, with raw strips of beef or lamb, some vegetables, a heap of rice noodles, and a large bowl of extremely fragrant (and very hot) chicken broth to cook everything. If you don’t feel like consuming a large amount of soup, there’s also plenty of other stuff like rice cakes, broth-less noodles, and meat-filled dumplings in a sweet and sour broth (another great choice). This place is cash-only, and it’s ideal for a quick weeknight meal with a group.
Another place where you can get some good crossing the bridge noodles, Western Yunnan is newer than Yun Nan Flavour Garden, and the soups have a few more ingredients. Cabbage, pork, pickled greens, and fish cake, for example. All of these things come out on a rectangular tray (along with beef and rice noodles) and your server mixes them into a heavy stone bowl of extremely hot broth. We slightly prefer the simpler, less cloudy broth at Yun Nan Flavour Garden, but this place is great for when you want something a bit richer, and there are some sweet, crispy pumpkin pancakes on the menu for when you’ve finished your soup.
Let’s say you need to grab some casual brunch or do some work on a laptop while simultaneously eating delicious food. Go to Parlay. It’s a coffee shop at the corner of 8th Ave and 41st Street, and they serve an all-day menu with things like pancakes, eggs benedict, and a fried chicken sandwich. But the best thing here is the Malaysian chicken curry. It’s thick, rich, and just a little spicy, and the flaky roti canai on the side is the perfect accompaniment.
What does this place sell? Tortas and jugos, you fool. It’s right there in the name, and when you walk inside, you’ll see walls plastered with descriptions of various juices and sandwiches (as well as other stuff like tacos, burritos, and chicken nuggets). Order your food in the back, then get your juice and pay for everything at the register up front. If you do this correctly, you should wind up with a quality juice topped with a chunk of pineapple and a dense, steaming torta packed with various types of meat. Eat here several times a week.
The first decision you have to make at Hot Space is what kind of fish you want to eat. Sea bass, for example, or barramundi. Then, you choose a sauce (we like the spicy tofu pudding flavor) and some vegetables to go with it. The next thing you know, your server will bring all of this to your table in an enormous heated pan, and you’ll get to eat all of this food while watching music videos on a giant screen in the back. This Szechuan spot is great for a fun group dinner, and, whatever fish you order, it’ll be enough for between two and four people (depending on how hungry you are).
Mama Tere is a Salvadoran spot that just opened in 2019 where you can get some fluffy, pupusas stuffed with things like beans, cheese, and edible flowers. Sit at the bar, and you can watch them being made. It’s a beautiful process. And once you finish one of these flattened balls of masa, have some steak or beef stew. This is exactly the kind of place where you’ll want to eat once a week.
For $1.50, you can get a plate of dumplings at Kai Feng Fu Dumpling House. The dumplings come stuffed with pork and leek, and they’re a little bit crispy with thick, chewy skins. This place also serves steamed dumplings - which are more substantial but slightly less compelling than the fried ones - as well as a bunch of soups, some incredibly meaty pork buns, and salty scallion pancakes that make for a nice little snack. Just be aware that this place is cash-only, and there are only a few tables inside.
From the outside, The Roast looks as though it’s filled with roast meats. And from the inside, it also appears this way. That’s because The Roast is filled with roast meats - and that’s exactly what you come here for. The space is about the size of a budget hotel room, and there’s a counter up front where you order. You can get your honey roast duck, suckling pig, and chicken wings by the pound, but you should probably make a meal of it and add some rice or noodles. A combo of two meats over rice costs roughly $6 and even comes with some greens on the side.
Another coffee shop with great food in Sunset Park, Yafa Cafe is a Yemeni spot where you’ll want to hang out for several hours and attempt to befriend your barista. Service is friendly, and the long space has wifi, plenty of tables, as well as an area up front with books, brick walls, plants, and wicker furniture. Stop by for a coffee and some shakshuka in the morning, or get some work done while you eat a crispy fried chicken sandwich with a brussels sprout slaw.