Without Prospect Park, Brooklyn would just be a sea of houses, apartment buildings, and the occasional malnourished tree. And it’s still mostly just that - but if you ever want to smell fresh-mown grass and breath some air that isn’t full of car exhaust and pigeon feathers, this park is here for you. It’s a great place to go for a run, and once you’re sufficiently exhausted, there are plenty of places for a nearby meal. Here are 15 great options where you won’t feel self-conscious about the fact that you look like you just emerged from a humid rainforest.
Risbo is a unique counter-service spot with a full bar and a big backyard that looks like somewhere you’d want to drink some tea, cross your legs, and try out a new meditation app. It’s open all day, and it specializes in platters that come with your choice of protein (like chicken, lamb, or a whole fish) as well as a bunch of sides like hummus, plantains, and rice pilaf. Stop by when you want to eat a big tray of food while wearing whatever you just worked out in, and grab a cocktail if you feel like making a night of it.
If you’re running around Prospect Park on a weekend morning (or early afternoon), be sure to plan your run so that it ends around Gueros. Once there, order several of the best breakfast tacos you’ll encounter in NYC. And if you don’t happen to make it to this tiny neighborhood Mexican spot by 4pm on the weekend (the only time the breakfast tacos are available), don’t panic. You’ll still be able to get some very solid tacos with stuff like brisket and fried chicken, and you can pair them with a 20oz margarita.
Hunky Dory is a friendly, neighborhood spot that works for pretty much any scenario. It’s open all day, and it’s about as casual as a neighborhood coffee shop, but - with its potted plants and bright blue walls - this place is impressive enough for a post-run date (if that’s something you have lined up). We especially like it for brunch, but it’s also great at night when you can sit at the bar, drink a cocktail, and eat some pork schnitzel or chicken liver mousse.
Pancakes, eggs, bacon, and more pancakes. That’s what you’ll find at Tom’s, a classic diner in Prospect Heights. This place has been around for decades, and it still gets packed at brunch - but they serve breakfast all day, so you can stop by anytime and pretend it’s 8am. Get some crab cakes, an omelet, or one of the roughly 15 kinds of pancakes (which taste like better versions of whatever you try to make at home). If you come here at brunch, you’ll probably encounter a wait, but just think of this as an opportunity to cool off, do some stretches, and teach a squirrel how to shake hands.
Sometimes, you just need a neighborhood spot where you can sit down and eat a burger or a piece of salmon. That’s what Cheryl’s Global Soul is for. It’s just north of Prospect Park, and the menu consists of things like roasted chicken, a few types of burgers, and steamed mussels in coconut curry. The space has colorful string lights, a little disco ball, and a bunch of wood paneling along one wall that makes the restaurant feel like a tiny log cabin, and it’s open all day. Come here after your run, do your best to wipe most of the sweat off your face, and grab a seat at the tiny bar in the back for some pancakes or roast chicken.
You just ran several miles or at least sprinted for about thirty seconds or so, and now all you want from life is to be by yourself and eat a large portion of extremely good food. Go to Peppa’s, and order a large serving of jerk chicken over rice and peas. The chicken is juicy and smoky, and the hot sauce will make you feel like you just ingested a tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns (in a good way). There aren’t any seats inside, but just take your food to go and eat on the bench in the park.
You most likely have several counter-service places near your house, and they probably aren’t as good as The Food Sermon. Or maybe you live near The Food Sermon - in which case you know how good the bowls of Caribbean food here are. The next time you skip your zumba class and go for a run around Prospect Park, stop by for some jerk chicken with brown rice, chickpeas, and spicy tomato sauce or some panko-crusted salmon that’s better than most of the fish you eat at places that have servers and tablecloths. The portions are huge, and the food is healthy enough that you’ll still feel like a functional human being after eating all your food.
Soup and a sandwich. It’s a classic combo, like boredom and baseball games - except much better. If this is what you’re looking for, the option in the neighborhood is Lowerline, a tiny New Orleans-inspired restaurant in Prospect Heights with excellent gumbo and some po-boys worth running toward. You can get a combo of these things, or you can get some crawfish etouffee, fried shrimp, or a roast beef po-boy by itself. There are no wrong choices, and no one will judge you for looking like you just left a track and field meet.
The best Mexican restaurant in Crown Heights, Chevela’s is one of our go-to-spots for brunch, tacos, margaritas, and often all three of these things at the same time. It’s a great spot for a weekend afternoon or a casual weeknight dinner, and there’s a long bar for when you need to sit by yourself and stare into a plate of rice, beans, steak, and fresh tortillas. The staff is friendly and, with its brick walls and chandeliers, the space feels like a laid-back apartment you somehow got access to.
After your run, you should have some cake. That’s why it was invented. Maybe. Honestly, we don’t know a lot about the history of cake. But MeMe’s Diner serves some truly exceptional cake (there’s always one kind, and it changes daily), and there’s also some very good food that isn’t made out of flour, butter, and sugar. A buffalo chicken salad, for example, and a patty melt. Order either of these things at this modern diner on Washington Ave, and you’ll leave planning your next trip here.
Maybe you just ran several miles, or maybe it’s just really hot outside and - despite the fact that you were mostly jogging - you now look as though you fell into a swimming pool or got licked by a very large dog. You probably don’t want to go to a sit-down place where the waiters will passive-aggressively offer you a stack of napkins. Instead, check out Gather. It’s a coffee shop with a counter full of couscous, falafel, kale salad, and various sandwiches. Get some of this food, then either sit at a table in the corner, or head home and have a pre-shower meal.
Maybe you always end your runs at the bottom of the park because you like observing wedding photoshoots at the Greek-style building that looks like a mini Acropolis. If that’s the case, walk down to Krupa Grocery, an exceptional neighborhood restaurant with a great back patio. The ricotta pancakes are a mandatory order - but if you come at night, the ricotta gnocchi are a very safe choice. There are also about 20 other things on the menu (like pappardelle and a really good lamb burger), so you’ll have plenty of options.
Maybe you want pizza. That’s understandable. Pizza is very good food. It even received a stamp of approval from both Kevin Mccalister and John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. If you’re looking for it on the east side of the park, your best bet is at Parkside. This place makes Neapolitan pizza, and our favorite is the one topped with mint, lamb sausage, and crispy onions. Sit at the long bar or grab a table along the wall, and start with an order of garlic knots.