You’re either a Central Park or a Prospect Park person. And while we don’t feel the need to take sides (publicly), we will say that Prospect Park has two distinct advantages: fewer people, and more nearby food. Whether you’re coming here to read in the grass, look at some cherry blossoms in the Botanic Garden, or see a show at the Bandshell, here’s where you should be eating before, after, and during your time in Prospect Park.
The problem with bringing a sandwich to a picnic in the park is that you’re going to eat it within 10 minutes, and then have nothing to snack on for the next four hours. Instead, go to Gather on 7th Avenue and get market sides like brussels sprouts, pomegranate couscous, and herbed falafel. Probably get another sandwich as well, just in case of emergency.
Whether you rollerbladed the Prospect Park loop or wandered around for 45 minutes trying to find a way out of the park, it’s probably about time for a burger. Head to Dutch Boy in Crown Heights and get a diner-style burger with or without (but definitely with) an egg on top. They also make spiked milkshakes, and it’s connected to Franklin Park, a big indoor/outdoor bar that feels like a party on summer weekends.
If you’re hungry after your morning hacky sack session or you want to grab something to eat while your dog chases geese in the pond, get a bagel at La Bagel Delight. They serve tons of different bagel-and-spread combos starting at 5:30am, and the big, fluffy bagels are the best in the area.
You’re seeing The Decemberists or Spoon at the Prospect Park Bandshell and you want a place to eat a real dinner beforehand. Fonda is a solid Mexican spot on 7th Avenue with shareable dishes like chile rellenos and enchiladas with dark mole. Get a table in the backyard and try any of the eight types of margaritas.
Eating BBQ outside in New York City is a rare and special experience, because both BBQ and outdoor space are rare and special things. Morgan’s is a great spot to eat brisket and ribs while getting sunshine and breathing somewhat-fresh air at the communal picnic tables on Flatbush. Also, if you’re heading back to Atlantic Terminal after spending the day flying kites in the park, it’s directly on the way.
Krupa Grocery is a short walk from the park and the Bandshell, and it’s the kind of all-day neighborhood spot you wish you had on your corner. You can stop by for lemon ricotta pancakes before power-walking the loop, or you can relax in the backyard after watching kickball all afternoon. Get a glass (or bottle) from the accessible wine list, and the giant pot of mussels topped with lamb pancetta.
This beer garden is 13,000 square feet, which means it’s big enough to bring your ultimate frisbee team and the suckers you just beat in Prospect Park. The indoor area has TVs and communal tables, and the outdoor space has picnic tables and bocce courts. They also have a bunch of hard-to-find beers on tap and solid bar food, like a lamb burger with goat cheese.
Most Tex-Mex in NYC kind of (really) sucks, but Gueros - a counter-service spot in Crown Heights - is an exception. Grab some breakfast tacos on your way to or from the Botanic Garden a few blocks away and eat them at a table out front.
Hiller & Moon is a small, gourmet grocery store that specializes in high-quality and unusual cured meats and cheeses. And the staff is always happy to help out with recommendations. Grab a couple loaves of bread and some other snacks, and set up your picnic two blocks away in Prospect Park.
Banhmigos is a takeout Vietnamese spot a block from Grand Army Plaza with a huge menu of things you’ll want to eat on a hot day in the park. The cold vermicelli bowls, green salads with various proteins, and banh mi sandwiches are all good, and they’re nice picnic alternatives to cold cuts and cheeses.
You want to spend the day in the park - it’s the weekend, the sun is out, and humidity is low enough that you won’t sweat through your shirt before you even swipe your subway card. But you also want brunch. There’s no need to compromise. Get the harvest pancakes with sweet corn and cranberries at Tom’s - a classic diner in Prospect Heights - and then walk three blocks south to the park.