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The Velveeta double burger at No. 7 is perfect pre-sports fare.
One of the first impressions you’ll get of the Barclays Center is how stunning the exterior of the building is, and how proud you feel exiting the subway and seeking out the front doors. But once inside, you’ll find a cramped interior, nosebleed seats so close to each other you’ll be able to count your neighbor’s ear hairs, and a vending area that offers some beguiling choices, but few places to sit down and eat. (Believe us, it would be a dexterous and dangerous challenge to try to carry food to your seat.)
Accordingly, dine in the vicinity of the stadium in a relaxed atmosphere before entering the fray. Here are 10 commendable places to do so, some only a block away, some further, but all easily walkable.
10. No. 7 – This small restaurant with a charming bar up front has spawned a chain of nouvelle hero shops, but go to the source for some memorable Brooklyn farm-to-table cooking. Of course, there’s also the transgressive double-decker burger (top of the page): dense, gooey, and flavorful. From a choice of Swiss cheese or Velveeta, guess which we chose? 7 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-522-6370
9. Buffalo Boss – Want to buy into the Jay-Z mystique? Not only does he own a piece of the Barclays Center, he also owns this wing shop, and what could be better to fortify you for a sports event than wings? Not much seating, but who needs it? And you can get them just as hot as you want. 554 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718-624-BOSS
8. Not Ray’s Pizza – This old-timer resolutely resists “Famous Rays” and its ilk. No thick layer of polyethylene cheese, just a satisfying traditional plain cheese slice of the kind that’s harder and harder to find in this part of the borough. 690 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718-855-8206
7. Walter Foods – Branch of a respected gastropub in Williamsburg, Walter’s is closer to the stadium than you think, and you can dine there in a relatively relaxed fashion with views of Ft. Greene Park and the Prison Martyr’s Monument (look it up right now). Lots of agreeable bar snacks, including a version of L.A.’s famous roast beef French dip, with exemplary fries. 166 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-488-7800
6. Woodland – At newcomer and partial successor to the East Village’s Vandaag, there’s little Teutonic food to be had here, just nicely proportioned apps, mains, and bar munchies — which would make a pretty good meal by themselves, including fried baby artichokes, homemade bratwurst, and oysters raw or grilled. Show above: Riesling-braised rabbit with spatzle and lardons. 242 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-398-7700
5. Junior’s – What better place to unite the old and the new in Brooklyn than Junior’s and the Barclays Center? Of course, you must be careful what you order at this historic spot, which was founded in 1950 and looks it, with the snaking lunch counter and comfy, well-lit dining rooms. Any deli meats (including the darling pair of baby onion rolls with pastrami and corned beef, show above) are fab, or go with toasted cheese, burgers, or breakfasts. And then there’s the cheesecake. 386 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-852-5257
4. Pipitone’s – Longtime fave of Brooklyn Tech and Long Island University students, this Sicilian pizzeria offers the fairly rare “upside down” square Sicilian slice, in which the cheese is melted right next to the crust, and the slightly sweet tomato sauce poured over, with little shards of garlic and a sprinkle of parmesan. 100 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-858-4376
3. El Viejo Yayo – You don’t have to walk very far from the Barclays Center to visit this stately Dominican restaurant, which offers two competing dining rooms. One features a lunch counter and all the steam table stuff (roast pernil, paprika-dusted rotisserie chicken, hearty beef stew) that you dream of. The other is a white-tablecloth joint, where you can settle in and spend some time. 36 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-622-8922
2. Bark Hot Dogs – If you happen to be arriving on the IRT and decamping at Bergen, nothing could be more convenient than this hipster hot dog spot, where the proprietary weenies are brushed with smoked lard, and a whole passel of craft beers stand ready to be selected and quaffed, at much cheaper prices than inside the stadium, where the beer selection is generally abysmal. 474 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, 718-789-1939
1. Chick P – The winner of this countdown is a meal that’s both serene and wholesome – perhaps standing in sharp contrast to the sports melee you’re about to witness. Chick P is a vegetarian Israeli spot that dishes up pungent salads, falafel, excellent hummus, and some egg dishes, as well. The prices are more than reasonable. And the $10 salad platter shown above is enough for two to share. Caution: limited seating. 490 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, 718-783-1525