Taking a stroll from the bustling Brighton Beach N/Q line over to the Boardwalk, you’ll see some quintessential Brooklyn characters lounging by the beach. Elderly couples staring out at the ocean, kids racing each other on bikes and savvy NYC seagulls picking up dinner. Take a walk all the way to Manhattan Beach and you’ll encounter music-filled beach barbecues and expansive views of the Rockaways and Fort Tilden Park. Head north to Shore Boulevard and you’ll discover a scene more reminiscent of Venice than Kings County; sailboats strung with lights, swaying on Sheepshead Bay next to fishing boats, across from a string of seafood restaurants and cafés across the bay. As you walk across the pedestrian bridge from Shore Boulevard to Emmons Avenue on the other side of the bay, keep an eye out for a bevy of swans—yes, swans—that have made this section of Brooklyn their home.
All of these sights transport you to a colorful waterfront oasis far from the busy streets of Brighton Beach where the journey began, but there’s one more stop on this trip: walk just a few more minutes north and grab a seat at Chayhana Salom (1652 Sheepshead Bay Road, Brooklyn), an Uzbek restaurant known to locals for its fresh homestyle central Asian dishes, warm hospitality and surprisingly affordable prices.
The restaurant’s colorful and simple decor gives a relaxing and casual vibe, but the star here is the food. Start out with cold appetizers such as pickled veggies, baba ganoush, or thinly sliced beef with noodles, or choose warm rolled pastries filled with feta and greens, or dolma, the steamed grape leaves that contain perfectly spiced beef and rice. With so many appetizer options it would be easy to forget the salads or soups, but that would mean missing out on savory ravioli soup or a refreshingly vinegary tomato and red onion Achichuk salad, perfect on a sweltering summer day.
Now for the main course … go for fresh dumplings, handmade noodles, or red sauce-laced steamed and rolled dough stuffed with meat and rice. The kabab options are so extensive that they take up a large section of the menu, consisting of lamb, salmon and chicken, as well as vegetarian options. If you still have room (and these portions are generous), make sure you try out the chak-chak (fried noodles dipped in honey), or go for the unexpected red velvet cake.
After a meal as satisfying as this one, top off it with a stroll back over the bridge for a moonlit walk, or catch the conveniently located Sheepshead Bay train a block away. As you ride back home on the elevated tracks watching neighborhoods fly by, consider the diversity of food, culture and views this budget coastal excursion offered up.
NYC, you’ve still got it.
Gabe Fenigsohn is a Queens, New York writer and progressive opiner on media, politics and culture. He contributes to the Huffington Post and welcomes debate at @gfenig.