D Is for Delicious: Dining Along the D Train

Julie Besonen

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Getting to know the D train is rewarding, not only because it's the most rapid way to Yankee Stadium, Barclays Center and Coney Island, but also for the major stops it makes in between, like at Midtown's Columbus Circle and West 4th Street, the crossroads of Greenwich Village. Dining along the D in Manhattan should include getting off at Broadway/Lafayette for Bobby Flay's sensational Gato, 34th Street/Herald Square for the incomparable Keens Steakhouse and Rockefeller Center for the low-priced, crowd-pleasing Bill's Bar & Burger. In Brooklyn the D will drop you at 25th Avenue near L&B Spumoni Gardens, legendary for square slabs of Sicilian pizza. Hungry for more? Continue on to Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue, and get a whole pie at the iconic Totonno's. Take a look at our slideshow for other great culinary reasons to hop on the D.

Courtesy, Maison Harlem

D Train Stop: 125th St.
Maison Harlem
341 St. Nicholas Ave., 212-222-9224, Harlem, Manhattan
It's not only the A train that goes to Harlem. The D zooms up the west side of Manhattan with no stops in between 59th Street and 125th Street, depositing you at Maison Harlem, a lively bistro a few short blocks from the Apollo Theater. The brick-lined interior is rustic, the bar is packed with regulars and the sound system pumps out a mix of jazz and rhythm and blues. Well-schooled barkeeps make fine cocktails, and a blackboard lists wines (mostly French) by the glass. Partners Samuel Thiam and Romain Bonnans (A.O.C. Bistro) have Gallic roots, which accounts for the nicely crisped duck leg confit with orange-cognac sauce, classic coq au vin and grilled salmon on a bed of ratatouille. Lunch (French onion soup, croque monsieur) and brunch (eggs Benedict with smoked salmon) are also exemplary, plus look for $1 oysters at happy hour (Monday to Friday from 5 to 7pm).

Photo: Alexander Thompson

D Train Stop: Grand St.
Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant
42 Bowery, 212-233-8666, Chinatown, Manhattan
If knowing where to go in Chinatown is a riddle, here's the answer: Sing Kee. On Bowery, just south of Canal Street, the prefab, fluorescent-lit space welcomes a mostly Chinese clientele. The Cantonese-style food is delicious—patrons enjoy such dishes as roast chicken with crispy browned skin and garlic sauce, and delicately cooked flounder with bright green scallions, coins of powerful ginger and mild water chestnuts. While fresh seafood is a specialty, the kitchen is also strong when it comes to fried rice, chow mein and vegetables like string beans with minced pork. Dinner commences with a free bowl of salted peanuts and ends with a plate of juicy orange slices and fortune cookies. At lunchtime, dozens of dishes are under $10.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

D Train Stop: Atlantic Ave./Barclays Center
Berlyn
25 Lafayette Ave., 718-222-5800, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Berlyn, a contemporary German tavern across the street from BAM, reopens August 20 after a two-week spruce-up. Be sure to make a reservation if you're going to a show since it's jammed before curtain time. The local market fish always tastes fresh off the boat, and Niman Ranch supplies the antibiotic-free pork for the light, thinly pounded schnitzel. The menu is short, meaning decision making is easier and each dish is crafted with care, from salads to terrines to warm apple strudel. The cocktail program, designed by Jeremy Oertel and his wife, Natasha David, is so outstanding that David Wondrich of Esquire crowned it one of the nation's best bars of 2014. His favorite: the Rum Trader, named after a tiny, quirky bar in Berlin and composed of Hayman's Old Tom gin, Smith & Cross Jamaican rum, Cointreau, orgeat syrup and lime juice, way better to imbibe here than try to create it at home.

Photo: Alexander Thompson

D Train Stop: 36th St.
Usuluteco Restaurante Salvadoreño
4017 Fifth Ave., 718-436-8025, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Ten bucks covers a really good pupusa, a cold beer and the MetroCard fare to get here, making Usuluteco one of the best deals in town. You may ask, what's a pupusa? The Salvadoran equivalent of a Mexican gordita or a South American arepa, the traditional dish involves double corn tortillas sandwiching stretchy cheese, ayote (squash), refried beans, pork, loroco (a herbaceous edible flower) or a combination thereof, accompanied by vinegary slaw and a bowl of tomato sauce. In other words, you get a lot for $2. Cheap and tasty enchiladas and tamales are also on hand. The humble Sunset Park space, in which Spanish is the dominant language (including in the songs on the jukebox), feels like it could be in downtown San Salvador. The hodgepodge decor ranges from colorful paintings of rural scenes to a mounted deer head, a chandelier and an aquarium. A trip here should include an exploration of the neighborhood, an interesting mix of Central American, Mexican and Asian commercial joints plus a grassy park for a stroll.

Photo: Alexander Thompson

D Train Stop: 79th St.
Il Colosseo
7704 18th Ave., 718-234-3663, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
Traveling to Bensonhurst via the D train is picturesque since the last few stops are above ground, providing Edward Hopper-esque views of low-rise buildings. Across the street from Loyal Order of Moose, a fraternal organization that calls to mind Jackie Gleason's Raccoon Lodge in The Honeymooners, lies an old-school Italian restaurant that's held steady since the early 1990s. Il Colosseo is busy day and night for good reason: abundant portions, robust flavors and decent prices. A wood-burning brick oven turns out thin-crust pizzas starting at under $10, and the pastas, seafood risotto, chicken marsala and veal piccata are big enough to pass around. A particularly impressive appetizer is the grilled octopus, the red-wine-hued tentacles smoky and tender. The front room is more of a casual café, and in back is an exposed-brick dining room with an open kitchen.


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