The Metrotech complex in Downtown Brooklyn is a bit quiet for a place where thousands of people work and study.
But the good news is that just a few steps in any direction from the verdant idyll at the heart of the office park is a hustle and bustle worthy of an urban downtown.
GO Brooklyn’s award-winning reporters, happily ensconced in their new Metrotech offices (see star on map), started exploring the neighborhood from the moment they got there. Here is their report:
If you’re like us, you spend most of your lunch hour looking for a cheap sandwich. There are plenty of options, but only one champion: Zam’s. Starting at 6 am, lines form for the pressed egg-on-toast sandwich (just $2.50!), and the frenzy doesn’t quiet down much through lunch.
“I love the hot roast beef sandwich,” said Jaou Mana, a regular. “I’m so happy with it, I never get anything else.”
Zam’s [415 Fulton St. between Pearl and Adams Streets, (718) 246-2599].
Since it opened in July, the Theatre Development Fund’s half-priced Broadway and Off-Broadway booth has been a godsend for culture-starved Brooklynites.
The booth offers same-day toofers for the biggest shows on Broadway
TKTS (at Jay Street and the Myrtle Avenue promenade) is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm. For info, visitwww.tdf.org/TKTS.
In many ways, Morton’s is a perfect fit for Metrotech — a bit antiseptic and welcoming in a Midwestern sort of way. But look deeper and celebrate the single best happy hour deal in all of Brooklyn: During the “Power Hour” — 5 to 6:30 pm and 9:30 to 11 pm, every night — there are drink specials and three mini-cheeseburgers for $6. Enough said.
Morton’s the Steakhouse [339 Adams St., between Willoughby and Johnson streets, (718) 596-2700].
On weekends, the 9 am and noon services at the Brooklyn Tabernacle are a hot ticket, thanks to a Grammy-Award-winning chamber choir that belts out the Gospel.
The 10,000-member congregation is one of the most diverse in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Tabernacle [17 Smith St. between Fulton and Livingston Streets, (718) 290-2000].
Surrounded by Brooklyn’s largest vegetable-free zone, Downtown Natural Market is a welcome oasis of natural herbs, detoxifying tonics and vitamins. And while you’re browsing the aisles for your B-12, you might also come upon a shelf groaning with “sensual boosters.”
“Ask your doctor,” the sign reads — except the word “doctor” is crossed out and replaced with the word “wife.”
When asked about the sign, manager Amit Patel said that such sales are a minor part of his 25-year-old business.
“You know what keeps us running?” Patel said. “A huge Caribbean crowd. They’re very much into herbs and teas.”
Downtown Natural Market [51 Willoughby St., between Jay and Lawrence streets, (718) 834-1215].
Amid the many fast-stop shops that line Willoughby Street is a genuine local pub, Kevin Barry’s. But this is no nighttime hotspot. It’s a bar that does its business with a hard-drinking lunchtime crowd (thanks to the $1 off your lunch bill for each beer you order). The pastrami sandwich is a miss, but the burgers are good.
Kevin Barry’s [56 Willoughby St., between Jay and Lawrence streets, (718) 488-8901].
Do you love President Obama? Then we have a poster shop for you. Dozens of framed prints and artworks depicting the new president — plus other prints featuring prior heroes including John Coltrane, Muhammad Ali, Bob Marley and Josephine Baker — line the walls of the Faith Art Gallery.
It’s also the nearest place to get something framed professionally.
Faith Art Gallery [395 Jay St., at Willoughby Street, (718) 596-4659].
The place is nothing to look at, but one sniff upon entering Justin’s Island Cuisine will tell you that you’re not in Kansas anymore.
Owner Sandy Boodram has been in business for 20 years — largely on the strength of her curries, roti and jerk chicken ($8 during lunch hour).
Justin’s Island Cuisine [144 Lawrence St., between Willoughby and Fulton streets, (718) 625-9190].
Don’t look for a name over the awning of the fish store on Willoughby Street. And don’t look for any decor, either. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great fresh fried fish sandwich. Owner Chang Rae Choi has been serving them up for nearly 50 years, and there’s always a line for the three large pieces of fried whiting on wheat bread ($3.75).
Fish shop (70 Willoughby St., between Bridge and Jay streets). No phone.
On sunny days, the Fulton Mall is lined with music vendors hawking mixtapes loaded with R ’n’ B classics, soul music jams, and gospel standbys
“Every CD has a theme and the tracks match the theme — they compliment each other,” said Rev. James McCombs, who sets up a CD table on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Rev. James McCombs’s music table (Fulton Street between Jay and Lawrence streets), every Tuesday and Thursday.
The exhibits at the New York City Transit Museum change on a quarterly basis (too bad, because “Steel, Stone and Backbone,” about the building of the subway system, is great), but the real attraction of this former subway station are the antique trains on the platform level. Choose your favorite old turnstile and head downstairs where you can “ride” on most of the long-gone trains from your long-gone youth. And the best part is, the cars are in pristine condition, right down to the period advertising.
New York City Transit Museum [corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, (718) 694-1600]. Closed Monday.