Our latest installment of Quick Bites brings us to Sunset Park to an all-vegan, five-stool counter shop.
Industry City, née Bush Terminal, was once a vital component of Brooklyn's bustling commercial waterfront, a 35 acre complex of warehouses, factories, and distribution centers in Sunset Park where, according to the website, some 25,000 people came to work each day. In a familiar arc, the whole area was basically abandoned after the city's shipping and manufacturing jobs dried up, but since about 2013 many of the buildings here have been renovated and repurposed for creative and production companies, and the Industry City "campus" now also hosts concerts and events, in a bid to become a gathering space for the community at large.
No surprise, a big part of the strategy to lure both companies and neighborhood folks to spend time (and money) here is by making sure that everyone always has plenty to eat. To that end, there are now dozens of dining options at Industry City, from the lively Japan Village food hall to crowd-pleasers like Burger Joint, and Table 87 for pizza, and Blue Marble for ice cream. Two destination-worthy spots are also coming soon, a new Sahadi's and Hometown BBQ.
The newest addition to this robust food scene is the all-vegan Renegades of Sunset, a five-stool counter shop specializing in sandwiches, all of which you'll want to bring outside to one of the Industry City courtyards to eat. There's an appealing Deadhead vibe to the Renegades booth, and your chefs and owners here are the exceedingly affable Vinnie Bolognese and Fred Panah, who met in the kitchen at ABCV, then worked together again at Pickle Shack in Sunset Park before that closed last spring. You are unlikely to ever meet anyone as excited to be serving you their food as these two. As Paneh said, "Having people come from all over and see them eating vegan with us just gives me a whole bunch of feelings that make me happy to be awake."
Bolognese and Panah make everything except the bread from scratch: the proteins, the sauces, the pickled things, the baked goods, all of it has a lot of love inside. My favorite item was probably The Renegade, a burger made from mushrooms and beets, with a traditional array of toppings like tomatoes, pickles, and red onion. The patty has a pleasant texture and quite a bit of flavor, the bun is firm but just squishy enough so that everything doesn't slide out when you take that first bite, and garlic aioli gives it a little pop. This is a satisfying sandwich.
My companion and I wolfed down two other sandwiches as well. The Renegades do a messy Sunset Cheezesteak, overflowing with thin-sliced grilled seitan, sausage and peppers, and a vegetable-based bright yellow sauce. This latter is not as rich and creamy as the cashew-cheese sauce you find at many vegan places, but Bolognese and Panah, not wanting to exclude those with allergies, run a nut-free establishment. The Blazin' Bahn features thick seasoned slabs of tofu, a pile of carrots and daikon radish, and not nearly enough kimchi. The baguettes on these are maybe a bit too bready for their insides, and if I had hot sauce in my bag I definitely would have put it to use, but if you're vegan and hungry these are both solid lunchtime options.
The Mac 'n' Cheeze uses that same veggie-based sauce, and though the crisp "coconut bacon" sprinkled on top adds some textural interest, overall it's too mushy and could use a hit of acid to perk things up. For dessert there were Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls—a special treat they usually only make on Fridays but it made people so happy that they made them again on Saturday—and a decent, oversized sweet and salty Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Vegans who work at Industry City or live nearby should obviously check this place out immediately, but Bolognese and Panah are talented enough chefs to make Renegades of Sunset a worthwhile stop for anyone in the mood for a hearty sandwich. The outside seating areas are relaxed and pleasant, too.
Renegades of Sunset is located at 254 36th Street within Building 2 at Industry City (though the closest entrance says "268"), and is open on Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., on Friday from 11:30 to 7:00, and on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday (renegadesofsunset.com)