Only a decade ago, mostly it was just people up to no good who could be found outside on Smith Street after a certain hour. It was the edge of a particularly rough Brooklyn neighborhood known as Gowanus that real estate developers pretend no longer exists. People who visited Smith Street late at night in those days were not in search of the gourmet.
Today, however, Smith Street is perhaps the one street in all the five boroughs with the highest density and widest variety of fine restaurants. Places like Panino’teca, Banania, and The Gowanus Yacht Club have transformed that formerly seedy strip into a magnet for hungry New Yorkers from all walks of life in search of great food at outer borough prices.
Still though, late at night on Smith Street, the pickings are slim. Bar Tabac serves a delicious burger into the wee hours, and you can order an exceptionally well constructed hero at Ziads at any hour (Jonathan Lethem let us all in on that secret in Motherless Brooklyn). But lately I’ve been gravitating toward Salonike (a.k.a. Carroll Garden Classic Dining), because after a long shift driving my cab, I’m in the mood for something to fill my gut to the brim.
Salonike has an extensive classic diner menu along with traditional Greek and Italian fare. Their gourmet competition has clearly had a positive impact on Salonike’s quality control. The onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and steak fries consistently exhibit a balance of grease and crispiness unlike any I’ve experienced before. Even their coleslaw and pickles are delicious. But it is their reuben sandwich that calls me to Salonike like a siren. The corned beef melts in my mouth along with the plentiful cheese and the sour kraut is crunchy enough to survive the piping hot sandwich.
It is a feast every time at Salonike. So there’s no need to be wary of those shadowy figures you see on Smith Street late at night these days, because they’re probably just out for a bite, not a fix.
Salonike (Carroll Garden Classic Dining) 155 Smith Street at Bergen 718 403 9940