Beating Street Meat, Without Breaking Your Budget


Roast pork and greens, at Brooklyn Wok Shop.

Chicago, according to Carl Sandburg, at least, is “hog butcher to the world.” Manhattan has its Meatpacking District, although now “Meat Market District” is perhaps a more appropriate name. While Brooklyn has neither a poetic allegory nor a similar neighborhood moniker, it does have plenty of recession-friendly choices to sate your meatiest desires, with a clear conscience.

Sure, you can get grass-fed steaks at Diner or lovingly-raised lamb at Roebling Tea Room, at a price (though both places do have delicious burgers for less than $20). But lately we’ve been noticing a rash of new restaurants that are casual and affordable, and also use high-quality ingredients, including good meat. What exactly do we mean by that? Places where you can order a whole meal (and maybe even a beer, too) for $15 or less, that serve antibiotic-free, free-range, organic or grass-fed meat. They may not be perfect, but they beat your average street meat by a long shot. Here are a few spots to get your responsible fill.

Located steps away from the Bedford L stop (170 Bedford Avenue) The Meatball Shop welcomes customers with Sharpie-ready menus. Markers in hand, you X your way to the perfect meal. First, choose your meatballs (or delicious–really–veggie balls), then choose a sauce, and a preparation like slider ($3 each), hero ($9), or naked balls ($7), with the option to add spaghetti, polenta and other sides ($4 each). You can also design your own cocktail, choosing booze plus mixers, in much the same manner.

The meat is sourced from name-brand companies, including Bell & Evans chicken and Creekstone Farms beef, with the meat ground on site. We recommend the smash ($8), your choice of two balls wedged comfortably inside a brioche with mozzarella or provolone, sauced and paired with a green salad.

Around the corner, Brooklyn Wok Shop (182 N 10th Street ) is a brand-spanking-new Williamsburg joint that brings Chinese takeout to the next level. The spicy, saucy and well balanced dishes at Wok Shop are everything you want out of Chinese food, and nothing you don’t–like massive amounts of sugar and questionable meat. Try the soy sauce chicken soup with homemade noodles ($11.50) with a side of long beans ($5). The combo comes in just over our $15 ceiling, but could easily feed two. Check out a full review of Brooklyn Wok Shop from Brendan Spiegel on our blog. And, if you want to take side tour to the land of pork, there’s plenty of cheap, porky eats to be had in Greenpoint, that are very local, if not particularly organic.

For some cracklin’, trustworthy barbecue, head south—well, south of Williamsburg—to Little Brother BBQ, (544 Clinton Avenue, near Atlantic). The only flesh to pass muster at this Clinton Hill joint’s smokehouse and grill is humanely-raised and antibiotic- and hormone-free. Little Brother cooks up chicken, beef and pork sourced from small farms whenever possible. A sandwich, served on an il Forno bun alongside slaw and pickles will only set you back $7; a plate, which includes a portion of meat plus beans, slaw and dirty rice, goes for $9.

The dogs at Bark are made upstate and many of their ingredients are organic and locally sourced.

In Park Slope, Bark Hot Dogs (474 Bergen Street) serves private label franks made by Hartmann’s Old World Sauage in Rochester, New York. They also buy free-range eggs, local, dairy products from Hudson Valley Fresh and local, organic produce from farms like Blooming Hill and Paffenroth in upstate New York. Still, a basic dog (griddled, not dirty-water-steamed) will set you back just $4.25. Add onion rings for $3.50 more. We’re also partial to the spicy chicken sandwich ($8.50), made with Free Bird chicken, accompanied by cheddar fries ($4).

An omnivore’s dilemma knows no mealtime boundaries, and for some of us, breakfast isn’t just the most important meal of the day, it’s also the best. Add more morning bacon to your life at The Farm on Adderley in Ditmas Park (1108 Cortelyou Road). Ingredients come from three farms located in upstate New York and another in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania. Start your day (they open at 8am during the week, 11am on weekends) with some homemade breakfast sausage paired with locally sourced eggs and red potatoes ($12); or a farm egg sandwich, consisting of ciabatta topped with house-cured bacon, cheddar and scrambled eggs ($9). The restaurant has gotten more than a few plaudits from locavores, not the least of which is the Slow Food NYC Snail of Approval. But most importantly, the food is simply awesome.

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