The Tastiest Basement in Downtown Brooklyn

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Drab downtown Brooklyn is increasingly home to high-end foodie finds, from the Michelin-starred Brooklyn Fare to pedigreed new ramen shop Ganso.

This is not one of them.

Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch is set in the basement of a Hare Krishna temple on Schermerhorn Street—the temple itself a surprising presence on this stretch of run-down office buildings and rehabbed condos. Open only on weekdays, from 12pm to 3:30, it’s also one of the best lunch deals in the neighborhood, regardless of whether you’re a full-time vegetarian or have any interest in being a devotee of Krishna.

What the Krishnas describe as a “peaceful, stress-free setting” is in fact, a windowless, red-and-green checkered, cafeteria-style dining hall (which, in downtown Brooklyn, probably does qualify as a peaceful setting).¬† For lunch last week I went with the cabbage, tofu and green peas; sweet potatoes and green beans; quinoa salad; and a veggie samosa—plus a mango lassi. While those Indian-ish options seemed most enticing, there are also cafeteria staples like eggplant Parmesan and split pea soup, plus desserts such as vegan pumpkin cheesecake.

Everything is tasty–making for a hearty, but not heavy daytime meal. I would have expected more spice and heat, but I guess that fits with the keeping-things-peaceful mantra.

$3 buys you a vegetarian item of your choice; for $8 you get a hefty selection of four, definitely a full meal, at 1/30th the price of dinner at Brooklyn Fare across the street.

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