I was fortunate enough to attend the Knicks vs. Nets game last night at the buzzing Barclays Center. While my presence seemed to cause my beloved ‘Bockers to recall how to sputter down the stretch — they lost to the hometown Nets in overtime — there was some solace to be found in the evening in the form of the new arena’s food options.
The Barclays Center features products from 37 local vendors, some of which have ties to Brooklyn, like Nathan’s and Junior’s, others of which seem made up (a complete list is here). Armed with an empty stomach and Food Republic credit card, I eagerly explored the selections in the stadium’s upper level.
My first stop was Fatty ‘Cue. The brisket sandwich ($13.50) contains generous cuts of fatty meat, packed with smoked cheese, onions, carrots, cilantro and a Sriracha aioli, layered between slices of baguette. While the thick and mostly dry bread threatened to overtake the sandwich’s other ingredients, the cheese and aioli combination complements the brisket well enough to justify the sammy’s purchase. It is also surprisingly filling — always a positive, considering stadiums vendors’ pricing nowadays.
A trip to the nearby L&B Spumoni Gardens station proved worthwhile. The longtime Brooklyn pizza joint (albeit named after an Italian dessert) kept the line moving with a limited menu that includes their signature Sicilian squares. Nothing disappointing here: the slice came out piping hot and lathered in a rich and herby tomato sauce, sprinkled with melted cheese. For some unknown reason, I found one square a relative bargain at $6, until a quick web search returned its price at the original location at $2.25. Yikes.
The big winner of the night was Habana, which dishes out traditional Mexican and Cuban cuisine at locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn’s Fort Greene section and Malibu, and now at the Barclays. My best dish of the night — other than Deron Williams’ lightning quick passes — goes to the grilled “Mexican style” corn ($5.50), which is dusted thoroughly with a large amount of salty Cotija cheese and spicy chili powder, alongside a slice of lime. The cheese and chili coating is powerful but not overwhelming (and tastier than the version found at the taqueria at Citi Field in Queens). I found myself gnawing frantically at the bare cob, long after the last Cojita crumble had disappeared. Be sure to try this one out before halftime — the secret is out.
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