Year two of the massive sports arena with benefits known as the Barclays Center is officially underway, and we have to say year one went quite well. The Brooklyn Nets, who call the downtown Brooklyn court their home, were a surprising playoff contender. And music acts like The Rolling Stones, The National and Bruno Mars played sold-out shows to favorable audience reviews — as in, it didn’t sound like they were jamming in the back of a giant freezer. But one question persists for Brooklynites, intrepid Manhattanites and visitors from parts unknown: where to eat before the game or concert. Here are eight of our favorite restaurants a short(ish) walk from Barclays, from golden oldies to brand newbies.

No. 7
Chef-owner Tyler Kord is a favorite of ours because he resists convention down to the shrimp cocktail with fried garlic he serves a few blocks from Barclays. Who does that? While his popular chainlet of submarine sandwich shops mine from the chef’s more “casual badass” side (his term), his anchor restaurant in Fort Greene is all business. Think grilled maitake mushrooms with miso mac and cheese and “double-decker” broccoli tacos. Cocktails with names like Lady Sybil and The Final Countdown are good, and strong too. 7 Greene Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11238, 718-522-6370, no7restaurant.com

Junior’s
That whole thing where Diddy made his interns (well, the contestants on MTV reality show Making The Band 2) walk 12 miles to Junior’s for a slice of cheesecake understates the fact that Junior’s excels at more than cheesecake. The menu is pretty epic, leaning mostly towards diner classics and greasy spoon staples. Go with the Reuben with a side of potato pancakes. And split the cheesecake four ways. That’s all you need, trust us. 386 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11201, 718-852-5257, juniorscheesecake.com

Morgan’s Barbecue
It is a fact that New York City does not lack quality barbecue restaurants. This is why it was a little bit of a surprise to hear that yet another 'cue joint has popped up a few blocks from Barclays, operated by a pitmaster who honed his skills with Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. The early word on Morgan’s has been to go with the brisket, but we hear the pork ribs and jalapeño-spiked sausages are pretty boss. 267 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY, 11217, morgansbrooklynbarbecue.com

Weather Up
It feels like this Prospect Heights cocktail den has occupied its clandestine little spot along Vanderbilt Avenue for decades before the Barclays sprouted a few blocks away (in fact, it’s only been open since 2008). Well-worn and cozy, Weather Up is a great choice for a finely shaken cobbler or a nip of hard-to-find mezcal before (or better, after) the concert or game. The Paper Plane (equal parts Elijah Craig, Amaro Nonino, Campari, lemon juice) is a favorite when the weather turns cold. Or go with a classic Negroni, which works in any season. 589 Vanderbilt Avenue  Brooklyn, NY 11238 weatherupnyc.com

Taro Sushi
One of the most-underrated sushi bar experiences in all of New York City is found less than a block from Barclays. Consistent, fresh and affordable (but not suspiciously affordable) is what you want in a sushi bar experience, and Taro delivers. The 12-piece omakase is $40 and includes a handroll.  The standard range of sushi bar fish is offered (tuna, scallop, hamachi, salmon) exquisitely fresh, along with seaweed salad, deep-fried oysters and a long list of designer rolls that are probably best reserved for the night Beyonce headlines. 244 Flatbush Ave Brooklyn, NY 11217, tarosushibrooklyn.com

Bark
OK, here’s a story. We once drank too much and ate special brownies at an Animal Collective concert in Prospect Park and walked a mile or so to Bark and ate three bacon-cheddar dogs topped with a smoky cheese sauce, Nueske’s bacon and pickled red onions. It was one of the greatest evenings of our lives. So if you find yourself at Barclays under similar circumstances, you can remember what you read here and have a game plan. Though, you’re likely not remembering much. 474 Bergen Street Brooklyn, NY  11217, 718-789-1939, barkhotdogs.com

Chuko
This smallish ramen bar opened by some Morimoto alums is more an homage to the late-night eating and drinking traditions of Japan. Sure, you can slurp perfectly chewy noodles from a bowl of even more perfect tonkatsu. And sometimes that’s all you want. But sometimes you want crispy Brussels sprouts or salt-and-pepper chicken wings. If you roll in with a group you can order all of that with your bowl of noodles, along with a very good kale salad mixed with crispy sweet potato, raisins and miso. 552 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238, 718-576-6701, barchuko.com

Pork Slope
Pork Slope is located in, you guessed it, Park Slope. Which is .9 miles away from the Barclays Center. So, it’s sorta far, but here’s the thing: there is no bigger basketball fan/chef than co-owner Dale Talde. He pulls for his hometown Chicago Bulls, but we aren’t going to hold that against him. The bourbon bar and greasy foods hangout has five TV screens and is the perfect spot for pre-game, post-game or during-game. The porky melt is a cheddarwurst with griddled onions and spicy mustard. A go-to, as are the tater tots and fingers of Black Maple Hill (and other rarified Kentucky bourbons). 247 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215, 718-768-7675, porkslopebrooklyn.com


Read more NYC food stories on Food Republic: