I have a hard time explaining Mile End to people. I’m inevitably hanging out with hungry friends in my neighborhood, and when I call it a deli, they inevitably say, “Oh.” So then I have to explain that it’s a hipster deli, but no one likes that, either. So then I have to explain that it’s a really cute East-Village-meets-Cobble-Hill kind of place that happens to serve the most delicious meats in the style of a New York deli. And also has plated entrees and wine.
That usually wins them over.
smoked meat sandwich
The cured and smoked brisket is the thing to get. The burger is always awesome. The entree special of the night is indeed always special. But the brisket is the thing I keep coming back for. It has that spicy crust, those thick cuts laced with fat that could be chewy but is always melty. And then the mustard adds another level of spice, the bread adds a little stability to the tower and soaks up the mustard, and then there’s just no stopping it.
Try to resist this.
This is one of those plated entrees I was talking about. I was going to get the brisket but saw this written on the chalkboard above the counter one night and had to have it. The meatballs were so juicy and well-seasoned that it was clear they came from a restaurant focused on meat, and then a flavorful hummus and crunchy pomegranate seeds made it a complete dish.
These Brussels sprouts with chunks of apple and candied walnuts were on the menu for the longest time and will be back, if I have anything to say about it. Everything’s better with an egg on top.
French fries covered in roasted chicken gravy covered in cheese curds. This was actually the first place I ever had poutine. I’m not the hugest fan of gravy and wish this was covered in Cheez Whiz and cheese curds instead, but I understand that I have the palate of an elementary school child.
Sir Kensington’s Ketchup
Fresh, tangy, less sweet, less fake, thicker. We tried a side-by-side taste test of the Sir Kensington’s and the national brand ketchup that was right beside it on the table, and this had a much more full-bodied flavor.
Pretty Things Meadowlark
There are 30+ beers on the menu, a couple of ciders, a handful of wines, and some interesting sodas. I always order the Farnum Hill Dooryard #1310 cider and let the waiter try to talk me out of getting 750mL of beer. Like I can’t handle it.
The food at Mile End is comparable to or better than that of the most famous delis in NYC. The portions are smaller than at Katz’s or Carnegie or 2nd Ave, but so are the prices, and the atmosphere here is miles (pun!) ahead of those places. I know there’s something special about getting barked at from behind a counter by an aging butcher with a Brooklyn accent and a love of half-sour pickles, but I don’t mind my deli meats being served by a friendly bearded hipster when I’m out for the evening. The only beef (pun! sorry) I have with this place is that it’s tiny and that the tables are communal. There are three shared picnic tables (read: no back support) to sit at, and if you come as a twosome, you’ll likely have strangers at your table. (Nice, considerate Brooklyn strangers but strangers all the same.) There’s also a table for two by the window and four counter seats. I don’t go here as often as I’d like even though it’s just down the street from my apartment, because it fluctuates from nearly empty to OMG CHAOS at random intervals, and I’m never sure what I’m going to get when I go. But I do love to go.
97 Hoyt Street
New York, NY 11217 (map)