Somewhere in the world there may be a train line that covers more gastronomic territory than the B and V subway lines, which start in southernmost Brooklyn and end deep in Queens, but if there is, we don’t know about it. For the next twenty-odd weeks, we’ll be riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.
This week: Newkirk Avenue
According to local lore, the neighborhood of Ditmas Park West is the most ethnically diverse Zip Code in the country. We could well believe it: Walking the four or five blocks from the Newkirk stop, you pass Bangladeshi convenience stores, a Jamaican fried-fish restaurant, a Latin American luncheonette with the alluring smell of fried lard wafting out, a West African laundromat, an Israeli auto shop, and then, finally, cross the perilous, lawless Coney Island Avenue. Only then do you get to what could be the city’s top Afghan kebab house, Behar.
Set among a cluster of Desi sweet shops and halal butchers, Bahar is a prototypical Afghan kebab restaurant, from the postcard-worthy color photos of mountains to the tandoor oven that dominates the center of the room. Where a lot of these places tend to be low-rent affairs, Bahar strives for elegance. But the best things on the menu are the messiest — the profusion of rice dishes anointed with greasy, delicious stews; the crusty lamb chops; and Ashi Keshida, a luscious Afghan pasta composed of equal parts butter, tangy yogurt, and garlic. If only that lemurlike Afghan girl from the National Geographic cover would stop staring from the wall, the place would be a paradise.
We want our own neon sign in Arabic.Photo: Melissa Hom
Bahar, 984 Coney Island Ave., nr. Newkirk Ave., Ditmas Park West, Brooklyn; 718-434-8088