Cititour Review: If you are in the market for something unique for dinner, ride to the Cortelyou Road stop off the Q Line in Brooklyn, climb the stairs to the street and you will be immediately greeted by some of the greatest Tibetan food Brooklyn has to offer. Cafe Tibet is an easily passable location on Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park/Flatbush. It is wedged between the train station and a bodega, set back from the street with a small sign overhead being the only indication the place even exists. I happened upon Cafe Tibet when I was scoping out apartments in the area and decided to stop in for a quick and cheap bite to eat. My experience there, on top of the overall food scene along Cortelyou Road, sold me even more on what was soon to be my new neighborhood.
In the summer months, there are a few tables set up outside so patrons can enjoy their meal in an open air environment, however, the rattling of the exposed subway line right below may detract from the allure of choosing seating outside. Once you venture inside, you will be immediately charmed by this tiny little gem in the rough. World music plays lightly in the background and the place is nicely decorated, dim, intimate and casual.The tables are small so going with a large party may not be the best recommendation (a party of 10 or more may end up filling the entire place). It may be wise to call ahead and make a reservation so you don't end up waiting. The place (understandably) can fill up rather quickly during the dinner hours.
A few things to keep in mind before you get there: There is no alcohol served here so if you want a drink with your meal, pack your own. Also, bring cash. They do not accept cards and many times I have had to leave the table to walk over to a bodega to take out the cash for my meal. A cash run is not what you want to deal with on a full and satisfied belly. Plus who really wants to deal with an unanticipated ATM surcharge?
When you sit down, the first thing you are going to want to do is order the Chicken Corn Soup ($4) and/or the Shogo - Khatsa ($4), which is curried potatoes and is extremely spicy. The portion size is tremendous and I can't resist ordering them every time I go. It's so good! A popular main course would be the Momos (Tibetian dumplings) which can be ordered with chicken, beef, vegetarian or you can come up with your own combination. A serving of 8 can run anywhere between $6.50-$9 (The combo comes with 9 pieces). I have never had an entree there that i did not like, however, my strongest recommendations would be the Shrimp Chili ($10.50), Ginger Chicken ($9.25) or The Cafe Tibet Thali ($9) which is a choice of lamb, chicken or vegetable curry with daal lentil soup, mixed vegetables, yogurt and salad. Keep in mind that basically everything here is served very spicy, so if you are not into spicy food, let the your server know so they can tone it down a notch. A bottle of spicy sauce is on each table and they offer spicy mustards and wasabi as well so no worries if you need to later kick it up.
While you wait, you can read up on the history of Tibet, a nice touch to the back of their menu and a good conversation piece. Another bonus of this place, in my opinion, is that it seems the same waitress is always there. After I started making my regular visits, she would remember me - which is always something nice about visiting a neighborhood place you love. I was often offered complimentary tea and bread. She was always very helpful in making suggestions and recommendations and was always very friendly and attentive.
One final note about Cafe Tibet: don't worry about what's for lunch tomorrow: you will definitely be taking home leftovers.
Review By: Valerie Pettersen
Neighborhood: Ditmas Park
1510 Cortelyou Rd
Entree Price: <$10
Payment: Cash only