They’ll speak to you in Russian initially, but if you show any hesitation they’ll quickly switch over to English.
Nargis Cafe is a poorly kept neighborhood secret, consistently making it onto Yelp’s 100 Best Places to Eat in Brooklyn list and attracting a fair amount of out-of-neighborhood clientele. Located at the southern end of Coney Island Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, a few blocks east of the Gravesend border, Nargis has been serving up hearty Central Asian comfort food since opening its doors in 2007.
Arriving at 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, the place was booming, and we spent the 20 minute wait perusing a dollar shop around the corner.
Once seated, it was easy to assess the diverse crowd as majority Russian speakers, most of whom appeared to be from the area.
A multi-room restaurant decorated with traditional Uzbeki wall hangings and cushioned seats, Nargis has a homey but upscale vibe. We were given both an English menu and an iPad that helpfully showed pictures of the food we were ordering.
For the meal, we ceded power to the only Russian-speaking member of our party, who ordered three delicious courses.
First up was the salads. All affordably priced, crisp and fresh, of the avocado, Nargis, and Salad Tashkent, it was the third dish that was easily the most memorable. Named after a City in Uzbekistan, the salad featured tongue, but tasted surprisingly accessible, and everyone was a fan. The onions were hot as hell.
The plov came next — a rice pilaf type dish with raisins. Then there were the kebabs — lulya (mixed), beef, lamb and chicken with a salsa-like dip that came in a Ketchup bottle and the server referred to only as “sauce”. The meats were consistently very tender.
For dessert we had a Russian-style Napolean, chocolate mouse cake and a plate of assorted baklava. We left two hours after we arrived, bursting at the seams, and happily entering food coma.
Where: 2818 Coney Island Avenue
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Phone: (718) 872-7888
Kid Friendly? Yes