Brennan & Carr


3432 Nostrand Avenue


Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Photo by Dominic Perri

There's no greater measure of success than crowds and longevity. Brennan & Carr, Gravesend's perennial king of dipped sandwiches, boasts both. The low-slung brick building that has served the borough's hungriest carnivores for more than 75 years looks stuck in time, a better fit amid the farmland that used to surround it than the paved roads that flank it now. A small wooden sign advertises “hot beef sandwiches,” which arrive at your table saturated in a murky jus shimmering with liquid fat. Soggy and leaking, it's not the prettiest sandwich, but the flavor payoff of concentrated bovine musk more than compensates. Though you'll inevitably be confronted by a barely held-together kaiser roll, resist the urge to use a knife and fork. Making a mess is part of the plan, as essential to the experience as slurping is to ramen. Eddie Sullivan, whose grandmother was a waitress here in the 1940s, runs the show now. He took over from his father, a retired cop whose fellow boys in blue still stop in for a dose of nostalgia. Most regulars simply sit down and wait for their orders to appear, occasionally placing last-minute requests for cheese fries or cups of Manhattan clam chowder. Look around and you'll also likely see a Gargiulo burger or two. Credit for this delicacy goes to the Russo brothers of classic Coney Island Italian restaurant Gargiulo's, who first plunked a helping of roast beef onto their cheeseburgers before dipping them in jus. It was a secret order for nearly 30 years, until Mr. Sullivan decided to share this dastardly mash-up with the public.