1. Zaytoons, 283 Smith St, Brooklyn (at Sackett St.)
A pleasant place for curbside people watching on Smith Street, or dine inside below colorful Middle Eastern chandeliers and faux stone walls. You may have to wait a half hour for a table on weekends, but the Zombie Hut two doors down has $2 PBRs and a tiki torch lit patio to pass the time. Two can eat well for less than $30 and Smith & Vine wine shop across the street features wines under $10. Menu picks: excellent babaganooj for a starter. The goat cheese pizza with tasty morsels of bacon never fails to satisfy, nor the hearty chicken shwarma plate.
2. Petite Crevette, 144 Hicks St (between President St. and Union St.).
A quirky fish place beside the BQE that has expanded its dinning room into the adjacent flower shop. An It has an eclectic atmosphere with an odd assortment of cozily positioned tables covered in butcher paper. Stop at Old Brooklyn Wine on Union St. around the corner. Corking fee is $5. Menu picks: start with the haricot vert salad. The whole fish are fresh but pricey. Stick with the salmon burger if you're on a budget or don’t want to see the face of your dinner.
3. Layla Jones, 214 Court St., (between Warren St. and Baltic St.)
A gem of a backyard with roomy wood tables under large umbrellas that povide some intimacy. The two long picnic tables can be put together for larger parties. Inside dinning is very cozy with only a handful of tables. The cheery red walls are decorated with interesting pictures of old New York. Menu picks: The Spaghetti and meatballs rivals mostly fancy Italian eateries at half the price. You can’t go wrong with the Fast Eddie either (pepperoni, meatballs, and sausage).
4. Ghang Thai Kitchen, 204 Smith St.
Among the ubiquitous Thai restaurants on Smith Street, this is clearly the crowd pleaser and best value. A long shiny wood table in the front can accommodate large (and sometimes loud parties), while the tables for twos and fours could be a little further apart. The ladies love the stark modern décor of exposed brick and clean bright lines, while the guys appreciate generous portions and a reasonable bill. Menu picks: veggie dumpling for starters and the drunken noodles with duck for an entree. Be sure and leave room for the fried ice cream, served flamming produce a shell of warm crunchy goodness.
5. Lucali, 575 Henry St. (between Carroll St. & Summit St.)
Not worth the weekend waits and a bit pricey for pizza, but if you show up at a quarter to 6 pm on weekdays you can get a seat. Otherwise, they'll call your cell in about an hour and a half when your table is ready. Arguably, the best pizza in Brooklyn served in a charming candlelit atmosphere. The old-world kitchen is nothing more than a couple of tables surrounding a brick oven from which the owner surveys the room. Hopefully, a promised new garden will alleviate some of the wait. Menu picks: the pepperoni and basil pie feeds two easily. Opt for the artichoke hearts during lent. Share a calzone for larger parties.