Very little about the onslaught of million-dollar condos bursting out of the ground in Downtown Brooklyn adheres to any part of Hindu philosophy. Very little, except for this Hare Krishna temple and the basement that houses its welcoming cafeteria.
At Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch, the bankers, businesspeople, and bureaucrats that stock the neighborhood’s corporate offices rub shoulders over their weekday lunch break with smiling, shaved, robed devotees of the temple upstairs. The dining room attempts to make up for being windowless with colorful floor-to-ceiling murals of Krishna and his milkmaids, while chants and hymns emanate from speakers.
The very affordable lunch buffet and specials change daily, but all the food is served unfailingly on classic red cafeteria trays, a simple and disarming touch that will transport many customers back to grade-school lunch. No meat is served (“every living entity is a friend of God,” temple president Ramabhadra Prabhu told BRIC TV) but rather a rotating array of rich soups, samosas, rajma, and kitchari highlights the versatility of vegetarian options. Careful not to pigeonhole itself, the restaurant has non-Indian offerings as well: Both the eggplant parmesan and mango cheesecake come highly recommended. The kitchen avoids cooking with onion and garlic as not to inflame the passions, but every dish comes blessed, free of charge.
The lunch-only restaurant refrains from proselytizing, but, with an open seating plan, seems to encourage you to strike up friendly conversation with a stranger.