December 1, 2021

Joe Harris’s Grub Street Diet

Joe Harris with his mom’s cheesecakes. Illustration: Eliana Rodgers NBA guard Joe Harris has been…

Joe Harris with his mom’s cheesecakes.
Illustration: Eliana Rodgers

NBA guard Joe Harris has been a member of the Brooklyn Nets since 2016, and he has credited the team with rescuing his career when other organizations wouldn’t give him “the opportunity.”

He endured the rebuilding years as the team transformed into a championship contender (even without point guard Kyrie Irving). Now the NBA’s reigning leader in three-point shooting percentage, Harris is gearing up for the season — the Nets will play the Bucks in their season opener on Tuesday — and taking advantage of this time in which he gets to eat whatever he wants. This week, he took his cousin out to Shuko for a celebratory dinner; popped by some of his favorite spots, including Roberta’s and Rucola; and generally ate a whole lot of carbs. 

Tuesday, October 5
Breakfast at the team practice facility: egg whites, sautéed greens, and waffles. How I eat really depends on the training schedule. We have four amazing chefs here: Marlon, Benny, Mo, and Armando. They’ve been here for the last couple of years. They’ll cook buffet style, but sometimes in the morning if you want something specific, they’ll do that for you.

I’m eating a lot now, just for energy, because the training level is so high. With practice and games, you really have to load up the calorie intake. And I definitely like to eat.

For lunch, I went to my local spot Prospect Butcher Co. It takes me less than five minutes to walk there. I had a sandwich with turkey and bacon jam. The meat here is just really delicious. I get everything there.

Dinner was at Rucola, the Italian spot in Boerum Hill. We had a couple different pastas, gem-lettuce salad, Spanish octopus, and mushroom risotto. In the last six years that I’ve been in Brooklyn, I’ve lived all around neighborhoods close to Boerum Hill, so I venture over to Rucola a lot. I also love Italian food. My mom would cook it every now and again, and her pastas stood out: different lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, and she’d make spicy rigatoni.

She stayed home with my sisters and me until we were old enough to go to school, and she ran a little catering business on the side. My favorite thing she makes is cheesecake. Occasionally she’ll make chocolate, sometimes Snickers, add a caramel swirl or something like that. But I like her regular, traditional cheesecake with the graham-cracker crust.

My grandparents, aunts, and uncles cooked a lot too. My mom got it from her mom, and my mom’s cooking is definitely what got me more interested in restaurants and cooking for myself. Even with whatever little money I had in college, I liked to try new spots. When I went out to Cleveland to play for the Cavs, same thing. I think the best way to get to know a new town is to eat your way around.

Wednesday, October 6
Breakfast at the practice facility. Eggs and chicken sausage. Fruit, yogurt, and granola.

Lunch was leftover pasta from Rucola. We got a lot of food.

That night, I went to Roberta’s, one of my favorite spots. Even before I lived in New York, I had gone. I just like it a lot — it’s one of those places where if I have people in town, it’s a fun spot to take them. My favorite pizza there is the “Bee Sting,” which comes with soppressata, chile, and honey. We’ll always get that.

And it’s always great to see a new neighborhood. I live on Vanderbilt now, and there are a lot of really good places: Olmsted, Maison Yaki, Amorina Cucina Rustica, Faun, and Ciao, Gloria. It’s not hard to eat at a new spot every night.

Thursday, October 7
Breakfast at the team practice facility. Scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and sautéed spinach. Had lunch at the facility too: some pasta Bolognese and salad. Afterward, I got a cold brew from this bakery in my neighborhood called Mille-Feuille.

This was a big night: omakase at Shuko. It was a special occasion, with my cousin in town. I love sushi; he’s fluent in Japanese. Actually, he just joined the Air Force, and they have him in international relations with an emphasis on Japan.

I wanted to treat him since he was coming to the city, and Shuko is so nice. This was actually my first time going, and everything was fantastic. There wasn’t one that I was leaning toward over everything else.

But to be honest, I’m not a very picky eater, and I really enjoy trying new things. Lately, that’s meant some Caribbean spots. Just being in Prospect Heights, I can go over to Crown Heights, where there’s a lot of West Indian food. Like Gloria’s, and Peppa’s is awesome. I’ve heard the Islands is a great spot, so I’m adding it to my list.

Friday, October 8
Breakfast was at Barclays Center again.

Got my coffee at Milk Bar, another great coffee spot in the neighborhood. I grew up in Washington, and there was always good coffee, but I didn’t drink it a ton. I really got into it once I got to the NBA, actually, because of all the traveling. It was the first time where I was so gassed and I needed a little pick-me-up. The games are tough, and the schedule is demanding, but more than anything else, it’s the travel. You get into places at three or four in the morning, play a game, then turn around and do it again the next night.

That day, we had brunch at Hole in the Wall in the Financial District. It’s an Aussie café with a great breakfast sandwich. It had this sesame-seeded bread, almost like a burger bun, that was toasted and all this spicy mayo sauce on it. Then just egg and bacon. It’s pretty straightforward and standard, but, I don’t know, it was almost like the simplicity of it made it so good.

Before our preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks that night, I ate salmon with asparagus and sweet potatoes at Barclays Center. You don’t want to pass out on the court.

My postgame meal was a fried-chicken sandwich at Mekelburg’s in Clinton Hill. They do a really good job. I love Mekelburg’s. I go in there all the time after games because it stays open late. After games, you’re just starving. A lot of times, there’s food available to us at the arena, and sometimes I’ll grab something quick, maybe a smoothie or something like that, and then go get another meal.

Saturday, October 9
Breakfast at Miriam in Park Slope. Had the eggs Benedict. You eat so much when you’re an athlete. That’s what I’m worried about. I already know what’s gonna happen when I’m done: I’m gonna balloon.

Lunch was also at the team practice facility. Ginger-carrot lentil soup plus chicken and rice. That chicken and rice had some spice to it and then we had plantains with that. The cooks will add their own spin on the food. They’ll tell you what to do, what to mix and match.

I really enjoy cooking for myself, but during the season, I have a lot of people who are coming into town. So this past week, we were going out to eat more than usual. For dinner, I went to Emmy Squared. We shared a couple pies, the burger, and some salads. I prefer New York–style pizza, but I like that you can get a little mix of everything here. We had a white pie with Korean-barbecue-sauce chicken. I feel like you aren’t gonna see that too often at a New York pizza spot.

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