Back to NYC Eats… and Drinks!
Arunee Thai, 37-68 79th St (Jackson Heights) [THAI]
– The decor isn’t particularly inspiring and the lighting is fairly dim but the kitchen here makes up for all of that and more. The servings are huge, the prices reasonable and the food almost consistently spicy! The Fisherman’s Curry is a must try, as is their Crab fried rice. Don’t be afraid to try their specials and leave space for desert!
Ayada, 77-08 Woodside Ave (Elmhurst) [THAI]
– I’m happy to note that finally Sripraphai has some serious competition! This little Elmhurst eatery is an absolute marvel, serving some excellent Thai fare at reasonable prices, through a menu that’s not in any way intimidating! Of the several dishes we tried, the most memorable ones were the Raw Shrimp, Mussels with Lemongrass and Basil, and the Duck Penang. The staff is extremely helpful, and yes, they accept plastic too!
Bricktown Bagel, 51-06 Vernon Blvd (LIC) [CAFE]
– Chandeliers, brick walls and sofas make up its cool interiors while the kitchen itself bakes some fine Bagels! Good Deli Sandwiches and Coffee as well!
Casa Enrique, 5-48 49th Ave (LIC) [MEXICAN]
– Friendly service, inviting interiors, a lively bar area, and some great Mexican fare! The Mole here is some of the best you’ll find in the city, and they do a solid job of their guacamole and house-made tortilla chips. In 2014, this LIC eatery joined the Michelin club – no small feat that!
Chivito de Oro, 84-02 37th Ave (Jackson Hts) [URUGUAYAN]
– Great Sausages, awesome Empanadas and overall good Uruguayan fare, in a friendly eatery patronised only by ‘locals’ !
Curry Leaf, 13531 40th Rd (Flushing) [MALAY / CHINESE]
– Chinese dishes (mostly!) with Malay spices – a tough to beat combination! Start and end with their Lychee juice and in between sample some of the most amazing Banana Leaf Chili Fish! Has your usual Malay fare to – Roti Canai, Rendang, the works! Oh, and throwaway prices!!
Donovan’s, 57-24 Roosevelt Ave (Woodside) [IRISH PUB]
– A Woodside institution from the days when the Irish were about the only ethnicity in this neighbourhood! Good selection of Beer on tap, authentic Irish accents, old woodwork all around, and they supposedly do a very good burger to! Note to self, I need to try one next time I’m there!
Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Ave (LIC) [COCKTAIL BAR]
– One of the coolest underground bars in the city! A neon sign flashing ‘BAR’ in a non-descript, industrial section of LIC is the only hint that a gem of a place exists within! Great interiors, lovely old bar area, and a fabulous selection of cocktails which change every month!
El Gauchito, 94-60 Corona Ave (Corona) [ARGENTINIAN]
– A butcher shop cum restaurant local Argentines swear by! Have so far only tried their Empanadas, which narrowly pip the ones at Chivito de Oro (above). And their Chimichurri is to die for! Cosy, friendly setting, in which I’ve promised myself to try a full meal someday!
El Pollito Dorado, 95-13 Roosevelt Ave (Elmhurst) [PERUVIAN]
– Great Ceviche, awesome Mussels, good Peruvian Beers and some delectable desert in the form of ‘Picarones’! Go there and try it to find out what it is! All this in an authentic ‘local’ setting..
El Rico Tinto Bakery, 76-07 37th Ave (Jackson Heights) [COLOMBIAN – MEXICAN / BAKERY]
– One of the heartiest breakfasts or brunches (sans alcohol) you can have in the city, all for a song! The breakfast menu reads like a thesis, the portions are huge, and the food is delish! This place combines the best of both worlds (Colombian and Mex) and if you still have an appetite, there’s a whole bakery section to choose from, full of Latin American goodness!
Fu Run, 4009 Prince St (Flushing) [CHINESE]
– The health department gives it a C grade, and Yelpers give it a 4-star! There is some irony to that, but once your past it, the food speaks for itself! The Cumin-smothered “Muslim Lamb Chops” are the dish to get here, and it is a flavor unlike any other Chinese dish you’ve tried! Then there’s the Country-style Cucumber, whose chilled freshness adequately balances the spices of the Lamb dish. The Crispy Sliced Flounder with Chili Pepper and Cumin is great too, in the event that your still craving for more of that spice! Service can be a little clumsy, but the food more than makes up for that, and at down-to-earth prices, you’ve got another winner in Flushing!
Himalayan Yak, 72-20 Roosevelt Ave (Jackson Hts) [TIBETAN / NEPALI]
– They claim to represent Nepal, Tibet and pretty much anywhere in the Himalayas but if your craving Indian-like food in the area, this is probably your best bet! The quality of their food is good and their buffet is great value for money! They get bonus points for doing good Momos and Masala Chai!
Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, 1563 Decatur St (Ridgewood) [PIZZERIA]
– This former industrial space, on an unassuming block in Ridgewood, is truly Brooklyn-esque in its look and feel, complete with exposed brick walls, industrial lamps and high ceilings. Their wood-fired oven churns out some really good pies, the Habanera being one of the standouts. Their house-made Burrata is excellent too! Good selection of beers and wines, decent prices, and friendly service (if not a little slow). For warmer weather, they have a patio area too.
Ihawan2, 10-07 50th Ave (LIC) [FILIPINO]
– The original Ihawan is in Woodside, therefore the 2 suffix! I haven’t eaten at the original but suffice to say, this one is very good! There marinated Pork skewer was superb, as was their smoked whole Tilapia, which takes it’s time to cook, and arrives wrapped in a Banana leaf! Friendly service, decent prices, and you know you’re in the right spot when you see only Filipinos around you 😉
Jackson Diner, 37-47 74th St (Jackson Heights) [INDIAN]
– Amongst a plethora of wannabe ‘Indian’ eateries, this Jackson Heights bastion stands out easily. Never mind the atrocious decor, total lack of ambiance or sloppy service, the food here is the real deal! Great Tandoori Chicken, and a different, albeit tasty, take on Dal Makhani. The Naan is good to! Will be going back there to sample the rest of their wares soon..
Krystal’s, 69-02 Roosevelt Ave (Woodside) [FILIPINO]
– There’s a whole string of Filipino restaurants along this section of Roosevelt Ave, known as ‘Little Manila’. This is the only one I’ve tried and I came away quite satisfied. They do a good Adobo and their Pork dishes in general are all very good, if not a tad salty! The place doubles as a Bakery so its always bustling inside!
La Cabaña, 86-07 Northern Blvd (Jackson Hts) [ARGENTINIAN]
– This place was recommended to me by a TLC driver and I have to say, this is the best Argentinian Steak I’ve had in the city! I’m still to try El Gauchito but these guys do a great job of your Skirt Steak, cooked to order! Decent selection of Argentine reds to go with your protein, and surprisingly good Pizzas to!
La Flor, 53-02 Roosevelt Ave (Woodside) [MEXICAN]
– If Huevos Rancheros is your kind of breakfast, this is the place to go! Bottomless cups of Coffee and a Bakery within are pluses!
LIC Bar, 45-58 Vernon Blvd (LIC) [BAR]
– Creaking old wood floors, high ceilings, a pet friendly patio at the back, and a good selection of local beers on tap make this a great, casual spot to catch up with friends and chat over many a Beer!
LIC Market, 2152 44th Drive (LIC) [BRUNCH / AMERICAN]
– Nice interiors, with an intimate little dining room at the back, friendly service, and great brunch! I had, what was possibly the best preparation of French Toast, in my opinion! They serve some excellent Coffee as well, sourced from a micro-roaster in Long Island. The very efficient English waitress is a plus too 😉
M. Wells, 22-25 Jackson Ave (LIC) [DINER]
As far as the exterior and interior go, its nothing more than an old school diner but a quick glance at the menu reveals otherwise! The cuisine on offer is Quebeco-American with everything from Poutine to Escargot available. Beware though, this is a continuously changing menu! I tried the Gravlox, which was superb, although a bigger helping would have made me happier! Unlimited refills of Oslo Coffee and some old-fashioned Coffee Cake made up the rest of my meal. Service is quick, prices are extremely reasonable and they’re only open 10 to 4, making them quite the breakfast / brunch destination! UPDATE: This location is now closed and has moved to MoMA PS1, also in LIC.
Mapo BBQ, 149-24 41st Ave (Flushing) [KOREAN]
– This spot is well worth the trek out to Flushing, and every bit worth the hype! Fact is, Korean BBQ doesn’t quite taste as good as it does when cooked on a coal fire, and that’s precisely what you come here for – melt-in-your-mouth Kalbi goodness 😉 Their selection of Banchan (sides) is also one of the widest and best I’ve had at any Korean eatery in the city. Tip: go here with a large group for it will be more economical and you will get to try a lot more things too!!
Mundakatis, 13-27 Jackson Ave (LIC) [ITALIAN]
– The older of 2 establishments by the same name, this one is still run by the couple who started it! Old school as the decor may be, if your looking for authentic Italian, you’re search ends here! An exhaustive Wine list, freshly baked Bread, hand made Pasta and delicious Entrées are just some of the rewards you’ll get by going here!
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao, 3812 Prince St (Flushing) [CHINESE]
– The last 3 words in the name essentially mean ‘Soup Dumplings’ which is a Shanghai specialty! It takes a while getting used to them at first – the spillage, the burning of the tongue and so forth – but once you get into it, it’s nothing short of Dumpling heaven! Recommended to me by a Chinese colleague, this eatery is as authentic as it gets. I was the only non-Chinese person there and shared my table with a family of 3 who recommended a few dishes – next time I’ll order with elan 😉
Orange Hut, 5317 Broadway (Woodside) [BREAKFAST]
– If you want to kick-start your day in Woodside, this is your best bet for breakfast! An old style, family run establishment serving a quick and good helping of crispy bacon, eggs & home fries, and a decent cup of Coffee, all for 5 bucks!!
Pio Pio Riko, 45-23 Greenpoint Ave (Sunnyside) [PERUVIAN]
– Great Rotisserie Chicken with awesome chili dipping sauce on the side. Superb prices, huge helpings!
Playland Diner, 97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd (The Rockaways) [NEW AMERICAN]
– Granted, it is overrun by hipsters, but if you can get past that, the team behind the Playland Motel has created a fun vibe within. More importantly, they’ve added a new destination to the Rockaways! Expect it to be swamped in the warmer months, but even so, it would be worth your while to stop by for a drink at their well stocked bar, or try something from their eclectic menu.
Ploy Thai, 81-40 Broadway (Elmhurst) [THAI]
– Another great Thai eatery in the Jackson Heights – Elmhurst stretch of culinary goodness in Queens. Humble interiors, friendly service, good prices and only delicious items on the menu! Their Chicken Larb, stir-fried Basil Duck and deep-fried whole Fish with Ginger sauce was superb!
Rincon Criollo, 40-09 Junction Blvd (Corona) [CUBAN]
– A classic Jukebox sits up front, leading to the festive family-style dining room, whose walls are adorned with hundreds of old photographs and wooden plaques, serving as cut outs for and carrying the flags of the many countries that make up the Americas. Service is friendly and efficient, portions are huge, and the prices are down to earth. I got the Half Pollo Rincon Criollo, which was served on a bed of Onions, accompanied by fried sweet Plantains and Rice and Beans cooked together – all of it fabulous! If you’re looking for a Cuban fix, without making a dent on the wallet, this is your spot!
Rockaway Taco, 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd (The Rockaways) [MEXICAN]
– A lot of hype and very long lines, but they definitely do a good job of their Tacos. While their Fish Tacos are good, I preferred the spicy Carne overall. They also offer a good selection of sides – beans, fried sweet plantains and grilled corn amongst them. The little counter by the side with all the pickles and hot sauces is a plus, no doubt!
Sage General Store, 24-20 Jackson Ave (LIC) [AMERICAN / COMFORT]
– Service can be slow during weekend brunch, and often, the food arrives a tad below the optimum temperature. Other than that though, Sage has got a lot going for it – a cozy space with high ceilings and plenty of light; a wonderful selection of bakery items – notable amongst them, the Biscuits and Muffins; good Mac & Cheese (of the 5-cheese variety) and flavorful Rotisserie Chicken (done right in their wood-burning oven). Another good brunch option in Western Queens!
Sripraphai, 64-13 39th Ave (Woodside) [THAI]
– The place to go if your looking for more than your usual Thai fare – Red & Green Curries, Pad Thai et al! Quite easily my favorite Thai place in NYC! And it’s not for nothing that Manhattanites make the trek there! Beware: cash only, no reservations!
Sweet Leaf, 10-93 Jackson Ave (Long Island City) [CAFE]
– Perfectly located at the crossroads of Brooklyn and Queens, Sweet Leaf is a great little Cafe serving some excellent Coffee, sourced from Stumptown, and a great selection of baked goods, including some superb Scones! Housed in a historic building, the space is beautifully designed and includes a laptop room and a vinyl room!
Taqueria Coatzingo, 7605 Roosevelt Ave (Jackson Heights) [MEXICAN]
– Some of the best Tacos I’ve had across the 5 boros. Go there on a Saturday if possible cause their specials include a slow-roasted Goat Taco – divine! The Beef Tongue one is great too. Their home made Salsa is unbelievably good, and coupled with the high quality of Tortilla chips, one can make a meal of just that!
Tortilleria Nixtamal, 10405 47th Ave (Corona) [MEXICAN]
– This part canteen, part home (with backyard!) like space is as unassuming as the neighbourhood itself! The food, however, demands it’s fair share of attention – great Guacamole, excellent Tacos (the Fish Tacos are the best I’ve had in a while!), and a refreshingly different Dulce Tamale to finish it all off! An all Spanish menu, friendly service, very reasonable prices, and the fact that they make their own Tortillas (the larger than life machine inside is proof enough!) ensures a truly authentic experience!
Tournesol, 50-12 Vernon Blvd (LIC) [FRENCH]
– This cosy, if not a little cramped, European style eatery offers great French cuisine at about half the prices you would pay for equivalent food across the East River! French accents all around and some very attractive waitresses to!
Triple Shot World Atlas Cafe, 27-06 Queens Plz South (LIC) [CAFE]
– A much needed entrant to the dull food & beverage scene around Queens Plaza, this cute little cafe – complete with maps adorning its walls – serves a solid Cup o Joe and a decent selection of baked goods and sandwiches.
Tuk Tuk, 49-06 Vernon Blvd (LIC) [THAI]
– Second only to Sripraphai as far as spice levels are concerned, this LIC eatery does a great job on all of the signature Thai curries, with quick service, good helpings and reasonable prices.
Upi Jaya, 76-04 Woodside Ave (Elmhurst) [INDONESIAN]
– For starters, this is the quietest restaurant I’ve ever eaten in – you will be hard pressed to find any place more civil, certainly so in NYC! And this is not to say it wasn’t crowded on the Sunday afternoon that we went – it was packed, packed with local Indonesians! The kitchen is essentially run by the lady who owns the restaurant, and she more often than not doubles as your hostess and server! Regardless of her multi-tasking, the food here is fantastic, especially the Beef Rendang and the Indonesian version of grilled Chicken! This place is incredibly reasonable too, and, as a bonus, it’s BYOB! It is rumored that the restaurant catered to the Indonesian President, during his recent visit to the UN General Assembly!