Welcome to Astoria, home of the city's greatest Greek food and shawarma. It's where neighborhood sausage shops and Italian delis are still part of daily life, and where cafes line the streets with games of backgammon and strong mint tea, or tiny cups of even stronger coffee with flaky phyllo pastries. Here's how to eat it all.
'Queens' on Serious Eats
Rockaway isn't just clean, spacious, and conveniently located—the wealth of food options alone make it our top day-trip choice over Coney Island, Jones Beach, or any far-flung Long Island shore. From tacos and ceviche to burgers and brisket, see our favorite beachside bites after the jump!
Rooftop bars, low-key gardens, people-watching patios—whatever your inclination (and whatever your drink), we've got you covered in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
In a nondescript shopping mall, just past a plastic bottle recycling station, in Jackson Heights, Queens, lies one of the best French bakeries in New York. Case in point: this all-chocolate, all-the-time dessert.
Taverna Kyclades is the easier-to-get-into Rao's of Astoria's Greek restaurant scene. You'll find some good grilled fish there, but the real draw is the clubby community that leads to two hour waits for a table on peak nights. Fortunately, if you're looking for good traditional Greek, Kyclades is far from your only option.
The key to a successful experience at Crazy Crab is twofold: flexibility and knowledge. If you're looking for a full-blown Burmese or Yunnanese experience, you will be disappointed, as the menu offers only a handful of dishes from each cuisine. And if you're in the market for a legit Cajun seafood fiesta, then I have to ask what exactly you're doing in Flushing. But if you enter Crazy Crab with a plan of attack, an open mind, and a willingness to make a cross-cultural mess on your plate, you won't leave disappointed.
As the weather starts to warm there should be one thing on your mind: Italian ices.
Astoria's Koliba specializes in oversized plates of comfort food. Chief among them: spaetzle with sauerkraut and bacon.
This Seoul-based chain is founded by comedian, MC, and former professional wrestler Kang Ho Dong, which may lead you to believe that Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is something of a gag. But on my visit that couldn't be further from the case.
Of all the Burmese specialties at Flushing's Crazy Crab, this salad of shredded young ginger and fried crunchy bits is the most compelling.
Marani, a recently opened Glatt kosher Georgian restaurant in Rego Park, prides itself on being only the second kosher Georgian restaurant in the world featuring two separate kitchens. Of the two, the dairy-only bakery downstairs is the star.
The five boroughs are dotted with numerous cuisine-unspecific kosher restaurants, serving everything from shawarma to pizza to sushi, all rabbinically approved for Orthodox Jewish consumption. Benjy's Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Flushing is one notable example. According to the restaurant's extended name, a woman I spoke to while having lunch there, and this blog post (picked up by Gothamist), the pizza is the thing to order at Benjy's. And having read that post, there was no way I'd be ordering anything other than the Falafel Pizza.
Great news for fans of the Sainted Arepa Lady—street food legend Maria Cano and her family will be opening a year-round brick and mortar restaurant at 77-02AA Roosevelt Avenue later this year, close to her normal 79th and Roosevelt street corner.
Yee sangis a large-format salad of raw fish, shredded vegetables, and crunchy bits eaten exclusively during Lunar New Year. It originated in mainland China, but these days it's most commonly found in Chinese communities in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. And in Flushing at Malay Restaurant, which serves my favorite version of the dish—Malaysia included.
The specialty at Gregory's 26 Corner is, resoundingly, its warm hospitality. The food doesn't disappoint, either.
When Miroslav Uskokovic, the head pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, moved to Astoria in 2009, he felt right at home. As he puts it, "I try to eat in Queens a lot. Everyone comes to Manhattan. Why not support your local places?"
Uncle Jack's Steakhouse has three bustling locations in New York—two in Manhattan and the original location in Bayside, Queens. As is befitting of a true New York steakhouse, each location dry ages its own beef, and in that tradition Uncle Jack's has a purchaser that still heads down to the Meatpacking District at an ungodly hour to personally select the restaurants' beef.
As one of the city's Asian food meccas, Flushing has no shortage of good food courts. But one of the best receives little attention from Yelp or small food blogs, likely for one simple reason: it's a 25-minute walk from the 7 train on Flushing's Union Street in a Korean supermarket chain called H-Mart. Unless you have a car (it's five minutes from the Whitestone bridge that way), Namoodol, the H-Mart's lunch counter, is a trek, but the Korean barbecue and free tea alone are well worth the trip.