As the weather starts to warm there should be one thing on your mind: Italian ices.
'corona' on Serious Eats
Anyone who's been to Queens-based Mexican food truck Tortas Neza knows that it stands at the intersection of fútbol and good food. This episode of 1 Minute Meal is a tribute to that overlap, and to the moment of celebration when your oversized, painstakingly assembled sandwich hits the counter, informing you that those dinner plans will have to be postponed.
For years, my answer to "where should we go for steak" has always been the same: the Argentinian, of course. The Argentinian in question is Mario José, the man behind El Gauchito, a steakhouse and butcher shop on Corona Avenue between Corona and Elmhurst. It's not just my favorite steak-on-a-budget restaurant; it's my favorite place for steak, period.
In the Queens neighborhood of Corona Heights, the first warm day of the year is synonymous with an ice from The Lemon Ice King. In this episode of 1 Minute Meal, co-owner and store manager Vincent Barbaccia recounts the feeling of that day, and why this ice stand has only become more precious to New York since over the past 69 years.
It's been ten years since I last visited Park Side, the mob-run temple to red sauce fine dining in Queens. By no stretch of the imagination does it make New York's greatest Italian food, Americanized red sauce or otherwise. But here I am, ten years later, eating this dinner locked in amber. The meal converges with all my other meals at Park Side, and it's more than a homecoming—it's a return back to a moment in time that repeats and repeats and repeats.
Both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field have put more effort than ever into their in-house food, and hey, Parm or Shake Shack mid-game is a great thing. But if you've made the trip to the South Bronx or Corona, how about trying some of the local fare? You'll find shorter lines (and largely cheaper food), we promise.
The first hint that you've entered Argentinean/Uruguayan territory is the telephone pole on the corner of Corona Avenue and Junction Boulevard. It's painted blue and white, the colors of the flags of both countries. The second hint? El Gauchito: a butcher/restaurant. Don't be fooled by the seemingly small spot. Inside you'll find enough Argentinean goods to make any hardened expat or recent tourist ecstatic.
Since emigrating from Italy to the U.S. at age 12, Lidia's family has called Queens home. She has lived all over, from Astoria to Bayside to Douglaston, and shops in the borough nearly every day, after church or on her way into Manhattan. Here's where Lidia seeks out Italian ingredients on her home turf.
Nixtamal isn't the only tortilleria in town. Corona's La Estancia de la Espiga, formerly El Globo, is pressing their own tortillas and making them by hand, too. Chapulines—small, crispy, fried grasshoppers, will be filling tacos and quesadillas, in June.
Remember a month or so ago when every Serious Eats employee got a promotion except for me? Now Kenji's called some grand, Oprahesque thing, the maniacal Jones woman is newly empowered to yell at me, and even Hambone got kicked up to Senior Office Dog. As happy as I was for my friends—which was barely happy at all, because what do I care about their good fortune if it doesn't put any extra mustard in my fridge?—I was still a bit disappointed to have been passed over. What's the harm in letting me call myself the Executive Director of Cheap Booze and Long Wind, say?
The 3+ mile stretch of Roosevelt Avenue in Queens between Sunnyside and Flushing is home to some of the best food you can eat in New York, plenty of it right there on the street. $10 will buy you a meal (or two) (or three) from street vendors hailing from, well, everywhere. You may need a guide to get the most out of your food crawl under the 7 train; English comes and goes in Queens, and there are plenty of mediocre food options among the exceptional. But that's where Jeff Orlick comes in.
On a sunny afternoon in Queens, Galdino Molinero invited me into his truck to photograph the making of an epic sandwich. He's the owner of Corona mainstay Tortas Neza, which serves some of the best sandwiches on this side of the Rio Grande; a clear standout in stye and substance from the mass of antojitos carts and taco trucks parked all along Roosevelt Avenue.
I don't always eat a sandwich the size of my own skull. But when I do, I prefer the Puma, a hand-held smörgåsbord named after its creator's favorite Mexican soccer team—Mexico City's Pumas.
The tortilla is the foundation by which a taqueria is built: not just for assembling tacos, but for rolling flautas, frying into crispy mantles for tostadas, and sopping up stews. A better tortilla equals a better taqueria, which is why Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona, Queens puts fashioning a superior version at the forefront of their efforts.
Going to the US Open this week? Looking for some adventure before or after the matches? Here's a list of fun foods that can be found in nearby Corona (as well as Flushing), on the way to or just outside the stadium—and all for under $5.00!
I've long maintained that if you think you like Corona with lime, you're in luck, because what you really like is simple cheap lager and lime. A few years ago Anheuser-Busch decided the same, which is why the biggest challenger to Corona's "-and lime" market dominance is now Bud Light Lime.
One of the Silver Bell Bakery's customers is so addicted that every week he drives 10 hours round-trip from Saratoga Springs just to get his bread. By the end of the summer, Silver Bell is going to move out to the suburbs, following its customer base. So get it while you can.
I have not been let down by these tamales; they're consistently delicious, and without question the best I have found in Queens. And at $1.00 each, a bargain.
After a month of taco eating around New York City, we are back in Queens for this week's post. El Globo Restaurant makes their own tortillas; aside from Nixtamal, not many taquerias have a tortilla machine in their space. Luckily,...
There are almost too many eating options at the Open: Mexican, Japanese, Indian, Carnegie Deli, "Southern Barbecue" (their term, not mine), crepes, Pat LaFreida burgers, pizza, anything one could want, except for one thing: real, authentic, seriously delicious ethnic food from the surrounding neighborhoods. But I'm not going to dwell on that. What are the best of the in-stadium options?