Queens food adventure
My girlfriend and I are inspired by the chowhound for a great food adventure in Queens, which would be topped off by a visit to the arepa lady.
Where would you suggest for a great inexpensive dinner that we can't get in Manhattan which is close to the arepa lady?
First of all, where are you coming from?
As for your question...The Arepa Lady can be dinner unto herself. Wait, that didn't sound right. But I'll keep going...she doesn't just make corncakes, she also makes chusos (pork brochettes) and tortas de carne (sort of like dry fried green hamburgers, but about a zillion times less repulsive than that sounds). Like everything The Arepa Lady serves, they're galvanizingly good. I'd suggest you get a brochette and then an arepa con queso, and order your girlfriend a torta de carne and an arepa de choclo (then share everything). Note that you'll also get pleasantly starchy mini arepas with the meats.
You can also get a very nice tropical fruit shake on that block...look for the juice place with the big yellow sign. I'd recommend the batido de guanabana (soursop).
And that's a dinner from heaven.
I'm sure others will have more tips for you if you insist on actually dining first.
Here are a couple: if you have a car, Pio Pio is a nice cheap romantic place for rotisserie chicken and fried tostones) and not too far away at 84-13 Northern Boulevard (between 84 and 85 Streets). While I think they're always at least good (sometimes great), there've been some highly negative reports here.
You can also do quite well at literally any of the Filipino restaurants clustered near Roosevelt and 69th. If you like barbecue, don't miss Ihawan (40-06 70 street), where you want the barbecue pork and longaniza (sausage). Krystal Cafe on the corner of 69 and roosevelt, is a relaxed hip place with a good menu and especially good desserts (try the crispy pata).
La Portena (74-25 37th Avenue) is a quick walk from the Arepa Lady, and is arguably the best Argentinian in town.
re: Jim Leff
If you're going to Pio Pio, just get the chicken and tostones or french fries. Recent negative reviews of Pio Pio seem to involve deviating from these choices to sample some of the restaurant's other items, such as seafood. The chicken is astoundingly good, especially with the spicy avacado sauce, and their french fries are equally amazing.
Also, if you're in the neighborhood, you can try Stick To Your Ribs, lovingly detailed elsewhere on this board. Manhattan BBQ pales by comparison.
re: Seth Ditchik
I haven't been to Pio Pio in a while, partly because of the some of the distressing notes about the seafood salad. I'll have to break my "boycott" eventually, but I want to assure you that the seafood salad, at least for a certain window in time, was spectacular, so much so that we preferred it to the chicken.
I've actually found quite a bit of variability in the chicken -- when it is is overcooked, which it is perhaps one-third of the time, it isn't nearly as delicious.
re: Dave Feldman
Just to add one more word, I went to Pio Pio last night and the chicken was absolutely wonderful. However, as Jim Leff notes in his book, stay away from the salchipapas con papas (french fries with hot dogs, yes hot dogs). My dining companion missed Jim's warning and ended up with a bad case of dispepsia. The fries were good yes, the fried hot dog slices, no.