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what will make me move to Astoria

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  • Owen Jun 22, 2005 09:50 AM
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Going to look at apartments on Saturday and looking for a lunch that will help me in my decision to move from Manhattan. Here's the criteria:

Great food

Something I can't get as good in Manhattan

Something that makes me wonder why I pay so much for food in Manhattan

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  1. Kabab Cafe. On Steinway St.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Nina W.

      I have to second that. This place is definitely innovate, not your typical confusing overspiced saturated ethnic mélange, and decently priced without following suit of stuffy city standards (a model that many failed businesses follow; Manhattan is much too close to mimic). With a limited number of tables, the owner/chef has time to go through the menu with you and get a feel of what it is you might be craving. The walls are adorned with art from locals. (My one qualm with the place is the use of a microwave). Save space for dessert. If you're into smoking, there's a hookah bar a few doors down to the south (Cairo Cafe, I think). Coffee, Mint Tea, and Sahloup (a hot milkshake-consistency beverage sprinkled with dried nuts and fruit), a few dessert options, and a tented yard in the back. Backgammon and chess. On 30th Ave on 36th and also at 32nd there are Greek outdoor cafes with a boisterous scene. Great sidewalk cafes for breezy summer nights (be prepared to be exposed to a lot of second-hand smoke though). Avenue, on 36th, has a younger crowd on a quieter street (with loud music); Athens, on 32nd, has a more rounded crowd, and a wider variety of desserts and pastries, on a louder street (with softer music). If you got the legs, skip the cafes and take Astoria Blvd toward the East River for a stroll along Shore Blvd. Not as grand as Central or quaint as Prospect, Astoria Park boasts a riverfront, as well view of two bridges (one active one quiet), in between which an ice cream truck that offers soft serve is usually parked. If you’re not the soft serve type, there’s a seafood and meze restaurant (Ditmars @ 19th) specializing in Greek cuisine influenced by the migrants that fled Turkey, specifically from Constantinople. While the food there makes me yawn, the setting is quite nice (note that smoking is permitted in the tented area outside the walls; a real rarity in NY, and a reason in itself - indicative of the somewhat culinary backwardness in light of the city’s centrifugal influence on food - to move to Astoria), and the dessert options are limited but very passable.

      However, this is an itinerary for dinner with options for dessert. As Quentin Chiappetta posted earlier, the authentic (ergo these places existed to cater to local immigrants, not as a demand for ethnic variety in dining to supply a market created by gentrification) variety (the most [discernibly] ethnically diverse neighborhood per sq. mi. in NYC) as well as proximity to Manhattan is what makes Astoria quite a unique neighborhood in New York City.

      1. re: gatronaut

        Kind of a stretch, but plenty related still.... NY Times Dining Out yesterday includes a small piece on a Queens food guide, "Eating Like Queens" by Suzanne Parker.

      2. re: Nina W.

        Agreed.
        Kabob Cafe is great.
        And Ali is one of a kind.

        1. re: Ray

          Kabab is overrated, overpriced, and Ali hustles you with warm, plastic water when you ask him for a glass of water and then kisses up to you so you'll forget. Queens ain't manhattan. but there's great food, much better than ali's, all over the place

          -----
          Kabab Cafe
          25-12 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

      3. stop in the trade fair at 30th and 31st. i think that's the corner.
        stop by any greengrocer and marvel at the ridiculously low prices.

        to tell you the truth, most of the restaurants in Astoria are in my mind just fine. nothing mind-blowing, but I LOVE living there. most of the people I've encountered in Astoria are just lovely. my neighborhood deli guy gave me my feta for free the other day for no reason at all.

        3 Replies
        1. re: melon

          I agree with you. I also think that if you go into a place with the sort of expectations set in the original post, you're setting the place up for failure. It's not one lunch special that makes me love Astoria but a bunch of foods and restaurants and various other stores and things.

          I do agree about Trade Fair. There's one on Ditmars and about 36th Street (I think) also. I love that place.

          Whenever I bring friends from Manhattan to Astoria that know basically nothing about it, I just walk them up and down Ditmars by the subway for a few blocks. They love it. The insane number of bakeries, the discount stores where you can find anything, Top Tomato with its ridiculously cheap produce and 24-hours (so you can buy yucca at 4am), the abundance of great pizza, the Greek stuff, the atmosphere that's just a little out of time with the rest of the city. And yet so close to Manhattan.

          1. re: marrin

            i'll third trade fair. the trade fair off of the 30th avenue stop at 29th street is by far the best (it's like a million ethnic groceries packed into one grocery store) but the trade fair on 36th is good too.

            also go walk by astoria park and/or the socrates sculpture garden. no food there but it's something.

            generally, though, just take a walk down 30th avenue or broadway any time of day (you should try late night too if you're thinking of moving to the neighborhood) and see if you like the feel of the place. i've lived in astoria almost 5 years and still like it. i like the variety and unpretentiousness of the people as well.

          2. re: melon

            Trade Fair's at 30th & 30th. If you cook anything Middle Eastern or Indian, that's the place to go.

          3. I really love the chorizo arepas at the columbian place with the yellow awning on 34th Ave and 33rd St. I also thought Ghandi on 30th Ave and 36th St was a pretty good neighborhood Indian place. There is also a little crepe place on Broadway and 33rd St (on a corner) that was fun for a cheap dinner. Of course, everyone has their favorite greek place. The groceries are super cheap out there. Check out the veg & fruit stands on 30th Ave and 32nd St. Both had amazing deals. The Trade Fair is fun. Lots of international food.

            The caveat is I moved to Brooklyn a little over a year ago - but I really miss Astoria some days! :)

            1. souvlaki guys at 34ave and steinway (baby gap corner) the best souvlakis.

              1. a
                Astoria Lurker

                If you have time for dinner and can get reservations check out Trattoria L'Incontro (Ditmars & 31st), I don't think they serve lunch though. According to Zagat, L'Incontro is "Reason enough to move to Astoria" =)

                As far as lunch places go I can't think of anything earth shattering, but I have to agree with the poster who said to just walk around and see the neighborhood, stop in a bakery or 2 and sample their pastries, grab some souvlaki at one of the carts on Steinway or some tacos at Viva El Mariachi (33rd & Broadway). It is just such an incredibly diverse neighborhood.

                If you are up for a drink, definitely check out the Beer Garden (23rd ave, just west of 31st street). Have a kielbasa, a pitcher of Hoegarten and relax.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Astoria Lurker

                  Beer Garden is on 24th Ave.
                  The incredible abundance of back garden al fresco dining is a terrific reason to move to astoria. It seems like every place has one. My girlfriend and I have been checking out Fatty's on Ditmars and Crescent, and sipping great Mojitos out back.

                2. q
                  Quentin Chiappetta

                  I JUST moved to Astoria from Brooklyn- and I don't know why I didnt move here years ago! if you like food, diversity, mom and pop stores--Italian bakeries Egyptian shops up steinway Bangladeshi Lebanese Morroccan Japanese Chinese Thai Bosnian Romanian, Czech- oh and I heard there are a couple Greek places(!!). All wonderfully diverse for cooking and eating out. This is one of the few neighborhoods with cafes open till late to sit and have a coffe drink snack dessert. It won't be a single restaraunt that will convince you, but the staggering options, and the proximity to Manhattan.

                  1. Oh boy, where to start. Ok:

                    -- The tacos at Viva El Mariachi (cheap and wonderful)

                    -- The pork and halloumi sandwich at Cafe Bar.

                    -- The amazing Italian delis (the one on Bway at 35th -- B&F? Something like that -- is my favorite)

                    -- The rotisserie chicken at Caravan Chicken.

                    -- The greek mezes at S'Agapo and Philoxenia.

                    -- Etc. :)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dag

                      yes, philoxenia.

                    2. h
                      hungryastorian

                      stoll astoria - check out all the Space in that apartment then...
                      go talk to Ali at Kebab Cafe on Steinway and on your way there take a big whiff to get the fruit flavored tobacco smell that wafts through all the hoookah bar vents
                      I don't know if he's open for lunch though - but you don't need to eat - just stop by and talk and ask him why you should move to Astoria.
                      Then stroll over to the beer garden - the service may suck but there's no place like it anywhere in the city
                      If you still want convincing... peek into the garden at Cavo on 31st ave and 43rd St. The food is amazing - but what's more amazing is the fact that the paradise exists in any neighborhood.
                      For eating food - you should just stop into any of the mom and pop specialty stores you will be overwhelmed by the abundance and diversity.
                      If you are not convinced once you stroll Astoria - you don't deserve Astoria
                      ; )

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hungryastorian

                        While talking to Ali is indeed an experience, eating his cooking, and being his guest, is something no chowhound should miss.

                      2. I have to 2nd (or 3rd) Kebab Café. That and Sripraphai (not in Astoria, but a short bike ride away if you live here) are the two best restaurants in New York. On weekdays Kebab Café is a bit more relaxed when Ali isn’t as busy.

                        For a quick lunch he’s got great (take-out only) falafel sandwiches. He has some beer and wine, but it’s also BYO.

                        Kebab Cafe is at 25-12 Steinway St. Closed Monday. Hours are noon to 10PM, give or take. You might want to call if you’re coming late, but he doesn't really take reservations (the place is too small). (718) 728-9858. Closest subways (but not that close) are Astoria Blvd and Steinway St. It’s a nicer walk down Steinway.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: photis

                          I agree with you. I called it Kabab House, by mistake, but it's Ali's place.

                          I think it is a totally fantastic, one of a kind place. Ali is something special.

                        2. I grew up in Astoria, and lived there until I was in my 30's. I couldn't wait to move out. Now, living elsewhere in Queens, I miss it terribly. I miss the bakeries, and the fruit stores, and the bagel shops, and the variety of grocery stores, so many things open 24 hours.....

                          1. i
                            inlovewithastoria

                            all the previous suggestions have been very good so far. in no particular order i'd add:

                            * the c-town on 28th avenue & 41st street. has a very nice mix of food from different cuisines and there's a corner over by the deli that never fails to produce an aha! find, something new i haven't tried yet...
                            * brooklyn bagel & coffee co. on broadway. the one thing i was missing when i moved here was a decent bagel, but now i'm all good
                            * i can't believe no one has mentioned brick cafe! (link at bottom) fantastic restaurant on 31st avenue, one of my favorites in all of new york proper. i've eaten there so many times and left with a dopey, happy grin on my face no matter what i chose from the menu.
                            * cafe omonia on broadway, home to the cake from my big fat greek wedding
                            * also kolonaki right across the street. i went there once with a date and got concerned when we'd been talking too late thinking maybe we were keeping them from closing but the waitress cheerily said they don't close til 4. yeah!
                            * cafe bar. great brunch there.
                            * le sans souci is a nice little french place that opened up in the past year on broadway and... 44th i want to say? very nice food there.
                            * meat carts! any of em!
                            * jj's fusion kitchen on 31st avenue. some ambitious asian fusion going on (tartare, etc) and she's pulling it off with style.
                            * lite bites on broadway & steinway turns out a decent breakfast, among other things. i'm partial to their breakfast sandwich called "the big mess."
                            * family market on broadway is a japanese convenience store that could basically have been teleported over here from japan and you never could tell the difference.
                            * of course the beer garden. you can't miss going there. watch out ordering from the menu, though. you'll be lucky if you get it an hour after you ordered. you'll have better luck at the walk-up kielbasa counter there.

                            need i go on?

                            :-)

                            Link: http://www.brickcafe.com/

                            1. Try Papa's Empanadas on Steinway, midway between 25th & 28th Avenue. Great empanadas with a variety of fillings, also wonderful sandwiches on Arepas.

                              For good Japanese, try JJ's Fusion (not sure of the address)

                              For good Thai, try Thai Pavilion or Thai Angel (Both on 30th Avenue, just west of Steinway.

                              Foor good Italian, try Gaudios, on 28th, East of Steinway.

                              For good Indian, try Ghandi, on 30th west of Steinway.

                              Foor good American/European, try the Brick Cafe.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jim Frick

                                I don't know about anything else at Gaudio's;
                                because I ate one slice of their regular pizza and it was lousy enough to never warrant a second visit.

                                Last Stop pizza at Ditmars and 31st st. has much better slices.

                              2. Kabob House on the west side of Steinway a couple of blocks down from Grand Central service road.

                                Gourmet stove top cooking of Moroccan and Eastern specialties by a superb chow hound, named Ali, who runs the place in a most loving manner. Phenomenal mint tea and Arabic coffee. Fantastic cooking. One of a kind atmosphere and personality.

                                I envy anyone who is going there for the first time.
                                And I guarantee you would never forget the place.

                                1. We've been diggin Lil Bistro 33 on 36th Ave and, um, around 34th Street. Small place but great atmosphere and good food. french with asian accents. Chef is a great guy and quite sociable.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Steve Eh?

                                    It's easy to miss the store front, but it is a good little place. It's on 36th Ave and just off 33rd St (between 33rd and 34th Streets).

                                    They also have Sushi, but only on Friday night. That is kind of classy and reassuring, in terms of quality.

                                    1. re: photis

                                      Since this thread has been revived (to my delight) L'il B 33 is now at the corner of 21st and Ditmars.

                                  2. Tacos galore! Any little place that makes great $2 tacos. And these are just the ones I know about: the great Mexican store on 29th St. off 30th Ave.; the bodega on 36th Ave. and 33rd St.; the bodega on 34th Ave. and 34th St.; the carneceria on 36th Ave. between 33rd and 34th St. (the best tortas are there as well); the coffee shop/diner on 36th Ave between 31st and 32nd St. It's all good!

                                    1. Just to add my two cents ;)

                                      Balkh Shish Kabab House
                                      718) 721-5020
                                      2310 31st St

                                      Delicious, though dinner will probably cost you more than $10.

                                      Casa Del Pan (Colombian?), 34th st and 30th ave. Great rotisserie chicken w/rice and beans and platanos maduros for $4.50, plus an outstanding Empanada Colombiana (its gots meat and potatoes in it)

                                      Last Stop Pizza, 31st st and Ditmars I believe,

                                      Panaderia Hidalgo, on 30th ave between 27th and 28th st. (i think)

                                      -That's all that I can think of know that hasn't already been said.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Astoria Sam

                                        I second Casa del Pan but what i always get are the chicken empanada argentina with picante. this is so good, it almost made me cry.

                                        1. re: philgreen

                                          I've lived here for almost ten years and I've seen amazing places come and go, especially for Italian (Thirty-One, now a burned-out husk off the Ditmars trains top is still mourned by me) and I've yet to hear anyone mention Michael Angelo's pizza - brick oven goodness that definitely approaches the better stuff in Manhattan (usually). Can anyone else think of a good brick-oven pizza in the 30th/steinway/ditmars/31st street side of Astoria?

                                          Also Los Amigos on 31st near Ditmars has impressed me in the past, and is usually solid for Mexican (though it seems sometimes you get the 'lazy chef' or something, I'd say 1 out of 5 times the food seems made my a different place!) also helped by the fact that they deliver until 2 AM. And speaking of late-night, don't forget the 24-hour Neptune Diner - excellent diner food (though they reach does exceed their grasp; don't try the mexican omlette!) best burgers, grilled cheese, eggs, etc.

                                          1. re: langdonboom

                                            I've just discovered Trade Fair, and it is amazing! The quality of goods for the low price is unbeatable.

                                            I am a frequent traveller to Italy among other places, so olive oil is something i'm very particular about. I just got an insanely flavourful bottle from Trade Fair for $4.99. Most grocery stores charge more than that for cheap, mass-produced, flavourless oil.

                                            As far as dining, I really love Cup. It's a stylish diner-type place with a big space and a big menu. The food is always good. Brunch is great.

                                            How happy am I to NEVER set foot in another dingy, dirty, Gristede's again?

                                      2. St. Honore's Bakery - Ditmars and 35th. The apple tarts are amazing and the cakes are great. The cheap coffee beans at Best Yet supermarket by the Steinway Factory and their unexpected Italian product specials. The bread at Rose & Joe's Bakery on Ditmars by the station. The Afghan restaurant on Ditmars around 23rd Ave., near the funeral home. Igloo for a laidback brunch in the back garden. The feta at J&R on Ditmars and 31st Street.

                                        1. Everything on this board is a great reason to move to the 'hood. What's not to like? There are SOOO many terrific restaurants (besides those mentioned try Lil Bistro 33, Arharn Thai, 718, the original Jackson Hole, and Agnanti. I could keep going, but you'll figure it out!. Rent, though rising, is still a value, when you consider you are usually no more than 20 minutes tops from midtown. There is a total neighborhood vibe, people are friendly, and your local merchants will start calling you by name. For GREAT chinese take out, try Eastern Garden on 36th Ave near the N subway line. And for exercise, try the Olympic pool at Astoria park. or bike along the river till you eventually hit the water taxi beach for a brew and a view. Joey in Astoria blog is a great info source 9http://astorianyc.blogspot.com/) and http://www.astorians.com/community/in... is neighborhood central. If none of this is enough for you, you are likely not a fit for the 'hood!