HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >


Queens, simple, yummy cheap meals

I am bringing a crew of 4 hungry men to Manhattan for 5 days. We are staying in Queens, around Woodside? I need ideas for quick breakfast, take-out lunch and casual dinner. Inexpensive is best. Also, is bus or subway the best choice? Thanks for the help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The famous Alpha Donuts @46th / Queens Blvd.
    Kebabs for lunch from Mangal Turkish @ 47th / Queens Blvd.
    Casual dinners at Donovan's 58th / Roosevelt
    P.J. Horgan's 43rd/Queens Blvd.
    Sidetracks 45th / Queens Blvd.
    That's a start.

    7 Replies
    1. re: johnk

      I would highly recommend against Sidetracks. It ends up being surprisingly expensive for the sub-mediocre food they serve.

      I would also warn against NY Style Eats, which is on QB in the same area (can't remember the exact cross). There is nothing "NY Style" about it. I've been more times than I'd like to admit b/c of their late hours, but it's definitely the worst place in the nabe (well, maybe ties for worst with Chips).

      But I do recommend Tofu and Noodles/Natural Tofu for Korean. Possibly different from what your visitors would normally eat. Super inexpensive and their soon du bu is one of my faves.

      Also second the suggestion for Yamikaze. Even though it doesn't have the bustling atmosphere as Ariyoshi, the food is better and the people there are really sweet.

      1. re: tracyk

        Worst place? I can't agree. Their burgers are terrific. And the breakfast is servicable. There are definately worse!

        And just what is Skillman's Famous Pizza famous for?

        Sidetracks... yeah, definitely a suburban theme restaurant, the theme being suburbs.

        1. re: Monkey Man Jake

          I've actually been to Skillman's Famous Pizza a few times in the last month when I've been too lazy to walk to the boulevard. It's really no frills...they serve drinks in dixie cups, including iced coffee (somehow iced coffee doesn't taste as good in waxy, plastic cups). The breakfast tastes like something you could easily make at home. Ya know how what you make at home never tastes the same as what you're served when you eat out? That being said, it's a quiet alternative in the area. It seems to be frequented by regulars.

        2. re: tracyk

          I agree with your recommendation against Sidetracks. Totally overpriced and the food has definitely been on a decline in the last few years. I have to disagree with your comments on NY Style Eats and Chips. I don't think Eats is trying to be anything more than a diner. I'd say it definitely beats most diners in the area. Portions are good, they always offer a nice fruit garnish. Breakfast is good. As for Chips, well, now that I've discovered El Jarro, I don't have much of a need for Chips, but I don't think they're one of the "worst".

          1. re: wallywalnuts

            chips has some really great desserts! i will still go when i don't feel like heading over to el jarro.
            and NY sytle "the worst place in the nabe". i must disagree on that one too...the food is fresh and if you stick to the simple stuff, it is quite good..like sandwiches, burgers, breakfasts...

            1. re: ceeceee

              Well, I've only been to NY Style about 3 times and that was about 4 years ago, so maybe food has gotten better since then? It was pretty awful then. I always went post dinner time, so maybe they have a different chef then?

              For breakfast/diner fare, I prefer Rose or even Crete or New Post. Speaking of New Post, has anyone ever had anything off their "Mexican specials" board?

              Ceecee, besides dessert, what do you order from Chips?

          2. re: tracyk

            I haven't been there in 3 years, but I always thought the bkfst was decent. Tacky yes, NY style no, but still not horrid.

        3. take the subway, 7 train is real quick into and out of manhattan.


          stop inn 61st & roosevelt, great diner.
          new york style eats, kinda a step up from a diner, more choies, good breakfasts.

          take away lunches...
          el jarro 45th st & 48th ave. amazing mexican. AMAZINGLy cheap and deelish. good portions even dine in, very cute atmosphere.
          aubergine cafe 50th street & skillman ave. yummy sandwiches, salads, lite fare.

          casual dinners...
          el jarro again, i have to reccomend because it is so good, bring your own booze...even tequila and they'll make you a margarita.

          la flor 53rd & roosevelt avenue. delicious, will satisfy any gourmand. yummy and reliable.

          quaint skillman btwn 46-47. delicious, new, simple american bistro. nice garden.

          1. Sripraphai's in Woodside - cheap and some of the best thai in the city, if not the best. Some better thai to be had in LA and Bangkok, I'm sure. 64-13 39th Ave.

            Donovan's for Burgers and pleasant, pubby atmosphere - 57-24 Roosevelt

            Mangal Kebab - Take out DIVE, but terrific Turkish food, the best value of Turkish food I've had around here - 47th Street and Queens Blvd.

            Tangra - 39-23 Queens Boulevard - not to everyone's taste, but I rather like the Indian Hakka cuisine.

            Yamakaze - 3911 Queens Boulevard - Japanese/tibetan
            Yeti - 44th and Queens Boulevard - same

            1. Oh... and Spicy Mina's in Woodside, too. 64-23 Broadway. Superlative Indian food, rather inexpensive.

              1. We recently had a great meal at Khao Homm in Woodside, not far from Sripraphai (right across the street from the 7 station). I posted a review below.

                1. All the above mentioned suggestions are great. But for someone not familiar with the area and staying at Howard J. Express, only Stop Inn, Donovan's and maybe La Flor are easier to get by foot.

                  El Jarro is great but it's quite a walk from the subway and bus stations.

                  Staying at HJE, you're only 2 blocks away from the greatest Thai in the whole NYC - Sripraphai (turn right onto 65th street and walk 2 long blocks). Just don't go there on Wednesdays.

                  For a takeout lunch or take-out dinner, chilean sandwich at JC & Family is great (they have a so-so Brazilian food steam table in front, just ignore that and order at the counter - they will make the sandwich for fresh from scratch). Very filling and satisfying and tons of meat to make it dinner even for a guy. Again, Wednesdays are not good days to go there.

                  On the same block, El Sitio, cuban for great cuban sandwiches (take-out)or a casual sit down dinner. Across the street from El Sitio is Polos a la brasa Mario - Colombian chain specializing in rotisserie chicken. There is also one close to your hotel on Woodside Ave.

                  If you and your guys like Indian, you're not very far from the Indian enclave in Jackson Heights (around 8 blocks on Roosevelt ave). There you can have all you can eat buffet - ultimate hungry man dinner for around $8 a person. My favorite is Indian Taj. Just a block from there is La Portena - Argentinian grill. You can order mixed grill for 2 plus sides which would enough and even more for 5 of you (if you're not into something like blood sausages, you can ask them to substitute that for pork sausages). That would make a great casual dinner in a fun themed environment (waiters dressed like gauchos and the dining room decorated with everything cowboy or Argentinian).

                  For a quick breakfast, under the 7 train track between 61st and 62nd streets, there is an Italian bakery where you can get coffee and great baked goods. Their cheese danishes are genormous and have tons of cheese.

                  Most delis in New York will make you a fried egg roll plus coffee for like $2.

                  1. You mentioned Khao Homm Thai Cusinine in Woodside. Went today for lunch and it's closed for three weeks because of renovations. Opening on Sept 5.

                    1. El Jarro gets my second recommendation of the day (Queens breakfast thread being the other).

                      And I do not think it is a long walk from the train, welle...perhaps .25 miles? hopstop.com puts the walk at a total of 6.3 minutes, including leaving the station (7 train, Bliss St.), which should be no problem for anyone mildly houndish.

                      Anyway, it fits the bill of what you are looking for, jakesmum.

                      Cheap, casual, great. They do take out, breakfast, etc.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: chefcoleman

                        I love El Jarro, don't get me wrong, and I'm not afraid of walking. Even still, I live in Woodside just a block from the hotel jakesmum is staying, it's a quite a trek for me. El Jarro is great for good Mexican starved New Yorkers, IMO. But for a visitor, who's been walking all day sightseeing (and who knows if jakesmum is from West Coast where they have all that great mexican food) the 3 long blocks from Queens blvd. plus a bus/subway ride to hotel is probably going to be too long.

                        1. re: welle

                          You guys have been fantastic. My crew is going to think I'm a genius. And FYI, up here in Maine, Margarita's chain rest. is the best Mexican food these guys have ever had. I would walk miles for the real thing.

                          1. re: jakesmum

                            If you're looking for Mexican in Woodside you should probably try La Hacienda. It's kind of hidden away up a little staircase on the north side of Roosevelt between the aforementioned Italian bakery and the Long Island Railroad tracks, just under the tunnel from the 7 train subway entrance. It's not as good as El Jarro, but it's inexpensive, good and much much closer to where you're staying. Try a bunch of the tacos or some of the specials from the board. It's definitely the real thing, since it's attached to a tortilla factory.

                            If you're going up to the Indian area that an earlier poster mentioned, an even better Mexican choice is Taqueria Coatzingo, which is a block or 2 past the Indian neighborhood on the north side of Roosevelt. Try anything with the meat off of the el pastor (pork) spit in the front window, or the mole poblano, or any of the specials (which will only be in Spanish). They're open late.

                            At night several taco trucks park along Roosevelt Ave. serving a simple menu of griled meat tacos. If you run into a language barrier just smile and point. They are usually out until very late.

                            There really is no place to eat along that stretch Queens Blvd. (the very busy street where I assume you'll be staying), but probably the best good restaurant closest to you is Chu Ying on Woodside Ave. & 68th St. It's Korean-style Chinese (that is to say, what's served as Chinese food in Korea). The language barrier can come into play here, but they do have a sort-of English menu. Try the noodles in Mandarin (black bean) sauce. It's not super cheap a la carte, but they do have a lunch special. Another pretty good place close to you is the Pollos Mario place on Woodside just over the railroad bridge. Good chicken for carryout and a whole menu of hearty Columbian food.

                            I second many of the other recommendations here. Stop Inn at 61st and Roosevelt is just a little coffee shop/diner place but does serve good breakfasts and a surprisingly good burger, as well as a number of Irish specialities. Rainbow nearby on Woodside Ave. is also a decent coffee shop. If you only eat one meal in the neighborhood you should try Sripraphai on 39th Ave. just off of Roosevelt. Some of the best Thai food available east of California, inexpensive, and in a nice comfortable setting.

                            The best way to get into Manhattan is always the subway, since it doesn't get stuck in traffic. The 7 train (most direct route to Midtown Manhattan from this area) runs over Roosevelt in Woodside and is a bit of a walk north from where you'll be. You may be better-served to take the Q60 bus down Queens Blvd. until you see the big concrete subway structure dividing the street (you'll be in Sunnyside), and then get off and take the subway from there (transfer is free if you're using a Metrocard, which is the first thing you should buy when you get to NYC). As noted below, you can take the Q60 right into Manhattan, but bridge traffic can be s-l-o-w. Subway and bus maps can be seen online at the MTA site, and onNYturf.com will show the relationship of any NYC address to the nearby subway stops (be sure to use the borough name in the address rather than NYC for addresses outside of Manhattan).

                            Anyway, welcome to Woodside. I'm sure you'll notice that this area (Woodside, Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) of Queens is one of the most multi-ethnic places in the U.S. and therefore in the world. Substantial populations of people from Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, and various places in Europe (particularly Ireland) live, shop, and eat here. It's the real NYC.

                          2. re: welle

                            I will repeat what my fellow Chowhounders are saying and suggest making it to El Jarro, too.
                            It is my favorite restaurant in the nabe (and a bit of a walk for me, too, as I live in the Gardens) and my favorite Mexican in the city.
                            Not only is the food delish, but unlike many Mexi joints, it's really easy to eat healthy here. That meals are not swimming in grease and veggies taste fresh is a nice antidote to what sounds like a near week of pigging out!
                            If you're too lazy/tired to walk there, call them (718-392-2161) and see if they'll deliver to your hotel! Just make sure you ask for the green and red hot sauce on the side.

                            1. re: tracyk

                              Yeah... get thee to El Jarro or get El Jarro to get to thee, Muhammad. I pretty much always get delivery from those guys. I live in the Gardens too, and eating outside on the patio is pretty pleasant, particularly when I'm chomping one of their mole burritos or pipian sauce fish...

                        2. By the way, if you get to Roosevelt Avenue, you can take the Q32 bus. It goes to Jackson Heights and through Woodside and Sunnyside (on Queens Blvd) and indeed all the way into Manhattan across the Queensboro Bridge and down 5th Ave. Though the 7 train is faster, just about all of these restaurants are along the bus route and you can see them at street level from the bus and the bus stops every two blocks so it often leaves you closer than a train stop.

                          By the way, if you want cheap food from the Indian subcontinent, do come to 74th Street & Roosevelt. There are a bunch of all-you-can-eat buffets along the street that are usually pretty decent. Or Kabab King on 37th Road and 73rd Street (open 24 hours for all the cabbies) serves nice kababs and my favorite, chicken tikka, great naan bread, and other saucier dishes that you can see behind the counter. It's all generally quite fresh since they're always busy (disclaimer: I haven't been there much past midnight). It's not expensive and you can eat upstairs if you want calmer surroundings. Just show or tell them what you want first.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JH Jill

                            There is also the Q60 which runs right past the place they are staying. You can take that to 58 St and walk a long block to Donovan's or on to 53 St and a very short block to La Flor. The bus then joins up with the Q32 route but ends at 2nd Ave just the other side of the Queensboro Bridge.

                            Here's an idea! Take the Q60 or Q32 to 2nd Ave and walk over to 1st Ave at 57 St to get an M15 Limited to 116 Street. The bus stops diagonally across from Patsy's at 117 St where they have the best pizza in Manhattan. Sit down with some beers or wine and have a couple of pies. The guys will love it.

                          2. usually, pretty standard stuff like burritos. i've gotten the big appetizer sampler which is pretty good, albeit a little greasy and too much fried stuff, but on days i wanna be bad, it's good!
                            their drinks are good too!

                            1. Since no one's mentioned it to this point, let me plug away for the old-style pizza shop on 61st Street just south of the "7" train...excellent "Grandma" slices, loaded with onion and burnished edges.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: ceeceee

                                  PEPPINO's indeed!...there's magic in the pan...and even if grandma herself isn't around, that square (especially from the edge) is the mother of all grandma slices.

                              1. For casual dinners try the Filipino restaurants around the higher 60s and Roosevelt Ave. Ihawan has good BBQ Langoniza (sausages)as well as BBQ pork chops. Almost all of the Filipino restaurants are closed on Wednesdays, though, as is the Thai restaurants, Sripraphai.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: HLing

                                  Ihawan is closed on Wednesdays but Renee's Kitchenette and Perlas ng Silangan are both open on Wednesday. Imho, Renee's is the best of the three. My favorite dishes are the BBQ Combo, Kalderetang Kambing, Seafood Kare-Kare, Dinaguan and Lumpiang Sariwa.
                                  Renee's is on Roosevelt Ave at 70th St.

                                2. Has anyone tried the asian seafood buffet off Queens Blvd (across from the POP Diner? I think it is called Pacific East.

                                  1. Natives is a Columbian restaurant on Northern BLVD at 83rd Street (you can take the Q32 to its end at Northern and 81st). The empanadas are very good ($1 each), and they have a "typical platter" that only has one problem, trying to eat all the food: a pile of rice with fried pork, plantains, top-round steak, an arepa and a fried egg with a side of stewed beans ($12) . You may need to know a little Spanish, and it also helps if you like meat, but for cheap and good it is very difficult to beat