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Is any "ethnic" food in Manhattan worth the trip from Queens??

I live in midtown Manhattan but more often than not I find myself eating in Queens. So often, as I read this board, I read posts where people ask, where is the best Thai restaurant, where can I find the best Sichuan food, where's the most authentic Greek or Indonesian or Mexican? And I want to say (and sometimes do) "It's in Queens!" So my question is, is there any nationality about which, if you saw a question posted on the Outer Boroughs board, you'd say "Come to Manhattan! It's better there!" The only things I can think of offhand (and these are maybes) are Cantonese and Fujianese in Manhattan Chinatown, Puerto Rican and Dominican and perhaps West African uptown.

I apologize for using the word "ethnic": It doesn't really fit but I couldn't think of one that did. What I meant was a restaurant (often inexpensive) primarily run and patronized by members of a specific community or nationality. But that's a rough definition.

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  1. Japanese, high to low, is far better in Manhattan.

    7 Replies
    1. re: squid kun

      Absolutely agree with this. Have never had really good authentic Japanese outside of Manhattan, and never had anything even remotely passable in Queens.

      West Indian, African, and African-American (i.e. soul food) are all better in Manhattan, but may be even better in Brooklyn.

      French and Spanish?

      1. re: Woodside Al

        West Indian and soul food are better in Qns, BK and BX than in Manh--this is not even debatable. For example, you can't even get decent Haitian food in Manh--must go to BK or Qns.

        1. re: Ora

          What did you think of Krik Krak around 99th and Amsterdam?

          1. re: nobody special

            Cute spot--very average food. I really wanted to love the place. I had had the poisson rose--seasoning was off, rice wasn't great and the sauce rouge wasn't special. I'd stick to Le Soleil, which also isn't what it used to be.

          2. re: Ora

            I would debate you on the soul food issue, as a lot of great places have closed in the southern queens area in the past few years. I know there are some good places in Brooklyn: Mitchell's, Royal Rib House, that great little corner joint on Halsey and Lewis that whips up some great Carolina Sage Sausages (the name escapes me for now). But, I'm open - what soul food joints in Queens do you recommend?

            Also, for Haitian, the one place I've hit is a small take-out joint on Linden and 229th (I think) called Good Taste. Excellent fish, beef, dirty rice dishes. Ever try it? This would be worth the trip from Manhattan or anywhere.

            1. re: Polecat

              Caribbean population is larger than African-American, thus the dwindling soul food situation is Qns--recos are below so I will not repeat.

              Haven't tried the Haitian spot you mention--but I will next time out that way. Remember a long gone spot called La Detante, near LGA? In its day that was a good haitian sit down place--I miss it..

              Ever been to Nagasaki?? Its like caribbean chinese--used to be really good--never get that far out anymore...

            2. re: Ora

              i'm sorry but to claim there is no good soul food in harlem is a bit ridiculous, to my mind

        2. how does skyway (manhattan) compare to malaysian restaurants in queens?

          5 Replies
          1. re: the brooklyn pilsner

            Better than anything I've had in Flushing.

              1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                Get anything called "spicy" or "aromatic" that features seafood (crab in spicy sauce, aromatic squid, and the like). Also get the satay, the nasi lemak, kangkung belacan, and pasembur.

              2. re: Pan

                Does this sentiment still hold true 2 years later? What about Malaysian in Elmhurst or Jackson Heights?

                1. re: NancyC

                  Funny, people were just discussing that.

                  Two years ago, or maybe a little more, two of the best Manhattan Malaysian places closed, and moved to Queens. Taste Good and Sentosa.

            1. Brian, I would scratch the "maybe" off of the African category, at least as far as Senegalese food is concerned. As a Queens resident, I cannot think of anywhere where I can get Cheb Jeune or Mafe in my home borough. Have to go to Harlem for that, my restaurant of choice being La Marmite. Now that I think of it, the same thing goes for Ethiopian food as well.

              Also, soul food options, what with various south Queens stalwarts - such as Carmichael's Diner - having closed up shop lately, have been dwindling out here as well. So, for fried chicken or a fried whiting sandwich, I might find myself making the trek to M&G Diner or A Taste of Seafood, or even heading out to Brooklyn.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Polecat

                I haven't heard of any restaurants, but there is a small African community in Queens near LeFrak city in Elmhurst/Corona. As JHJill has described in the thread below, there are African groceries, so perhaps there are eateries around there too.


                1. re: Polecat

                  What soul food is left in Queens? Other then Rockaway Fish House and JJ's Southern, I don't know of any other places. What do you suggest in Queens?. I get my fix in Manhattan
                  (Charles's, Copelands or Londel's)or Nassau (Riddick's or Willie B's).

                  1. re: stuartlafonda

                    Yeah, Stuart, that's pretty much what I was saying. The scene used to be better, but it has dwindled. You mention the Rockaway Fish House, which I heard about from a guy at a bar a few months ago. Since I did case management out that way for a while, I searched Rockaway Blvd high and low, couldn't find it. Do you have the cross street or address?

                    1. re: Polecat

                      Take the Van Wyck south toward Kennedy Airport. Exit Rockaway Blvd headed east, it will be a couple of blocks east on the south side. It is pretty good, the biggest drawback is that it is takeout only. Fried chicken, mac and cheese and collards were good, chopped "bbq" beef was bad. Banana pudding was fine. The place is good, but not as good as the places I mentioned in Manhattan.

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        Thanks. Next time I'm out there, I'll give it a shot. P.

                    2. re: stuartlafonda

                      Check out Rack & Soul next time in Manh and looking for a good sit down spot.

                  2. I'm not sure you'd call BBQ "ethnic", but it certainly a specialty. And Manhattan is the only place for decent BBQ in NYC(May not mean much to you, but important to know for those of us who don't get to Tulsa <g>). Also, from what I read here, Caracas Arepa will beat out any non-cart arepa place in the outer boroughs.

                    1. The takoyaki and okonomiyaki at the little place on East 9th Street between Second and Third Avenues.

                      1. west african in harlem (florences on 113th and 8th for example) beats anything in queens.

                        1. Old school Italian is far better in the outer boroughs. I can't find a decent bowl of red sace meatballs/pasta Sunday type eal anywhere in Manhattan. Frank on 2nd Ave is good but not a real Italian joint. Your average nabe Italian restaurant in the outer boroughs blows anything here in Manhattan away. Sorry to vent. I find that Sushi here is better then anything I have had in Brooklyn or Queens.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Sweatshirt Guy

                            There used to be a few joints in what is left of Italian Harlem, around 1 Ave and 116th. Rao's of course, if you can get in. Andy's Colonial is gone unfortunately. Patsy's has pasta, I believe, but no one ever tries it because the pizza is so good!

                          2. This is an old thread but I'd like to revive it because I was just thinking the very same thing today while wandering around Elmhurst.

                            To the list, which apparently only contains Japanese, Ethiopian and West African, I would add Turkish. I admit to never having had Turkish in Queens, just a few places in Brooklyn, but have NEVER eaten or read anything that indicates there's any reason to give up Turkish Kitchen or Ali Baba.

                            Oh, one more...no offense, but for those of us who work in Midtown, live in BK, and do not own cars, Staten Island is simply never an option. Thus, add Sri Lanken to Manhattan's list.

                            Can we expand to "international" foods, rather than ethnic? Meaning, I am fairly certain European cuisines have more audience in Manhattan--but I may be wrong! To keep it along the same vibe though, I would be looking for complete meals around $25 or less--French, German, Spanish, etc?? Or Australian, not as popular in the outer boroughs, is it?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: NancyC

                              Hmm...just thinking maybe Persian is a Manhattan-centric thing?

                              1. re: NancyC

                                There are three or four Turkish places along Queens Boulevard between 39th and about 47th streets, accessible by 7 local, which connects to the N train.


                                1. re: Brian S

                                  No, I understand that, but isn't this thread about foods that Manhattan does better than Queens (or Brooklyn)? I haven't heard of any Turkish place in Queens that sounds on par with what's available in Manhattan. And of the two places I've eaten at in Brooklyn, I'd definitely say no as well.

                              2. Ethnic food in Manhattan in the more popular spots tends to be fusion, nouveau, or for lack of a better word, upscale. With the exception of Japanese (credit to previous posts), the food in Queens and Brooklyn is just as good or better, not to mention cheaper, especially if you're looking for the genuine thing.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: douglas525

                                  Well, not only Japanese...as other posters have said, Ethiopian is non-existant in Queens, and the only Brooklyn place I know of is a relatively new branch of a Manhattan restaurant. Senegalese has been said to not be available in Queens. I have had it in Brooklyn (Keur n Dye) and do not recall it being particularly special, as La Marmite in Harlem sounds above...and of course if you live in Queens, Manhattan's probably quicker to get to anyway.

                                  That said...in a sense this doesn't cut down much on travel time out of Manhattan, as I can eat Chinese food for every meal, Thai food probably almost every day, various types of Middle Eastern varieties nearly as much... while Ethiopian & Senegalese are very rare desires for me and Japanese and Turkish, both which I adore, I don't mind eating less often simply due to cost.

                                2. Japanese 100% and I say Indian to some extent now. Indian food in Queens has been pretty mediocre these last few years(well Jackson Heights at least).

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Ricky

                                    Definitely Japanese, and I'm not talking just sushi. Ramen, Soba, Udon, yakitori, Izakaya.

                                    Caribbean - especially Jamaican.

                                    Vietnamese & Cambodian

                                    1. re: kayonyc

                                      What are your favorite Vietnamese places in Manhattan other than Banh Mi joints? I haven't found anything I've loved.

                                      1. re: Jorel

                                        Nam Son on Grand and Cong Ly on Hester. I ate at Nam Son back in March. 245 Grand. No, I'm certain it won't compare with the food in Vietnam but it's my favorite Vietnamese spot in Manhattan. Saturday afternoon, 4 PM, and the place was packed! Vietnamese families eating, lively conversation in Vietnamese coming at me from all directions. They do lots of different stir-fries but nobody orders them. Just about everyone gets the pho or one of those spreads with grilled meat on one plate, mint and lettuce on another plate, cold angel-hair pasta with chopped peanuts on a third plate, a fourth plate with pickled vegetables, and a cup of a sauce redolent of nuoc mam. That's what I had ... a nice meal

                                      2. re: kayonyc

                                        Udon West is decent, but not the best chain. And Flushing is an odd location considering there are way more Japanese people living in Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside, Elmhurst and Forrest Hills.

                                        1. re: kayonyc

                                          I can't agree on Caribbean. Come to Brooklyn.