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Parents have 5 hour JFK layover (we have a car)

OK, my parents fly into JFK around 12:30 tomorrow and leave for Italy at 5:30. I live in Woodside (next to Sripraphai) and am planning on picking them up curbside and taking them away for a few hours.

should I just bring them to my 'hood, where we've been together a million times and eat at Sripraphai, LaFlor, La Hacienda, Taqueria Coatzingo, or Pio Pio (Northern Blvd) and risk traffic?

would traffic be more stable going to someplace in Brooklyn? where? i would think Park Slope/Prospect Heights would be an equal or worse nightmare...

i don't know anything about the neighborhoods closer/easier to JFK.

whatever we do, it should be tasty and relatively inexpensive.

i searched JFK and read a bunch of old threads. i think the Asian-Fusion in Howard Beach is too expensive most likley. Since they're headed to Italy, Italian seems passe, unless maybe it were someplace like Al di la, which isn't open during the daytime. Pizza could be fine, but not generic slices.

i figure we'll pick them up curbside around 12:30 and we'll need to have them back to the curb by 3:30 or 4:00 for their comfort (flight at 5:30).

would the Pio Pio on Woodhaven be an easier commute? i've never eaten at that location, is it just as good as the one on Northern?

since we have a car, the distance isn't so much a concern as likely traffic snags ... on a Tuesday (election day effect anything?) early afternoon and then later afternoon, just at the start of rush-hour...

any feedback is appreciated.

thanks in advance,

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  1. Alekz,

    I'm not up on the latest down there, since I live in Jackson Heights and haven't been driving that way much lately, but I would recommend going west on the Belt Parkway to Brighton Beach and exploring the Russian scene. Not only can you eat a nice warm meal, but they could buy some stuff for the plane or to take home. There are those great delis and bakeries. Check for recent posts.


    1 Reply
    1. re: JH Jill

      interesting thought -- but didn't find much recent info on Russian in Brighton Beach when i checked the boards. i've also heard that the Belt Pkwy can turn into a parking lot pretty easily. about how far is it?

    2. You might want to to try the west indian joints off the Van Wyck. It is only a couple of exits and then not to far from the V.W. Many are just off the Liberty and Linden exits.There have been some recents postings. Singh's is a well liked on this board. Another choice might be Richmond Hill for "indian" food. There is a cluster by Lefferts and Linden, Tandoori Hut is excellent. It has as much decor as Spicy Mina, but the food is very good.

      2 Replies
      1. re: stuartlafonda

        thanks Stuart -- a very viable suggestion. we're more likely to go for the Indian than the West Indian most likely -- why is "Indian" food in Richmond Hill in quotes? is it more likely Pakistani or Bangledeshi (all happily eaten by the team). What part of the West Indies? i could go nuts for some Roti and Callaloo. I esp. like the vegetarian rotis with greens and pumpkin and the like, despite the fact that i love meat and esp. pork. i'll do more research based on your suggestions above, but if you have any specific follow-up, that would be most excellent. thanks!

        1. re: charlie_b

          Tandoori Hut is in fact Punjabi/Indian. I am bad at using links, but if you google the place you will see a glowing review from Frank Bruni.
          I think Singh's is Trinidadian or Guyanese,They do great Roti's and doubles. The place is large,nothing fancy. You pick and pay at a steam table then find a free table.

      2. why dont you drive into nassau county? its not that far from jfk-here on the south shore. theres excellent greek,italian and other cuisines availiable and you wont be too far from jfk. i need to know what type of cuisine and what your price range is before i give you specific suggestions.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mrbeachy

          i'd say greek (if really good, worthwhile greek), mexican, indian, etc. price range is $10-20 per person without beverages or dessert. thanks, i appreciate the ideas...

          1. re: charlie_b

            ok...my first choice for greek food in your price range would be george's in lynbrook-on sunrise highway about 20 min from jfk. he has both a lunch menu and a regular menu and his cooking is excellent-most of his recupes are his family's from greece-his website is georgesgreekrestaurant.com. the phone # is 516-568-0200.

        2. When you refer to “Asian-Fusion,” our assumption is that you are referring to the Frenasia restaurant in Howard Beach. We have been there several times for lunch, and while the dinner menu is fairly expensive, if you stick to the lunch menu, lunch should only cost you approximately $10 per person or less before tax and tip, but if you decide to have one of their fancy western deserts (only four choices available), which we would recommend, than your bill will go up by a another $6 to $7, depending upon the desert chosen. Drinks will drive up the cost also.

          With only approximately 3 hours total time for lunch (if the plane lands at 12:30 PM, it is more likely that your parents would not be curbside until close to 1 PM), this does not leave you with much time for a leisurely lunch, especially if you plan to drive any significant distances, and as you have stated, traffic issues may be a major consideration, hence the Frenasia restaurant is not a bad option, since the food is reasonably good, and most importantly, the restaurant is only about 15 minutes outside the JFK airport with little chance of traffic problems, hence you would be able to enjoy a very leisurely lunch with your parents without having to constantly watch the clock in order to rush back to the airport in time for the flight. If you decide to try Frenasia, you will most probably have the whole restaurant to yourself at one of their window tables overlooking the little inlet. The restaurant has nice pleasant décor and if you have time after lunch, there is a public park on the old Howard Beach side overlooking Jamaica Bay (next to 165th Street) that you can stroll around until the flight to Italy.

          The Pio Pio restaurant mentioned in Woodhaven is also within a close driving distance, but we have not tried the Pio Pio restaurant.

          5 Replies
          1. re: lwong

            yeah, i was refering to Frenasia when i said Asian-Fusion ... i just forget the spelling. i looked at them online, and their menu seemed expensive - although it was likely the dinner menu. certainly proximity and good food is a priority. what kind of stuff is on their lunch menu? neither my parents nor husband care much for sushi. the flight is due is at 12:12, so i think i should be able to get them curbside pretty close to 12:30 or just after.

            if i assume that Pio Pio's are created equal, it is certainly a safe, low-key, tasty bet. if you even sorta like rotisserie chicken, you should try a Pio Pio sometime. i only eat chicken a few times a year, and half of the time it's there. the sides are also excellent. and the green-chili sauce is addictive and goes with everything. yum. and one can't get much cheaper if in a group, as about $30 worth of food will feed 3-5 people. when it's just two, i tend to spend the same and have a lot of left-overs. it's meant for family-style.

            thanks for your feedback, i'll certainly keep Frenasia under consideration.

            1. re: charlie_b

              btw, called FrenAsia and they are not open for lunch. they start serving dinner at 3pm.

              thanks though!

              1. re: charlie_b

                i second the rec for singh's. (I've been really into the place lately) I believe it's trini, not guyanese. the doubles are great, as is their roast pork, which has a slight "jerk" taste to it. In fact, if you are fan of hot sauces, singh's is great and goes well on most anything there.

                Plus, it's definitely a cuisine your parents won't encounter in Italy.

                There are at least two outposts of singh's--i believe there is one on liberty blvd and 123rd street or thereabouts. (the other is at liberty and 118th.)

                As stuartlafonda said, though, it's definitely bare bones. There is a bar, however, if anyone feels the need for pre-flight drinks, or at least a beer to wash down all the spicy, delicious food.

                1. re: missmasala

                  yeah, i'm thinking Singh's, although the recent post on Seema's also has me tempted (yum, pumpkin roti, but they should have that at Singh's too from what i've read, unless they're out)

                  and the doubles sound sinful.

                2. re: charlie_b

                  Thanks for the information about FrenAsia not serving lunch anymore. Most of their business is at dinner time, since whenever we have been there during lunch time, we were almost the only diners, hence they apparently decided to stop serving lunch to save overhead costs.

                  Too bad that FrenAsia decided to stop serving lunch, as we were planning to meet some friends for lunch there next week.

            2. if push comes to shove you always have the lindenwood diner, on linden blvd., right by the brooklyn/queens border, definetly a few steps above your typical diner.

              1 Reply
              1. re: byrd

                Thanks for this post! At 11:30 AM I picked up a hungry friend at JFK , marooned between a redeye from California and an evening trans-Atlantic flight. Ten minutes later, we were seated in Lindenwood Diner with a choice of very good NY Greek diner food or an extensive Caribbean menu. Great coffee, smiling service, lots of parking, an outer borough slice of life, sat as long as we wanted, and quick return to JFK.

              2. Considering they get in at 12:30 and need to be onboard another international flight at 5:30, and considering all the security measures they are bound to have to go through once they leave the airport for any appreciable length of time, I would not venture too far afield. I'm thinking they out to be back at the airport by at least 4 PM. They may not even be off the plane until 1 or 1:15...

                That said, if pizza is ok, I would recommend Gino's in Howard Beach, on Cross Bay near 160th Avenue. Good individual (called mini) pies. recently had the arugula prosciutto and parmagianno pie. Big enough for two to share. Have that with a nice salad or antipasto and you're all set. It's a nice, reasonable place for lunch with family.

                Take Belt Pkway west to exit 17S (Rockaways), Gino's will be on the right, a few doors up from the KFC.

                1. If you actually have a few hours, Flushing might be an option - you can park at the muni garage, and most of the restaraunts will get you in and out in an hour or so - but maybe the Van Wyck is too nerve-wracking if you are in a rush.

                  1. After learning from you that FrenAsia stopped serving lunch, we were now in the same boat with you trying to think about where else we could go to meet our friends for lunch who happen to work in the JFK area.

                    There must have been a misunderstanding when you called FrenAsia, since we just called FrenAsia to ask why they had decided to stop serving lunch and they indicated that they still serve lunch from 11:30 AM to 3 PM.

                    Hence FrenAsia is still a possible option for you.

                    1. huh, i called this afternoon and asked if they were open for lunch. they said no, that they opened for dinner after 3pm.

                      maybe they thought i was asking about lunch TODAY, and it was already past "lunchtime"?

                      anyway, the website has no indication of a lunch menu, and i had wanted to ask what they serve at lunch and some prices. can you help with that?

                      otherwise, i think i might try my luck with W.Indian in Richmond Hill, which should be close enough.

                      thanks for your help.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: charlie_b

                        We happen to have a lunch menu from FrenAsia that shows an assorted variety of Asian fusion dishes from Thai, Indonesian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese influenced dishes. According to the newspaper clippings posted at the restaurant, the two major cooks/owners are Chinese and Indonesian.

                        They have various soups and salads with an Asian flavor (Creamy Butternut Squash Soup- curry and soybean flavored, Vietnamese Salad, Asian Grilled Chicken Salad, Lemon Grilled Shrimp Salad, and others), Appetizers (Ravioli – shrimp and pork filled - Szechuan Style, Peanut Crusted Shrimp, Crispy Calamari with miso-lime vinaigrette, Chicken Lettuce Wrap, and others), and their lunch entrees have a number of dishes with various Asian seasonings with a choice of beef, shrimp, scallops, or chicken (examples: Szechuan Peppercorn Sauce and Wok Glazed Ginger and several others), plus several other meat dishes (Wok Seared Sesame Chicken, Teriyaki with choice of chicken, beef, salmon, or veg). There are several “Rice and Pasta” dishes with an Asian flavor (Malaysian Flat Noodle Rice Noodles, Singapore Thin Rice Noodles, and several others). The menu has a number of vegetable dishes (Asian veg. with Tofu, Sautéed String Bean with Sambal Sauce, and others). There is also Japanese sushi and sashimi dishes on the menu, although you had mentioned that your parents do not like Japanese (last time we were there, we had ordered two sashimi slices of Toro tuna which were quite good with a buttery texture, but expensive). As mentioned in our earlier post, they also have four western desserts that are worth trying (the deserts are not on our menu, but we remember liking a chocolate cake with melted chocolate inside and with accompanying ice cream). We have tried a number of the lunch dishes and most of them are reasonably flavorful.

                        There are sufficient available lunch dishes that most finicky eaters should be able to find something that they would be able to order (as to whether they would like the dish, is of course another matter).

                        All of the soups, salads, appetizers, and special lunch entrée dishes are mostly $2 to $9 and all are under $12. The lunch entrée specials come with rice and soup or salad. The lunch menu is basically a pared down version of the dinner menu with lower prices and of course smaller volume dishes.

                        Any restaurant in Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Jamaica, and nearby Valley Stream are close enough to drive for a leisurely lunch.

                        Hope the above FrenAsia summary is useful to you, plus the many other Chowhound posts, in deciding where to take your parents.

                      2. Anytime I think about eating near JFK the only place that comes to mind is Don Pepe, one of the best family Italian spots in the City IMHO. It's just a few blocks north of the long term parking area on Lefferts Blvd. ART

                        1. THANKS all for responding. we ended up at Singh's. it was good, but didn't seem to really excite anyone. i think i liked it best, and i got a veggie roti with pumpkin, spinach, and okra. it was tasty, but didn't compare to the roti memories i have of Toronto.

                          my husband got the pork (tasty), my mom got the shrimp roti (salty), and my dad got the conch roti (salty, chewy). i also got a double which i quite enjoyed.

                          they come back through again after their Italy trip, and we might do it again, but try Frenasia this time.

                          thanks for the help!


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: charlie_b

                            just to answer one of your original questions, Pio Pio on Woodhaven is a small mostly take-out spot, with a few tables. Atmosphere not nearly as nice as the one on Northern Blvd, but the chicken is just as good.

                            I love Russian food in Brighton Beach but I am glad you didn't try that, it can easily take more than an hour to get there from JFK, the Belt can be a nightmare.

                            This thread is helpful, many people have this question, too bad you didnt find something more exciting.

                            If the next layover is over the dinner hour, try Danny Brown on Metropolitan Ave in Forest Hills (take the Jackie Robinson to Metropolitan and turn right). Excellent food.

                          2. Spicy Mina's is, IMHO, a better restaurant than Sripraphai, and certainly cozier and less garish. If you haven't taken them there yet, they'll get tastes they've never had before, and you won't be rushed.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: KRS

                              go get a legendary pie from totonno's, coney island...

                            2. Dude; you live next to Sripraphai. Can one get tired of that?