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NYT Real Estate Section Article: Author Moves to Jackson Heights for the Food

Thought this would amuse most of you.


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  1. You don't have to move there. I live in midtown Manhattan (when I'm not in Tulsa) It's 15 minutes by subway to Jackson Heights, 15 minutes to Manhattan Chinatown, a bit longer to Flushing. Every night I eat at one of those three. I never do takeout but if I did I'd be home and eating before the chow cooled.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Brian S

      I think he moved to JH because he used to live in Washington heights. I guess the eats are not as good up there, plus it probably takes forever to get to JH from there.

      1. re: seneca

        It takes under an hour to get from JH to WH.

        1. re: christocc

          yeah, I guess you're right. My friend from Inwood told me it took her one and half hours to get home from my place in JH but she had to walk 15 minutes to the E/F because I live on 85th St and it was also late at night. Since I just moved to this neighborhood I don't always know how long it takes to get places.

          And since it sounds like the author wanted to eat at Seba Seba or Tacos Guicho every single day, I guess two hours round trip every day must have been too much!

          1. re: christocc

            What, in a helicopter? Buy Subway it would be at least an hour.

            1. re: Sweatshirt Guy

              Not so at all. It's under an hour by subway, even on a Sunday. Take the E from Roosevelt to 50th St. (15 minutes tops), and the C to WH (20 minutes, tops). That's a total of 35 minutes. Even if you've got to wait 10 minutes for each train (which isn't very likely), that's still under an hour.

              Are you taking a different route?

              1. re: christocc

                Sorry, i have to disagree. I commute from 74th Roosevelt to W168th for work. its at least an hour, if not an hour fifteen, at the height of rush hour when trains run very frequently.

      2. Of course you don't have to but...living here is a very nice thing to do. I'd definitely recommend it (and not just cause of the food).

        1. i'd recommend it too -- with reservations (no pun intended) about the neighborhood succumbing to the sort of colonization/dumbing down that made the boerum/cobble/carroll (i won't use the loathsome contraction that's come into use in recent times) such a wasteland.

          1. yeah, I hope the neighborhood doesn't change much either but so far, so good. I've been living here since Oct 04 and there's been very little change over that time. The biggest changes I've seen down my end of the neighborhood have been the expansion of Trade Fair on 37th (the produce section has improved and they finally started stocking Total yogurt), several new phone card stores, and one of my favorite combo-uses of space--a new jewelry store/internet cafe (minus the coffee). I do admit I wouldn't mind a good coffee shop to sit around in and read (while I love going into the Dunkin' Donuts on 37th, it's more fun to pretend to read and to listen in on the complaints/chatter of the regulars in there) and a within-walking-distance bookstore would be really handy. Considering the Times piece two years ago naming Queens as the next It borough and JH as the next It neighborhood, the lack of change has been a nice surprise.

            1. one more thing: I won't really start to worry about the neighborhood until Fresh Direct starts delivering here. At this point, they still think JH is a wasteland of people that can't afford/won't use their service. And while I will admit that I get annoyed that they won't deliver here and would probably jump at the chance to order from them (in my last life I lived on the UES and, well, Fresh Direct is pretty handy), I know it would signal that the neighborhood is a-changin.

              10 Replies
              1. re: jennsch

                I'm not sure if Fresh Direct considers us JH a "wasteland". No offense to Woodsiders, but I have a friend that lives around the corner from Spicy Mina in Woodside, and Fresh Direct delivers there.

                1. re: sandrina

                  I live in Elmhurst and fresh direct wont deliver to 4 blocks past the subway station. I find it really annoying.

                  1. re: sandrina

                    I had called a while back and the customer service person said they had looked into delivering to JH but found it wasn't financially viable for the company -- translates to them not thinking they could make enough money doing a circuit through the neighborhood.

                    1. re: jennsch

                      They took one look at the thousands of excellent, cheap restaurants around the nabe and figured that no one would order from their company.

                      1. re: Brian S

                        If that were true the supermarkets would be empty. Alas, they're painfully crowded at peak hours.

                        1. re: jennsch

                          If Trade Fair (or the Met) is smart, they will capitalize on FD's
                          silliness and continue their upward trajectory. With just
                          a few improvements in the JH grocery scene, we wouldn't need
                          FD at all.

                          1. re: JulesNYC

                            I'm guilty, as well (re: my kefir remark), but if anyone has further grocery remarks, please start a new thread, so others can notice, benefit, and contribute.

                      2. re: jennsch

                        Actually, someone on the JHFamilies board talked to the Fresh Direct CEO. Basically, they have a significant number of people who have signed up and indicated interest, but they need to add another route, and that's what they are waiting on. For example, they would also need enough people to sign up from, say, Elmhurst, because they need two neighborhoods per truck (or something like that).

                        1. re: gliterati8

                          well that is a good thing to hear (and a very diff tune than I had heard, admittedly, a bit back) -- perhaps we should start a flyer campaign in Elmhurts to get people to sign up...

                    2. re: jennsch

                      well, JH must be changing. Fresh Direct is here and we're oh, so happy about it. We were east-midtowners before coming here and FD was so great. I'm so happy it's here now.

                    3. I loved the article. Where is the Tacos Guicho street cart he writes about?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: driggs

                        Tacos Guicho is on the south side of Roosevelt Ave, around 83rd-84th St. I live in JH but hadn't been, so I stopped by the other day and sampled some carnitas tacos. They were delicious, as advertised, with surprisingly fresh garnish and non-greasy meat for something out of a truck. They give you two sauces, hot and blazingly hot. Definitely worth it.

                        1. re: driggs

                          tacos guicho is on the southeast corner of roosevelt ave and gleane st, just east of 83rd st. they told me they're open from 8am until 1am daily.

                        2. Good article. Guicho is the cart I talk about here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/354974 (the "truck on south side of roos at 84 or 85 that's doing more biz than any other truck in memory").

                          However, as I say there, tacos are not the thing to get. They're made with store bought tortillas. Sopes and gorditas are handmade from masa. And it's one of the rare places where chicken is actually a top filling. That's increasingly true, at least among cart people. Chicken's the new pork.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            could someone please explain to me the difference between sopes and gorditas? i went to tacos guicho recently based on jim's (and others') comments about the place and tried to order one gordita and one sope, each with chicken. now, the two ladies working there speak little to no english & i speak/understand virtually no spanish, but ordering usually isn't a problem at most mexican places as long as i stick with tacos, enchiladas, and tortas.
                            but there seemed to be confusion at tacos guicho after i placed my order. they made only one item, which they said was a sope. i tried to tell them that i also ordered a gordita, but they seemed confused. the guy behind me in line, who was bi-lingual, then translated my question to them, and in response they told me (through him) that gorditas and sopes are the same thing.

                            huh? is this true? i'm a relative neophyte when it comes to mexican food but i'd never heard of "gordita" and "sope" being interchangeable terms. my impression was that gorditas are essentially like fatter tacos, and that they can be (or perhaps are always) split and then stuffed with filling. and i thought that sopes were relatively thick discs of masa with a little bit of a ridge along the edges, and the beans, meat, and other toppings were placed on top of the whole thing.
                            i realize that i'm probably totally wrong, so i'd greatly appreciate clarification about these terms. i need to know what i'm talking about so that i can get what i want next time i go to tacos guicho or any other mexican place.
                            just so you know, i tried looking up this information online but couldn't really find anything that clearly explained all of this.
                            thanks guys.

                            1. re: lebron

                              Avoid much torture and heartache. NONE OF THESE TERMS CAN BE DEFINED. Any definition you hear of huaraches, quesadillas, gorditas, sopes, enchiladas, or any of the rest would be destroyed by ten gazillion variations that bear no resemblance. Any "clear explanation" would be totally wrong.

                              After traveling in Mexico...and traveling among Mexican regional kitchens in the US...my conclusion is that these terms are infinitely broad and inclusive. And if you include Central America, which uses many of the same terms for vastly different sorts of food, it's even more impossible to pin down. These aren't terms describing certain foods...they're terms loosely categorizing vast spectrums of foods.

                              As I wrote a few years ago: " If you think you know what a quesadilla is - even if you grew up in Puebla or have traveled extensively across the country - there is a quesadilla you'll soon meet that will prove you wrong"

                          2. To those who live in Jackson Heights, have you noticed if Dosa Diner is reopened, or if it looks like it will ever reopen? I was there a week or so and a sign on the door read, "closed for renovations." I had been meaning to try it for a while, so was quite disappointed. ALso, does anybody have alternative recommentdations for dosas and other south Indian food in JH.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: gnosh

                              I think they're reopening. At least, I hope so. I pass by there twice a day, every day, so I'll keep my eyes open and let you know when they're back.

                              Unfortunately, there's not much else in the way of South Indian nearby.

                              1. re: christocc

                                Gotta go to lex in manhattan or dosa hutt in flushing. JH is, aside from some cloistered hold-outs, northern these days. Everyone has moved to Edison or Hicksville.

                            2. Yeah, I know. When I first moved to JH, there were lots of Southern places, with few, if any, Afghani places. Time have certainly changed...

                              1. "searched for a local pizza shop. That turned out to be Tomas Pizza, on 37th Avenue...I warily tried a chicken roll, to stay. It was a shock: the chicken wasn’t soggy, the cheese wasn’t gloopy, and the sauce was baked right in instead of served on the side and only by special request."

                                Which place is this? I can't find it via online search

                                1. That's where my lived-in-Queens-all-their-lives neighbors go...I think it's in the upper 70s (but i'll ask my neighbors next time I see them).

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: jennsch

                                    Thanks. For slices, I like Gustosa, but I'm always up for a good chicken roll...

                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                      Tomas Pizza is on the corner of 77th and 37th, next to a bank. Good luck!

                                      1. re: gliterati8

                                        Yellow.com, Yahoo etc. list a "Thomas Pizza" at 76-23 37th Ave., which must be the same place.

                                      2. re: Jim Leff

                                        totally agree. gustosa's sicilian slices are definitely the best in the 'hood. some of his special slices -- the caprese when it's around -- are also worth a shot.

                                        1. re: david sprague

                                          Yeah, but the poor guy's so maudlin and depressed. Nobody seems to care about 1980 pizza anymore. Walking in is like a time machine, a mausoleum of extinct pizza stylings.

                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                            there are actually two Thomas Pizza places...the one cited above next to the produce market is a Mom/Pop place across from PS 69 and it's closed on Sundays...the Mom and Dad along with their kids and grandkids are always jovial and they make a solid Sicilian pie and pretty much everything they do is adequate...

                                            there's another Thomas up in the 80's that is chaotic and mediocre...

                                            as far as Gustosa's - Leff has it right - the pizza is fine but it's so true about the proprietor...he's always bummed and the place is depressing...they've got that little TV on that gets bad reception and when you walk in there on Sunday afternoons, they've got PGA golf on and nobody is watching it...

                                            Perhaps the reason the guy appears bummed is because he basically works 364 days a year from open to close...

                                            1. re: Jackson Heights JT

                                              "Perhaps the reason the guy appears bummed is because he basically works 364 days a year from open to close"

                                              ...and nobody's coming. He's like the Ghost of Pizza Past. Meanwhile, crap thrives. This bugs me (I built a web site to try to help even this up!).

                                              Believe it or not, Mr. DeMarco at Difara's Pizza was the same way when I first went. Glum and often empty. He said he was ready to retire.

                                    2. I went to the Thomas Pizza in the 80s today. The pie was great. Thin, crispy crust, not too much cheese, not at all oily, and the sauce wasn't sweet (or at least, it wasn't sweetened). I also went to Gustosa. I thought is was terrible. Too much cheese, sweetened sauce, oily, and the worst part, a too-thick, gummy crust. Thomas (in the 80s) also had a super looking "Grandma" pizza. I'll probably go back tomorrow for a taste of that.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: christocc

                                        Chritocc, I was doing the parallel thing today, too, but I was doing chicken rolls rather than slices. See my new thread at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360997

                                        Not surprised some people dislike Gustosa. I have a taste for circa 1972 shopping mall pizza, which is perhaps a cultivated pleasure. I like Sal and Carmine's for this style in Manhattan, and Attilo's in New Brunswick...and lots of people detest both.


                                        1. re: Jim Leff


                                          Too bad we didn't know, we could have traveled together and compared notes.

                                          But, having lived in NYC all my life (the first 23 years of which were in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Dyker Hights, Brooklyn, 1954-1977), I have no idea what shopping mall pizza is. My preference is for thin, crispy crust, a fairly small amount of cheese, and a good, unsweetened sauce. It's hard to find that kind of pizza nowadays.

                                          1. re: christocc

                                            This is my ideal type of pizza as well, and I think you might also enjoy the Thomas between 76th & 77th.

                                            1. re: musette fan

                                              \I tried Thomas in the 70s (across from Met Foods) today. The crust was way too thick and doughy, and it wasn't cooked all the way through, there was way too much cheese, and the sauce was definitely sweetened. In a word? Feh!

                                        2. re: christocc

                                          My favorite pizza in JH (which I don't see anyone mention on chowhound) is the grandma pizza at Thomas in the 80s. It doesn't aspire to be a crisp, thin-crust pie, but it's not sicilian-thick either. Fairly minimal amount of cheese, and they tend to have a fairly heavy hand with the oregano (and sometimes too with the salt), but it's got a ton of flavor, and the sauce has personality...

                                          1. re: danoots

                                            Isn't that Thomas Pizza near 82nd Street an Ecuadorean restaurant now?

                                        3. Well, the article cracked me up. I moved to JH two years ago, partly because it's such a lively neighborhood, has so many restaurants, and apartments were practically free at the time. I'm a writer too,and I was sitting at my computer reading his story, looking out my window directly onto his building. But alas, the novelty of the restaurants has mostly worn off. I love the neighborhood, but I find myself constantly making special out-of-borough trips to places with dark, pretty decor and good drinks, such as Barrio Chino and Dumont. Boredom has even driven me to start cooking, much like the author. (I recently picked up an Indian cookbook in the hopes that I could learn what to do with all the mystery vegetables in the supermarket.)

                                          1. Anyone go to the Aires del Sud bakery?

                                            We did and are now addicted. I like the empanadas, and some of the pastries. The "special" pastries are always changing, so it's hard to make a recommendation, but basically, anything with dulce de leche has been fantastic.