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Help introduce us to the Outer Boroughs

  • MMRuth Jan 22, 2007 07:17 PM
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I know this seems like one of those "I haven't read the board but where should I eat posts" - and maybe it is, but it's not meant to be - I've done a lot of perusing, but am a bit overwhelmed, due to my general lack of knowledge. I'm trying to encourage my husband to be more adventuresome about where we eat (what he eats is not an issue - he'll try anything) and so we've made a pact to try one restaurant in each of the outer boroughs before Memorial Day. He tends to go for upscale places (due to his aversion, among other things, to plastic chairs outside a restaurant, and a need for substantial silverware - but I'm interested in ignoring those parameters for this quest), but I'd like to be able to identify a great place (preferably not French or Italian - and not places like River Cafe or Peter Luger's) in each of the outer boroughs for us to try - that is not particularly upscale, but more adventuresome.

So, I guess my question is, if you would recommend one place in your borough to try, what would it be? We have a car, so transportation is not an issue.

Thanks in advance for your help in this quest! Oh - and pointers to threads that would be useful are certainly appreciated.

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  1. For Queens:
    Spicy & Tasty in Flushing (Sìchuān Chinese)
    Waterfront International in Flushing (Liáoníng Chinese)
    Sripraphai in Woodside (Thai)
    Kebab Cafe in Astoria (Egyptian/eclectic Middle eastern)
    Malagueta or Sabor Tropical in Astoria (Brazilian)
    Agnanti or S'Agapo in Astoria (Greek)
    Tournesol in Long Island City (I know you said no French but seriously this place is a gem)

    1. Sripraphai, go at an off time and enjoy great food in a setting even your husband will enjoy.

      1. just wanted to chime in and say to avoid applewood at all costs - pretentious, amateurish,and not worth the money or the trip - i don't know why this place still receives so much love on this board...

        on the recommended list:
        dumont in williamsburg - consistent quality American bistro food; service is retarded though - welcome to the outer boroughs

        3 Replies
        1. re: Pops

          i strongly disagree and think that applewood is one of the most pleasant nights out in brooklyn with great food.

          1. re: Pops

            Couldnt disagree more. Had an amazing dinner there just the other week for 4 that I posted about. Nearly a flawless meal, and some of the best food I've had in brooklyn. And I found the experience entirely unpretentious....such a relaxed, homey dining room for such an inventive meal.

            1. re: Pops

              I understand that Applewood isn't for every Chowhound -- for example, it's one of the most expensive meals in the Outer Boroughs (though in my opinion, well worth the cost). But I can't imagine what about a meal there could possibly be characterized as "amateurish" or "pretentious".

            2. Congratulations on expanding your culinary horizons!

              Based on the parameters you posted, in Brooklyn I'd give a try to Applewood, 360 Van Brunt, or Locanda Vini & Olii.

              All 3 are special places in their own way: Park Slope's Applewood was rated the best restaurant in all of Brooklyn in NY Magazine's top 101 restaurants issue (and is my personal favorite in all of NYC). 360 Van Brunt is an bustling, energetic oasis of excellent, inexpensive French food in the middle of rough and tumble Red Hook. Locanda Vini & Olii is just so incredibly unexpected in the middle of a thoroughly residential neighborhood.

              More can be read about all of them both here on Chowhound and on New York Magazine's website.

              Really, you can't go wrong with any of the 3!

              Peter

              1 Reply
              1. re: Peter

                Thanks! I've noticed Applewood's being mentioned - will do some more searching on it and your other recommendations.

              2. Go to Danny Brown's in Forest Hills, Queens. It's kind of new and kind of awesome. AND they have silverware!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Happygirl

                  Silverware is good - the story of his going to a BBQ joint in Homestead, FL and asking for silveware is a tale unto itself!

                  1. re: Happygirl

                    I love Danny Brown Wine Bar--in fact I go there all the time. But if you were to pick it up and drop it in the middle of Manhattan, it would be just another pretty good restaurant and not particularly special. If you're going to come out to Queens, you may as well try something that you won't find the likes of in Manhattan--like
                    Sripraphai, Spicy & Tasty, or perhaps an Indian place in Jackson Heights or a Greek place in Astoria.

                    --Sarah
                    http://www.avenuefood.com

                  2. I agree that applewood is phenomenal. Chef Dave Shea is inventive and exhaustive when it comes to high quality and ingredients.

                    Please permit me to put in a word for Chestnut. Chef Daniel Eardley is similarly passionate and thorough. Of late, they offer delicious gnocci, sinfully tasty haystack shrimp, and a creamy saltcod brandade as appetizers. For the entree, there's a fantastic ox-tail papardelle, pumpkin ravioli with savory greens and one of the best steaks on Smith Street. Tuesday and Wednesday are Prix Fixe night to boot. As visitors to the Borough of Brooklyn, you may want to sit at the bar where you can mingle with the locals. It's a friendly place. A table for yourselves is nice too.

                    To add to the options, I recently had a memorable meal at The Good Fork in Red Hook. Its menu is a combination of Korean and Italian influences. Highly recommended as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Rodrigo

                      I agree that Chestnut is excellent, but in my book, it's a notch below Applewood.

                      More to the point, above I specifically mentioned Applewood, 360 and Locanda Vini and Olii because they're all so unexpected -- they're little oases of deliciousness where one wouldn't expect to find such a gem of a restaurant. Chestnut, on the other hand, is on a commerical strip that doesn't especially say "Brooklyn" to me.

                      Peter

                    2. If you're looking for something a little different than what you find in Manhattan, I'd second 360. Yes, it's French, but Red Hook is a really fascinating scene these days and worth visiting. Have a drink at Sunny's before or after your dinner -- you don't get a lot more picturesque than that place.

                      If you're willing to seek out some more "divey" places, I'd recommend getting some jerk chicken in Flatbush, some Bahn Mi at Hanco's in Boerum Hill and some Mexican in Sunset Park or Bushwick. A few searches on this board will yield recommendations for all of those.

                      For over the top fun, try one of the Russian cabaret lounges in Brighton Beach. The food can be pretty good and the entertainment can't be matched in Manhattan. If you wait until it's a bit warmer out, you can't beat the after dinner walk on the boardwalk.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: oolah

                        Thanks - I'd forgotten actually that we did have lunch once at Brighton Beach - a lot of fun eating outside on the boardwalk on a nippy April day.

                        1. re: oolah

                          Hanco's for a Banh mi? I don't think I would use that as an outer boro lure. That is not even close to one of the top banh mi's in the city. For an outer boro one go to:4222 8th ave in sunset park. hanco banh mis are small and the bread is lame. the pork filling has been known to be gristly.

                          1. re: jason carey

                            I had Hanco's last night and the bread was not "lame" nor was the meat gristly (I've never heard either of these complaints there). I think Hanco's is one of the top 5 in the city.

                            Ba Xuyen is better, but I thought MMRuth might enjoy exploring a different neighborhood than just Sunset Park.

                            1. re: jason carey

                              I think I would live on the floor of Hanco's just for the opportunity to eat the crumbs that other diners might drop. It is, without a doubt, one of the best banh mis in the city--it's darned near a perfect meal...just talking about it has set me to daydreaming...mmmm pork....mmm cilantro...mmm jalapeno...mmmmmmmmmmmm

                          2. I don't think Locanda is worth the trip. It's nice if you're in the neighborhood.

                            Brooklyn:
                            Al Di La
                            Chestnut
                            Applewood
                            360
                            Tanoreen
                            DiFara
                            Mabat
                            World Tong
                            Queen

                            1. Definitely both Sripraphai and Spicy & Tasty in Queens. Adventurous, authentic, and extremely well-made food in modern, clean (but not fancy) settings that anyone should be comfortable in.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Woodside Al

                                Forgot about Spicy & Tasty. While it's not up to your "silverware" standard it IS some of the best food I've ever had. WELL worth the trip and a ridiculous bargain to boot (a feast for $30 per person.)

                                1. re: Peter

                                  Thanks - our (his) silverware standard is to be put aside for this quest - maybe I'll bring some along!

                              2. I know you're trying to avoid Italian, but the best restaurant in the Bronx is Roberto's in the Belmont section - and if you haven't been in that area before, I suggest allowing time for strolling and serious food shopping. There's plenty of info on the Outer Borough board.

                                I also suggest Golden Gate in Riverdale for the classic 50's Chinese-American experience. Get the spare ribs and the lobster with burnt pork - and avoid anything that's not echt Boro Cantonese.

                                1. I agree with many of the already stated places. Two incongruous others:

                                  Convivium Osteria in Park Slope for excellent Italian/Spanish/Portuguese in a great setting

                                  Ba Xuyen in Sunset Park for the hands-down best bahn mi

                                  1. I happen to LOVE Cheburechnaya in Rego Park, Queens..incredibly reasonably priced Uzbek (sp?) food; great quality, and KOSHER too!

                                    1. El Continental
                                      http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/3/26908/B...

                                      Salvadorian Restaurant, signature dish: Pupusas

                                      Reasonably upscale, not expensive.

                                      The "Smoke Joint" near BAM has BBQ.

                                      DiFara's if you buy a pie and walk to Ocean parkway pedestrian mall to eat it.

                                      M&I International has a food store and 3 cafe's in a huge space
                                      http://www.citimaps.com/brooklyn/m&am...

                                      Also consider Rasputin:
                                      http://jscms.jrn.columbia.edu/cns/200...

                                      Cheskel's Shwarma King 3715 13th Avenue Brooklyn - Small Kosher Israeli/Jewish deli, but nice. Good kugel selection, usually. Kosher is more expensive.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Geo8rge

                                        Geo8rge,

                                        I love the idea of eating a DiFara's pizza on the pedestrian mall...where is it and how far away is it from DiFara's? I don't know that hood well at all.

                                      2. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions - much appreciated and I will *definitely* post back as we begin our excursions!

                                        1. In Brooklyn:

                                          - Eastern Feast in Brighton Beach - Really good, really cheap Uzbek food. Try the manti, and any soup!
                                          - Taci's Beyti on Coney Island Ave. near Ave. P in Midwood - Great Turkish food; way better than anything in Manhattan.
                                          - Madina in Ditmas Park, Beverly Road and Coney Island Ave. - Fiery Pakistani food, super cheap and fast.
                                          - Taro Sushi in Park Slope, Dean between 5th and Flatbush - just really good, unpretentious sushi.
                                          - Famous Pita in Ditmas/Midwood, CIA near Ditmas Ave. - Interesting pita sandwiches with lot of Ashkenazi as well as Arabic influence, and excellent pitas.
                                          - Just take a walk up Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights/Boerum Hill for amazing Arabic food, especially Yemeni; also try the Yemeni luncheonette on Court St. right off Atlantic.
                                          - Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, in the 60's and 70's, has some of the best and most interesting Arabic food around, and finally
                                          - Tanoreen, 78th and 3rd in Bay Ridge, for Levantine (Palestinian/Lebanese) food that must have crack in it, it's so good.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ditmasdancer

                                            If you're gonna mention Yemeni cuisine, you gotta mention Yemen Cafe, on Atlantic. Delicious lamb dishes and so forth (chicken, chicken livers, etc.), humongous portions (really excessive, but hey, take some home for the next day).

                                          2. 6. Applewood
                                            5. Chestnut
                                            4. Jack the Horse - small neighborhood place in Brooklyn Heights but they have amazing stuff
                                            3. Grimaldi's - I think this is the best pizza in all of New York, and it's just under the Brooklyn Bridge. You can follow it up with a trip to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
                                            2. Frankie's 457 - man, this place is amazing. My favorites are the apple, watercress and gorgonzola salad, and the cavatelli with sausage. They are both amazing. They also have an excellent wine list (get the Pinot Nero) and a great cheese selection. This place is way out of the way and only takes cash, but it is so worth the trip. It's my second favorite restaurant.
                                            1. Saul - I can't believe no one has mentioned Saul yet. I've been here several times - once when apartment hunting in the neighborhood (convinced me that Brooklyn was the place to be), and a couple times for special occasions. Most recently, my fiance and I went to Saul to celebrate our engagement and it was a wonderful night. We got the tasting menu and it was spectacular. The food and service are consistently amazing here. Everything on the menu is excellent, but I make it point to get their foie gras appetizer and DEFINITELY the baked alaska for dessert. The whole experience is sublime. Oh, and did I mention that they are one of only two restaurants in Brooklyn to have a Michelin star?

                                            1. If I could choose only one Brooklyn restaurant to recommend I have to go with Marlow and Sons in Williamsburg: http://www.marlowandsons.com/

                                              They don't have a huge menu, but it is a very thoughtful one (which does change just about daily), and we've never had a bad meal there. We love this place so much we even had our post-wedding dinner there with six of our closest friends.

                                              1. For adventurous, I can't think of two better locations than the excellent street food-type stands at Flushing's J&L (41-82 Main) and Golden (41-28 Main) Malls, a mere block and a half away from one another and about three blocks away from the subway station. Barely any English spoken or written, but excellent, bare bones, street food atmosphere for die hard lovers of noodles and all things Chinese. As a matter of fact, I'm heading over to J&L today; I've had a hankering for my current favorite: the Hot and Sour soup at the Chengdu (Sichuan)stand.

                                                Here are a few helpful, informative threads:
                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350358
                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339644
                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/247907

                                                I also heartily recommend Minang Asli, in Elmhurst:
                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/24889...

                                                And, for uniqueness, it is hard to top Burmese Cafe's Tea Leaf Salad (be warned, though: those tea leaves are jam packed with caffeine):
                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/345913

                                                Enjoy your adventures.
                                                P.

                                                1. For Brooklyn, I'd definitely take a trip to Good Fork in Red Hook. And come summer, call Grimaldi's to pick up a pizza (usually about 15 minutes), then waltz past the big line, take your pie and go a block to the ferry landing, where you can eat with the Bridge and Manhattan for a pretty nice view.

                                                  1. Here'a a nice general overview of the Queens ethnic eating scene. I like the fact that it mentions Astoria's Titan supermarket, and my two (above-mentioned) favorite food courts in Flushing: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/26/art...