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calling all Queens experts!

baltoellen Apr 4, 2007 06:54 PM

This little social/travel group that I'm involved with is meeting up in NYC in June. For a suggested activity, I came up with the brilliant idea of "Eating Queens," that is, we'd be on a 'food safari' trying one or two dishes at different places. The problem is, with this brilliant idea also came the not so brilliant idea of getting restaurant suggestions.

Where it stands now is that we're definitely doing Georgian. Someone has already come up with a list, and provided some suggestions. Uzbek food was also suggested (by the same person, and he provided a list, too, but I'm not sure that would fly with the rest of the group.) Caribbean, specifically Dominican, Guyanese, & Trini, has also been bandied about, but nothing's firm on that. (And, maybe that's for another borough?)

Greek is definitely for dessert.

So, 'hounds, what I'm looking for from you is something to round this all out. I'm thinking Asian, but just not Chinese, Thai, Korean, or Vietnamese (since I can get pretty decent stuff around here). Or, maybe some sort of African. (Although, being close to DC, I'm used to very good Ethiopian, but North African could work!) Some focus & suggestions are desperately needed on the Caribbean front!

Of course, I'd welcome suggestions on any cuisines/restaurants that I couldn't possibly dream of, the kind that are stamped Only in Queens!

(And, someone else can deal with the nightmare aspect of pulling this together geographically!)

Thanks. Of course, if anyone needs help in Baltimore, I'd be more than glad to reciprocate!

  1. a
    AnotherNYCkid Apr 4, 2007 06:58 PM

    To clarify a little.

    We are so far heading to Telly's Taverna for dessert on a Saturday about 4 in the afternoon.

    We want 3 or so cuisines to sample before hand around Queens with the details given above.

    1 Reply
    1. re: AnotherNYCkid
      baltoellen Apr 4, 2007 07:41 PM

      thanks. I think that helps.

    2. baltoellen Apr 4, 2007 07:06 PM

      oh, and if all this hasn't been long enough....just want to add: please, in addition to suggesting cuisines, please also provide (if this isn't obvious) the name of the restaurant, and, if at all possible, location and phone!

      thanks again!

      1. JH Jill Apr 4, 2007 09:19 PM

        I'm not the ultimate Queens expert in the cuisines you've mentioned, but for Thai, there's an obvious suggestion: Sripraphai in Woodside at 64-39 39th Road, just north of Roosevelt Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. It's generally acknowledged to be the best of the not-very-Americanized Thai places.

        As for some of your suggestions - Dominican and African, I wouldn't recommend Queens. Manhattan is the best for Dominican, and the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan all have more African, except for Egyptian, which you can find in Astoria on Steinway street. Kabab Cafe at 25-12 Steinway is a hole-in-the-wall place right off the Grand Central Parkway that's run by a wonderful character named Ali, an often inspired chef. He serves some very interesting appetizers.

        There are some people who can recommend Guyanese or Trindadian cuisine in Jamaica or Richmond Hill areas, but I haven't had anything amazing since I'm rarely in that area.

        There are also many threads about Korean and Vietnamese food. We have great Korean but less impressive Vietnamese in Queens. (Now if you want something in Little Saigon in the OC, I can get you that info, but not for Queens.)

        In my neck of the woods, Jackson Heights, we can serve you hearty Colombian, meaty Argentine/Uruguayan, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, or Mexican, as well as Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi. There are also several Nepali places around. We also have an interesting Burmese cafe and there are a number of Chinese-Indian places that serve a different fusion. We also have many delightful Turkish eateries.

        If you want to look up some of those threads or ask more specific questions, I'm sure you'll get other helpful suggestions.

        5 Replies
        1. re: JH Jill
          m
          musette fan Apr 5, 2007 09:06 AM

          Turkish in Jackson Heights? Where? That would make me very happy indeed!

          1. re: musette fan
            JH Jill Apr 5, 2007 11:38 AM

            Sorry. We don't have Turkish in Jackson Heights. That should have been a different paragraph, and those in the know will also realize that some of the Chinese-Indian places are in Sunnyside, Elmhurst and Rego Park. I wish we had one too, but I haven't found any here yet. We cna only hope.

            1. re: JH Jill
              welle Apr 5, 2007 11:41 AM

              there were couple of places opened on Roosevelt and 74th (Chinese-Indian) and there is on 37th ave, I think. The one on 37th ave didnt look too good, but there were a couple of positive reviews on the Roosevelt ave. one(s).

              1. re: welle
                p
                pynchoff Apr 6, 2007 07:21 AM

                Nanking on 37th Ave. between 72 and 73 is good and since they are newly opened the portions are fairly large. The lamb dishes seem particularly good.
                If you tell them you want it spicy, they will oblige you.

              2. re: JH Jill
                E Eto Apr 5, 2007 11:59 AM

                There are a bunch of Indian-Chinese restaurants in Jackson Heights. Problem is that most of them haven't been very good. Chili-Chicken, the newish place on Roosevelt/74th is pretty good. I haven't sampled widely there, but I've been pretty pleased with it thus far.

          2. bigjeff Apr 4, 2007 11:26 PM

            I think the place which serves the enormous bosnian burgers would be something unique. Haven't eaten there, but always wanted to:

            Bosna Express
            31-29 12th St
            Long Island City, Qns
            718.932.5577

            and seems like it might be western queens that you want to stick with, since you'll be doing your dessert in astoria. in terms of sunnyside/lic choices, maybe Tangra? I forget the name, but its an Indian-Chinese restaurant on Queens Blvd in Sunnyside that should be quite good. The good east asian stuff is all out in flushing or further into Woodside, but if you're thinking that, I'd very much recommend Ihawan, which is filipino bbq (get a few pork sticks, a few chicken sticks, and an order of their grilled longanisa).

            if you wanted carib/guyanese, maybe head out to Jamaica queens (there's a sybils on hillside ave there) or to richmond hill/liberty ave, but I think that might be out of your way, again, if you're sticking with western queens. anyway, do some searches for prime eats in Sunnyside, there are some wonderful restaurants there, and you could definitely find good dominican/columbian/peruvian chicken places, etc.

            1. johnk Apr 5, 2007 05:00 AM

              Hi there,
              How many people are in your group?
              How will you be traveling around Queens?
              Regards,
              JK

              2 Replies
              1. re: johnk
                baltoellen Apr 5, 2007 05:39 AM

                Thanks! Two people have mentioned Chinese-Indian, something I have never, ever heard of! Fascinating.....Anyway, this is great and helpful for further research, since I've been trying to search the boards, but can't figure out exactly 'how' (i.e. how to search for a cuisine in Queens you may not have thought of!)

                to JK: not sure yet about how many people in group....but at least 10 I'd guess. As for traveling around, I've no clue!

                1. re: johnk
                  a
                  AnotherNYCkid Apr 5, 2007 08:12 AM

                  Not sure how many of the group will attend this part of the weekend. But total in town for this is over 30 now.

                  Trains and busses are the preferred method so far.

                2. Miss Needle Apr 5, 2007 05:47 AM

                  Well, there is Kabab Cafe in Astoria (which is near Telly's Taverna) for delicious Egyptian food. Might be good to head out there before you do dessert. The address is 25-12 Steinway Street. If you do a search for Kabab Cafe, you'll find lots of posts in this forum.

                  I would also think about doing Tangra Masala for Indian-Chinese in Sunnyside. There are a few other Indian-Chinese restaurants in Queens, but I can't recall their names. Perhaps somebody else can help me come up with them. Tangra Masala is located about a mile south from Kabab Cafe. Address is 39-23 Queens Boulevard.

                  If you're focusing on Asian, may I also suggest Tibetan Yak for Tibetan food. It's located in Jackson Heights at 72-20 Roosevelt Ave, about a couple of miles east of Tangra Masala.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Miss Needle
                    Woodside Al Apr 5, 2007 07:27 AM

                    Even better than Tibetan Yak (which I like - order the dhal bat dishes and momos - but Nepali/Tibetan is not the world's most exciting cuisine) is the Burmese Cafe, which is on the same block of Roosevelt between the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) and 72nd St. Really good and unusual cuisine. I know the search function is broken, but I would do a search anyway for this place as there are a number of suggestions for ordering there. A particular standout is the tea leaf salad. Roosevelt is the street that runs under the 7 subway for much of its route and is the center of the multi-ethnic Queens dining scene.

                    On the other side of the expressway, the block east of 69th St. contains several Philippino restaurants. I like Renee's for the down-home rice dishes and Ihawan (entrance around the corner on 70th St.) for their BBQ pork and other BBQ dishes. Beware that these places close early - around 8 to 8:30 - although Krystal's on the 69th St. corner serves just OK Philippino food deep into the night.

                    On little Whitney St. in Elmhurst thare are not one, but two Indonesian restaurants, both of which are quite good. Minangasli is the fancier of the two, with a more extensive menu. Its cuisine is more Sumatran, while the other place, Mie Jakarta, serves more Javan food (especially noodle dishes) as the name would indicate. Also on the same block is a small Chinese place with pretty good hand-pulled noodles and an unusual selection of OK dumplings. Whitney branches off of the main strip in Elmhurst (Broadway - reachable by R train to Elmhurst Ave.) right by the railroad tracks. The restaurants are around a curve a block or so up.

                    Here is the thread I was looking for on Burmese Cafe:
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/345913?query=burma%20cafe

                    Here is a really great resource for looking at some Queens menus:
                    http://www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com/bi...

                    1. re: Woodside Al
                      bigjeff Apr 5, 2007 10:23 AM

                      I've had meals at both indonesian places, but minangasli definitely has some nicer dishes, mie jakarta has a nice noodle soup and some interesting apps, but I didn't really like the rest of the menu. minangasli has nice jackfruit dish, nice chicken dishes, and some nice egg dishes.

                      1. re: Woodside Al
                        s
                        seneca Jun 18, 2007 10:56 AM

                        Regarding the search function on this site - sometimes I find it doesn't return the answers I am looking for. A possibly better way of searching this site is to use google's search function that allows you to search only one site.

                        So if I am looking for Burmese food in the outer boroughs and am only interested in things that have been posted in the past year, I go to google and type the following (everything I have typed after the colon) in the search box: burmese "outer boroughs" site:chowhound.com

                        Then go to the advanced search area and select "updated within past year" in the date area.

                    2. welle Apr 5, 2007 07:16 AM

                      Kabab Cafe and Tibetan Yak are sort of controversial on this board, and have their on and off days, please bear that in mind (in case you don't want to risk your short visit here).
                      Instead of Greek dessert, there is an excellent Middle Eastern bakery run by Palestinians - Laziza on Steinway. Not only you get excellent fresh made baklava, but there are other yummy desserts that are not as common - like ataif (filled pancakes in syrup - i like ones with cheese).
                      We don't have any Georgian places in Queens - there is a Georgian bakery/takeout type of place in Brooklyn though.
                      We have an excellent Uighur/Uzbek place in Rego Park (technically Forest Hills) - Arzu.
                      I do not know on the state of Chinese food around DC/Baltimore, but years ago I remember it being full of those overpriced american-chinese places, if it still that way you have to visit Flushing for some great Northern Chinese or Sichuan food. In any case you have to visit Flushing - it's an interesting place, it always gives me this dynamic vibe of asian cities.
                      We also have strong Argentine and Peruvian restaurants here in Queens, IMO. My favorites are La Portena (Argentine) and El Sol (Peruvian) both in Jackson Heights.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: welle
                        baltoellen Apr 5, 2007 07:49 AM

                        Thanks for all these great suggestions! And, welle, I just checked, and the rec I got for a Georgian restaurant, Tbilisi, was in Bklyn.

                        The choices are starting to get staggering. I think that Uzbek will now be a good choice, since Georgian (one of my favs) is now out.

                        Again, thanks all!

                        BTW, for good Chinese food in the Balto/DC area, we usually head to NoVA, where there are more options, and GREAT Vietnamese.....And, the group is having dim sum somewhere (but not Queens) the next day, so don't want to overdue it on the Chinese food front.

                        1. re: baltoellen
                          welle Apr 5, 2007 08:37 AM

                          You are welcome - looking forward to your report. Please remember that Uzbek places in Queens close for Shabbat, but reopen Saturday evening. Arzu, IMO, has the best lagman in NYC - excellent spicy lamb broth with hand-pulled noodles. It's better to go early on Saturday (just around sunset) when they're not as busy and have not run out of lagman. If you're going with a group - they take reservations, they also have very good manti (steamed lamd dumplings), since they make all fresh it takes at least 20 min, so it's better to order in advance (so they make enough that day and you don't have to wait as much). They also have a more exotic special order menu (minimum 6 people), which I hadn't had a chance to try. If you like, I can post English approximations of the special menu here. Another plus is they're BYO.
                          10105 Queens Blvd (subway stop 67th ave G,R,V)
                          Flushing, NY 11375
                          (718) 830-3335
                          BTW, if you want to stay on Asian theme, a lot of Peruvian food is Chinese influenced - you'll get an Andean take on stir-fry and fried rice. There is also a pretty good Korean-Chinese restaurant in Woodside - Chu Ying.

                        2. re: welle
                          p
                          pulled pork Apr 5, 2007 08:02 AM

                          I second Laziza! What a find. They have at least 20 different desserts that can be order by the piece or pound. All delicious, cheap and excellent espresso too. People there are always willing to explain the dishes and ingredients. Seating for around 16? Good area for strolling and looking into Middle eastern shops and cafes. Closest subway stops:
                          N/W at 30th ave or Astoria blvd.

                          1. re: welle
                            JH Jill Apr 5, 2007 11:45 AM

                            Another thing to think about is that Kabab Cafe will definitely not accomodate more than about 15 people if you take over the whole restaurant, so that's out for a large group like this.

                            1. re: welle
                              MMRuth Jul 22, 2007 08:15 AM

                              Adding link (I hope) to El Sol as I need to look up the address anyway.

                              -----
                              El Sol
                              87-07 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11372

                            2. Brian S Apr 5, 2007 08:17 AM

                              If I had to show a group the world in an hour, I'd walk down Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/24783...

                              I believe the Chinese food in Flushing is far better than you will get in Baltimore -- and if I'm wrong I just might take a Greyhound to Baltimore, all I know about which comes from Anne Tyler, Barry Levinson and "The Wire"

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Brian S
                                baltoellen Apr 5, 2007 08:32 AM

                                You don't know Baltimore from John Waters?!? I have no doubt that Chinese food in Queens is better than the local swill we get round these parts, but Chinese isn't the focus for our Queens for a Day trip!

                                BTW, you come to Baltimore for the steamed crabs!

                              2. bigjeff Apr 5, 2007 10:26 AM

                                this is a classic thread that might need some updates: Eric Eto's recs for each particular 7 train stop:

                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/24081...

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: bigjeff
                                  a
                                  Anne Apr 5, 2007 11:30 AM

                                  For the Indo-Chinese, I'd highly recommend Tangra Wok on Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, steps away from the 63rd Drive subway stop. Here's a link to a discussion a few months ago:
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/313933
                                  Nearby is Istanbul that offers some wonderful Turkish cuisine. Perhaps appetizers or dessert there?

                                  1. re: Anne
                                    Brian S Apr 5, 2007 01:08 PM

                                    Maybe it's different now that other Desi Chinese places have opened but it used to be that unless you went at a weird hour, there would be a long line outside the Tangra Wok door.

                                    1. re: Brian S
                                      bigjeff Apr 5, 2007 01:37 PM

                                      wow, I always saw the long lines outside of Tangra Masala at dinner hours, and Tangra Wok, by virtue of how many tables inside, always had seats available (not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the food)

                                      1. re: bigjeff
                                        a
                                        AnotherNYCkid Apr 5, 2007 02:03 PM

                                        Which do you like better? Tangra Masala (thinking of Sunnyside) or Tangra Wok?

                                        1. re: AnotherNYCkid
                                          bigjeff Apr 5, 2007 02:32 PM

                                          ya, its kind of a toss-up for me. Tangra Asian Fusion (Sunnyside) and Tangra Masala (Grand Ave) are sister restaurants and somehow have more credibility, esp. among indians I spoke with and have been around longer but Tangra Wok is the relatively new kid on the block. I haven't actually eaten at Tangra Asian Fusion (Sunnyside) although I heard something about the matriarch from Tangra Masala (Grand Ave) or somebody going to Sunnyside, but I could totally be wrong. I live a lot closer to Tangra Wok so I do end up eating there, but I find some of their dishes a bit too sweet, and overall, it is quite heavy food. I kinda like Tangra Masala better (Grand Ave) because you could order most of the dishes either wet or dry, and I like the dry preparations better (less goopy sauce). I've had a lot of the same dishes at both, and I would have to say, I'd go to Tangra or Tangra Masala just for a slightly spicier taste that's more concentrated. the chili cauliflower is great, the chili chicken is good, the fried pakoras (chicken and fish) and things are good, some of the rice dishes are nice but not so much the noodles. not sure if there is a honey chili lamb at both places, but that's usually a signature-type dish. many of the same sauces can be had for different meats, etc. so its good to ask the waitress just to order different types of sauce paired with different types of vegetable or protein. I remember a goat dish was great. So, check out Tangra Masala (Grand Ave) or Tangra Asian Fusion (Sunnyside), should be great eats!

                                        2. re: bigjeff
                                          Brian S Apr 5, 2007 04:16 PM

                                          I am so sorry! I goofed! I meant to say that Tangra Masala had a long line. So many places have Tangra in the name. It's the nabe in Calcutta where a lot of Chinese immigrants live.

                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangra%2...

                                          1. re: Brian S
                                            bigjeff Apr 5, 2007 04:35 PM

                                            ya for sure, the grand ave one is always bumpin'. and the people in there are so nice, despite the long wait for tables. and . . . BYOB.

                                  2. baltoellen Jun 18, 2007 05:48 AM

                                    Well, we finally had a group for our "Queens for a Day!" Started at La Portena, on to Tangra Asian Fusion, and dessert at Laziza.....

                                    I missed La Portena (long story) but ended up at a medicore Afghan place across the street. (Really, we have better Afghan in Baltimore! I know you don't believe that!) And, loved Tangra, and thought Laziza was on the most fascinating street ever. I could spend hours there, and also wondered if there were any reviews on the empanada place that offered 35 different kinds!

                                    In any event, Queens is definitely the boro for me to explore on my frequent trips to NYC!

                                    And, way OT, but had dinner the night before at Tbilisi in Bklyn. Fine Georgian food: fantastic lamb soup, incredible "Georgian salad" and great dumplings....The dish Mr Baltoellen was looking forward to, a chicken stew, was totally underwhelming.

                                    Thanks to all who answered this post! I will be studying it closely prior to my next trip to NYC!

                                    (And, of course, I'll rtn the favor should anyone decide to head a few hours down I-95 to "Charm City!")

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: baltoellen
                                      a
                                      AnotherNYCkid Jun 22, 2007 10:16 AM

                                      The empanadas place right near Laziza is at 25-51A Steinway St. The much better location is out Northern Blvd at 84-17 Northern Blvd. Papas Empanadas is the name.

                                      I did enjoy all the recs made on here. Thank you to everyone that helped us out.

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