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My Google Map of Obscure Street food in Eastern Jackson Heights

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  1. Jim, I nominate you for the MacArthur grant. Great stuff, great help and now you've gone and ruined the rest of my work day by making me daydream of good comida. God, do I love Queens.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MOREKASHA

      Coincidentally, I nominated the Arepa Lady for a MacArthur grant. And I'm not kidding.

    2. Dammit Jim, you've just made my neighborhood walks even more counter-productive (or more productive, depending on your perspective).

      1. Jim,
        Did you try the churros in front of Ria Envía, I believe. I think it's at 85th? It's the only place around that makes fresh churros, and there is a world of difference. He's also got other things on the cart that I've never tried.

        11 Replies
        1. re: JH Jill

          Never did, no. If you'll scout out the precise location (and let me know more or less when he tends to be out), I'll add it in.

          Anyone else? I only want the good stuff...i.e. none of the shlock at 82nd and Roosevelt, etc.

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Darn it I wish I could give you a location for the elusive cocada seller; but I haven't been able to find her again. I have asked in a couple of places on 37th Avenue and they all said this seller moves around between Roosevelt and 37th Avenues somewhere in the 80s.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              How are you determining what's shlock? Have you actually tried all the other carts at 82nd and Roosevelt? That's some serious determination (although I suppose not surprising).

              Does your map concentrate on the east just for the sake of choosing a theme, or because the carts are better there, or because the carts are non-existent further west? I had lunch at Coatzingo today, so firstly it's a weekday and secondly it was around 1pm and it seems many carts come out at night... but I only noticed one cart on Roosevelt, perhaps a block from the subway, selling tacos & tortas. Is that typical?

              1. re: NancyC

                The carts are more dense further east. I do like the flor de calabaza quesadillas and pandebonos at 82nd and Roosevelt though. Oh and the elotes.

                Thanks for bumping my favorite post ever. The cart by the subway is eh. Further down is a glorious utopia of street food which stretches in dense patches from 82nd St onward with some before.

            2. re: JH Jill

              I just tried them, and added my notes to the map (link above). Thanks!

              I passed that cart dozens of times without reazling there are churros. She sure hides the frying operation....

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Glad you found her, Jim. The times I've been past there, no one was there so I couldn't ask the hours. I know they're not world class, but they are the best I've had here in New York. Now, back in Madrid, we'd go to little cafés starting at 5 a.m. for chocolate con churros. That chocolate was as think as pudding. It was a delicious breakfast that you would regret hours later... even there, they were somewhat oily. I think that's the nature of the beast.

                1. re: JH Jill

                  Spanish churros aren't exactly like Mexican. Both are somewhat greasy, but a good Mexican churro has impeccable balance, and never quite crosses over the line into leaving you with a greasy palate. You feel like you could eat a fistful of them. I couldn't eat two churros from this woman, though.

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    Being from So Cal, I've done some wandering around Mexico. I agree that Mexican churros may be less greasy than Spanish ones, though I never saw porras (the fatter ones) in Mexico, and we used to have them all over in Spain. The dough to oil ratio is higher so they're less greasy, but I may have a higher tolerance for oil than you do. That said, I have generally eaten the churros from this street cart when they were just taking them out of the oil. In that state, much can be forgiven.

                    1. re: JH Jill

                      Greasy is fine. But that should be only one parameter contributing to a deft balance of attributes. But her churros maintain that balance only for half the bite. The bite ends with oil dominantl, and that's just slightly off. But I'm being picky...

                      I should note that the churros I had weren't quite totally fresh from the oil...they were among her short stack of made-aheads. But, anyway, I'm always leery of being told I need to eat something directly from the fryer (or the oven). Jim's Pencil Fallacy states that even pencils are likely delicious if you eat them straight from the fryer or oven. JPF most frequently applies to those muffins you see in delis all over (made from mix from the big white truck from New Jersey), and which people inevitably recommend "only when they're right out of the oven". Consider those Pillsbury cookie dough logs you get at the supermarket, which render more or less cravable results for about 4 minutes, then turn to abject horror when fully cooled.

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        I'll have to reanalyze the churros, I guess. It's been awhile since I've even found the cart, and it was a man selling every time I went there. I agree with you on some of these things, but I occasionally get a ready-made churro at La Nueva or from a vendor, and I must say that there are some foods that only have a viable life of about 5 minutes. I don't think that's necessarily bad. They're just a bit more ephemeral than some other foods. Just think of the amazing creations your high-paid chefs come up with that bring gasps from diners. I somehow think that a lot of those - meat dishes, apps, as well as desserts, wouldn't do that if they weren't whisked from kitchen to table at just the right instant. A lot of things that thrill the tastebuds also congeal on the plate in no time, and a lot of the worst offenders are those with some sort of fat or oil.

                        I agree that cookies should have a longer shelf life, and are, in fact, often much better when they've cooled (if they were any good to begin with). As for those muffins, I don't find many New York muffins exciting. It's almost as bad as New York pie.

                        1. re: JH Jill

                          "there are some foods that only have a viable life of about 5 minutes. I don't think that's necessarily bad. They're just a bit more ephemeral than some other foods"

                          Agreed. However! I have had some not-direct-from-fat churros that amazed me.

                          Nothing is as bad as New York pie.

            3. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you. When can we expect the rest of the world?

              1. First off, thanks for the amazing map. I've just moved to the neighborhood and the board has been an invaluable resource so far.

                The "Nighttime Taco Truck" that you have on Gleane and Roosevelt is, I believe, usually parked on Forley St--essentially across 85th at Roosevelt (this is my block, so I see it every night). I believe it's called El Fogoncito #2, and was, I believe, the subject of a few posts over the last few years--or at least, a truck by that name was. (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/242338)

                5 Replies
                1. re: jsq

                  jsq--if that's the case, I've gotten the "Two Ladies Taco Cart" wrong, too, as they're catty-corner.

                  Argh, I hope I'm not passing out disinformation. I don't think they're out this late or I'd walk over and check...

                  BTW, lots of trucks use the Fogoncito name. This may be the same, but it's hard to tell!

                  1. re: Jim Leff


                    i think you have the two ladies in the right place--they're outside the sovereign bank, which is on the south side of roosevelt at 84th street. the fogoncito truck--at least since i've been in the neighborhood, which is a month--is almost always parked a block away at Forley.

                    1. re: jsq

                      I second that. The Two-Ladies is at Gleane and Roosevelt, outside the Sovereign Bank, but there is no other truck catty-corner from them that I've ever seen.

                      1. re: JH Jill

                        Ok, thanks, I've moved the marker and credited.

                        JH Jill, can you clarify any better on the churro location? Did I get it close? Any idea what time this vendor is out....and weekdays vs weekends?

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          Yes, Jim. You got the location exactly right. I went by today around 1 p.m. and he wasn't there so I couldn't ask him his hours or check out the other stuff he's added to the cart. I'll try again soon.

                2. Great Job, Jim, When the weather warms up, I'm going to make the long trip from Kingston (way upstate) and hit the pins on your map.

                  BTW, if you ever find your way up here (especially on a Saturday or Sunday for lunch), I'll take you to the best hamburger within 100 miles. I know that you wanted to go there (from your futile attempt when it was closed for lunch), but you just have to know the right time to go. gb

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: georgeb

                    There's Oaxacan in Poughkeepsie, too, I hear!

                    I'm going to try the stuff over on 82nd street. As I say in the map, there might be something good among the drek on that corner.

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      As per above, I love the mapping and as per geogeb above, if you're ever in Cali, Colombia, I'll take you to a great high end and to a great low end eatery--both equally good.

                    2. re: georgeb

                      GeorgeB, please tell me more about the burger in Kingston - we often find ourselves famished from a weekend of hiking up in the Catskills, in Kingston while waiting on connecting bus to NY. We usually stop at the diner by the bus stop - I like the old school feel and character personalities of the regulars, but would love to hear what's there worth walking beyond (I'm even game for a taxi ride). You can answer me on the Tri-State board - TIA.

                      1. re: welle

                        GeorgeB - we live just west of Woodstock and get into Kingston often. We'd love to know about the secret burger place too. Thanks!

                      2. re: georgeb

                        I know this is the wrong board but whats the burger place in Kingston?

                      3. You know, Jim, as a geographer, I just realized that this map is mislabeled. It's actually South-Central Jackson Heights. I know you all like to think of 74th as the hub, and it is certainly a center. But if this is East, where does that leave those poor Jackson Heighters on Junction Blvd?

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: JH Jill

                          I think of central JH as being 82nd street. All these places are east of that, many of them substantially east. And Junction's Corona, no?

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            Actually, Junction Blvd. is in Jackson Heights part of the way, but the border goes down Warren Street when it appears. However, the places on your map don't even hit 90th Street. And if you've look to the East (and I'm sure you have), you'll notice that there are about nine more blocks before you hit Junction after your last stand. Things really stretch out there. I am always amazed at the distance between the 90th Street subway stop and Junction Blvd. since technically, it should only be 5 blocks. Things seem to be much more complicated around there.

                            1. re: JH Jill

                              JH Jill is more correct. There is nothing official about neighborhood boundaries. The original JH land purchases by the Queensborough Corporation in the early 20th century streched from 74-90 St. 82 St was developed as the central shopping street for the community. 74 St was an edge made more accesible by the E/F/G subway in the 1930's long after JH was established.

                              1. re: GeoJack

                                Unlike other boroughs, I think that the Queens neighborhoods are officially defined (at least by the post office, which is official enough for me). Hence, each neighborhood has its own well-defined zip code. Addresses in the borough also are not usually referred to as Queens, NY (unlike for Brooklyn, NY) but rather with the neighborhood name (i.e. the former village name, such as Woodside, NY).

                                Please correct me if I am mistaken.

                                1. re: Joe MacBu

                                  This is indeed true. However, those zip code boundaries often don't really match up with the historical neighborhoods, or even the neighborhoods as they are generally perceived today. For instance, the Mexican restaurant De Mole so often praised on this board is officially in the Woodside zip code and is addressed as Woodside. But by any other standard that location is definitely in Sunnyside.

                                  1. re: Joe MacBu

                                    ZIPS define areas for the convenience and work of the USPS who do not consider ethnicity in this act. While community names are retained for post offices, ZIPS are not definitive in this. For example 11355 and 11354 cut downtown Flushing in two. 11354 is officially called "Linden Hill" which most Flushingites would not have a clue as to geography!

                                    1. re: GeoJack

                                      Another quirk about USPS areas, at least the larger ones that turn up in many online listings, is that they place the lion's share of the borough in LIC, Flushing or Jamaica. That includes well-established nabes like Forest Hills (Flushing), Astoria (LIC) and Ozone Park (Jamaica).

                            2. re: JH Jill

                              The office of the Queensboro President put together this neighborhoods map. It's good for a laugh since neighborhood boundaries are purely imaginary:


                            3. I noticed the other morning about three women selling tamales on 82nd just south of Roosevelt (by the subway entrance). I didn't have time to stop to investigate, so I'm curious if anyone's ever tried them. Interestingly, one woman seemed to have all the customers (and she was wrapping up about five for one customer) and the other two were being shunned - but that might have just been the moment I was walking by.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                                Thanks! I've never spotted tamales there, so this is great news! was this a weekday or weekend? and can you remember exactly which corner?

                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  I've seen tamales vendors lately on the SW corner, at the foot of the subway stairs. Weekday mornings. A couple of years ago, when I was commuting daily on the 7, I used to see them there evenings as well, but at some point their presence became irregular -- at least whenever I craaved some tamales, the vendors weren't there! But I don't take the 7 as often as I used to, so I can't report definitively about p.m. hours.

                                  ps Thanks for the map!

                                  1. re: Helen F

                                    Some serious chowconnaisance is called for. C'mon, guys, let's get out there and actually try stuff and report back! That's the great use of a network like this!

                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                    It was the southwest corner of Roosevelt and 82nd - on 82nd just past the subway stairs. This was about 8:30 on a Friday morning - in the pouring rain. I will definitely look for them now that I've seen them once and report back. I usually enter the subway on the north side and so for all I know they've been there just across the corner for months!

                                  3. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                                    She has tasty spicy chicken tamales and sells them out of a shopping cart. Her competition sells them out of one of those old lady push carts, but I prefer shopping cart lady.

                                  4. I've added a bunch of new vendors, plus updated some of the old ones.

                                    The speed with which this scene is changing is just amazing. I'm struggling to keep up (especially since I'm not really eating this kind of stuff anymore...I'm just having single bites so I can stay on top of the scene).


                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                      It's hard work, Jim. I was just checking out the updated version of the map. Interesting. I will definitely try to find the Elusive Churro Woman because she seems to be around the corner from my block. I had seen a rather generic, but not bad, chuzo and arepas con queso guy there for years, but I haven't seen him lately, since the scaffolding and construction site sort of made the place less attractive (if you can call under the el attractive). I'll try to update you on that.

                                      Also, I noticed you put in La Terraza bar. One thing you may not know is that they have an expresso machine and it's one of the few places you can hang out with an expresso in these parts. I've been during the day in the past, although I'm not sure of their hours lately because it's looked closed when I've passed lately. I usually just go there for special music or art events, but it used to be quiet and had some interesting seating by the window to read and sip in the afternoon before it got busy. We put on an homage to Victor Jara, the Chilean singer-songwriter last year with music, poetry and film. The owner of a local bookstore organized it.

                                      By the way, most Friday nights, there's a cultural evening of song, poetry, wine and some locally made empanadas or some other thing at the Latin American Immigrant Alliance starting at 9:00 p.m. at 37-47 76th Street (side door). I think they usually charge $5. Today they're having a Peruvian photography show also. They used to do it at Raices in Astoria. It draws all sorts of South American talent, with late-night jam sessions of Andean jazz. The food is sometimes homemade. The entertainment is in Spanish - It's called La Tertulia de Pancho (for an amazing Sunnyside-based Chilean singer-songwriter-painter-poet who is also a maker of Chilean empanadas, which he sometimes brings.

                                      1. re: JH Jill

                                        Too late on Elusive Churro Woman. Per the latest version of my map (which is massively updated), I've given up on her...or at least on finding her at this location. I think your churro woman chased her away somehow.

                                        Thanks for the other great info! I see the Latin American Immigrant Alliance has a web site at http://alatinoamericana.blogspot.com

                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                          Jeff, I have looked for her almost every day but no luck. I know the other one has been there much longer, except I remember it being a man instead of a woman the times I've bought there.

                                          Yes, the LAIA has lots of events. At the tertulia tomorrow night, they're featuring a charango player and a cajón player. The notice says wine is served, but I'm not sure about food.

                                    2. Oh dude, that is just awesome. Great use of technology to facilitate our food cravings - good job!

                                      1. I just tried 2 ladies taco truck the other night with my bf who was visiting me in JH from Boston. We loved the tacos and I am now planning to hit some of the other places on the map. My question is - does knowledge of very basic Spanish help you get by at some of these places or is it ok to communicate only in English? My bf is an Arab, though many people thought he was Latino and spoke to him in Spanish. I felt badly that neither of us could manage much of a reply. I can easily learn the basics of Spanish if it will help me with the food experiences in my neighborhood.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: seneca

                                          Learning a few polite words in languages of people you sometimes interact with is always a good idea. There's a much larger gap between someone who can't say, like, a single word and someone who knows enough words to be friendly/polite than between the latter and a fluent speaker. So definitely learn some. If you don't speak a word of Spanish, as you noticed, you can get served.

                                          But you may also want to pay a little closer attention in English :)
                                          My map specifies that tacos aren't the thing to get at that cart. They're made with storebought tortillas. Gorditas and sopes are homemade!

                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                            The "two ladies" tacos truck is called Guichos. The sopes can be a nice change of pace from tacos, though the second time I ordered one it tasted as if it were homemade....several days earlier. Maybe it just wasn't one of their best efforts. The chicken is fine, I'm not sure what makes it any less of a "gringo sucker order" than other trucks. Nor do I get why another truck having two women working there makes it an imitator.

                                            I've usually ordered a carnitas torta, which makes a great cheap delicious dinner. Someday I'll try to overcome my squeamishness and order the ear, that might have to wait for the end of a long night of drinking.

                                        2. I've added a bunch of stuff (plus updates of older stuff), most important of which is Gallegos Courier, this improbable baking operation squatting in a storefront on 82nd Street that makes the best avena, pan de bono, and empanadas in Queens.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                            Nice. And I'm glad to see you figured out the tamales ladies (I've YET to be able to follow up myself!). My goal this weekend is try some of the whole suckling pig I've seen on a cart on the north side of Roosevelt around 80th the last two weekends. I just love the sight of a cart w/a whole little roasted pig on it! Street pig, my boyfriend calls it.

                                            Had a tamale-like thing from an Ecuadorian truck maybe two weeks ago? My boyfriend bought it and I'm not sure where he got it from. Here's our conversation as I recall it:
                                            "I bought fish bollados."
                                            "What are those?
                                            "I don't know but they're big and they cost six bucks."
                                            "Where did you get them?"
                                            "The Ecuadorian truck."
                                            "What Ecuadorian truck?"
                                            "The truck that says Ecuador on the outside." (so helpful!)
                                            "Ok. Where is the truck that says Ecuador on the outside?"
                                            "Off of Roosevelt."
                                            "Where off of Roosevelt?"
                                            "I don't know - maybe around 79th? Just south of Roosevelt."

                                            Anyway, I tried to find out more about what we were eating, but didn't find anything too useful. It seemed like they were wrapped in banana leaves or something rather than corn husks - with canned tuna in the middle. Nice hot sauce on the side. Not fabulous, but also different from anything I've had before, but then again I've had very very few tamales and none in a long time so I don't have much to compare it to. It was HUGE. A single one was a large dinner for me!

                                            1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                                              Yeah, I need to try and include the two Ecuadorian trucks. For some reason, they don't much attract me, which is why I've procrastinated (and I hate canned tuna with a passion, so you've just further repelled me). Is that where you saw the suckling pig? Or was that literally on a cart?

                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                Ok, so the lure of having a brand new grill and brand new backyard furniture (and brand new experience of having a back yard as an adult!) stopped me from venturing out in search of street pig this past weekend, but yes, the pig was literally on a cart - north side of Roosevelt - around 80th st. I saw him the previous two weekends - both times I walked by around 10 am and he was setting up with a whole suckling pig on his cart amidst everything else, returned late afternoon and he was still there but mostly only the head was left!

                                                My fiancee seems really into the Ecuadorian trucks for some reason: this weekend he got some sort of rice and lentils and meat- not sure from which one - I had a bite, and again, fine but I probably would take lots of the other street food over this one!

                                                1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                                                  Congrats on your suburbanization.

                                                  Can you remember which side of 80th Street the suckling pig dude was on?

                                                  Yeah, the Ecuadorian trucks. Sigh. I have a resistence, though I need to delve. There are at least two or three of them.

                                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                                  The best suckling pig on the stretch is a cart in that area facing out to Roosevelt. It's much better than the one facing the cross st. It's a named cross st, not a number and it's close to Junction.

                                                3. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                                                  What you ate are called Bollos.
                                                  I tried them twice. I asked the guy in the truck what fish was in the filling and he said tuna. I thought he meant fresh tuna as bollos are never meant to be prepared with canned fish. Maybe I'm wrong but I feel he was vague about the filling on purpose.
                                                  It's a pity because the flavor of the green plantains was well balanced but I refuse to buy bollos made with canned tuna....let alone overpriced ones at $6 each.
                                                  I remember having one more thing from the truck, I think it might have been seco de chivo (as I was in a major chivo bend a few months ago.)
                                                  Frankly I think you can do much better in one of the Ecuadorian restaurants I think most of items in the truck are overpriced.

                                                  1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                                                    So, after seeing that cart w/the pig several times without being able to get some, I finally was free around lunch time on a weekend and went to find street pig . . . to no avail! No street pig guy. What a disappointment! I walked up and down Roosevelt a bit hoping that maybe he was there today but just not in the same spot (N side of Roosevelt, around 80th, was where I'd seen him in the past), but no. No pig for me. I'll keep my eyes out to see if he returns; I know I've also seen carts with pig further up Roosevelt more into Corona, so I may need to investigate there one day . . .

                                                    I did though go to the store front on 82nd south of Roosevelt that used to be Gallegos Courier. GREAT rec. Best empanadas I've had in the neighborhood. I wasn't so crazy about the pan de bono . . . but . . . it was the first time I'd had that anywhere so perhaps I'm not crazy about pan de bono in general (more investigation is clearly in order). Also, it appeared that a new batch of pan de bono was coming out of the oven and the one I had had been sitting there for a while. Having spent time in my fruitless street pig search, I couldn't wait for the fresh ones.

                                                    I also got a quesadilla from a woman on Roosevelt at 82nd - south side of roosevelt, west side of 82nd. It had squash and was advertised as having chicharron although that I didn't taste. Spicy - fine but not great.

                                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                                    You should probably include the oblea lady in front of WAMU at Roosevelt & 82nd. She wasn't there much for awhile. Maybe the warmer weather brought her out again. She sells obleas (large, flat, wafers filled with caramel) as well as the liquidy fruit salad, the name of which I forget at the moment. She also serves this fruit on top of things that look like lighter-than-air three-dimensional pizzelle. I'll try to talk to her more soon. She's mostly there in the afternoons. I believe she's Colombian.

                                                    1. re: JH Jill

                                                      OK, so I finally checked out my own suggestion. I couldn't avoid it any longer since I pass by every day and speak perfectly good Spanish. And I must say I'm sorry I didn't try her before. The lady is very nice but says she isn't out every day because she's 70 years old and has high blood pressure so there are days when she doesn't feel up to it. I see her most afternoons. This fruit salad in juice with a drizzle of evaporated milk is like a simplified cholado - not quite as refreshing as that but certainly soothing on a warm afternoon. It's called salpicón and is made with an assortment of fresh tropical fruits in fruit juice. I saw someone eating this on the pizzelle (actually, solteritas), so I thought that is what I would get. However, she smeared some sort of orangy custard over the solterita and drizzled condensed milk over it. I ended up with two things that were not all that portable. Luckily there was a bench available and I was hungry and thirsty. They were both good and I managed to finish them both off, $5 total. I recommend the experience. I haven't tried her obleas, but I they are fun too.

                                                      1. re: JH Jill

                                                        The obleas are really good. The filling is dulce de leche.
                                                        This is a typical Colombian thing. In some areas of Ecuador people also eat the obleas but with no filling.

                                                    2. A newbie, I am, to this site. I'm going to do a Roosevelt Avenue food crawl this evening. I have tasted JH street food before, but you have given me new goals. I'll report back on my adventures.

                                                      BTW, in your Google map, the blurb for Gallegos Courier refers to "Columbian bakers." Ouch! As a native Colombian, it hurts me to have this silly, common mistake glaring at my American eyes. Columbian? Ay-ya-ya-ya-yay!

                                                      28 Replies
                                                      1. re: FlushingViejo

                                                        I know, I know. I always do that and can't stop. I'm so sorry. I need to think of a mnemonic (is that how you spell it? I need a meta mnemonic!).

                                                        I'd love your comments. Don't forget to try the pan de bono at that same bakery. Don't expect tamales or churros at night. But if you're there at 10:30, do look for the Arepa Lady.


                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                          Did a short crawl along Roosevelt Avenue. Delicioso. I started off with a taco. Yeah, I know: it ain't the good stuff, but I went there directly from work (I'm a librarian, which is a whole other story), and I was hungry. I got a chorizo taco from one of the Ecuadorian trucks, and it was really good: messy (stained my shirt with drippings), the chorizo very tasty, the green sauce quite good.

                                                          Now fortified, I walked east along Roosevelt. Sidewalk was crowded, the subways above were rumbling noisily, traffic was thick, slow: typical JH. Looked for the "Perplexingly Glamorous Helados Babe” but didn't see her legs, or her. Did find Delicias Isabel, and ordered a "puerco" quesadilla: watched with subtle awe as she put masa in the hand press, lifted it carefully, and put in on the grill; I ordered a cheese quesadilla also. Very hot. Nicely toasted tortilla on the outside, toothsome filling. She motioned me to sit down, and gave me a warm, gold-toothed smile. Such an irony, that with trains clanging above, masses of people rushing by, car horns honking, this proud cook tells me to sit, take it slow, and enjoy. At 2 bucks each, a great buy.

                                                          Walked east again. Saw the elote guy, but decided I wasn't in the mood for corn (it also gives me something to look forward to next time). Half a block back from him I found what I think was a Peruvian woman, older, outgoing, announcing gastronomic possibilities to each passerby. I ordered a tamale, in Spanish, and she answered me in English. I said to her that she could speak to me in Spanish, for I understood her, but she was skeptical (I am a white guy, born on East European parents who emigrated to Colombia, so, while to me Spanish is my first tongue, to most others I look like a "gringo" and not Latino). She suggested I take three tamales for $5, and I agreed, taking two to go, and one to eat right away. Not the best I've had, but tasty: corn leaves hold a masa stuffed with a bit of cheese. She gave me a fork and a napkin, and when I paid her and complimented her tamale she thanked me ... in English!

                                                          This was going well. I was psyched. The energy of Roosevelt Avenue pulsating, my belly satisfied, I wanted more. Found the truck of "Quesadillas of 84th Street": a mother runs the grill, one daughter packs the to-go orders, an older daughter handles the cash (2 bucks). I got a sope: superb. Open-faced, the masa shaped in front of me, it was yummy! The masa was grilled, turned over, then the meat and cheese filling spooned on, grilled a bit more, lettuce and cheese added, served to me. I added a green sauce and delighted in the wonderful tastes.

                                                          Next, churros. The fruit cart that makes them; I ordered a bag. Now, when I was growing up in Colombia, the churros were round, unlike these, which are long cigars. My madeleine, as it were: the crystallized sugar clinging to the hot churro reminded me of being 8 years old, walking along a Bogotá street, digging into a bag of churros. A buck for dessert? Shouda gotten two.

                                                          I was now sated, full, but still flying. Walked to 79th street, turned back, got hornado from an Ecuadorian truck: tomorrow's lunch. Went back to my car, drove home, avoiding Shea Stadium traffic, and watched "The Lost Weekend" on TCM. Watching Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, I was hypnotized, and my glass of whisky sat untouched for two hours.

                                                          Finally, Colombia/Columbia: just think "Columbia is the university" and spell it the other way.

                                                          Thanks for a great site, and for singing the praises for the borough of Queens.

                                                          1. re: FlushingViejo

                                                            Thanks for following up! Sorry you got a taco at delicias isabel...they're staunchly salvadoran, and their hearts are in their pupusas (they just make tacos to pander to the nabe's Mexicans). And no pan de bono?? You're shaming me into taking a deep breath and tackling the 3 or 4 local Ecuadorian trucks. I just haven't gotten to them (except that one ecuadorian taco truck). one problem is they offer wide menus, so it's a lot to survey.

                                                            We could start an entire new thread on Spanish-speaking folks who refuse to speak Spanish with those they deem insufficiently Spanish-looking. It drives me absolutely nuts...it's the only thing that truly insults me. Cool that it doesn't so much bug you. But let's stick to chow tips on this board (or the moderators will get exasperated).

                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                              Point taken on that "thread" -- and I do admit readily to such a tendency, yet I will point out that another participant asked about speaking Spanish to vendors, so my point dovetails with that. I think it points out that even not knowing Spanish allows for getting good food. Still, I get it.

                                                              Now, I said I got a taco from the Ecuadorian truck, and your point is a good one, that tacos are throwaways for them. From Isabel I got quesadillas, made from fresh masa.

                                                              BTW, reheated tamales for breakfast were magnificent. Too bad I can't get them daily. Pan de bono and elotes are next.

                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                The Ecuadoran truck on 82nd or 81st just S of Roosevelt (El Guayaquil?) has delicious encebollado ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encebollado ). It comes with what I can best describe as Cornuts. I like a splash of the hot sauce on mine.

                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                  Maybe they refuse to speak spanish because you, as bugs bunny used to say, 'murdalize' their language and they can understand you much better in English. Huh?!?! Hey, that reminds me: what's a llapingacho? That's the flat pancakey things served with pig and mote (hominy) from the pig guy with scissors. If you find cutting pig with scissors weird then no doubt people with an Andean accent will find your Spanish hard to make out, buddy.

                                                                  1. re: zemilideias

                                                                    Llapingacho is a round potatoe "tortilla" traditionally served with a peanut sauce, mote, fritada (that's the pig), avocado salad and a fried egg (or two).

                                                                2. re: FlushingViejo

                                                                  "....She suggested I take three tamales for $5, and I agreed, taking two to go, and one to eat right away. Not the best I've had, but tasty: corn leaves hold a masa stuffed with a bit of cheese."

                                                                  I could be wrong, but that description sounds like humitas.
                                                                  I think most tamales have some kind of meat filling.

                                                                  1. re: maria_nyc

                                                                    Oaxacans, and some others, make them with cheese. in fact, the best street tamales in NYC (IMO) are under the LIRR tunnel on roosevelt avenue in woodside. The cart there is famous, and their cheese tamales are their best.

                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                      From masa or fresh grounded corn?
                                                                      I don't think I have ever tasted one of them...something to look forward to trying.

                                                                      1. re: maria_nyc

                                                                        They also make, for double the usual price, what they call Oaxacan tamales. They've always been sold out....so I've never tried 'em.

                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                          Though I can't say from experience, my Mexican ex-boyfriend used to joke about the waitresses with the short tight skirts in so many Mexican restaurants as being 'como un tamales oaxaqueños' (like Oaxacan tamales) because these tamales are famous for being wrapped so tight.

                                                                          Also, perhaps you might think of the old TV detective Colombo for your Colombian mnemonic. Columbus is Colón in Spanish and Colombo in Italian. Obviously, Colombia was named for him. (Sorry, Bolívar.)

                                                                          I've got to get back to street food. I've been eating a steady diet of El Chivito and Taquería Coatzingo for weeks. What I want to try is the chile paletas. We used to go crazy over the paletas in Tijuana - the shops would have about 50 flavors so we'd try two or three each time. Amazingly refreshing.

                                                                          1. re: JH Jill

                                                                            I always spelled it "columbo". Wait, that's the yogurt, no?

                                                                            What have you been eating at El Chivito and Coatzingo (also, re: the latter, are you hitting the original branch or the new one?).

                                                                            If you try street food, please report results! Feed the network! :)


                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                              You're right about the detective Columbo. I'm chagrined, but they Americanized the name for the show, so that's no good as a mnemonic.

                                                                              I haven't been trying too much street food lately because I have bad knees and don't feel comfortable eating standing up. I just get the semi-green mangos with chili, lemon and salt from the vendors between 82nd and 83rd Streets most of the time. (The appearance of green mango sellers is my harbinger of spring in Jackson Heights). I had a coconut helado from the woman on the corner of 82nd the other day, and it was very coconuty but it isnt really what I think of as a paleta. I haven't seen any real paleta vendor around here.

                                                                              At the moment, I'm working 60-70 hour weeks on bilingual textbooks and haven't time for anything except mostly delivery. We get El Chivito, mostly the spinach ravioles with marinara sauce and the pecheto (slice of stuffed roast). We also like the entraña, the milanesa, and the BBQ chicken, although this last one is very uneven. It's a great deal - 1/2 a chicken for about $6 with side dish (in the restaurant I think it's $8), and sometimes it's succulent but other times dried out. They partially grill them in advance.

                                                                              When I'm alone or go to Coatzingo, it's the 82nd Street one. Keep in mind that I'm a Californian so I miss my border food. I enjoy the chiles rellenos, the nachos tejanos, the bistec a la mexicana and steak ranchero. I like all their tacos and the enchiladas (both the regular ones and the Poblanas, which have salad on top). Lately I've had some tortas, and they are filling snacks. For beverages, I'm stuck in a rut with the homemade limonada. I've tried different saucy things lately, with the verdolagas, which is an interesting bitter taste (portulaca). If you like nopales, which I don't, the steak norteño comes with a huge slab of nopal on top. I found the chalupas too doughy for me, and we tried the mole de olla, which was brimming with fat. I'm a fan of fat (unfortunately) but this was too much, not just oil floating in it but fat. The other thing I don't like is the flautas, too dried out.

                                                                              In our fairly limited take-out repertoire, we also get the Superbandeja La Boina from La Boina Roja (we ask for it medium rare), and it's more than enough for two people. I like their lulo in agua fruit shakes too, nice and icy. We've also enjoyed Jackson House cheeseburgers lately (the best burger around). I just wish La Casa del Pollo Peruano would deliver. I really like their ribs, although the grilled ribs from La Pequeña Colombia are very good, and completely different. I have my favorite hot sauces, the green stuff from the Peruvians and the red one from La Boina.
                                                                              Well, this is certainly a rambling post. Next month, after my translation deadlines pass, I plan to cook and go out like a normal person.

                                                                            2. re: JH Jill

                                                                              Jill -- Any idea when the paletas cart is out there? I looked last Saturday afternoon and no go. (So sad.) While I haven't had paletas in Mexico, I've had plenty of them at Las Paletas in Nashville--and would love to get them a bit closer to home (Jackson Heights). Oh for a chocolate chile popsicle!

                                                                              1. re: jennsch

                                                                                she was not out today--and apparently she does not stock many chile flavored items, as they don't sell particularly well. she does, i am told, have mango-chile, which i was hoping to try today, but no dice. on another note, delicias isabel did not have pupusas today--i think that is a weekend-only specialty, as she said that she would have them tomorrow...

                                                                                1. re: esteban

                                                                                  Isabel is having issues. There are virtually no salvadorans in the nabe, and the mexicans never heard of pupusas. You can MAYBE still get pupusas from her after 7pm, but it's a crap shoot. OTOH, her tortas are wonderful. She's the most soulful vendor for sure. The licuado lady adjoining is not great, alas. watermelon is better than jamaica.

                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                    She hasn't had pupusas for AGES and I don't see her too often anymore.

                                                                                    1. re: JFores

                                                                                      Are there any replacements in the area with pupusas?

                                                                                      1. re: NancyC

                                                                                        Not really unless she's out. No El Salvadorans really live around there.

                                                                                2. re: jennsch

                                                                                  The paletas cart is just an ice cream freezer that is on the sidewalk and belongs to the cheesy bread restaurant. They told me they were there every day. Sorry, hope I wasn't misleading with my use of the word "cart."

                                                                                  1. re: jennsch

                                                                                    OK, I hope no one moves this to the South board, where everyone already knows this, but I've got to tell you all that there is a gourmet paletas store called Locopops in Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C., you have to try. The flavors change weekly. Is it worth flying there? Yes. So far my favorites are chocolate rosemary and pineapple basil. The owner, who used to live in Nashville and was inspired to quit her boring corporate job and apprentice in Mexico with a paletas maker after tasting a chile cucumber popsicle at the place jennsch mentions above, is contemplating expansion and/or wholesaling. I sure hope they get to New York City soon. I think about them constantly. Some of the ingredients they use are organic and grown by local city teens. They use flavors from all over the world to create new combinations in addition to the traditional Mexican ones. The one flavor you won't (surprisingly) find there is dulce de leche, because U.S. law requires them to repasturize the goat milk, and they can't afford their own pasturization machine yet.

                                                                                    1. re: KateC.

                                                                                      Kate -- Thanks for posting about this. It's so cool that Las Paletas inspired such a change. One day maybe there'll be a paletas shop in every state from Maine on down -- that would be a fun road trip.

                                                                                      1. re: jennsch

                                                                                        That would be awesome. Also, weird ice cream flavors seem to be catching on, as a new topic today in General Chowhounding reveals. Also, there is lots more good food to eat in the Raleigh area, as a search on this board will reveal (love Piedmont and Carrburritos).

                                                                                3. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                  You should try humitas, which are not tamales but sort of look like them. They are made from freshly grounded corn. It's a very different experience than tamales made with masa (filling differences aside.) Make sure you try them with a nice cup of black coffee.

                                                                                  1. re: maria_nyc

                                                                                    Yep, love 'em.

                                                                                    It should be noted that, like many (most?) latin-american and hispanic food terms, "humitas" means different things in different places..even from village to village. I think you're talking about Ecuadorian humitas, which are very similar to Salvadoran tamales de elote.

                                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                      Yes, I was talking about Ecuadorian humitas.

                                                                          2. re: FlushingViejo

                                                                            Is it just me or has the 84th st cart changed owners?

                                                                      2. Thank you for the amazing map. I took a tour of the carts on 4th of July. Great weather, not too hot, not too crowded. Had a delicious chulapa (?) made with corn mush, cheese, chicken, hot sauce, sour cream, and shredded lettuce from the cart on 84th near Roosevelt. Saw mostly sweets and fruits vendors on this holiday, including someone making churros to order on Roosevelt between 83rd and 84th. I bought a tropical fruit salad with fresh coconut and hot sauce on 80th. Noted the small RV on 80th serving seafood, including three ceviches, but didn't order. All the men were getting an orange sauce (seafood stew?) with rice. BTW, there is a new cart outside the cheesy bread restaurant on 75th and Roosevelt selling Mexican popsicles (paletas) in such flavors as cucumber with chile, mango with chile, and pistachio. Though they were out of the chili flavor, so I just had regular mango. It was OK.

                                                                        1. This is the greatest post on this entire forum and I plan to check this stuff out in detail ASAP. ASAP being next Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

                                                                          1. I did another Roosevelt Avenue crawl this evening, and offer my humble observations. First, I was surprised how few street-food carts were on RA -- I could actually go three entire blocks without a food cart. Yikes!

                                                                            I started at 93rd, went west, skipping the few carts around 89th. Stopped at "Quesadillas de la Calle 84" (84th Street Qs). Ordered one with pork; they were out, and suggested the spicy chicken, which I accepted. Was offered a seat, which I took, from where I got to watch the CD vendors scurry to put their stuff away when there was a police van spotted. False alarm, but nice entertainment. The Q was hot, magnificent: white queso, lettuce and pulled chicken on an open Q made from fresh masa; I added some green sauce (less spicy than the red), and enjoyed breaking my fast with this wonder. 2 bucks; a bargain.

                                                                            Passed Isabela; she did not, yet, alas, have pupusas. Went all the way to 80th Street, then turned east again, crossing Roosevelt. Stopped at a cart on RA by 82nd, asked the vendor if she had food left; she said 'tamales' and I took a spicy one. Not quite hot, but delightful: stuffed with chicken, red sauce, some pieces of bell pepper.

                                                                            Bought 2 bags of churros, indulged in one, and went looking for more food. Stopped at a cart on RA, around 90th, asked for a quesadilla; vendor said to me, no more quesadillas, only Ecuadorian food. Got an "arepita," took one bite, and almost threw it away: cold, tough. I kept it; maybe warmed up tomorrow morning it'll taste better. May be.

                                                                            Walked ten yards, stopped at a cart, and asked for "tamales." She had two, wrapped in corn leaves: masa, with kernels inside. I also got a 5 dollar plate: chicharon, big kernel corn, toasted corn kernels, and a 'morsillo'. She hit me up for 9 bucks. She's a smooth talker, something of a hustler: maybe I should've only paid 7, but ...

                                                                            Morsillo is an interesting one. Looks like a sausage from an Italian salumeria, not the kind one sees in a supermarket: dark, a bit thin. I remember the sight of them from my childhood in Colombia. Took it home, warmed it: there is, if any, very little meat inside; mostly it is sauteed onions, peas, spices. Sublime.

                                                                            The chicharon? Only had one piece left by the time I got home, in Flushing; ate several pieces on the drive: slow cooked pork pieces, just a bit of fat here and there, meat that falls apart as one bites into the chunk of puerco.

                                                                            What a delight to crawl along Roosevelt, watch the people (an experience in itself), absorb the experience, eat the food, leave sated.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: FlushingViejo

                                                                              Thanks for the report! Two quick comments...

                                                                              The sausage was "morcilla", or blood sausage.

                                                                              Arepitas are supposed to be tough and bland...they exist solely as starchy counterpoint to meaty things like chuzos (shish kebab). If you go in expecting that, they're acceptable. Arepas are a different thing....

                                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                I get my morcilla from El Chivito - melt in your mouth sublime. Don Francisco also sells morcillas by pound (already cooked, you only need to heat up), very good as well but different tasting from El Chivito's. I think El Chivito's has more pieces of fat in it, so when grilled, it gets that crunchy melt in your mouth effect. mmmm

                                                                            2. Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. Thank you, Mr. Leff. This gets a primo spot on the Bulletin Board of Chow.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                  Sure thing, Jeff. I was just seeking to express my deepest gratitude :)
                                                                                  Happy hounding!

                                                                                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                    That was a joke, sorry. I'm "Jim" (though many people seem to merge "jim" and "leff" and get "jeff").

                                                                                    No need to express gratitude...countless thousands of chowhounds are exchanging tips all over the place! Please report anything good YOU find. Between all of us, we'll track down every errant speck of deliciousness.


                                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                      Hey Jeff ... Just got back from 12 days in Acapulco where you map came up ... my husband and I found it funny that the carts on the street at night sell hamburgers and hot dogs ...

                                                                              1. I guess this is a bit out of JH territory, but my husband tried the taco cart on Roosevelt and 94th street that Sietsema in the Voice rated one of his favorites recently based on them pressing the tortillas freshly. (I thought someone had just posted that link on C'hound which is how I saw it, but can't find that post now to reply to.)

                                                                                The tortillas were really good. My husband says he had to specifically ask to make sure he got freshly pressed ones, but that they were very happy to oblige. They also nicely packed up sauces and lime slices for him to carry them home. The fillings were what I'd call good but not outstanding for the greater neighborhood. Not sure precisely what he ordered, but we had a chicken, a beef, and a pork (all chunks of meat). All a bit dry, but might have been better if not transported back home first. Good sauces. If I remember correctly, I think Sietsema was maybe praising their rice tacos (?!) so I might stop by there again for those. Otherwise, I wouldn't go out of my way for these because of the superior tortilla, but the tortilla was definitely superior and if I was near 94th St anyway I would indulge again!

                                                                                1. wow this is an awesome thread. I just checked out JH for the first time this weekend. I was blown away by the street vendors and the smells!
                                                                                  There is sooo much to try. I would love to do a Roosevelt Ave crawl, that sounds fun. I took pictures where we ordered from the lady with the suckling pig - there were at least a couple of places like that. Unfort I had already eaten a lot before that and couldnt get a whole plate full.
                                                                                  here is my experience with JH on Sunday. wow, I really have to back - many many times.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Jeffsayyes

                                                                                    Can you tell me where this lady is with the Suckling Pig? that looks delicious.

                                                                                    1. re: Yaxpac

                                                                                      On Roosevelt a few blocks from Junction heading down in numbers. Probably about 91.

                                                                                  2. So sad that this link doesn't work anymore! Anyone have a similar map to help an intrepid adventurer?

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: soleilnyc

                                                                                      here's an updated link. I'll try to get the link above corrected.


                                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                        How are you!
                                                                                        Will you be in Prospect Park tomorrow for the Beck's Oktoberfest & Snausage festival?

                                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                          If one is supposed to just be able to click this link and get the map in your browser it does NOT work. Tried everything I could think of to open it. No go. Can you either fix the link or say what one does/program one should use to open it?!! Thanks!

                                                                                          1. re: Allisondbl


                                                                                            If you look at the last ampersand in the URL, you can see it is being encoded. copy and paste the above link in to get it to work