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best of queens for outer-borough rookie?

sheepishly i must admit that i've never explored queen's clearly vast culinary offerings, week-old airport sandwiches aside. where should i sow my first seed? train-accessible would be nice, but not necessary. (quality over convenience, of course.) all cuisines, all levels of spice, and almost all questionable animal parts are welcome.

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  1. It's such a broad question so I'm not surprised that you haven't gotten many responses. Queens is the most diverse place on Earth, so maybe you should start by focusing on a few neighborhoods. My suggestion would be to check out Flushing first, then Astoria.

    In Flushing, the level of Chinese cuisine is far above anything available in other parts of NYC. Try out Little Pepper or Spicy and Tasty for Sichuan, Waterfront International for Northern Chinese, A Fan Ti for more exotic organ meats, specifically from lamb and goat. Also the various malls in Flushing can be a source for many meals, explore and report back. I guess the most well known one here, J&L has closed but there are many others.

    In Astoria you can find excellent Italian, Brazilian, Greek, Egyptian, Moroccan, Bosnian and many others. Malagueta and Sabor Tropical are my favorite Brazilian, Kebab Cafe for Egyptian, Trattoria L'Incontro and Piccola Venezia for Italian, Agnanti and BZ Grill for Greek.

    Do a search for any of these places and go check them out and enjoy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Astoria Lurker

      yes, directionless queries yield few results. thanks for these recommendations. i've heard about the two italian, but spicy and tasty might be my first foray.

    2. My similar request in January wasn't limited to Queens, but I recall there being lots of good suggestions in it:


      1. Take the 7 train, and get off almost anywhere.

        Somewhere there is a classic old post about food along the 7 line stop-by-stop, but I can't seem to find it now. But from the Turkish places in Sunnyside, to the Chinese places in Flushing, and everything in between (Thai, Burmese, Indian, Korean, Mexican, Peruvian, Colombian, various other Hispanic, Philipino, Vietnamese, even Irish, the area under and around 7 train is one of the greatest ethnic food corridors in the world.

        1. So, for the best upscale Italian, hit up Corona for the Parkside. For heros, in Corona, there's this amazing Italian deli called Leo's Latticini aka Mama's. For great diner food, try various Jackson Hole locations or New York Style Eats in Sunnyside, which is amazing. The best Thai food is Erawan on Bell Blvd. in Bayside. Nick's in Forest Hills has great pizza.

          6 Replies
          1. re: skooldya1

            For even better Thai food, and a much easier trip from Manhattan, try Sripraphai on 39th Ave., just north of Roosevelt (the street under the 7 train) in Woodside. Another fine Thai place, in a slightly different style, is Zabb on Roosevelt just past the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE).

            1. re: skooldya1

              I don't think Parkside in Corona comes close to being the best upscale Italian in Queens. It's a decent red sauce joint, that's all.

              1. re: Astoria Lurker

                I happen to really like Parkside, but am curious as to what you think actually are good upscale Italian restaurants in Queens, if Parkside isn't. I agree with skooldya1 about Leo's. The mozzarella is fresh, made in the back. The turkey and pork are fresh -roasted on the premises. And Mam herself sits there in the corner, surveying everyone and everything. Also, try the fresh pasta store nest door, run by the same family. The food at these places is good enough for this Yankee fan to deal with all of the Mets memorabelia around there. FYI, they sell their heroes at Shea, surely better than any other ballpark food.

              2. re: skooldya1

                i respectfully disagree with the post above from skool - there's a lot of superlatives in there that i wholeheartedly disagree with. the only part of this suggestion above that i agree with is nick's pizza.

                i don't think jackson hole or new york style eats are particularly worthwhile trips. sure, i'll go b/c i'm in the area and i want some nondescript diner eggs meal. but, that's about it. you can get that anywhere. if you want some more interesting brunch options, i'd suggest brick cafe, cafe bar, bistro 33, tournesol, cafe henri.

                best thai is certainly NOT erawan. good neighborhood thai? certainly, as that strip of bell blvd doesn't have much chow-ish options. but, far from the best. sripriphai, by far, takes that title before erawan.

                and another person posted about meekong below in the shopping center - i prefer pho's on prince street near sheraton more than mekong. it's a bit grittier than mekong, but pho's is great. the best (though not authentic) viet in queens.

                1. re: skooldya1

                  Also, I can't imagine why anyone who was looking to explore interesting food in Queens would bother with the Jackson Hole diner chain, which if I'm not mistaken originated in Manhattan in any case. They do serve up a nice breakfast, but it's not worth making a special trip for. On the other had, coming to Woodside to have a Phillipino breakfast at Krystal's -- now you're talking! (It's just under the 69th St. stop on the 7.)

                  Also, agree with another poster - while I am fond of Erewan (enjoyed a pleasant meal there just last Saturday night), it's not in the same league as the other Thai restaurants mentioned here.

                  1. re: Helen F

                    Jackson Hole is gross!! I ate at the Bayside branch once and my burger was nearly inedible - the meat was gray, fell apart and tasted like it was boiled. I am not the most critical person either... perhaps a bad day. If you're after a great burger in Queens then Donovans is a solid choice.

                    If I were to suggest a few restaurants for a novice to Queens, I would certainly mention Spicy & Tasty, Sripraphai, Little Pepper and Spicy Mina (Bangladeshi). I'd also recommend dim sum at either Gum Fung (closed till Sep for renovations) or Gala Manor. I think these places are unique and delicious.

                2. anyone know where to find the classic post about food along the 7 line

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sambossanova

                    try gourmet magazine, they had an article that was good on the subject right during/after the John Rocker #7 train controversy.......

                      1. re: Sambossanova

                        I just saw this - no idea if its good or not, at least its relevant.....


                        7 Train Eating Tour: Take the Ethnic Eats Express through Queens Course ID: 7TRAIN Duration: 5 hour(s) Tuition: $75
                        The No. 7 subway (aka The International Express) winds its elevated way through the ethnic richness of Queens. Most of the world’s cuisines are represented along the way in dense cultural microcosms. Join gustatory Sherpa (and Saveur Food Editor) Todd Coleman on a “Runaway Train” tour where you’ll shop for Thai and Filipino groceries, sip powerful Panaderia Colombian hot chocolate, munch on Mumbai-style street food, burn your lips on Turkish kebabs, and discover a hidden bi-level Chinese food court, among other stops on his secret succulent subway map. The class meets at 10 AM under the clock in the center of Grand Central Termin

                      2. If you like Peruvian style rotisserie chicken you must try Pio Pio, on Northern Blvd around 86th Street. The Matador combo includes one whole chicken with rice and beans, avocado salad and salchipapas (hot dogs) and the most incredible spicy green sauce. More than enough for two people.

                        Banana Leaf, a new Malaysian Restaurant, is soon to be a favorite inexpensive must try. Delicious spicy food at a great price. 133-60 41 Avenue.

                        Sichuan Gourmet, 37th Avenue just off Prince Street in Flushing. Favorite dishes include: tea smoked duck, shredded beef with chili peppers, beef tendons, sichuan dumplings in hot chili sauce.

                        Mee Kong, Northern Blvd and 155th Street in the Murray Hill shopping mall across the street from IHOP. Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese food, very inexpensive. Wonderful noodle soup dishes, delightfully delicious deep fried fish with spicy, tangy sauce, green curry soup, Tom Yum chicken soup, beef curry.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: mushimushi427

                          My wife is a native Peruvian and she claims that Pio Pio makes better chicken than her old haunts in Lima. I do believe that the original Pio Pio is the one at 62-30 Woodhaven Blvd. I also think that it is the better than their other branches.

                          1. re: dasein101

                            I've only had takeout from the Woodhaven location, but it's always been fantastic. The Northern Blvd. location is my husband's new favorite restaurant. They've never disappointed.

                            1. re: dasein101

                              I really love the Northern Blvd. location because of the festive decor and party atmosphere. There is live entertainment on Friday evenings. It's been a while since I've eaten at the Woodhaven Blvd branch but I don't recall a difference in the food or the menu. I do remember feeling uncomfortable with the people on the take out line standing over my table.

                              1. re: dasein101

                                I have a native Peruvian friend who loves Pio Pio (okay, I like it also). I have eaten from both Woodhaven Blvd. and Northern Blvd. and liked both. The decor and atmosphere at the Northern Blvd. location is nicer, though. The time I had from Northern Blvd., it was catered in to a birthday party. I do not remember the prices, but I understand they was very reasonable for what was included.

                            2. I've been making regular pilgrimage to 38-12 Prince Street in Flushing. Their Steamed Pork Buns are out of this world. I love the cucumber & garlic appetizer too, and the pan fried U-Don.

                              1. Great French bistro fare at Bliss Bistro; great burgers & fries at Quaint—both on Skillman @ 46th St in Sunnyside, 3 blocks from #7 train. Also, great coffee at Aubergine on same av @ 50th or 51st St.

                                1. J and L mall: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350358
                                  Spicy Mina's: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376602
                                  Spicy and Tasty: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367619
                                  Burmese Cafe: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/345913
                                  Jackson Heights street food: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/388653

                                  Also, Kabob Cafe and Sripraphai are classic Chowhound Queens destinations

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: rose water

                                    and for the neo-classic thai destination, try Chao Thai instead of Sripraphai; great spicing and fresh flavors, I highly recommend it. located in Elmhurst.

                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                      Has anyone had Shallot in Elmhurst, a block or two from Upi Jaya on Woodside Ave? It's really cute, walked by it a few times. Grabbed a menu but they don't deliver to me.

                                      1. re: Widmark

                                        I went once. It's Thai-Japanese. I'm not into combo restaurants. We had a red curry dish which was OK and something else less memorable. With Sripraphai just a few blocks away, I doubt I'll be back.

                                        1. re: Widmark

                                          I think Shallot is quite good, though certainly not in a class with Sripraphai. They are, however, more consistently on the mark than Zabb and the space is pleasant and relaxing.

                                      2. re: rose water

                                        Great choices. The J & L link you provided goes to a post which, though it has a little discussion about J & L, mostly is about another mall. (It's also a wonderful mall!) The J & L link is http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339644

                                        Is J & L mall still open?

                                        1. re: Brian S

                                          Thanks, Brian S, you're absolutely right. The thread that you've linked is a CH classic--the pictures, translations, friendliness and effort are amazing.

                                          It seems J & L is still open: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41962...

                                        2. re: rose water

                                          Here's a NY Times review that captures the quirkiness of Kabab Cafe:

                                        3. Amongst my personal faves are Sriphaipai, Ranger BBQ (was Pearson's, which was incomparable, but Ranger's isn't too bad), Dee's Pizza on Metropolitan (often forgotten int the pizza discussion), Spicy Tasty, San Soo Kap San (for melt in your mouth Korean short ribs).

                                          1. I'm a big fan of Lil Bistro 33 in Astoria (on 21st and Ditmars) and you've got to get a good old fashion slice of grandma's sicilian pizza at Alba's in Briarwood (on Queens Blvd and Main Street or F traing to Brairwood-Van Wyck), their sausgae roll is awesome too.