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Foodie Neighborhood?

Hi all... I'll be moving to the New York area late summer, and am looking at living in either Brooklyn (probably Prospect Heights, Park Slope, South Slope, but I'm open) or Queens (Astoria or Forest Hills). An important part of my decision about which neighborhood to live in will be food. I'm wondering if the wisdom of Chow could give me some insight into what the more "foodie" neighborhoods of Brooklyn or Queens might be, or if I'm totally off base expecting to find anything of the sort in Brooklyn or Queens.

Some things I'm looking for:

-A farmers market or someplace to buy fresh produce
-A good place to buy fresh fish
-A good Italian grocery/deli (olive oils, cheeses, meats, etc)
-Good grocery store(s)
-Good restaurants. I don't eat out too often, but it's nice to have good, creative cuisine nearby, especially since it often goes hand in hand with the things I'm mentioning here.
-Ethnic restaurants, though I realize I'll probably have to go further out away from the "high rent" districts to get the good stuff (primarily looking for Indian, Thai, Chinese)
-Wine shop and a place to buy good microbrew beers

Any suggestions? Am I hoping for too much?

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  1. You can find all of that, and more in Astoria. The one thing I am not sure about is the farmer's market, but I know there are at least 2 CSAs in Astoria.

    Fish: Marino's
    Italian Grocery: Sorriso (and several others)
    Grocery Store: There are no superstars here but decent quality. I found I rarely went anyway, and did most of my shopping at specialty shops.
    Meat Market: International Meat Market
    Restaurants: Too many to list, just do a search
    Ethnic: How about Brasilian, Greek, Egyptian, Morrocan, Bosnian, Thai, Portuguese, Tibetan, Turkish/Argentine. There is no Chinese really but none of the neighborhoods you mentioned have good Chinese either.
    Wine Shop: Grand Wine
    Beer Shop: Euro Mart, deli on Broadway (not sure of the name, its next to Omonia)

    Astoria's other advantage is that you probably will pay almost 1/2 as much for rent compared to Park Slope, but that isn't the purpose of this board.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Astoria Lurker

      I didn't read all the reply's so if this is already mentioned forgive me. Astoria
      has all you're looking for EXCEPT a good farmers market, but that is an easy train away at the Union Square Farmers Market. I find it very easy to jump on the train or if I happen to be down there already, shop and you're home in no time.

      1. re: billhill

        Another nod for Astoria. Fabulous variety of really good ethnic food. Entire blocks where Greek and Egyptian food reign, and very close to Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Flushing for the best Chinese, Indian, Bengali and Thai food (Sripaphai!) in all of NYC.

        There are farmers' markets in Sunnyside, LIC and Jackson Heights as well.

        1. re: yt28

          I also like Astoria. Good amenities, very close to Manhattan and also close to the other chow of Queens. Forest Hills is a charming neighborhood, and has OK markets. Not a hip neighborhood by any means, but most of it is pretty quiet and tranquil. However, it's very far from Manhattan, and the restaurants in the immediate area aren't that hot. However, it's not very far to Elmhurst and Jackson Heights on the subway where you can have your fill of Thai, Chinese and Indian. If I had a choice between Astoria and Forest Hills, I would choose Astoria.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            If food is a priority, then avoid Forest Hills and I can say that from experience of living here for the past 2 years. Food wasn't the primary reason why I moved here, and I feel like I've been able to find the things that meet my needs and try my best to ignore the rest like mediocre restaurants and food shops. We happen to have a decent cheese shop, a great fish store and one truly terrific restaurant (plus Nick's pizza), but otherwise it's not a chowhounder's heaven by any means.

            Prior to FH I lived in Park Slope for many years and also spent a lot of time in Carroll Gardens. If finances aren't an issue, I'd choose Brooklyn any day.

    2. I live in Queens (Woodside), so I'm way biased and think you should live here. You might want to check out places in Sunnyside or Woodside as well as Astoria, since I have found they are similar in cost of apartments. Forest Hills is nice as well, but I think (not sure) that it's not as easy to get around over there if you don't have a car.

      I'll help you out with some of your questions in Queens and then someone else can counter argue for Brooklyn. :)

      I'm not sure about farmers markets in Queens, since I am in a CSA, but Union Square isn't a long subway ride from either borough and they have a fantastic green market, which is open 4 days a week.

      I can't help you with fish, but I am sure someone else on this board can help you with that.

      I assume when you are asking about an Italian deli, you mean some place with cured meats hanging down from the ceiling, bread all over the place and cases full of fresh pasta. My Italian deli in in Bayside and I am pretty loyal to them. Unless you have a car, that's not really a good option at all for you. I would bet Forest Hills or Kew Gardens would have something good in that regard.

      Queens has some good little shops for food, as well as the usual chain supermarkets. There is also a Trader Joe's here and right next to that is the Amish market. The only other Trader Joe's are in Manhattan. There are no Whole Foods in the outer boroughs, only in the city.

      If you are looking for good ethnic food, Queens is where it's at. If you can get a place in close range to the 7 train, you'll have everything you need, expecially Thai, Indian/Bengali, Asian (in Flushing) and Mexican. Astoria has good Greek and a pretty good bar scene. If you search this board for 7 train, you'll get some really good hits. Also, BrianS is really good at reviewing places, so check out his stuff. You'll see him and a bunch of other regular posters on those threads. Pay attention because they really know what they are talking about!

      As far a wine in Queens, I like Lowry on Queens Blvd, but I understand there is a good wine shop in Forest Hills. There is also a liquor store at the Costco in LIC.

      I know I didn't give you a whole lot there, but I am confident that everyone else can help fill in the blanks. That said, I think you should move to Queens.

      Good luck with everything!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: deborah24

        depending on where in astoria, you can walk within 15 minutes to the sunnyside farmer's market. it's not huge, but there are lots of posts on these boards about it. you can get your fish there.

        if you should decide on sunnyside, not only will you be close to de mole, but the 7 is a very convenient train to 2 great wine shops in long island city (at the vernon jackson stop) - vine and hunters point. both diffferent enough to survive within blocks of each other. same stop gives you access to more non-ethnic restaurants and bars. slightly older clientele than what you'll find in astoria, generally speaking. has a little more of a brooklyn vibe than other parts of queens.

      2. I think the answer to your question is going to be that you can get all that you're asking for in any of the neighborhoods you mentioned. You definitely aren't hoping for too much. Even though it's not one of your listed neighborhoods, I'll put in a plug for Cobble Hill in Brooklyn. It's a tiny neighborhood, so some of these recs are outside the boundaries but most are in walking distance.

        -- Farmer's market/produce: no farmer's market in Cobble Hill, but close enough to walk to the Cadman Plaza or (on a nice day) Grand Army Plaza green markets. Also we have at least two good produce stores in the immediate area (the one on Atlantic b/w Clinton and Court, and the unfortunately named but reliably good K&Y Fruit and Vegetable on Court b/w Douglass and Degraw)
        -- Fresh fish: Fish Tales on Court has great quality (if a little pricey) fish/seafood. Uually better deals to be had at the green markets.
        -- Italian grocery/deli/etc.: This is where this part of Brooklyn really shines. Los Paisanos on Smith St. or Staubitz on Court St. for meats, D'Amico on Court St. for coffee, Mazzola on Henry St. or Caputo on Court St. for bread, Stinky on Smith St. for cheese, Court St. pastry for desserts.
        -- Grocery store: The supermarkets are serviceable (and there's always Fairway in Red Hook), but we find that we do most of our food shopping at the specialty stores and use Freshdirect for the other stuff. Sahadi's on Atlantic is a standout middle eastern grocery (and there's that talk about Trader Joe's...).
        -- Good restaurants: Some very good options on Smith St. with Saul, Lunetta, etc. Then there's Lucali, a quick walk down Henry St. in Carroll Gardens, for some of the best pizza in Brooklyn (or anywhere imho). You're also a quick hop on the F train to Applewood and the other great places in Park Slope.
        -- The Indian/Thai/Chinese area is not the high point around here. There are some passable "Americanized" options, particularly for Thai, but nothing like what you can find in parts of Queens. If you like middle eastern, on the other hand, there's Waterfalls on Atlantic (to name just one of many, many places in the area).
        -- Wine/beer: Heights Chateu on Atlantic or Smith & Vine on Smith St. for wine. American Beer Dist/Thrifty Beverage on Court St. for beer -- always a wide variety of microbrews and imports.

        Good luck with the move and exploring the area, wherever you end up. You'll have lots of food exploring to do once you get here.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jmh

          Seconding the cobble hill rec. We've lived here for 4 years and can't imagine living anywhere else. It's a wonderfully friendly and residential neighborhood. And I tend to agree with pretty much everything JMH recommended.

          1. re: Nehna

            i third cobble hill.
            i started writing a longer response to ths post a couple days ago and then my computer unexpectedly restarted, leaving you reviewless and me frustrated!

            i wont spend as much time as i was then, but ill give you a short and quick synopsis. cobble hill is great because you are pretty much at the crux of a number of different neighborhoods (c hill itself, bk heights, caroll gardens, atlantic ave strips that run through - some boerum hill, red hook, etc. most of these places are all an easy walk on a pleasant day.) we have tons of specialty food stores: the great meat shops, fish tails, fruit & veg places, then more upscale food spots like garden of eden on montague, pacific green on court, cobblestone foods also on court.) serviceable supermarkets (the met and some key foods and the fairway in red hook, which is a bit of a trip, but really worth it from time to time)...not to mention the fact that fresh direct trucks line the streets at all hours of the day. there is a slew of good bakeries (one girl cookies, sweet melissa, marquet, and then the amazing italian bakeshops as you venture further into carroll gardens). there's also the smith & vine (wine) and stinky bk (cheese) empire. not to mention an awesome and eclectic beer distributor on court!

            there are so many great restaurants around here, ive lived here for 3 years and eat out a lot, and while i defnitely have favorites i frequent, there are still a number of places i am always meaning to try and havent been to. there's a good balance of fine dining (saul, po, grocery, chestnut), neighborhood dining (from the better - fragole, to the bistro - cafe luluc, or le petit marche in the heights), and easy takeout/delivery dining from nearly every genre (though i do agree with others that indian and mexican perhaps is lacking, as well as really excellent chinese or thai - however, there is serviceable chinese and thai that i partake in with some frequency for delivery purposes.

            food is definitely a big part of my life, and living in cobble hill couldnt really make it any easier. its a great place to live.

            oh and supposedly, we'll be the proud neighborhood hosts of a trader joes on the corner of court and atlantic in the near future.

        2. Of course I'm going to support my neighborhood, Prospect Heights/Park Slope and I truly believe it is a great foodie neighborhood.

          - Farmer's Market at Grand Army Plaza - wonderful all the time
          - Park Slope Food Co-op if you want to join
          - A variety of specialty stores such as Blue Apron in the Slope
          - Top tier restaurants including: Applewood, Rose Water, Al Di La, Convivium and Garden Cafe
          - Great variety of foods: chinese, japanese, italian, spanish, american (traditional and contemporary), jamaican/carribean, mexican and oxacan, tex/mex, indian, korean, regular pizza and gourmet pizza, sandwich shops (hi and lo brow), thai, bbq, french and much more
          - A very impressive and always evolving bar scene, many of them with decent food options. My favorites include (Beast, Soda, Weather Up, Flatbush Bar(n), Lighthouse Tavrern, Commonwealth and Dram Shop).
          - Festivals on the streets and flea markets (of course with food)
          - One of the best beer stores ever in Bierkraft ( i like my beer especially the obscure microbrews)
          - Too many wine shops to list with a range of offerings and pricing
          - You may want to play games as you eat so Bocce at Union Hall, darts at Lighthouse, pool, ping-pong or mini-bowling at Ocean's Billiards and a variety of places with boardgames and of course tv's to watch sports is always a positive
          - Also close to many major subway lines, the park, the zoo, library and museum, not to mention a short train ride to Coney Island, Di Fara pizza, Smith Street and downtown manhattan

          phew, that should do it. Let me know when you move in.

          http://always-eating.blogspot.com/

          4 Replies
          1. re: ginsbera

            I also live in the nabe, and mostly agree, particularly with the GAP farmer's market, which also has a stand with wonderfully fresh fish. My main complaint is with the quality of the more ethnic food, aside from Caribbean, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican. Some of the worse Chinese and Indian restaurants reside in this area. The Korean food is OK, but for this type of food, you can do much better in Queens, or alternatively, with a quick subway ride into Manhattan to Chinatown, Curry Hill, and Koreatown.

            1. re: coho

              Agreed to some extent. I have not found a great chinese place. It's annoying, but probably a good thing for health reasons. I rotate between Mr.Wonton and some other one down 7th (name escapes me), but I'm never thrilled with it. As for Indian there are a few decent options, 1 down in South Slope on 5th and then a few on 7th, but the one is the heights is just OK. I enjoyed Noona, a little sweeter than I would have liked, but reasonable and I've been meaning to go to Moim. Good thing is, just like you said, you're only a short train ride away from Chinatown, Curry Hill and K-town.

              1. re: ginsbera

                Prospect Heights does rule! You can get everything close by if you cannot find it here! The 24 hour Natureland on Flatbush is a pretty decent market with a fish counter for when the Blue Moon is not around.

                1. re: roux42

                  agreed. I love living on the fringe of prospect heights and park slope, the best of both worlds in a sense. And yes Natureland is a wonderful store, great produce (at least better than Key Foods consistently) and fish that while not the best is reasonably priced and worlds above Key Foods and the Met (don't buy fish OR meat at the Met).

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