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Apr 26, 2011 02:46 PM

Share Your Best Neighborhood Nosh Tours

North Carolina couple will be celebrating a Birthday in NYC. We'd like to get out of Manhattan and explore chowish neighborhoods in the Outer Boroughs. We can do a walking tour if the distances are not too great (we are seniors). We already have Kathryn's walking tour of Flushing and it sounds good, but we will also have a car and we might need to move it from its alternate side spot in the City. So - brownie points for itineraries in parkable neighborhoods during the daytime.

I understand there was a 7 train food tour which might be good if we find a good space our car. Can someone point us to the latest version?

We prefer ethnic and/or unique places that we can't find at home so regional delicacies, weird chef experiences, and neighborhood classics are most welcome. We prefer cheap eats. but are willing to splurge here and there. We like to nosh, but wouldn't mind a few sit-down places as well.

Neighborhoods we would be especially interested in : Jackson Heights, Brighton Beach, Belmont, but any neighborhood or contiguous neighborhoods would be welcome.

Oh, one wrinkle. The Birthday is on a Monday.

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    1. Thanks for your suggestions, Jeff. Will check out your pizza tours, though I must admit that pizza is not our favorite thing. That said, we were both over the moon the one time we tried Di Fara's. Fabulous!

      We also prefer a self-guided chowhound created tour and save the $ for the food -- although a particular guided tour might just grab us.

      Di Fara Pizza
      1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230

    2. If you feel like doing the Staten Island Ferry-touristy thing, there are a few worthwhile places within a mile of the ferry. Also convenient by car.

      The Polish Place -- very good Polish fare; also operate a deli for take-home Polish goodies
      Pier 76 -- Fine thin-crust pizza; other good Italian
      Dosa Garden -- excellent Indian food from Chettinadu...a find!
      Vida -- eclectic, casual fare, consistently rated great value by Michelin
      Lakruwana or SanRasa -- Sri Lankan food, quite different from Indian...a la carte or weekend buffets ca. $12
      Zest -- French-inspired restaurant. Have not been there, but I keep hearing raves from friends.

      The Polish Place
      19 Corson Ave, Staten Island, NY 10301

      977 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10305

      381 Van Duzer St, Staten Island, NY 10304

      Dosa Garden
      323 Victory Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10301

      San Rasa
      226 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10301

      Pier 76
      76 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10301

      668 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10304

      2 Replies
      1. re: comestible

        As usual you have compiled a very good list. I have dined at Zest twice and really enjoyed the food, though I'd cassifiy it as more 'Continental. American' (Whatever that means :-) ) What about Enoteca Maria.., Too far?
        I would caution the OP to be sure to check by calling ahead, as some places may be closed on Mondays.
        As for a "NoshWalk," if the weather permits, I'd take the "R" train over to Bay Ridge, B'klyn, start at 86th St and nosh my way down 3rd Ave to 69 th St (AKA: Bay Ridge Ave) or at least to 75th St, and then back up on 5th Ave. Tons of excellent different types of food to be had.
        . If you felt the need to drive, there is a large above ground municipal parking lot on 5th Ave and 86th St. If you still have room left, there are lots of great hole-in-the-wall Mexican/Dominican restos on 5th starting on 5th and 60th St.
        Bonus: Brooklyn Chinatown starts at around 60th St and 8th Ave. Tons of great eats, but parking is impossible. The 'N' train to 8th Ave is the way to go.
        Wherever you end up, let us know how it works out.
        Have a grrrreat B-Day!

        Enoteca Maria
        27 Hyatt St, Staten Island, NY 10301

        1. re: Tay

          Hey, Tay, Enoteca Maria is still good, but the last two times I was there I asked for something vegetarian and got dishes adorned with grape tomatoes, which I consider one of the nastiest vegetables ever invented, so maybe that colored my opinion! Still love their wine list though.

          Enoteca Maria
          27 Hyatt St, Staten Island, NY 10301

      2. We just did a tiny version of this in sunset park last weekend (we live nearby and this was more of a sponatenous "wow its nice out lets not ever go inside again" type of plan) we ended up getting banh mi, some dumplings and a couple of buns/tarts from one of the bakeries - total bill for two couldnt have made it to 15 dollars - and we didnt even have room for the fresh made chung-fan (rolled rice noodles) which are sold from several carts in the mid 50's (not sure if they would be set up on a monday/weekday).

        all along 8th avenue from about 42nd to 60th streets in brooklyn you will find chinese bakeries, snack shops, restaurants and produce shops, mixed in with dollar stores and other curiosities. Over on 5th avenue (a non-trivial but very doable walk) is the mexican side of sunset park with as many taquerias and other stops for snacking as 8th avenue, if not more. I havent spent much time in NC but i think you could find very respectable examples of both mexican and chinese and see a neighborhood that is indicative of more recent trends in nyc immigration.

        That said, i dont think you could go wrong with a roosevelt-avenue tour, and depending on the weather and your willingness to walk, i would perhaps recommend starting off closer to elmhurst and walking along roosevelt avenue through its various southeast asian (thai) philipino, south/central american, mexican and south asian/indian sections, and potentially winding down in flushing at the end of the 7 train. I did this for my first birthday after moving to new york, and even though im based in brooklyn, it gave me a healthy dose of respect for the foods of queens, i dont think a broader range of foods, generally prepared exceptionally well as examples of their regional cuisines, is available along a continuous stretch of a single street anywhere else. Papaya salad at one stop, chaat, some cookies from the phillipines, and tacos (not to mention whats at the end of the 7 in fushing) sounds like a pretty great birthday to me.

        13 Replies
        1. re: tex.s.toast

          Many thanks to comestible and Tex for their helpful responses. Any "no miss" gems on 3rd or 5th Ave in Bay Ridge or Roosevelt Ave in Queens?

          Actually, you might be surprised at the quality and authenticity of Mexican and Chinese in my area of NC (Raleigh-Durham) -- especially Mexican. Gourmet Magazine wrote an article a few years back on great taquerias in Durham. We had the largest growth in Latino population of any state if I remember and that's reflected in ever growing choices of Latino food. And though authentic Chinese has been slower in coming we now have regional choices such as Sichuan, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, Indian-Chinese, and Malaysian -- even XLB,

          I realize, it's nothing compared to the variety of delectable noshes in NYC ethnic neighborhoods. Still, I'd probably favor Uzbek, Scandinavian, and Moroccan as these are options we don't have.

          1. re: TerryG

            "Many thanks to comestible and Tex for their helpful responses'

            Gee... Maybe it's my breath. :-)

            1. re: Tay

              Tay, I'll stick up for ya; in fact I'm going to take up your suggestion for a food tour in Bay close, too. Odd that I haven't explored the area before.

              And I think TerryG was just writing hurriedly and didn't mean to leave you out.

              1. re: Tay

                Awww, so sorry, Tay! It wasn't your breath, but my eyes.,, Senior vision. A big thank you -- esp. since I'm leaning toward Bay Ridge for my B'Day Walk.

                And, thanks, jaingmaster, too!

                1. re: TerryG

                  I'll just have to pick up the pieces of my shattered ego and try to carry on, Lol! JK.

                  BR is a really good area for a walking tour. Both 3rd and 5th Aves have all sorts of food offerings. It's such a treat to get away from the 'Mall Mentality' and just meander around the neighborhood: Aside from the nightmare of parking, it's great.

                  1. re: Tay

                    I have to agree with you, Tay. Bay Ridge has it all. And TerryG, don't forget to stop by Hinsch's Confectionery (5th Avenue & 86th Street) for an old fashioned egg cream.

                    8518 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                2. re: Tay

                  Uzbeki and Georgian food can be found either in Brooklyn or in Queens. I live in Forest Hills and if you want a fun experience with Russian delis and restaurants - plenty of noshing opportunities exist within a small walking distance.

                  I would start out on 108th street. Take the express train to continental avenue and then take the bus towards corona (free transfer with metro card) or walk down from local subway stop on either 63rd drive or 67th avenue. The shopping area goes from 63rd Drive to maybe 65th Road - but don't let that fool you there are 3 of every number with a st./ave/and road - so it's about a 6-7 block stretch of FORN (food porn - a word I am about to trademark)

                  Russian Delis with both prepared and packaged foods
                  Moshe and Minya's

                  Romanoff's (also kosher and closed on saturday/jewish holidays)
                  great for produce - they also sell a packaged brand of baba ganoush that we really like from SONNY and JOES - nice smokey flavor, they carry full iine of Russian dairy products from Keffir to Russian Sour Cream, To fancy butters and MORE too..
                  Their deli counter is great for smoked fish and such - lots of things that are hard to find in "normal jewish delis" even with a huge variety of smoked fish and mostly Russian speaking customers. Again they are kosher - glatt kosher in fact and even have a raw butcher dept. I was able to get a lamb shank bone for passover there when no one else had it and it was only $2 for 2.

                  International (close to 63rd drive - they have a kosher and a non kosher store a few doors from each other and a great deli section
                  they also sell something by the register they call "cheese balls" which are my favorite cheesecake alternative - made with farmers cheese or possibly ricotta too and just so delicious - a package of 8 is about $7
                  They all sell korean carrot salad - a nice picnic lunch item and quite tasty. cheaper than getting it at the restaurants too., and the lavosh breads come in fresh daily. I always see them being delivered. In fact the range of fresh breads - simple country breads, is staggering - rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat, whole grain, lavosh, crackers, candies and MORE...
                  and there are at least 2-3 others whose names escape me and are a bit smaller

                  there is also the infamous
                  Carmel - which packs a HUGE punch for a SMALL store
                  specializing in fresh spices, dried fruits/nuts, Israeli products, Middle Eastern Syrups,
                  pita bread of all types, salmon caviar, an amazing housemade bean salad (only available alternative weeks), housemade humus (not my fav but popular and garliky),
                  cheese, frozen foods, juices, mixes, oh what they pack intto that store is AMAZING, with great prices, fresh products, great turnover and just in a league of its own.

                  None of these places have restaurants where you can sit and eat.

                  There is a restaurant on the same block as International - cann'[t remember the name, but they are considered to be the best on 108th street. Skewers of grilled meats, great fries with garlic and parsley, nice salads and warm fresh tandoori baked lavash bread.

                  there are at least 3-5 of these similar menu restaurants on this small shopping area locally known simply as "108th street"

                  When you head back to the local train on there are more Russian places on both sides of 63rd drive including the North side (the 108th street side) and on the South side of QUeens Blvd as well. Continuing up 63rd Drive towards Alderton Street there is a large uzbek restaurant called Cher... something or other - cann't remember and was going to look up but got called away and want to get this posted. Check out the Rego Park/Forest Hills area - not talked about as much but a wealth of food safari fun.
                  Cheburechnaya maybe the name, although the link below indicates brooklyn, I believe this is the Rego Park 63rd Drive Restaurant I am referencing. Also note many of the Russian /Usbeki/Georgian Restaurants at least in Queens - are KOSHER and closed on Friday night and Saturday - some reopen Saturday night but check hours and locations if those are the days you are planning on visiting. Plenty of the delis are NOT kosher with HUGE arrays of pork products... Just saying...

                  92-09 63rd Dr, Queens, NY 11374

                  R&M Glatt Supermarket
                  63-64 108th St, Queens, NY 11375

                  Monya & Misha
                  64-46 108th St, Queens, NY 11375

                  64-27 108th St, Queens, NY 11375

                  A&R International
                  63-46 108th St, Queens, NY 11375

                  1. re: tigerwoman

                    Nice list Tigerwoman. I've been to a bunch of Georgian places in Brooklyn, but don't know any of the Queens spots. Do you mind dropping a few restaurant names? Thanks!

                    1. re: ChiefHDB

                      Your excellent posting almost made me want to move to Queens... Almost :-)

                    2. re: tigerwoman

                      "There is a restaurant on the same block as International - cann'[t remember the name, but they are considered to be the best on 108th street."

                      Salut. And they've certainly been around the longest. Grill Palace is one of the newer kids on the block, and there's also Registan - never tried that either. But Salut, in the times where we've actually gotten semi-decent attention from the servers, has always been reliable. Cheburechnaya, as you mention, is the Uzbek joint wherein I've always gotten the nicest service, and I've experienced the food to be pretty much as good. There's also Arzu, which is technically Uighur, but which serves essentially your same menu, ie lagman, manti, samsa, kebab, etc.


                      92-09 63rd Dr, Queens, NY 11374

                      63-42 108th St, Queens, NY 11375

                      1. re: Polecat

                        I've been to all three, tho not for a while, and i remember Arzu as having the best lagman and the least friendly service. Salut seemed the best all around, tho not great service there either. Agree that Cheburechnaya is the friendliest and has the best kabobs (the sweetbread kabob is excellent) but I found their other dishes to be not as good.

                        Cafe Arzu
                        101-05 Queens Blvd, Queens, NY 11375

                        92-09 63rd Dr, Queens, NY 11374

                        63-42 108th St, Queens, NY 11375

                  2. re: TerryG

                    i was just thinking about all the mexican in durham as i was reading tex's post. I grew up in durham but then my family moved away and i was shocked when i returned a few years ago to find that my local shopping center, where we had always done our grocery shopping, had turned into a mexican center, with taquerias and stores. shocked in a good way, mind you, as the lack of ethnic culture was one thing that drove me crazy about growing up down there and led me to escape to new york.

                    Moroccan I'm not so sure about, but if you take train out to brighton beach and walk brighton beach avenue, you'll find plenty of good and unusual things. Up on neptune ave is georgian bread, one of my fave places for snacks. get the khachipori (cheese bread--tho this is big for a snack) or just the regular bread and some of the spreads (I like the green bean and eggplant ones). Back on brighton beach ave, there's M & I, a giant russian food store with a cafe up top with decent borscht. There's cafe kashkar, a uighur place, and cafe "your mother-in-law" an uzbeki/central asian place, and kabeer, another uzbeki/russian style place. just walk around and check things out. if it's a nice day, you can finish up with a drink at tatiana's on the boardwalk, tho their food is probably more expensive than you are looking for.

                    Other good suggestions (besides the ones already posted by others),
                    Arthur Ave/belmont, italian nabe in bronx
                    astoria, queens--greek, egyptian, bosnian, brazilian
                    liberty ave, queens--west indian, indian, surinamese

                    Of course, I have no idea how many places in any of these nabes are open monday day. most food stores are, and there should be enough places open for lunch to keep you happy. good luck and happy eating!

                    Cafe Kashkar
                    1141 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                    Georgian Bread
                    265 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                    M&I International Food
                    249 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                    Tatiana Grill
                    3145 Brighton 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                    1003 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                    Cafe At Your Mother-in-Law
                    3071 Brighton 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                    1. re: missmasala

                      Since I'm eager to avoid any more shattered CH egos, big thank-yous go out to tigerwomen and missmasala. Uzbeki and Russian are exactly the kind of food I'm looking for, too. Not popular cuisines in NC.

                      So many great neighborhoods. So little time.. Wish my Birthday can extend into Birthweek

                3. For Roosevelt Ave you won't find much better than Jeff's taco tour: (Oddly, his earlier post on pizza is now gone.) In particular, check out the map at the bottom of the post. This covers the predominantly Latin American stretch of Roosevelt through Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona and would be a good complement to Kathryn's Flushing tour.

                  Be warned: traffic and parking in the heart of Jackson Heights can be rough. If you're driving you might do better to leave the car in nearby Woodside. Parking is much easier, and the walk over to Jackson Heights takes you along the Philipino stretch of Roosevelt Ave.