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Jul 5, 2011 08:39 AM

Question about Jackson Heights Indian area

Friends are coming to the East Coast in a few weeks. Since they have travelled quite extensively in India, they wanted to visit Jackson Heights. Last time they visited, we went to Oak Tree Road in NJ so they wanted a different experience this time. I know traffic is always a problem and I also know that they would prefer a car to public transportation. If there was a choice of visiting this area on a Friday or a Saturday or a Sunday, would any be less congested? Would you have any parking suggestions that would put us in reasonable walking distance and a bit out of the fray?

Final question: I have been reading old restaurant reviews and I haven't found many that are very current. I think that they would enjoy a buffet to try many things or someplace for snacks. Vegetarian is okay but not necessary. I am not sure we will still be around at dinnertime. What are the best places right now? Thanks so much!

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  1. I'd actually recommend the Floral Park/Glen Oaks/Queens Village area over Jackson Heights for Indian food. And it's easier with a car. There are plenty of great buffets (I recommend Flavor of India on Hillside Ave just east of Little Neck Parkway) and a fun Mumbai street food restaurant (Mumbai Express) also on the same strip.

    Mumbai Xpress
    256-05 Hillside Ave, Queens, NY 11004

    Flavor of India
    259-17 Hillside Ave, Queens, NY 11004

    1. Hi,

      If you are set on JH, I do drive there on weekends all the time and find that parking is not that bad. Avoid the area around the subway station at 74th. Look on 37th ave and higher up, around 78th or 79th street. Usually you can find meters or regular street parking. Between 37th and 35th ave is also good.
      As for good buffets in JH, I can't help you. I haven't found the Indian food in JH to be that great lately. The food is probably better in the Floral Park neighborhood, tho I haven't been there to try it yet.
      However, I suspect that the Floral Park neighborhood will be more like Oak Tree road, so if your friends want a more urban—i could be in India—experience, then JH is probably better.
      Two other suggestions:
      1) Jersey city has a very small but urban feeling Indian neighborhood with some good veg food (sri ganesh dosa house is good) and parking is not that bad around there.
      2) The temple canteen in flushing, while not a buffet, has decent to sometimes great south indian veg food and feels very much like being in India. While this is not an Indian neighborhood per se, there is a patel bros and another indian grocer nearby on main st and you get the added experience of east asian flushing, which is pretty great.
      Whereever you end up, have fun!

      Ganesh Temple Canteen
      45-57 Bowne St, Queens, NY 11355

      23 Replies
      1. re: missmasala

        Second Missmasala's take on Jax Heights. The Indian food there just isn't that great. Delhi Heights is just OK for pan-Indian (multi-regional cuisine -- usually a red flag) and Maharaja is decent for pure veg. Punjabi food -- though it's mega-oily and cleanliness is sometimes an issue there. Avoid Jackson Diner at all costs!!!

        If you're interested in chaat, however, you might find some decent options in Jax Heights. There's a newish Pakistani place down B'way a few blocks west of the subway station -- they do sweets and chaat. And there's a Tibetan snacks/Indian chaat place on 37th Rd. (between 74th/73rd streets) that has momos and a few chaats made freshly to order (avoid the golgopas there, though, their fillings are unimpressive, to say the least). For Gujarati chaat and light fare, Rajbhog on 37th Ave. (between 74th/73rd streets) has some interesting options.

        The Ganesh Temple can be a bit hit and miss, but the atmostphere is totally "Indian" and the food is still much better than any other S. Indian restaurant food I've found in NYC (NJ -- now that's a whole different ball game!).

        Or, if you want to try something similar but perhaps new -- Bangladeshi food -- there's an excellent place in the Bronx (Parkchester) that I highly recommend: Neerob. Parking is super easy there. :)

        72-27 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

        Jackson Diner
        37-47 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

        Delhi Heights
        37-66 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

        Maharaja Sweets and Snacks
        7310 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

        2109 Starling Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

        1. re: CitySpoonful

          I'll agree with Missmasala and CitySpoonful.
          I went a week ago Sunday to the Keralan Buffet at Five Star on Jericho Tpke in New Hyde Park. It was excellent with a good variety of vegetarian and non-veg options. The buffet is served from noon-3:30pm. Parking is easy.
          I wish there was something this good in Jackson Heights.

          1. re: el jefe

            el jefe, yet another place to add to my list! I am a huge fan of Keralan food.

            1. re: el jefe

              have you tried the other keralan restaurant that is out that way? (kerala kitchen?) I heard that five star was better, but I haven't been able to check out either one yet.
              Is the buffet only on sundays, or every day at lunch?

              New Kerala Kitchen
              267-05 Hillside Ave, Queens, NY 11004

              1. re: missmasala

                Five Star's buffet is only on Sunday.
                I haven't been to Kerala Kitchen since it became "New" Kerala Kitchen. They've changed the format several times. For a while they had a very limited buffet everyday, then Sat and Sun, now I'm not sure. The Sunday buffet was excellent the last time I was there, a couple of years ago. Maybe better than Five Star. The vegetable and fish dishes were all outstanding. But with the changes, I can't say if it's still as good.
                I'd like to get back to either but it's rare that I can make it to that neighborhood early on a Sunday afternoon.

            2. re: CitySpoonful

              If you like British Indian food I find Delhi Heights to be excellent. I love their nans (garlic), onion kulchas, palak paneer, kathi rolls (have not had a better version), and especially their chicken makhani (have not had better version). But in terms of biryani, kebabs, and tandoori I find other places better. I also enjoyed a dish called manchuarian cauliflower but I've never had this dish anywhere else and cannot compare.

              Delhi Heights
              37-66 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

              1. re: daffyduck

                I found Delhi Heights to be OK. They're another all-purpose south Asian joint with a face-lift. The cauliflower dish you mention is a standard Indian-Chinese dish (available at many of the Indian-Chinese places around town).

                1. re: E Eto

                  thanks for the response E Eto, you are one of my favorite posters on chowhound. I was wondering what Indian restaurants you prefer over Delhi Heights. I've only eaten there 5 times so I haven't made a huge dent on their vast menu but I've had chicken makhani at 10 different restaurants (it is my favorite indian dish) and theirs is my favorite.

                  Delhi Heights
                  37-66 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

              2. re: CitySpoonful

                So the above very interesting discussion begs the question are there top notch pure vegetarian restaurants in the Floral Park/Glen Oaks/Queens Village area? If we are talking 'authentic' Indian food that is -- with all due respect to Moslem, TIbetan and certain American tastes -- the gold standard. Suggestions are greatly appreciated.

                BTW Great to finally read honest criticism about Jackson Heights restaurants and a warning re Jackson Diner on Chowhound. Overall JH Indian rests are mediocre - awful by the actual standards of Indian food. JH is a nice Indian Neighborhood, shops are good but the food is not worth the trip for the most part.

                1. re: Zier

                  Madras Woodlands on Hillside Avenue in New Hyde Park is pure vegetarian. I've heard it's very good but I can't state that it's "top notch" since I've never been there myself.

                  1. re: el jefe

                    El Jefe,

                    Do you know if this is part of the chain of madras woodlands restaurants from India? I actually used to go the one in Madras as a child. I didn't know there was one in the NYC area but now I am very interested in checking it out.

                    1. re: missmasala

                      I've never been to the Madras Woodlands in NHP so I have no idea if it's part of the Indian chain, but since the website makes no mention of it, I'd assume not.

                      Another option, also not in JH, is Taste of Cochin. I thought it deserved it's own thread:

                      Taste of Cochin
                      248-08 Union Turnpike, Queens, NY 11426

                      1. re: missmasala

                        there used to be I am talking 30 years ago, at least) a Madras Woodlands restaurant near the UN which was quite upscale. This seems to be an offshoot
               Dont see any evidence it is connected with any of the Woodlands enterprises in Chennai, however.

                        I dont know what kind of Indian experience the OP's guest wants, but my feel is that there are many fewer hindus and more pakistanis and bengalis in JH than was the case years ago, before the development of the suburban indian communities, and the food in JH reflects the changed ethnic mix. Its still an interesting subcontinental experience but not the eating experience of yore.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Sorry for this year late response, but I do know the answer to these questions about Madras Woodlands. This place is run by the same owner as the UN (much more upscale) one 30 years ago. It is associated with the Woodlands restaurants in Chennai. I believe the one in NHP is licensed (but not owned ) by the Indian chain. They used to get their cooks from India, but that has gotten a lot harder after 9/11. In any case the food is very good. They do have a daily lunch buffet.

                          1. re: bobjbkln

                            I don't know of any buffets in Jackson Heights turning out anything I'd want to eat.

                            1. re: AubWah

                              it's not a buffet per se, but the gujarati thali -- with a number of items on the plate -- at rabjhog -- is very good. the steam table buffets at the usual suspects are adequate if your only interest is filling up on the cheap. if that's the case, i'd say delhi heights and indian taj are the 'best,' but the buffet stuff is notthing to write -- or text -- home about.

                              1. re: debinqueens

                                I'm at Rajbhog so much they should charge me rent

                                1. re: debinqueens

                                  Indian Taj used to be our go-to for JH buffets but last time we were there we tried Mumbai Grill and were pleasantly surprised. They had a larger selection of items, some things that were a little more interesting than the usual chicken makhani and tandoori, and the spicing was far more aggressive (in a good way) than most buffets in the area.

                              2. re: bobjbkln

                                Are you sure they brought back the weekday buffet?
                                The last time I went past (a Thursday in late May), they had a sign in the window advertising a weekend, or just Sunday, buffet. No mention of a daily buffet.

                                1. re: el jefe

                                  Actually its been several months, and we went on a weekend, so I am not sure. From what I understand they had a lot of traffic for the buffet from the staff at Long Island Jewish Hospital (like a lot of Indian vegetarian restaurants, Woodlands has a Kosher certification), But again your knowledge is more recent than mine. I'll look (or ask) the next time I'm out there.

                          2. re: el jefe

                            Madras Woodlands is actually one of our two favorite Indian restaurants outside of Manhattan. Their Papri Chaat is superb if it's specifically made by the female hostess. (just ask)

                            Other favorites are the Paper Dosai and Baingan Bharta, but honestly just about every thing we've had there was wonderful with the exception of their Mulligatawny soup which was subpar.

                            The 2nd restaurant I alluded to above is New Chili & Curry Restaurant in Hicksville. Not pure veg, but very vegetarian friendly. Everything there is exceptionally tasty and the least oily indian / indochinese we've had in NY.


                          3. re: Zier

                            Since many American Indian restaurants are owned by Bangladeshi Moslems -- who are recognized as top food professionals in India -- they serve lots of meat.

                            But the greatest diversity of dishes in Indian cuisine are pure vegetarian dishes. Unfortunately too few show up much in NY restaurants, Punjabis eat meat but they also mostly eat veg too.

                            Any more veg restaurants in the Northern Queens areas described here? How about in South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill? Anyone know of a great place.

                            I gave up on JH for eating out years ago.

                            1. re: fondey

                              Uhhh... Bangladeshis are generally reviled by Indians for annihilating their cuisine in British and American eateries actually. India's basically Europe in terms of regional culinary differences and the fact that Bengalis run 90% of "Indian" restaurant kitchens in the Western world does not speak of their ability to cook Indian food.

                              There's a full veg place under the el on Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill. It's called Punjab Restaurant and Sweets and it's pretty good. Extremely cheap and their mango lassis are made with fresh mango.

                              Punjabi Restaurant and Sweets
                              112-11 Jamaica Ave, Queens, NY 11418

                      2. The baghary baighan and goat biryani I've had at Deccan Kebab are the equals to any of the better dishes I've had in Floral Park or at 5 Star in NHP (which, I agree, is excellent).

                        Right now, Deccan Kebab and Phayul (okay, it's Tibetan, I know) are two excellent reasons to come to Jackson Heights.


                        Deccan Kabab
                        74-06 37th Rd, Queens, NY 11372

                        37-65 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Polecat

                          Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful comments. I am thinking that perhaps the strolling/shopping should be separate from the eating portion of our trip to Queens. I will forward everything to our friends and see what looks good to them. Then I will report back.

                          1. re: Marie07960

                            To the OP: As a JH resident and recent visitor to (northern) India, I'd recommend coming here for the strolling and shopping, as you say, and grazing--definitely get some chaat (I like Rajbhog), some biryani at Deccan Kebab, then some kulfi and/or sweets like barfi, etc. To me those things are the most reminiscent of India, and they show off what remains of JH's Indianness. (Feel free to throw in some momos from any of the Tibetan places--they're all over Delhi these days!)

                            Then for a sit-down meal, drive to one of the other 'hoods suggested in this thread. I haven't been to them all, though I did like Southern Spice in Flushing last time I was there. As for parking in JH, I'd think any weekdays, incl Fridays, would be better than weekends. But I don't have a car, so can't be sure.

                            72-27 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                        2. I wonder if there's a link to the actual population makeup around JH. I think it will reveal that JH is much less Indian than in the last decade. Most of the restaurants around there are run by people from Bangladesh, Nepal or Pakistan, while most of the upwardly mobile Indians of the last generation have left JH for Flushing, Long Island, New Jersey, or Westchester. While the businesses might still be Indian-owned, much of the food at the restaurants seem to be "dumbed down" to suit the tastes of the local south Asian population (i.e., the recent immigrants), offering a smorgasbord of dishes from all over south Asia. That is not to say that good south Asian food isn't available in JH. It just means that food specific to India might be harder to find or are being cooked by non-Indians. I guess the average American (like myself) wouldn't be able to identify the differences between the different culinary cultures that exist in this very diverse region (despite much of the overlap). This phenomenon isn't particular to the south Asians of JH. You just have to walk down Roosevelt to find the same kind of thing among various Latin and South American cuisines (e.g., Mexican food for the local Ecuadorians and Colombians). I guess that's just how the economy rolls.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: E Eto

                            The community there is almost entirely Bangladeshi and Nepalese now. I've talked to a lot of locals about it. Bengalis are beginning to stereotype Jackson Heights as a Bengali area when they discuss it among themselves too.

                          2. I live in JH & agree that it's great for shopping & snacks, but not for dinner. If you have a car, & are willing to go a bit further, try Jaipore in Brewster (280 Route 22, Brewster, NY. 10509,
                            (845) 277-3549). A friend who's originally from Chennai & goes back home yearly took me there the first time, & didn't I have to turn up my stupid snobby nose at the idea of a buffet. I have never been so happy to be proved wrong. The building is also quite elegant (& has an interesting history -- it's been a judge's house &, according to my friend, later became a brothel, though you might not want to mention that to your guests before they eat). I haven't been out there for a while; maybe someone else has?