Visiting NYC from CA - need help planning a day trip to the Burroughs!
I visit NYC quite a bit, but I've never ventured into any of the burroughs. I know there's great food and shops out there though, but I need some suggestions.
I have all day Saturday to venture into and explore any of the burroughs/neighborhoods. The problem is I have to rely on public transportation, ideally the subway system, and maybe a cab ride or two, so I think I'm pretty limited.
Can anyone suggest a burrough or neighborhood(s) within a burrough where I can grab a bite to eat for breakfast, walk around (e.g., sight seeing, checking out shops, etc.), until lunch, and do the same after lunch in another part of town, until dinner?
Any suggestions for places worth checking out and restaurants nearby would be greatly appreciated! I'm leaving tomorrow and can't wait!
Don't forget, my conclusion is based on the practical issues of someone visiting NYC. Time is a huge issue, as I don't think many people have time to wander these days. Walking is another issue, as many people will need to walk if relying on public transportation. I'm not saying there isn't great stuff in the other boroughs, I'm just saying that it does take more time and effort to find these places. Anyway, thanks for all the comments!
Well, I just wanted to summarize my experience in the other boroughs for the benefit of other curious out of towners. But before I begin, I want to thank all of the chowhounders that contributed to my thread by giving me great suggestions.
One of the biggest questions for me initially was whether I could get to all the neighborhoods without a car. I'm happy to say that I got to every destination by public transit. This included Arthur Ave, Astoria, Williamsburg, Roosevelt Ave and Flushing. The other question is how safe the other boroughs were. I am also happy to say that I felt comfortable pretty much everywhere I went.
Below are my comments for each neighborhood I visited. Please keep in mind that these comments are from the perspective of an out of town visitor, not someone who lives in NY.
Arthur Ave - I honestly don't think this is worth the trip. There are a few Italian restaurants to try, but nothing that you can't get in Manhattan. I got here by train, not subway, which wasn't bad, but there's the extra inconvenience of having to wait for departure times. I think this place would be great for locals, because there's a ton of fresh cheese, meat, etc. you can get, but for a visitor w/o a fridge or time to cook, you can walk through the neighborhood in 30 mins to an hour.
Williamsburg - this was very easy to get to and had a lot of coffee shops and small eateries. I had lunch at pies n thighs and it was very good. Bedford Ave, the main road, isn't very long, so I would combine Williamsburg with a visit to other parts of Brooklyn.
Astoria - I thought this was a very interesting neighborhood and not something you'd see in CA. There was a lot of middle eastern cuisine and hookah lounges. I tried going to Mombar, but it is only open for dinner, so then I tried Kebab King, but their oven was broken. I ended up at Queens Comfort for American comfort food. Not my first choice in such a diverse neighborhood, but I found it hard to find a place to eat my one meal in Astoria b/c there were few yelp! or zagat stickers on store fronts. Do your research ahead of time if you go to Astoria.
Flushing/Roosevelt Ave - You can definitely make a whole day of this - if you don't mind walking. There's a lot of Chinese/Asian, Indian and Latin food. I probably enjoyed this excursion the most, but I had good company that day, so that helped a bit. My favorite place was tortilla nixa...(sp?)
Conclusion - If you're visiting NYC, you can probably find everything you are looking for in Manhattan. There are some really unique and great places outside of Manhattan, but it takes more time and effort to get there. The other boroughs have a lot to offer, but if you only have a few days, Manhattan is where I would stay. I hope this helps!
40-09 30th Ave, Queens, NY 11103
So, I did the Roosevelt Ave/Flushing "tour" yesterday and it was great! But you guys were right, coming from CA, I already have a lot of choices when it comes to Latin and Asian food, so I'm looking forward to trying some authentic Italian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and other cuisines.
Please keep the suggestions coming!
If you've never had Sri Lankan food, and if you were thinking of a trip on the Staten Island Ferry, there are two (actually there are even more) places worth checking out within walking distance of the ferry: San Rasa (10-15 min. walk) and Lakruwana (25-30 min. walk). I think San Rasa is closed on Tuesdays.
226 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10301
668 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10304
I suggest 7 train to 82nd street and walk back under the tracks. There are few elevated trains in the world and the stations have a turn of the 20th centry look and sound. There are many places to eat on the street directly under the tracks and the parallel street one block north. I would say just walk and see which places look interesting, have a decent number of local people in them and buy something that sounds good. There are also piles of posts on the area.
Thanks Geo8rge. I did that yesterday. Walked from flushing down to about the 70s streets. My foodie friend and I concluded that nixtamal was our favorite, but there were a lot of great places to eat along the way. Thanks for all the tips!
104-05 47th Ave, Queens, NY 11368
Does anyone think Astoria would be a good place to check out? I know there are a lot of good restaurants there, but are they all in a central area or are they pretty spread out? Is it a fun or boring place to walk around? I have a couple of open days and was wondering if I should go here in addition to Roosevelt Ave and Brooklyn. TIA!
As a California transplant living in Queens, I think Astoria would be a great option. I love Roosevelt Ave. and numerous other stops along the 7 but you don't need ot travel to New York for Mexican, Korean, Indian, Filipino, or Chinese food.
Some food you may be less familiar with though is some of the Greek/Cypriot food in Astoria. Zenon, Taverna Kyclades, and Agnati are some of the better known options. Astoria also has some great options from the former Yugoslavia, and there's lots of places for Istrian food, or Bosnian cevapi. It's winter, and so you might enjoy some of the Czech or Slovak places like Koliba or Club 21. Steinway has some famous Egyptian places (Kabob Cafe probably most famous, Sabry's, a seafood shack, probably least appreciated) and that leads to some Colombian places further south on Steinway. 36th ave has a tasty Venezualan arepa place, Arepa Cafe. You can find Brazilian pretty easy in LA, but that's well represented in Astoria as well. The main Astoria drags are probably 30th ave and Broadway east of 31st St, (the subway), and it's a nice place to wander. I'd say it's a better pedestrian area than Roosevelt ave or Flushing, again, since you don't need to fly across the country for a latino neighborhood or a Chinatown.
If you do hit the 7, some of the more unique stops include Romanian in Sunnyside, and Himalayan food near the Jackson Heights station. Have fun.
25-12 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103
33-07 36th Ave, Queens, NY 11106
19-06 Ditmars Blvd, Queens, NY 11105
34-10 31st Ave, Queens, NY 11106
3307 Ditmars Blvd, Queens, NY 11105
31-11 23rd Ave, Queens, NY 11105
30-09 21st St, Queens, NY 11102
24-25 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103
wumicha: It's borough!
As others have stated the NYC mass transit system is a treasure. You can get a free map at most subway stations or online.
If the weather is nice take the subway down to City Hall or Brooklyn Bridge and stroll over the bridge. It's a fabulous sight. You'll end up in DUMBO and near Brooklyn Heights where you can walk over to the Promenade and view Manhattan from the other side of the river. Then stroll over to Atlantic Ave and check out the Middle Eastern bakery, markets and restaurants. Tripoli is my favorite. Cobble Hill and Redhook are also nearby and very interesting. There are some great restaurants on Court St and Smith St. Check out CH for recs.
156 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
If you're from LA, the italian sections of brooklyn (Carroll Gardens, Bensonhurst) may be more interesting than the asian/mexican stuff. Also the west indian neighborhoods. And brighton beach, which is like a little USSR.
Or the little italy in the Bronx, which is probably the best of these neighborhoods. If you search the boards, you'll find plenty of recs for that neighborhood.
If you walk across the brooklyn bridge and do the middle eastern stuff on atlantic (and this is a great thing to do) keep going about 10 blocks further down court street and you'll find what's left of the old Carroll Gardens italian neighborhood. Get a lobster tail pastry at court pastry, some coffee at D'amico's, and some house-made soppresata at the pork store.
Bensonhurst has great pasta and pork stores and villabate, a sicilian pastry shop like no other, plus various chinese and other places (the neighborhood has become a real melting pot)
Or take elevated F train ride out to coney island, eat a pizza lunch at totonno's, and then walk down boardwalk to brighton beach and head into brighton beach ave. check out the russian grocery stores and restaurants. Walk up to neptune if you can and visit Georgian Bread, a takeout shop that has great bread, khachapuri, and spreads.
For west indian, head out to liberty ave on the A train (I believe it's the ozone park/lefferts blvd stop,but someone correct me if I'm wrong) and walk down liberty ave, stopping in the trini/guyanese places to eat (I rec singh's roti house). Plus, I beleive there are some bangladeshi/Indian restaurants out there as well, as well as some Indian shopping (think there's a patel bros. an indian grocery store chain, out there)
edited to add: the elevated F train ride to coney island is nice--you'll experience the highest point in the whole subway system and get views of the statue of liberty and the harbor. the train goes up and then down and then up again.
309 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Court Pastry Shop
298 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano
1524 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224
265 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
7001 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11204
missmasala- as a resident of both LA and Brooklyn, I have to respectfully disagree about finding the Asian/Mexican less interesting to a NY visitor- the offerings are very different. That being said, you point out the wealth of choices in NY that exist in one neighborhood- as opposed to LA which is more spread out.
If you add in Sunset Park's Chinatown, you get access to Mexican, Italian and Chinese in a do-able vicinity.
You know, I was driving by tripoli the other day and musing about how i was surprised it was still open, because no one i know ever eats there. My first and only visit was over 20 years ago, and I don't remember it being that good, and then, for a while, it also had some fried chicken place in it? (does it still? I never understood that)
But this is only to ask, since you say it's your favorite, what you order there. What's good? I wouldn't mind trying it again, but would love some ordering tips.
A little history of Atlantic Ave: Tripoli was across Clinton St back in the 70's. The place was bombed because some radical group suspected another radical group of holding meetings there. A couple of people died. The current location was an upscale furniture store called Clinton House. Tripoli eventually moved into that location and has been there since then. I agree, it never seems busy. I don't know what that is about.
We like it because it is one of a few Syrian/Lebanese restaurants that serve "authentic" Syrian/Lebanese food and not Yemeni/Turkish/Egyptian/Israeil/Greek fare. You will be able to get Kibbe Nayeh (raw lamb with bulgur and spices) and stuffed grapeleaves with lamb and other authentic food which the other cuisines do not offer. The other places in Brooklyn that serve this type of food are in Bay Ridge: Tanoreen and Sally & Georges, both very good. In Manhattan I go to Al Bustan for my Syrian fix.
7523 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209
156 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Sally & George's Place
7809 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209
I think your building history use is slightly off. While I wasn't around in the '70s, the Clinton House was in a building across Clinton Street from where Tripoli is. Its the buillding that Two Trees bought and turned into an apartment building where Urban Outfitters has the retail space now. The only time we were in the Clinton House was to buy a rocking chair when my wife was pregnant. Been in Tripoli only 1/2 more times than that. The food at Tripoli is unremarkebable to my taste. Much better ME food in the area. I can't understand how they stay in business with how uncrowded the place is. I can only surmise they also own the building. The space is weird too. I recall there used to be awnings over the window that had the name from some seafood place. Strange carryover with that pirate ship motif.
My first recollection of Clinton House was from the late 50's. My parents bought their first dining room set there in 1958. As I recall it was in the current Tripoli building. I have a blurry memory of it being across the street at some point so you may be right. The bomb incident did take place in the early 70's.
I also wonder how Tripoli stays in business. The main reason we like it is that it is "Authentic" Syrian/Lebanese food just like my "jido" (Syrian Grandfather) made. He owned a Syrian grocery store on Atlantic a few stores from where Tripoli is now. It's a laundromat now. I can't seem to find any other authentic places in the area.
Some good suggestions here, but I'll add another. From the Roosevelt Ave./Jackson Heights subway stop, take the M or the R about 4-5 stops to 63rd Drive/Rego Park. On Queens Blvd., steps from the subway station, you'll find one of the last remaining KOSHER Jewish delis, Ben's Best. You can have breakfast, but you'll want to return for a hot pastrami sandwich for lunch. Be sure to get a half-sour pickle to go with it. There is some "foodie" shopping to be done along 63rd Drive, too. You could have the closest to a "real" NY water bagel at Rego Bagels. Or wander around Jumbo market for Asian specialties. There are also a couple of small Russian/Polish/Ukranian deli/markets along the Drive. For good Turkish/Middle Eastern, try Istanbul (on Queens Blvd.), or walk about 3/4 mile to the new Gyro Grill on Woddhaven Blvd (more Greek than Turkish). We just tried Gyro Grill about 2 weeks ago and it was VERY good. Very informal, mostly a take-out place, but the mousaka and spinach pies were among the best we've ever had.
Finally, if you want to go more upscale, you'll get a delicious seafood meal at London Lennies, also on Woodhaven Blvd.
Ben's Best Kosher Deli
96-40 Queens Blvd, Queens, NY 11374
95-36 Queens Blvd, Queens, NY 11374
63-88 Woodhaven Blvd, Queens, NY 11374
Jumbo Seafood Supermarket
93-17 63rd Dr, Queens, NY 11374
63-02 Woodhaven Blvd, Queens, NY 11374
95-08 Queens Blvd, Queens, NY 11374
This is GREAT, thanks everyone!!
I will head out to Roosevelt and check out some of the other places noted above.
I love the subway system in manhattan, but wasn't sure if it was as good outside of manhattan. I'm glad to hear that it is! :) this is such a great site/community - I'll be here more often!
"the problem is I have to rely on public transportation" made me laugh out loud - i gather by california you must mean LA (apologies but as a native san franciscan i am obligated to take jabs where they appear). The subway is of the greatest assets of NY and its reach to even the farthest corners of the city is almost as impressive as the 24 hour service.
As for where to go I'd strongly second paulomet's advice and suggest you choose to venture through queens, along roosevelt avenue, following the path of the 7 train (one of the very few trains which does not, at some point, run north-south through manhattan - you'll have to make your way to 42nd street and catch it from either times square, bryant park or grand central.
From about the 74th street stop (in queens) youre in solid eating territory all the way out to the end of the line in flushing. This covers (loosely) the neighborhoods of elmhurst (great southeast asian) jackson heights (lots of indian - some of it is pretty good, and its density is impressive if nothing else) out towards corona (excellent mexican - yes even by california standards) and finally flushing which ill readily admit is the area of nyc ive most meant to explore but have ventured into the least in my time here.
For my first birthday after moving to nyc we did something of a food crawl along roosevelt (without going all the way to flushing) and had some superlative thai, philipino sweets, indian snacks and righteous tacos before giving up for fear of imminent cardiac arrest.
using those neighborhood names you should be able to do some searches of this board to generate an idea of what you'll encounter, and people better versed in NYC's most delicious boro will probably be happy to answer your questions in this thread if you get specific.
I love Flushing and Elmhurst/Jackson Heights but I would suggest Williamsburg Brooklyn.
SO easy to get to from NYC, just take the "L" subway only ONE stop to Bedford ave.
So many different choices of food, plus a cool area to walk around lots of shops and galleries.
HAve a nice sitdown breakfast at Egg or Five leaves,then check out some shops, walk through Mccarren park, have a chicken biscuit at pies n thighs, some oysters at marlow and sons, a burger and bacon @ peter lugers. Stop in and tour Brooklyn Brewery and have a cold one.
Those are just some suggestions, there is so much more available, except good Indian food (in my opinion).
You can also take a water taxi back if you choose.
Best thing with the "L" subway is that you are literally a 5 minute subway ride back to Manhattan.
Go to freewilliamsburg dot com it is a great site listing all local restaurants, things to do, galleries, bars music etc.
hope it helps
Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Pies 'n' Thighs
166 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
135A N 5th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Peter Luger Steak House
178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211
18 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
While i dont doubt that the OP could have a very nice day wandering w'burg id say its not nearly as exciting of an itinerary, and one that shows more of the manhattan-ish side of brooklyn. sure, its closer, but where other than roosevelt are you going to find food from 20 different countries all on one (admittedly somewhat long) street?