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Mar 8, 2012 07:10 AM

Astoria Recs 2012

I can't seem to find a current thread on this topic. I'm curious about what's good on Steinway, as I'll be within walking distance. TIA

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  1. This post of mine is still pretty accurate:

    I'll add that I've tried the "another Moroccan sandwich place" I mentioned (it's simply named the Halal Sandwich Shop) and will say it's quite good. Stays open late, and does a bustling "nuit" time business.

    XOXO has sadly closed, but looks to be replaced by something similarly windowless, and hopefully just as depressing. The Afghan place is gone too. At least some people know how to cut their loses and pull out when it comes to Afghanistan.

    I've now tried La Shish, the shawarma stand/market that displays large turning wheels of shawarma in its window that, for me, glow brighter than any neon. At first glance it seems to be a cleaner version of Cedar Meat House over on 30th ave, but I found the lettuce and tomatoes to look like they sat out for 40 days and 40 nights. I think Cedar Meat House's food is better quality. When it comes to who has a gruffer pita stuffer, it's a wash.

    Finally tried Laziza for sweets. Some of the best baklava out there, period.

    There's some intersting things happening around 30th ave and Steinway these days. I had brunch at Queens Comfort last weekend, just as they were about to celebrate their 1 year anniversary. My friend and I were both pleasantly surprised. The place was doing a brisk business, and strongly encouraged BYOB. I really liked the breakfast burger. Lots of downmarket good ideas, like a tasty fried chicken breast sandwiched in eggos and covered with spicy syrup. Close enough to Steinway where I'm going to mention it is Sugerfreak, which is easily one of the best New Orelans style restaurants I've eaten at outside of NOLA. Their Muffalata embarrasses some of those they try to pass off in the city. Also, right there on 30th Ave and Steinway there's a place, I don't know the name, that has some fun looking Drag Queen Brunch. If you are a guy who wears Afflication shirts and like to watch UFC, you could stop into Canz, which is New York's (Jersey's?) answer to Hooters. Actually, the bar food isn't that bad, for the type of place. I'm pretty sure some of the girls who work there and the drag queens a few doors down get their make up done by the same people.

    Down closer to Broadway, I can't think of too many changes. There's a Mama Empanada's now, south of Broadway. Based off their branch locations, they must double as Colombian consulates. There's Queen's Kickshaw right there on Broadway now too, which does high end grilled cheese and coffee for Astoria's hipsters which seem to have finally reached critical mass (and they are critical, aren't they?). Kickshaw gets mentioned in every NY Mag NYC round up as something token for Queens, but I wouldn't personally go out of my way for it. It would be a nice spot to read the paper on a Saturday, but the concept seems a bit all over the place for me, and it's a little overpriced for the neighborhood.

    If you are looking for something more specific, let us know.

    Laziza of New York Pastry Shop
    25-78 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

    Cedars Meat House
    41-08 30th Ave, Queens, NY 11103

    Halal Sandwich Shop
    2561 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

    40-11 30th Ave, Queens, NY 11103

    Queens Comfort
    40-09 30th Ave, Queens, NY 11103

    Queens Kickshaw
    40-17 Broadway, Queens, NY 11103

    Sugar Freak
    36-18 30th Ave, Queens, NY 11106

    La Shish
    28-28 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

    Mama's Empanadas
    32-41 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

    15 Replies
    1. re: Mr Porkchop

      Mr. Porkchop, tyvm!! I'm going to be working my way through this list, and your thread.

      1. re: CookieLee

        No prob. And I had every intention, but forget to mention, that Tu Casa on Steinway just South of 30th ave has some great Peruvian/Latin food. It was being discussed here in another thread a few days ago.

        There's also the more casual, take out oriented Latin Cabana on Steinway that does Cuban/Dominican food down towards Queens Blvd.

        Speaking of "latin," there's that ginormous Mi Candela place that opened up across from the Starbucks. It has the lighting of a lingerie shop, but I think advertizes itself as serving Puerto rican food. Anyone dared to go in? Along with that Don Coqui place under the NQ tracks, seems like Astoria is becoming a mecca for garish Puerto Rican restaurants all of a sudden.

        Latin Cabana
        34-44 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11101

        Tu Casa
        30-10 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

        Mi Candela
        31-31 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

        Don Coqui
        28-18 31st St, Queens, NY 11102

      2. re: Mr Porkchop

        The drag brunch place is Mix Cafe, which got shut down by the health dept. in February. Not sure why - think it was more about the cabaret permit than health code stuff, but last time I walked past it about a week ago they hadn't reopened yet.

        1. re: ratgirlagogo

          ....Aaannnnddd as of today it looks like the shutdown is permanent. Signs posted on the windows that it's going to be the new home of La Bottega, an Italian deli. My guess is they won't be featuring a drag brunch anytime soon. Too bad.

          1. re: ratgirlagogo

            Not far from there is Sorriso's, which is a real deal, incredible Italian deli, with great products and friendly staff. Too bad the old Mix space won't be something more interesting (I have a continual dream of an Ethiopian restaurant coming to Queens, or even quality Chinese). We'll see, though.

            1. re: megc

              Yes, I did think of that too - Sorriso's is the best. I rarely go anywhere else for my Italian stuff. The former Mix space has had several failed restaurants there anyway (the Columbian one, the neo-French one) so I guess I have to just wish these new folks good luck. And yes, it would really be awesome to get an Ethiopian restaurant around here.

              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                Gah, I realize I mistakenly wrote "Queens" instead of "Astoria" in my last post. Of COURSE there is quality Chinese food in Queens! But not Astoria. D'oh. I really can't understand why no one has opened up a high quality authentic Chinese spot in Astoria. It would make money hand over fist.

                1. re: megc

                  Totally agree. It's not always practical to go to Flushing. It would be great to have quality Chinese restaurants throughout Queens. Particularly Astoria/LIC which is just totally devoid.

        2. re: Mr Porkchop

          Queens Kickshaw makes excellent coffee - don't be frightened off by the threat of hipsters (which I disagree have reached critical mass in Astoria), and give them a try. The tomato soup there is also very good!

          1. re: megc

            I've been to Kickshaw a couple of times now, and last time I went we asked if it was possible to get some coffee to go and were promptly ignored for a good 5-10 minutes before just walking out. If that place isn't tres gentrifique I don't know what is. I took a friend there from my Portland, Oregon days and even he thought they were trying a bit too hard, which is saying something. I'm not sure the 'tude is worth it for an overpriced, if slightly above average, grilled cheese, but the steady crowd suggests it definitely has a clientele.

            1. re: Mr Porkchop

              I've probably been there a dozen times - at all hours of the day - and my experiences couldn't be more different. When I've been there, service has always been fine to good, and I've never encountered any kind of smarmy attitudes. The owners are down to earth folks, and I think they'd be surprised to hear about your experience; in fact, they'd probably want to know, so they could fix whatever might be the problem.

              I won't argue that places like that may be a result of gentrification but I believe "gentrification" isn't really be a truly appropriate word for a place like Astoria. For a long time, it's been a kind of middle class immigrant neighborhood (many years ago it was a center for the wealthy in their vacation homes - see the remaining large homes in Old Astoria Village), so it's hasn't needed to really get a leg up like other, more run down and lower income neighborhoods were. I'm not really sure what the appropriate word is, but that's fodder for another (interesting) discussion.

              I will, however, express my disdain for Queens Comfort. I have been there a couple of times - first time was great (we were a private party, though), but the second time it was meh, enough to dissuade me from returning. I am completely uninterested in the gimmicky elements of their menu in their dabbling in the inclusion of sugary cereals as coatings, and over the top desserts using cake instead of bread for bread pudding (I'm more of a purist here, I'll admit), and I've just heard so many bad things about people's experiences there, especially from the attitude of the staff. I love comfort food but not their take on it. It's just not sympathetic to my sensibilities.

              1. re: megc

                I have never been to Queens Comfort and it is because so many people share negative experiences they have had there. It is a bummer because it seems like a place everyone wants to like. Who doesn't like comfort food??? I am wondering if there are any places in Western Queens that offer a similar but better alternative.

                1. re: megc

                  Absolutely cannot stand the food at Queens Comfort. LOVE the concept, love the people ( warm service/staff) but I cannot get behind frozen waffles and frozen tater tots and prefab everything. It's not comfort food, it's processed junk food. My idea of comfort food is homemade food. Not necessarily healthy food, but food made from scratch.

                  Processed crap from the freezer section of the supermarket is college stoner food, not comfort food.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    In my experience, the food at QC has tasted pretty good, which is the important thing to me - some of it having pre-fab elements, some it not. I can't speak to folk's "sensibilities" and, on a related point, will amusedly hold my breath from further comment on the gentrification issue.

                    1. re: Mr Porkchop

                      I think it's all what you're raised with. If you've never had eggo waffles as a child they have no nostalgic value and they don't taste nearly as good, or in my case, don't taste good at all compared to a fresh waffle.

          2. I was hoping to ask this same question and am happy to see this thread. This Saturday I will be going to Museum of the Moving Image with my niece's family, including her 7 and 9 year old boys. Any ideas for an early dinner that might be fun for the kids?
            I was thinking of ending with dessert at Eddie's Sweet Shop in Forest Hills. Any other ideas?
            Thanks to all.

            6 Replies
            1. re: twochesters

              Arepas Cafe for wonderful Venezuelan areapas, on nearby 36th Ave. It's casual enough for kids and has a nice array of choices.

              Arepas Cafe
              33-07 36th Ave, Queens, NY 11106

              1. re: queenseats

                are all of the arepas spicy there? Will they make any shrimp ones that are different than the one on the menu for some dietary restrictions?

                1. re: janie

                  Most of the arepas are not spicy, in fact. And I'm sure they would accomodate dietary restrictions, they are very friendly and helpful there.

                  1. re: queenseats

                    thanks..great to know..I've had them on my list to try for a long time..and I'm in Astoria once a week these days....

              2. re: twochesters

                I just don't get the appeal of eddie's..the place has such a bad odor to it, and it's so grungy looking--and I didn't find the ice cream good at all.......and they are expensive, too.

                Eddie's Sweet Shop
                105-29 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                1. re: janie

                  There is a wonderful new ice cream shop in LIC on Jackson Ave called Malu (the name is a portmanteau of their kids' names) that serves delicious ice cream. Flavors change daily, too, but everything is so good you'll no doubt find something you love. The texture of the ice cream is so creamy - fantastic mouth feel and wonderful flavor. My latest favorite is an orange chocolate hazelnut.

              3. Thank you, queenseats Sounds good --to I will suggest it.

                1. Just tried hinomaru ramen on ditmars and 35th, not bad, not as good as ippudo but they have a vegetarian friendly ramen too. $10 for a bowl with kaedama if you want! The cooks are Japanese, and very friendly. the noodles are chewy, the pork needs a bit of work, it was dry but overall, it's a welcome spot to the neighborhood!!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: splatooey

                    Tried HInomaru Ramen a couple of times now. Definitely a good addition! I've gone with a group and I was surprised that the noodles themselves are different - not just the broth or toppings. I found that very unusual because even in Japan, the noodles are typically the same style. The chicken karaage was very good too.

                  2. Just giving my thread a bump. Anything new we should add to the list? I'm hoping to get to Sugar Freak this trip. I do have the article from the Times, 36 Hours in Queens. We're going to check out some of those places, particularly the Egyptian restaurants.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: CookieLee

                      Well Ali's Kebab Cafe is the usual foodies' choice for the Egyptian food stop. Not universally lauded but I maintain he's pretty great & worth a stop at least once for his personality & eccentric set up on Steinway St. Lots of old posts here going way back on him.

                      1. re: Huck

                        Thanks for the rec. Didn't make it there this trip. We had two great brunches at Queen's Kickshaw. The coffee was very good, I think the best I've ever had in the US.