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6 hour layover at JFK - any nearby food recommendations

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We have a six hour layover at JFK, transitioning from an international to domestic flight. Not ideal but the flights were booked by the company, not us. The layover hours are approximately 2:30 to 8:30 pm.

I am completely unfamiliar with the area but is it worth it to leave the airport and go someplace nearby in Queens for a few hours, grab a slice of good pizza or have a very early dinner at a good Chinese restaurant (is it possible to get to Flushings from the airport easily?).

Any suggestions is highly welcomed.

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  1. If you take a taxi, Flushing is only 15 minutes away north on the Van Wyck Expressway (678). If you took the LIE exit, you could get some of NYC's best xiaolongbao at Kung Fu Xiaolongbao on Main Street, right by the Long Island Expressway. Not everything is great here, but after repeated visits, I also think their house wine-marinated chicken is the best in NYC and their braised dong po pork. A little further inland, you could visit Lao Dong Bei, a northeastern Chinese restaurant that has a lot of reviews on the board.

    Alternately, you could take the 1 hour A train ride or 30 minute taxi ride to Rockaway Tacos on Rockaway Beach and then get some great, fresh Italian ice at DiCosmo's Italian Ice next door, a 100-year old concern. It's not overly sweet, and they only usually have four flavors, one of which is often avocado sorbet.

    1. This layover topic has been treated on numerous occasions in this column. If you do a search for layover in Outerboroughs you will find many listings for this.

      I would go to Flushing and have some wonderful Chinese food.

      1. I have flown into JFK more times than I care to recall on international flights. My timing I will give you is based on an average trip. You wont have as much time as you might think you do. Depending on the day, coming into JFK and going through immigration and customs can be a true pain. Does your flight land at 2:30? If so, I would allot at least one hour to get to immigration, collect the bags, go through customs and check the bags to your final destination. So 3:30 you're ready to go. It could be much longer. I've spent over an hour standing in the immigration line at times when many flights have come in at the same time. I think its unlikely you will make it from JFK to Flushing in 15 minutes in the middle of the day. I have sat in traffic on the Van Wyck going nowhere. Heck, if there's a long line for cabs, it could take you 15 minutes just to get in a cab. So my estimate is that you are in Flushing by 4-4:30 at best. You will have about 1 1/2 hours for a quick meal. You will need to be back at the airport by 7:30 for the 8:30 flight. Trying to get back to JFK by 7:30 means that you will hit some very heavy traffic. I would get into a cab no later than 6:00 but in Flushing, you won't be assured of seeing any cabs so you better call and reserve a car. So potentially time for a meal in Flushing, but be mindful of the time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bkeats

          Just an addendum, there are always car service/taxis in Flushing at the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt. Whether it be 3AM or 3PM, I would not fret about getting a car. Your other points are valid.

          An early dinner in Flushing is a quick affair since the restaurants are very quiet until 6ish, they would be able to be seated quickly and food comes out quickly.

          Roland if you like spicy food, I recommend you try Spicy Tasty. Nan Xiang has excellent small eats, Biang is very good, Fu Run has wonderful lamb, 101 Taiwanese has some really excellent Taiwanese dishes (when they don't run out of ingredients, they are not super consistent either) All these places are centrally located near the taxis. You can also pick up some bread and pastries from Iris Bakery for your flight

        2. Flushing worked out extremely well for me. With six hours, some people even go into Manhattan.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740703

          1. Since no one has come forward yet...go 5 minutes outside of JFK (on the AirTrain) to Howard Beach. Walk over for some well-done slices @ New Park Pizza. (Other posts on this - do search.)

            Quick and easy...and you'll have time for even more exploration if you so decide...like one more "A" Train stop away at Aqueduct/Resorts World casino. They have a highly-praised Chinese restaurant/dim sum place ("Genting Palace") that packs 'em in. Somewhat pricy, but time and money saved on cab rides factor in.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Mike R.

              I did go to Howard Beach once on a prior visit. The downside is that it's actually primarily a residential area and there's just a single block of businesses across the street from the station, so your choices are very limited.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                The area near the train station is referred to as Old Howard Beach. You are correct, mostly residential, maybe a few bars, chinese place.

                You would have to walk two blocks north and then over to Cross Bay Blvd a few blocks for Howard Beach proper and the commercial strip, probably less than 3/4 mile. There is plenty of stuff on Cross Bay. I would prefer to do this walk on a nice day versus venturing onto the Van Wyck or Belt Pkwy; but that is me, I don't like to take chances with air travel connections.

              2. re: Mike R.

                I would not willingly expose myself to traffic on the Van Wyck if there was any time pressure. It easily gets wall to wall, I think something more local or that can be reached by public transport (like Howard Beach suggestions of MR) would be my preference in this situation. In the past I have visited Trinidadian/Guyanese Roti restaurants in the area of Rockaway Ave which are fairly close to the airport, but I dont have any recent recommendations (Annie's, which we have enjoyed, seems to have closed) - maybe someone else can suggest if this is a viable or attractive alternative.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  If you drive on the service road next to the Van Wyck, traffic moves a lot faster.

              3. This is helpful for spots within the airport proper...

                http://ny.eater.com/archives/2013/05/...

                1. With just six hours j would just hang out at one of the lounges. Both Virgin and United Global have very nice clubs, eg complimentary food and drinks, spa treatments, etc.

                  1. Don Peppe's. Bring cash.

                    1. Thanks for all the recommendations. You've given me food for thought. We'll see what happens with the flight timings but it looks that at the least we should be able to go to Howard Beach for some pizza (which will make the teenagers happy). We live in Dubai where most of the pizza is mediocre and some NY style pizza might be what the doctor ordered, although the Chinese is still tempting.