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Best Restaurants in Queens, NY

by I Wang


The following restaurants are some of my favorite best-kept secrets in Queens. I have arranged them in order of the subway stops for your traveling convenience. Enjoy!


108-26 Ascan Ave. (bet. Austin & Burns Sts.), Queens
(Subway stop: E/F/G/R/V @ 71st / Continental Avenue)

At Nick’s Pizza, owner Nick Angeles serves perfectly charred thin crusts embedded with fragrant tomato sauce and sliced mozzarella so fresh and creamy, that you can literally smell the grass and hear the cows mooing. Start with a tasty Mixed Greens Salad ($5), then move onto their memorable Meatballs Pizza. With its reasonable price (Small $11, Large $13, Toppings $2 each) and a wine listing that suppresses the usual pizza parlor red and white, there is no need to travel out of the country for a superb slice of pizza. Leave room for the awesome Cannoli ($4.50), it will melt in your mouth with the slightest touch of your tongue.


Eddie’s Sweetshop
105-29 Metropolitan Ave. (72nd Road), Queens
(Subway stop: E/F/G/R/V @ 71st / Continental Avenue)

This old-fashioned ice cream parlor will send you back in time with its original décor and scrumptious homemade treats. Huge Sundaes topped with fresh whipped cream, thick malteds and creamy shakes are only the tip of their fabulous iceberg. Don’t miss the special Peach flavor (only available during summer). Watch out for sugar-high screaming kids and their too-busy-slurping grandparents.


Chao Thai
85-03 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, Queens
(Subway stop: G, R, V @ Elmhurst Ave.)

In my opinion, this little Elmhurst gem deserves to be the second runner up for best Thai food in Queens (first being Sripraphai, see below). Nothing at this place is bland or timid like most of the Thai restaurants in Manhattan, instead, everything on the menu comes with the perfect balance of zen and passionate. Try Fried Spring Roll ($4.00) as a starter - you will be pleasantly surprised by their crisp yet velvety texture. Miss the Som Tum (shredded green papaya mixed with long bean, tomato, roasted peanut & dried shrimp) ($6.50), and you’ll never know how fish sauce can arouse so many buried feelings inside you. For an entrée, have the intensely aromatic Crispy Pork w. Chinese Broccoli ($7.50) or go for the Massaman Curry ($6.00-$8.00) to satisfy your craving for a long delayed exotic vacation. Unfortunately like a lot of small restaurants, their food suffers from a certain amount of inconsistency.


Pho Bang Restaurant
82-90 Broadway, Elmhurst, Queens
(Subway stop: G, R, V @ Elmhurst Ave.)

Cheap and fresh Vietnamese fare is the specialty at this popular neighborhood joint. The street the restaurant occupies on is forever permeated with the sweet aroma of beef stock and fresh cilantros. Waiters wheel out steaming bowls of Pho (beef rice noodle soup) ($4.35-$5.25) from the bustling kitchen in unbelievably fast speed. The Crispy Spring Rolls and Grilled Pork Chops are guaranteed crowd pleasers. Order their coconuty “Three Colors Sweet Beans” ($1.75) for dessert or sip at the intense “Espresso Special Filter Coffee” ($1.50) - a kind of Vietnamese version of French coffee. Close your eyes and you will be instantly transported to Hanoi.


Mama’s Empanadas
91-20 59th Avenue (outside Queens Center Mall)
(Subway stop: G, R, V @ Grand Ave./ Newtown)

A super cheap, hole-in-the-wall little dive which serves deliciously authentic corn patties and tamales. With its close proximity to Queens Center Mall, the place is always crowded with diners with shopping bags, standing around (there is no place to sit) and happily chowing down snacks. Their food is so tasty that you will never want to go back to eating the generic mall food while shopping.


East Buffet & Restaurant
42-07 Main Street, Flushing, Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ Flushing/ Main-St.)

Upon ascending the grand spiraling staircase to the second floor, you will be faced with two palatable choices (to begin with) - on the left side is the best all-you-can-eat Buffet (price range from $25.99 to $28.99) in NYC, and on the right side is a giant dim-sum hall swaying with delectable aroma. With its impressive array of fresh Chinese food (Alaskan king crab legs, Peking ducks, prime ribs, sautéed prawns, etc.), Japanese food (sashimi, sushi, grilled fish, udon noodle soup), and desserts (assorted cakes, Chinese pastries, ice cream), the buffet side makes the ideal destination for gourmands with hearty appetites. Visit another day for its dim-sum side and treat yourself to something you’ve never tried before, the endless selections will instantly overwhelm and enchant you. Check their website before you go for seasonal coupons/ special offers.


Queens Mall Food Court
133-31 39th Ave. (Prince St.), Flushing, Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ Flushing/ Main-St.)

Don’t be intimidated by the Chinese signs and the overwhelmingly Asian crowd, the food court at the Queens Mall has one of the most authentic, regional Chinese food there is in NYC. Try a little bit of everything as you stroll through the food stands. It is an absolute treasure hunt for me every time I venture to this food court.


Gum Fung Restaurant
136-28 39th Ave., Flushing, Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ Flushing/ Main-St.)

To have dim sum is to appreciate the art of sharing and nibbling. As one of the best places for it, Gum Fung is cheerily crowded with generations of families and smaller groups and couples. When in doubt, trust the ladies pushing carts, they’ve been around long enough to know what’s not-to-miss and what’s risky. Leave room for desserts.


Imperial Palace
136-13 37 Ave., Flushing, Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ Flushing/ Main-St.)

Look no further for authentic Cantonese food, Imperial Palace serves luscious casseroles and seafood dishes. Feast on their seafood tofu casserole, mayo shrimp, and Dungeness crab with sticky rice. You will never want to have that mushy brown mess they call Chinese take-out again.


Tai Pan Bakery
37-25 Main Street, Flushing, Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ Flushing/ Main-St.)

Among the countless Chinese bakeries in Flushing, Tai Pan Bakery offers the freshest goodies and the most consistent service (though still on the hustle-and-bustle side). Enjoy and take full advantage of its big selections of savory or sweet buns (all under $2.00). Try whatever strikes your fancy that day and savor your treats with a cup of milk tea like the natives would. Leave room for their creamy egg tarts which are the absolute staple of Hong Kong pastry.


Ten Ren Tea
135-18 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ Flushing/ Main-St.)

With its knowledgeable and friendly staff, Ten Ren Tea is one of the best places to get high quality loose-leaf Chinese tea (check their website for all locations). While waiting for your purchase to be wrapped, sample their delectable bubble tea (tea with milk and small tapioca balls) - a super popular drink in Asia. I know the concept sounds weird to most Americans, but most converts swear on its goodness after just one try. I myself am in desperate need of joining a bubble tea anonymous group.


Taverna Kyclades
33-07 Ditmars Blvd. (bet. 33rd & 35th Sts), Astoria, Queens
(Subway stop: N, W @ Ditmars Blvd./ Astoria)

If you get bored on the north bound of N or W train, try striking up a conversation about the best Greek restaurant in New York’s little Greek - Astoria, and you’ll sure to be entertained by vivid debates with the name “Tavern Kyclades” being mentioned ceaselessly. At this connoisseurs’ favorite, fresh seafood is prepared in the simplest, most direct fashion - just like a true Mediterranean restaurant would do. Use the olive oil-drizzled crusty bread to scoop up smooth and deeply flavored Cold Antipasto (skordalia, tzatziki, taramosalata) ($9.95), then venture into the melt-in-your-mouth Grilled Octopus ($10.95). Get the best nature can offer by biting into a bowl of refreshing Peasant Salad (cucumbers, kalamata olives, red onions, tomatoes, and feta) ($7.00), and you’ll never want to pay for that limp Greek salad at your corner diner again. Stuffed Shrimp with Crabmeat ($17.95) and Grilled Swordfish ($19.50) are as good as seafood can get. Don’t miss out on the famed Roasted Lemon Potatoes ($4.75), its tanginess can send you shivering with delight. For the health conscious, try Horti (steamed dandelions) ($4.80) and enjoy its color green-like texture and lemony flavor. Expect long waits (they don’t take reservations) and sometimes absent-minded service. With everything under $10, Lunch Specials are great bargains and a good way to beat the crowd. Don’t forget to say hi to the owner/manager on your way out, he is warm and always eager to please.


34-21 34th Ave. (35th St.), Astoria, Queens
(Subway stop: N, W @ Ditmars Blvd./ Astoria)

This is another one of the “must-eat” Greek restaurant in Astoria. Start with the smooth carp roe mousse “Taramasi”, then move on to the expertly grilled quails and tiny fried fish. Don’t forget to try the “Kaltsounia” (cheese dumplings), its deep flavor will make you hunger for more.


Victory Sweet Shop
21-69 Steinway St., Astoria, Queens
(Subway stop: N, W @ Ditmars Blvd./ Astoria)

Follow the heavenly aroma of fresh baking and you will be sure to find this Astoria’s favorite bakery. Buy some of their famous baklava or try the tsoureki - a sweet bread with almonds on top. You will be blown away by the supreme qualities of the goods.


Trattoria L’incontro
21-76 31th St. (Ditmars Blvd.), Queens
(Subway stop: N, W @ Ditmars Blvd./ Astoria)

As one of the top Italian restaurants in NYC, Trattoria L’incontro has the charm of an old-school join and the popularity of a trendy eatery. Try their nightly ravioli special and do not miss out on the melting, sultry osso bucco entrée. Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw the dish came with a marrow fork for thorough digging. What else can a foodie ask for more? Expect Tony Soprano and his posse to show up any minute.


Jackson Diner
37-47 74th St. (bet. Roosevelt Ave. & 37th Rd.), Queens
(Subway stop: E, F, G, R, V, 7 @ Jackson Hgts/ Roosevelt Avenue)

No longer a well kept secret in NYC, Jackson Diner serves authentic, finger-licking Indian fair that have made Manhattan snobs willing to hop on the train and trek out to Queens. Try the huge, incredibly fresh “Masala Dosa” ($7.95) (crepe filled with potatoes, peas, and nuts mixture), then move on to “Chicken Tikka” ($10.95), or “Sag Paneer” ($9.95) if you are vegetarian. Soak up the leftover savory, dense sauce with chewy pieces of “Onion Kulcha” ($3.50), and tame down the fire on your taste buds with an ice cold glass of “Mango Lassi” ($3.50). The most popular and best bargain here is the dirt-cheap lunch buffet ($8.95) - if you don’t mind rushed service and noisy crowds.


Shaheen Sweets & Cuisine
7209 Broadway, Jackson Heights, Queens
(Subway stop: E, F, G, R, V, 7 @ Jackson Hgts/ Roosevelt Avenue)

Come for their famous Indian sweets and pastries, all hand made and visually stunning. For the conservative, try Baju pista ( a type of pistachio and cashew sweet) and white fudge. For the adventurous, go for the Rasmalai (a kind of farmer cheese served in sweet milk) and Galub jamun (pastry balls soaked in sugar syrup). Box these tasty babes to take home or make them into thoughtful gifts.


Pio Pio
84-13 Northern Blvd., Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ 82 St.)

Rolls of succulent Peruvian chicken turn round and round in a huge oven at this cheery Jackson Heights favorite. Order the “Matador Combo” ($26) if it is your first time there, the huge plates of chicken pio, rice and beans, avocado salad, salchipapas (French fries and sausage), and tostones (friend plantains) will be more than enough for 2-4 peoples. Second time around, stick to the “Whole Chicken Pio” ($8) with “Saffron Rice” ($3) and “Red Beans” ($3). When in Pio Pio, do what everybody does - order the sangria. The place is popular with its cheap prices, joyous, kid’s friendly ambience, and flavorful chicken.


Sammy’s Halal Food Cart
73rd Street & Broadway
(Subway stop: E, F, G, R, V, 7 @ Jackson Hgts/ Roosevelt Avenue)

Queens is all about street food, and as the winner of the 2006 Vendy Awards, Sammy’s Halal Food Cart lives up to its shiny trophy with a devoted line every night. For mere $5, you get a full Styrofoam box of tasty basmati rice with savory lamb (or chicken) kebabs. It is time to rethink that boring Subway sandwich you have for dinner everyday.


64-13 39th Ave. (bet. 64th & 65th Sts.), Queens
(Subway stop: 7 @ 61th St./ Woodside)

Rated #1 Thai restaurant in NYC by Zagat 2007, this Woodside treasure shines like the true gem it deserved to be named. Everything on the menu has the quality of a top notch restaurant but with the price of a neighborhood mom and pop operation. For the authenticity seekers, don’t miss the “Fried Soft Shell Crab with shredded green mango sauce” ($13) or the “Papaya salad with crispy cat fish meat” ($9.50). The briny, sweet, hot and tangy sauce crowns these appetizers with a glowing hallo and will add spirituality to your dinning experience. A crowd pleasing entree is “Sautéed drunken noodles with choice of meat, chili & basil sauce”. In this dish, broad ho-fen (rice noodles) provides an exciting alternative to the usual Pad Thai. “Panang curry with shrimp”, with its robustly fragrant sauce, deserves a medal of its own. As for the seasoned gourmands, try “Tom-Zap/ Beef’s offal soup” to satisfy your not-so-light-hearted cravings. Don’t forget to order their out-of-this-world coconut rice ($1.50) as a side dish. For dessert, forget the usual ice cream and pick something from the see-through cooler by the register, or simply have the velvety, sweet Thai ice tea to cool down your fiery taste buds. When weather is nice, ask to be seated at the backyard under romantic paper umbrellas, and watch the neighbor cat doing summersaults on top of the fence which separates the restaurant from the residential apartment buildings. Food of such passion prepared exquisitely is definitely worth the trip to “the nation of Queens“, as the borough is sarcastically referred to by Manhattan patrons.



I Wang is a New York based writer who will go anywhere there’s good food. She chronicles her epicurean adventures on her blog http://ggadventures.blogspot.com/ and can be reached at missywang6@yahoo.com


Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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