As you may know, I’ve been spending a lot of time traveling all around Queens researching (read: eating) food and food culture in Queens, in support of my upcoming book Food Lovers’ Guide to Queens. And while I eat meals far away from western Queens, there are some things that I think about and go, “man, I could really go for that.” So, here are a few of the things I crave these days from our part of Queens.
Chicken Salteñas from Mi Bolivia. This is actually located in Sunnyside, and is a small, modest, neatly outfitted restaurant focusing on the food of Bolivia. Salteñas are a kind of empanada with a loose, stew-like filling inside a slightly sweet dough – imagine sweet, salty, and savory all at once. And OMG so delicious. I am excited about going back to eat one (or three). Mi Bolivia, 44-10 48th Avenue, Sunnyside; 718.784.5111
Cholados at Pecas Y Mas. Another Sunnyside spot, this is a Colombian restaurant that makes one of my favorite cholados in Queens. A cholado is made of shaved ice, with raspberry and passion fruit syrups, fresh fruit like strawberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple, sweetened condensed milk, and a sprinkling of coconut. When it’s hot outside, everything melts really fast resulting in a sweet, tangy, fruity, and milky mix. It’s so good! Pecas Y Mas, 44-20 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside; 718.389.4443
Hummus at Duzan. I’m somewhat frustrated that my beloved Sabra hummus uses some refined canola oil as opposed to all olive oil in their hummus, but I do find myself still drawn to it because the texture is unreal – velvety smooth. I’d never found a hummus that smooth until I ate the hummus from Duzan, a fabulous Middle Eastern restaurant over on Steinway Street. They make a number of hummus-oriented dishes, and my personal fave is the Hummus Jerusalem, topped with warm fava beans. I have them add some chile flakes to the favas as they heat them up to make it a little spicy. If you like hummus, and you haven’t been to Duzan, you must rectify this immediately. Their pita is out of this world tasty, too. Duzan, 2411 Steinway Street, Astoria; 718.204.7488
Niku Man at Hinomaru Ramen. Hooboy, this thing haunts my mind. I really want them to offer this as a breakfast sandwich, since it’s just so darn tasty (but they’re not open for breakfast, so it’s kind of a moot point). And big. It’s one of my favorite sandwiches in Astoria – pork, sweet hoisin sauce, scallions, lettuce, all on a soft rice bun. A superb combination. NOM. Hinomaru Ramen, 33-18 Ditmars Boulevard; Astoria; 718.777.0228
Grilled Octopus at Taverna Kyclades. I must admit, I was a little scared of the octopus when we ordered it, thinking it would be rubbery and weird. The reality couldn’t be further from my imagination – it’s meaty, light, and tastes of the sea in all the right ways – absolutely delicious. I find my mind goes back to that dish regularly, it was that good. I can’t wait to eat it again. Taverna Kyclades, 33-07 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria; 718.545.8666