Astoria, Best Of Astoria
May 27, 2016

Best of Astoria 2016 – Meg’s Picks

My Best of Astoria picks for 2016 include Chela y Garnacha, OK Cafe, Tufino, Natural Frontier, and Kurry Qulture.

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Well, here I am with my picks for Best of Astoria 2016 (see Lindsay’s and Emily’s picks, too). Some align with the finalists, and some are the same as those nominated by readers and didn’t make it to the finals.

Favorite Mexican: Chela y Garnacha

guacamole-chela-garnacha-astoria-queens

Photo credit: Chela y Garnacha

This is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Astoria. Sure, I like the El Rey del Taco trucks and the tacos at the La Cabana bodega (get the queso taco, it’s so good), but apart from that, Chela is my top choice. The food and drinks are always tasty (my go-to order is a classic Margarita with salt, an order of guac, and a fish taco with crispy cheese), the service is kind and attentive, yet not obtrusive. It’s got a nice chill atmosphere, too, and is a great stop post-movies at MOMI or Kaufman. It’s a total winner in my book.

Chela y Garnacha (33-09 36th Avenue, 917-832-6876)
chela-garnacha.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Favorite Cafe: OK Cafe

exterior-ok-cafe-astoria-queens

I’m a huge fan of OK Cafe—I love its petite space, the owners are really nice people, the staff is friendly, they truly understand the value of organic dairy options, the coffee is strong, and their selection of specialty drinks is my favorite in town. Whether it’s the turmeric latte I drank over the winter, the iced red tea latte I like to drink in the summer, or a simple cappuccino, I know I can get something really tasty there. I also like their baked goods selection, especially the peanut butter cookie with the chocolate kiss in the middle.

OK Cafe (22-04 33rd Street, 718-440-8789)
okcafeastoria.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Favorite Pizzeria: Tufino

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The El Greco pizza at Tufino

Tufino wasn’t on the finalist list, but as the kids say these days, it’s totally my jam. Their pizzas are cooked the way I like them, and the crusts—something I don’t care for much at most pizzerias—are something I look forward to eating. I will often order the “special salad” even though it’s not on the menu anymore, and they’ll accommodate that order. Eating it always makes me smile—you can’t go wrong with a combo of fresh greens, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and pesto. Their fried items are also delicious—try the aracini. And then there’s the meatballs. I could go on. If you haven’t been by, check it out.

Tufino Pizzeria (36-08 Ditmars Blvd, 718-278-4800)
tufinopizzeria.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Favorite Natural Foods Store: Natural Frontier

natural-frontier-market-ditmars-astoria

Photo credit: Yelp

For a while this natural food store on Ditmars didn’t thrill me, but one day this past year I walked in and was blown away by the selection—so much good stuff in there, fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable. They also carry things I have a hard time finding in Astoria, like coconut aminos and Maple Hill Creamery yogurt (which I use to make yogurt cheese at home). Compared to some other places, Natural Frontier might be small but they pack a mighty punch. Check it out—Ditmartians especially.

Natural Frontier Market (31-28 Ditmars Blvd)
naturalfrontiermarket.net | Facebook

Favorite New Arrival: Kurry Qulture

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Yeah, this one wasn’t a finalist, either but it should have been. I’ve been by a few times now and during each visit I’ve been blown away by the sheer deliciousness of the food and cocktails, not to mention the quality of service by the waitstaff. Their spring menu has been in place for a few months now and I am curious to see if they change for the summer, too. If so, I can expect to be excited. My favorite dish right now is the chicken korma. And not to be missed, the crispy okra is a miracle—totally not what I was expecting and I was utterly delighted when it arrived at my table. Who knew a vegetable with such a slimy reputation could be transformed into something light and crunchy? It’s magic.

Kurry Qulture (36-05 30th Avenue, 718-674-1212)
kurryqulture.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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