As Queens starts to replace Brooklyn as the go-to for affordable housing in New York City, restaurateurs are finding the borough more amenable than Brooklyn as well. Long known for its cheap ethnic eats, Queens has a burgeoning restaurant scene complete with Michelin-starred establishments. From old school Italian mainstays to trendy ramen shops, Queens has some of the most sought-after restaurants in the city. Here are some of the best Queens has to offer:
33-07 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria is known as a hub for Greek food in New York City due to the large Greek population in the neighborhood. Located in the heart of the neighborhood on Ditmars Boulevard, Taverna Kyclades is famous for its seafood. They established an East Village outpost in 2013 due to the overwhelming popularity of their authentic Greek cuisine, but the original spot provides a more casual dining experience. The staff is dressed in blue and white in homage to the Greek flag, and a taxidermy swordfish decorates the dining room. The grilled octopus appetizer and the seafood platter are among the most ordered menu items.
13558 Lefferts Blvd
Opened in 1968, Don Peppe’s serves old-school Italian food and hospitality in Ozone Park. The only menu in the place is on the wall, among oil paintings that have probably adorned the walls since the restaurant’s opening. When you stop by this family-oriented eatery, make sure to get the famous baked clams in white sauce – and if you’re going on a weekend, make sure to get there early to avoid a long wait.
77-02AA Roosevelt Ave (at 77th Street)
Maria Cano, known to Queens residents as the Arepa Lady, gained a huge following for her food truck before she opened her brick-and-mortar store last year. While she continues to run her cart on Friday and Saturday nights in the warmer months, the restaurant has an expanded list of toppings to choose from. Cano’s sons help run the restaurant, which offers dine-in and take-out options.
41-10 Main St
The owners of cult favorite Xi’an Famous Foods opened this small plates restaurant for those who wanted to experience their cuisine in a sit-down atmosphere. Named for the reverberating sound emitted when a noodle maker slaps dough across a table, Biang! focuses on hand-pulled noodles. Their signature dish is the liáng pí (cold, chewy wheat ribbons with seitan, cucumber, sprouts and a chili dressing), but anything you get is sure to be delicious.
31-29 Ditmars Boulevard
Greek-American chef and star of BBC America’s No Kitchen Required Michael Psilakis opened this Astoria offshoot of his popular restaurant in Nassau and Westchester Counties. Weekend brunch features sweet and savory items like ricotta pancakes with caramelized apple, almonds, raisins and zabaglione sauce. Signature entrees for dinner include grilled branzino and lamb shanks. The Greek paella is a must-try as well.
21-50 44 Dr
Long Island City
The chefs who brough Il Mulino to the West Village opened this Italian restaurant last year. Bringing a much-needed high-end dining experience to the newly developed Court Square area in Long Island City, Il Falco serves classic pastas and risottos alongside traditional seafood, meat and antipasti. The complimentary bruschetta and fried zucchini served before the meal ensures no one will leave the restaurant hungry. Seafood enthusiasts should try the bronzino cooked in sea salt, and meat lovers will be happy with any of the veal dishes.
The Queens Kickshaw
The Queens Kickshaw serves specialty coffee, fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, scratch cooking, craft ales, and cider. The restaurant is helmed by husband-and-wife team Ben Sandler and Jennifer Lim, and Chef Kenji Hurlburt of Gotham Bar & Grill runs the kitchen. Known for their fancy grilled cheese choices, including a breakfast version with a soft egg, ricotta, gryuère, and maple hot sauce, TQK is the perfect spot for weekend brunch or an afternoon snack.
6413 39th Ave
Ask any Queens local where you can find the best Thai food in the city, and they’ll surely recommend Sripraphai. After renovating their space in 2011, adding more seating and a garden area, Sripraphai is finally able to accommodate the crowds who flock to Woodside for some authentic Thai. The drunken noodles, topped with ground pork, will satisfy a craving for spicy food, and the crispy catfish salad is not to be missed.
Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen
10402 Metropolitan Ave
After managing some of Manhattan’s premier restaurants, chef Danny Brown decided to open a basic wine and tapas bar in Forest Hills, noting there was nothing like it in the neighborhood. As his customers’ palates developed, he got more adventurous with the menu, incorporating a blend of classic French-bistro and Italian trattoria-style cooking. Now boasting a Michelin star, Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen is a popular spot in the otherwise sleepy Forest Hills neighborhood. The prix fixe option on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings is the best way to get a taste of what the restaurant has to offer, but the Serrano ham croquettes are highly recommended if you’re only looking for one course.
12-09 Jackson Ave
Long Island City
Joshua and Heidy Smookler started out with a pop-up shop out of Bricktown Bagels, and opened their brick-and-mortar restaurant after a rave review in the New York Times sent a deluge of ramen-lovers they couldn’t accommodate in the bagel shop. Their menu changes daily with creative takes on ramen (sometimes including truffles), but the oxtail and bone marrow-based dish ($18) remains a constant favorite.
46-63 Metropolitan Ave
Chef Jimmy Tu, who trained at Eleven Madison Park, is now serving up street-style Vietnamese food at Bunker in the formerly industrial neighborhood of Ridgewood. The restaurant’s name is a pun on bún, the word for Vietnamese vermicelli noodles (pronounced “boon”). While you can find some quality noodles here, the seafood crepe with bacon is a must-try.