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Why Queens is actually the best borough

Brooklyn may get the lion’s share of New York’s non-Manhattan glory, but Queens dwellers (including this author) know their borough is pretty damn special. What it lacks in plethoras of hipster-filled, exposed-brick cafes, artisanal charcuterie plates, and indie bookstores, it makes up for with vibrant art scenes (RIP, 5POINTZ), searing urban landscapes, and off-the-hook affordable ethnic eats that're the welcome result of living in the city’s epicenter for cultural diversity.

Here're 20 reasons (most of which you can go do) why Queens is actually the best borough. NO Jersey, you're not a borough. Stop it.

Facebook/ MoMA PS1
Warm Up at
Every Summer Saturday, these all-day alfresco soirees in the courtyard feature a lineup of DJs, dancing (without having to drop a ton of money), and a line you're gonna want to get in quick, if you want to get into the club. Hungry? Yeah, you're gonna do M. Wells Dinette.

Thai Food
Actual, authentic Thai cooking -- wherein spicy, sweet, sour, and salty all successfully commingle, super nakedly -- proliferates in Woodside and Elmhurst. Here's how to do it right: get anything at , the crispy catfish salad at , the fiery chicken larb at , and seafood-laden khao soi noodles at .
Facebook/ NY Ganesh Temple

Sichuan cuisine (rightfully) gets the most buzz in Flushing, but when you're maxed out on cumin lamb, the Ganesh Temple Canteen -- located in THE BASEMENT of a beloved Hindu temple -- is the spot. Go up to the counter and order ghee-slicked dosas that are 1) mammoth, 2) paper-thin, and 3) best when in Pondicherry-form (aka spiked with chiles, son!).
Flickr/ MomentCaptured1
Astoria Park
There's both water you can swim in (hello, public pool), and water you can year-round stare at (hello, East River... especially the views between the RFK and Hell Gate Bridges).

You’ll be hard-pressed (like, REALLY hard, we're talking borderline pushing) to find a better bowl of noodles than the one served up at this Elmhurst favorite. Uncle Zhou -- that’s owner Steven Zhou-- hails from Henan, Central China’s breadbasket, and it’s clear the man’s got a way with wheat. He stretches and twirls each mound of dough into delightfully chewy, never-ending ribbons that get knife-shaved and smattered with tomato, egg, and mushroom, or doused in vinegar.
Andrew ZImmer

Queens’ micro-brew scene -- particularly in Astoria and Long Island City -- is thriving. One of the first to make a dent with its quality beers across the city is Astoria’s SingleCut Beersmiths. Hanging out in the brewery’s relaxed tap room, with a shepherd’s pie and the Mahogany Ale = Uh, yeah, let's do that.
Facebook/ Neir's
Neir’s Tavern
I mean... Goodfellas was filmed at Neir’s Tavern. But if you need more: it's one of the city’s oldest bars (1829!). Unassumingly situated in Woodhaven, it's really one of its essential dives, with a mix of old-timer bar flies and bikers that make it one of the most memorable stops for a burger and a pint.
Facebook/ The Noguchi Museum

Acclaimed Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi designed a home for a bunch of his insane art in this open-air sculpture garden in the middle of industrial Long Island City. Basically, it's way more zen than a yoga class.
Flickr/ Gary Stevens
Roosevelt Avenue
Food cart-laden Roosevelt Ave, one of Queens’ main drags, does late-night the way late-night should be done: with the scent of freshly griddled arepas, the 7 rumbling above, and muffled music filtering out of mysterious clubs. It's equal parts seediness and possibility. Actually, hopefully a little bit more possibility.
Facebook/ Dutch Kills

A finer drink in Queens will not be had than the one sipped at Dutch Kills. This dark, ambient bar is from Little Branch and Milk & Honey alum Richie Boccato, who's held court on a barren crook of Long Island City for five years now.

Wafa Chami does deep-cut Lebanese at her namesake Forest Hills restaurant -- from tender chicken shawarma, to smoky baba ghanoush, to parsley-dotted logs of kefta -- while her sons rove between the kitchen and dining room, dispensing killer homemade hot sauce and pouring inky black coffee. The signature dessert (which you're gonna order as soon as you read about it, EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT IN THE RESTAURANT)? A warm cheese oozing out from underneath a shredded, wheat-like kataifi.
Andrew Zimmer
Rockaway Beach
's California-style creations. Wine bar and live music haunt Sayra’s. Russian-Uzbek-inspired Uma’s. I mean, c'mon.
Facebook/ Queens County Farm Museum
Queens County Farm Museum
This is a place in Queens. This. Is. A. Place. In. Queens. The Queens County Farm in Little Neck, right on the Long Island border, has been around since 1697, and it’s one of the city’s most serene spots, complete with an orchard, freshly laid eggs, and house-made raw honey.

Dani’s House of Pizza
You have a soft spot for demolishing an old-school slice folded in half. In Queens, the place to do it is Dani’s House of Pizza, a Kew Gardens institution since 1959. Grab a stool at the counter, order a fountain seltzer, and then check out a movie at the porno film house(!!!!!)-turned indie cinema (ohhhhh...) across the street.
Food Bazaar

Formerly the old Pathmark supermarket on Long Island City’s car dealership-packed Northern Boulevard, Food Bazaar offers an abundance of fresh produce, 24hrs of fun, and ethnic delicacies galore (behold the extensive Goya selection), spanning Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper hot sauce, organic sushi rice, kimchee, and Ecuadorian sardines.
Facebook/ Louis Armstrong House

Legendary New Orleans trumpeter, Louis Armstrong, moved into a Corona home in 1943, and lived there with his wife, Lucille, for nearly 30 years before they turned it into a museum. If you haven't seen his gilded bathroom (yep, the entire wall is mirrored, which is pretty baller) and the trippy, futuristic blue kitchen, your life is just a little worse than everyone else's.
Facebook/ Museum of the Moving Image

After undergoing a slick revamp in 2011, this institution is better than ever, with loads of cinematic artifacts, tons of screenings that often bring in celebrities (Martin Scorsese! Julia Louis-Dreyfus!), and an opportunity to play a vintage Space Invaders game, which is just awesome.

La Porteña
New York is filled with a staggering amount of places to get a quality rib eye, but only Jackson Heights' iconic La Porteña smacks of a transportive Buenos Aires steakhouse. Portraits of famed Argentinians line the place, and gimmicky gaucho-style waiters serve flaky, egg-flecked beef empanadas followed by platters of meat that teem with the likes of blood sausage and ribs. The Jesus Christ super star, though, is the juicy, perfectly pink skirt steak, best when amplified by the restaurant’s homemade chimichurri. You're sold, right?
Facebook/ Stray Vintage
Stray Vintage & More
This Sunnyside lair run by the affable husband-and-wife team Dan and Tara Glasser is where you go to get your mid-century Danish home bar and an impressive stash of vinyl that they constantly replenish, including a first-pressing of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps and Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain.
Facebook/ Queens Museum
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Home to both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs (do they still have those?), Flushing Meadows Corona Park remains an awesome place to check out landmarks like the The New York Hall of Science, Queens Theatre, the Unisphere, and the just-expanded Queens Museum, where you'll get all the world-class art of the Met, and none of the crowds.

A longtime resident of Astoria, Alia Akkam was born in a Forest Hills hospital that no longer exists, lived out her tyke years in Laurelton, and, when not writing about food, drink, travel, and design for myriad outlets, is the editor of Edible Queens. Follow her on Twitter.
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1. Museum of the Moving Image 3601 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106

This Queens museum is the only one in the US devoted to film, television, and digital media.

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2. The Noguchi Museum 9-01 33rd Rd, Long Island City, NY 11106

This Long Island City museum is devoted to the artistic works of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. It features two stories of Noguchi's sculptures, drawings, architectural models, furniture designs, and stage designs.

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3. MoMA PS1 22-25 Jackson Ave, Queens, NY 11101

Founded in 1971, MoMA PS1 is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the US, and serves as an exhibition space rather than a collecting institution.

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4. Louis Armstrong House Museum 34-56 107th St, Corona, NY 11368

This National Historic Landmark is the actual former home of Louis Armstrong and his wife, and it remains nearly exactly the way it was when the couple lived there in the 1940s. It is available for tours in which you can listen to actual recordings made by Louis while living there.

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5. Ganesh Hindu Temple 45-57 Bowne St, Flushing, NY 11355

This beautiful and ornate Hindu temple offers a visual and mental reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city, not to mention its tasty canteen featuring extremely affordable South Indian food.

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6. Uncle Zhou 83-29 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373

Owner Steven Zhou, who hails straight from China, is the mastermind behind this Elmhurst, Queens staple that serves up delectable noodle dishes and other Chinese eats.

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7. Wafa's 100-05 Metropolitan Ave, Forest Hills, NY 11375

Chef Wafa Chami and her two sons give this Mediterranean Forrest Hills eatery a serious family feel. They'll serve you up some of their signature eats like chicken shawarma, their warm cheese pastry dessert, and even homemade hot sauce.

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8. Dani's House of Pizza 8128 Lefferts Blvd, Kew Gardens, NY 11415

In the biz for over 50yrs, Dani's House of Pizza does just a few varieties of pie (pesto, Sicilian, etc), but does them so well, they boast an annual eating contest every year, with plenty of takers, proving this neighborhood pizza joint is truly the institution is claims to be.

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9. La Porteña Restaurant 74-25 37th Ave, Jackson Heights, NY 11372

When it's steak night, point your knives in the direction of this Argentine locale. With servers dressed up in handkerchiefs at the neck and fancy belts that conjure thoughts of gauchos, you'll find your mark by either ordering the mixed grill - pork sausage, blood sausage, shirt steak, short ribs are all thrown in - or just the shirt steak.

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10. Dutch Kills 27-24 Jackson Ave, Queens, NY 11101

Make a reservation for a booth as bar space is small but the crowds are not, and arrive a little early as you might walk right past this speakeasy with only a simple neon "BAR" sign as signage.

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11. SriPraPhai Thai Restaurant 6413 39th Ave, Woodside, NY 11377

For some of the best Thai eats in New York, visit this getaway. While the Drunken Noodles(Pad Ki Mao) definitely deserve your attention, don't be afraid to ask about the other dishes in the thick - is that 30 pages? - menu.

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12. Ayada Thai 7708 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, NY 11373

Small storefront, big taste when you ask for the "crispy pork upgrade" that you can request on any dish. Yes, crispy pieces of pork on any dish that just add on to the already sensory punching plates. N worries if it's too hot - which it will likely be; - there's coconut water to go around.

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13. Ploy Thai 81-40 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373

Between their crispy pork and their fresh, succulent papaya salad, Ploy Thai is known for being one of the freshest, most vibrant spots in Queens.

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14. Chao Thai Too 8437 Dongan Ave, Elmhurst, NY 11373

Chao Thai Too is the place to head if you're craving super authentic fish balls, soft shell crab, and sweet chili fried rice. Customize as many orders as you want, and leave feeling super fulfilled.

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15. Rockaway Taco 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd, Rockaway, NY 11693

This Mexican food stand right by the water is undeniably as authentic as you're gonna get by the beach. Sidle up with some fresh pineapple mint juice, fresh plantains, and delectable tacos.

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16. Sayra’s 91-11 Rockaway Beach Blvd, Far Rockaway, NY 11693

In Far Rockway stands Sayra's, a wine bar that's readily serving up pungent cheese platters, succulent olives, and a great assortment of vino.

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17. Uma’s 92-07 Rockaway Beach Blvd, Rockaway Beach, NY 11693

Uma's is a hardcore Russian eatery that's got a great BYOB option, as well as a seriously juicy leg of lamb.

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18. Singlecut Beersmiths 19-33 37th St, Astoria, NY 11105

Singlecut's a brewery that runs at ~30 barrels of beer/day, meaning there's lots of good beer to go around. The tasting room is outfitted with a stage for impromptu jam sessions and various small bites are available for you to get your nosh on.

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19. Neirs Tavern 87-48 78th St, Woodhaven, NY 11421

Neirs Tavern is a great stop in Woodhaven with live, local music, hearty pub food, and a list of house cocktails to back up their beer selection.

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20. Stray Vintage & More 4809 Skillman Ave, Sunnyside, NY 11104

Stray Vintage has everything from musical instruments to clothing to wall hangings and furniture, plus an impressive collection of vinyl (records, not furniture).

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21. Food Bazaar Supermarket 4202 Northern Blvd, Astoria, NY 11101

Standing proudly in the old Pathmark spot, the Food Bazaar is conveniently open 24hrs to offer you ethnic delicacies like Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper hot sauce and Ecuadorian sardines.

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