The Most Overlooked Mediterranean Paradise in Europe
Best Vietnamese: District Saigon
In a neighborhood known for its diverse culinary scene, Astoria was seriously lacking a Vietnamese restaurant until February 2016, when District Saigon’s pho saviors swooped in to relieve locals from another rice noodle-deprived winter. The pho here is excellent. Each sip of deceivingly clear broth, cooked for at least eight hours, is enormously rich and savory. Available in two types of beef as well as chicken and vegetable varieties, the pho is served in steamy basketball-sized bowls with soft rice noodles and fresh herbs. If you’re still hungry, or sharing dishes with the table, go for the spicy chicken curry, which is so satisfyingly thick with coconut milk that you might find yourself licking the bowl by the end of your meal.
Best ramen: HinoMaru Ramen
Riding the W train to the very last stop and walking up Ditmars is worth it for this ramen that’s seriously unlike any other in the city. Beyond the fish cakes created to look like adorable monkey faces, just a sip of the signature spicy Hinomaru ramen made with a ridiculously creamy pork broth will tip you off to this spot’s superiority. Both straight noodles and curly noodles are available here, in soups ranging from vegetarian to a refreshingly spicy lemongrass chicken. Ask for extra chili oil for an added kick to your broth. And don’t leave without trying an order of tempura broccoli, which is fried so crisp and so delightfully drenched in a sweet soy sauce that you’ll forget you’re even eating a vegetable. To enhance the ramen experience, the menu also has suggested beer and ramen pairings, so you’ll get the best bottle to go with your broth of choice. If you’re in more of a BYOB mood, head to HinoMaru Ko, the restaurant’s younger sibling that only has a few counter seats but will gladly pour your bottles of wine alongside your tonkotsu.
Best place for fried chicken and cocktails: The Pomeroy
Lady Gaga graced Astoria with her presence in 2015 to celebrate her friend and personal chef Bo O’Connor’s restaurant opening, bringing a legitimately trendy (and tasty) new hangout to the Ditmars neighborhood. While the pop star has yet to return to The Pomeroy, the place is pretty much always packed with a crowd eager to sip the simple yet elegant cocktails -- try the $11 Goodluck made with Queens Courage gin, lime juice, muddled cucumber, and mint -- paired with O’Connor’s excellently crispy and juicy fried chicken, available as a half or whole bird, and served with two refreshing homemade dipping sauces.
Best BYOB: Yaar
This stylish Indian restaurant, located under the elevated subway tracks, is an ideal spot to stretch out and stuff your face after a long day of commuting. The $13.95 three-course menu is the way to go, served with appetizers and entrees large enough to share and still have leftovers for lunch. Choose your level of spice, in classic dishes like chicken tikka masala and saag paneer, and make the most of the BYOB atmosphere where you can keep popping bottles to chase down the spicy samosas and beyond.
Best hangover brunch: The Bonnie
After a night of heavy drinking, probably at The Bonnie, you’ll want to head right back in your sweatpants for a warm, hearty meal to soak up all that booze, accompanied by unlimited refills of French press coffee. And OK, the brunch cocktails are pretty great too. The menu does include healthier options, like smashed avocado toast with feta and mint and a notably flavorful kale salad. But if you’re trying to kick the hangover, you’re going to want to dive into dense biscuits soaked in sausage-laden gravy (request poached eggs on top), fried chicken & waffles with butter syrup, and a Pat LaFrieda breakfast burger topped with pimento cheese, bacon, a fried egg, and pickled jalapeños.
Best underrated seafood spot: Astoria Seafood
Both the New York Times and New Yorker recently featured this low-key seafood shack, originally recommended to this writer by a cab driver. Bring your own bottle of booze and head to the ice trays to pick from a daily selection of fresh fish by the pound (think branzini, grouper, trout, and more all under $10/lb). Your chosen fish is then grilled to order and served in an energetic dining room, packed with people collectively taking advantage of Astoria’s greatest high-quality food bargain.
Best restaurant everyone associates with Astoria: Taverna Kyclades
A staple in Astoria’s massive Greek scene, this lively old-school taverna has played host to the likes of Bill Murray and George Clooney, and probably countless other less-famous grey-haired old white men, too. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, so expect to wait for a table, inside or outside. When you do finally get a seat, you’ll find sizable side dishes of fried cheese and outrageously lemony potatoes that could easily work as an entrée, but you can’t leave without an order of grilled octopus, known for converting the even the fiercest tentacle-phobe into a fan.
Best Casual Greek: Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna
Red-checkered tablecloths welcome you into what could easily double for a living room in your Greek grandmother’s home, except with more cheap carafes of wine and rounds of plates overflowing with seafood, salads, and spreads. You’re eating the best of New York at this small restaurant that always smells like fried smelt and pork souvlaki -- and dining on the cheap. For $12 you’ll get a steamy plate of mussels with feta and tomato, easily shareable between four and the $10 beef gyro plate with Greek salad and fries is an entree big enough for two.
Best Fancy Greek: Telly’s Taverna
This nautically themed restaurant is a special-occasion place for many local families, which makes sense because portions “for two” are really for four, at least. The Greek spreads served with hot pita are a must to start off, then pick a fish (request it de-boned if you’re skittish about picking at a skeleton) and some sides, and you’re eating that healthy Mediterranean diet everyone keeps talking about.
Best Nouveau Mexican: Pachanga Patterson
Serving up tortillas from Corona’s esteemed Tortilleria Nixtamal, this modern Mexican restaurant focuses on gourmet, fusion-inspired twists on traditional south-of-the-border fare like shrimp and octopus tostadas and pineapple-loaded guacamole. Visit for fiesta brunch, when you can add $16 unlimited liters of prosecco and juice to your order of chilaquiles, or book a taco night for a group of eight or more where three tacos, salsa, guac, and two hours of unlimited beer and margs will run you about $40 a person.
Best Chicken Parm: Michael Angelo’s
Astoria has no shortage of Italian restaurants, but this red-sauce joint rises above the rest with its ridiculously juicy, crispy, and saucy chicken (or eggplant) Parm. Fried crisp to order and topped with a satisfying glob of melted mozzarella, the Parm is then covered in a slow-cooked, incredibly smooth marinara sauce that will have you asking for an extra ladleful. Available as both a hero sandwich and on a platter with penne or linguine on the side, get ready to kick your Parm addiction into full force once you bite into this Italian fried perfection.
Best falafel: King of Falafel
This is one fried chickpea place that earns its royal title. Its oval-shaped falafels achieve optimum crispness and are best enjoyed wrapped in warm pita with freshly sliced pieces of shawarma and hot sauce, a combo known as the “Shawafel” sandwich. The food is equally excellent at either the food truck or brick-and-mortar location. Just know that lingering outside the food truck will usually earn you a falafel sample, and that will probably lure you into buying at least the $4 appetizer portion.
Best tacos: Athens Grill (El Grill)
Don’t be fooled by the name, this is a legit Mexican restaurant and home to the best tacos in all of Astoria. Grab a styrofoam to-go box loaded with warm tortillas and juicy al pastor -- three tacos for $6! -- or sit in back with a cold bottle of Jarritos soda as you munch on a selection of 15 types of meat and vegetarian soft tacos with a side of rice and beans, of course.
Best late-night meal: The Strand Smokehouse
Eat all the by-the-pound smoked BBQ and cornbread you can stomach until the cafeteria-style kitchen closes at 2am, and maybe try haggling for the very last rack of ribs just before the kitchen shuts down. Although the menu changes daily, short ribs and baby backs are what you're here for, all to be soaked in six varieties of homemade BBQ sauce. Chase down all that meat with Southern-inspired cocktails and plenty of draft beer.
Best bakery: Rose & Joe's Italian Bakery
This small, cash-only bakery underneath the Ditmars Blvd stop sells some of the best baked goods in the borough. Sample the crunchy-shelled, freshly filled perfect cannoli, then take home cookies by the pound. But don’t be misled by the all the sweet stuff -- the back counter serves up a mean pizza slice, too.
Best date spot: Sek'end Sun
Swiped right and want to get right to it? Meet up at this relaxed, wood-paneled bar that’s just dim enough to hide any evidence that, yes, you did edit those selfies you sent your Tinder date prior to meeting. The decently priced cocktails ($10) and $6 wine Wednesdays mean you won’t break the bank if your date is a bust at this neighborhood bar. Time spent snacking on small bites like Belgian waffle pizza topped with homemade sausage and smoky, melty mozzarella will ensure that your night, even if you should have swiped left, was still put to its best use. Communal tables and a spacious backyard also help ease social anxiety with only the type of help that friendly strangers and a few cocktails can provide.
Best comfort food: Queens Comfort
Crazy mash-ups of your favorite comfort foods make this one of the least healthy Queens eateries, but oh so satisfying! (Especially if you’re just looking to taunt your friends bragging about their successful streaks on the Whole30.) Forget any and all diets and plan to enjoy the peanut butter & jelly burgers, Cap’n Crunch fried chicken, deep-fried Sriracha mac & cheese, s’mores bread pudding, and beef hash empanadas over multiple, BYOB visits.
Best noodle spot plucked straight out of Thailand: Pye Boat Noodle
This colorful, narrow noodle shop will briefly transport you to Bangkok. Skip the pad Thai and opt for boat noodles -- a popular Thai street snack of noodles in broth made to efficiently slurp while you stand. Or, try some other dish outside of your usual stir-fried noodle comfort zone, like bamee phoo moo dang nam, an egg noodle with crab meat and roasted pork soup served in a flavorful chicken broth. All dishes are served with a traditional caddy of Thai condiments like peppers in vinegar and cane sugar to add to the intrigue. The full bar also serves boozy slushies; the watermelon is particularly refreshing.
Best post-movie dinner spot: Mamu Thai
If you’re catching a movie at Kaufman Astoria Studios, skip the chain restaurants right outside the theater and head to this small, casual Thai restaurant offering a brick-and-mortar version of the beloved food truck of the same name. Expect to find all your typical Thai dishes here, along with house specialties like lard naa, a rice noodle dish soaked in savory Thai gravy, and duck noodle soup served with a duck leg.
Best Cajun: Sugar Freak
The extensive po-boy menu -- including chicken fried French fries, mac & cheese, and fried chicken varieties -- is tantalizing, but if you’re truly hungry, opt for a platter of fried anything or one of the five different styles of chicken. Chase it all down with a spiked sweet tea and an enormous side of crispy fried okra! Since the recent closure of Burnside Biscuits, this is the spot in Astoria for ex-Southerners and Southern food enthusiasts to get their fix of regional delights, complete with outhouse-themed bathrooms, because apparently everyone loves rural stereotypes below the Mason-Dixon line.
Best for group hangs: Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
This is the place that everybody has been to that one time they went to Astoria (or pretends they know about if they’ve never been to Astoria), and for good reason -- the massive outdoor area of this hundred-year-old haunt is a popular warm-weather gathering spot, and any of the 20+ taps pair perfectly with a Czech specialty, like roast pork with sauerkraut & dumplings.
Best bagels: Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Co.
The home of one of the best bagels in all of New York City, this small chain makes a doughy, unbleached, and unbromated flour round -- in addition to equally good gluten-free bagels. Missing out on the homemade cream cheese, which includes flavors of the week like chimichurri, baked apple, and diavolo chipotle, is not an option.
Best diner: Neptune Diner
This 24-hour, under-the-sea-themed eatery has the requisite enormous laminated menu with everything from all-day breakfast and a whole fish cooked to order, to Greek and Italian specialties and homemade soups. Servers in suits and stained-glass light fixtures class-up your bacon grilled cheese with cheese fries, but in that Grandma’s-hosting-her-poker-group-for-brunch kind of way.
1. HinoMaru Ramen33-18 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria
2. Yaar Indian Restaurant22-55 31st St, Astoria
3. District Saigon37-15 Broadway, Astoria
4. The Pomeroy3612 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria
5. The Bonnie29-12 23rd Ave, Astoria
6. Astoria Seafood3710 33rd St, Long Island City
7. Taverna Kyclades33-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria
8. Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna26-02 23rd Ave, Astoria
9. Telly's Taverna28-13 23rd Ave, Astoria
10. Pachanga Patterson33-17 31st Ave, Astoria
11. Michael Angelo's Pizza2911 23rd Ave, Astoria
12. King Of Falafel30th St , New York
13. El Grill (Athens Grill)30-11 30th Ave, Astoria
14. Mamu Thai36-02 36th Ave, Astoria
15. The Strand Smokehouse25-27 Broadway, Astoria
16. Rose & Joe's Italian Bakery22-40 31st St, Astoria
17. Sek'end Sun32-11 Broadway, Astoria
18. Queens Comfort4009 30th Ave, Astoria
19. Pye Boat Noodle35-13 Broadway, Astoria
20. Sugar Freak36-18 30th Ave, Astoria
21. Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden29-19 24th Ave, Astoria
22. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company35-09 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria
23. Neptune Diner31-05 Astoria Blvd, Astoria
Hinomaru, which translates to "circle of the sun" in Japanese, is a energetic Japanese soul food spot, cooking up slurpable ramen soup by the bowlful. Bold, piquant flavors stand out in house dishes like the eponymously monikered "Hinomaru style ramen": a creamy pork broth adorned with cha-su, kikurage mushroom, scallion, and "a fireball." Other options include traditional shoyu ramen, sapporo style miso, and vegetable gyoza.
Indian restaurants are dime-a-dozen in New York City, but Astoria's Yaar scored top ranking on Yelp for New York State in 2016. An all-you-can-eat lunch special is offered, true to Indian restaurant tradition. There's more than just samosas and curries to be savored, though: the menu rances from butternut squash soups to garlic-laced cauliflower. The interior is not notable, but it doesn't have to be. A vegetarian kebab is a standout, with okra, potato-filled chiles, pumpkin and cheese stuck with a skewer. Yaar gonna enjoy it.
At Astoria's District Saigon, named for the chef's native locality, the pho broth is cooked for no less than eight hours, a testament to their commitment to flavor curation: the final product is a melody of ginger, fennel cardamom, coriander onions, shallots and fish sauce. It's not the only thing that's given care in making: shrimp is fried in-the-shell and lavished with butter and chicken curry is topped with crunchy sweet potato, and served in the wood-filled dining room with a mural depicting rice paddies as a fitting backdrop.
Not all of us have the money to dine like Lady Gaga, but at least we can eat at The Pomeroy, an Astoria restaurant opened by her former personal chef Bo O'Connor. The casual New American menu features lots of deep-frying: golden brown chicken is served in whole or half portions; mozzarella triangles are neatly placed next to a cup of pomodoro sauce; and crunchy pickles chips come with a refreshing dill yogurt dip. That's not to say there aren't any vegetables here, but even they get an indulgent touch. Cocktails are elegant, with the Ditmars Boulevard (whiskey, lemon, agave water, and rosemary) serving as a fitting tribute to the neighborhood.
If you’re a fan of the watering holes Sweet Afton and Penrose, then you’re sure to dig this Astoria hideaway. Two bars (in the front and back) mean two times the fun. With hanging plants and exposed brick on the inside, the eye candy spills into a super-chill outdoor garden. Morning essentials -- like avocado toast with poached eggs & bacon or biscuits with spicy gravy & sausage -- solidify The Bonnie as a go-to brunch spot in the area. Endless French press coffee and an excellent cocktail list mean you better be ready for an all-day affair.
Astoria Seafood, part-fish market and part-frenetic eatery, has a concept is as simple as it's name: fresh fish. The place is a Queens relic, owned by the same Greek family for three generations, and has attracted a clientele as diverse as the borough it calls home. Essentially, you scan the day's haul lined up on mountains of ice, wrap a plastic bag around your hands and pick up what you want. Choices abound: river trout, huge shrimp, whole octopi, red snapper. Once decided, you bring your fish to the counter and tell the fishmonger how you'd like it cut and grilled. There's a mania to the ritual, with customers carrying plastic bags with huge pink fins sticking out and hungry people waiting anxiously for a seat. You can't miss with the fish, but don't pass on the Greek salad.
A staple in Astoria’s massive Greek scene, this lively seafood slinger has played host to the likes of Bill Murray and George Clooney, and probably countless other grey-haired old white men, too. It doesn't take reservations, so you may have to wait for a table, but you’ll have your pick of indoor or outdoor seating. Delicious side dishes of fried cheese and outrageously lemony potatoes are certainly must-orders, but don't miss the standout dish: Greek-style grilled octopus, dressed in olive oil and lemon and made as tender as a fine steak.
A corner lot in Astoria aptly named Gregory's 26 Corner is the kind of Greek restaurant that inspires nostalgia for a prior New York: regulars gather at picnic-patterned tablecloths surrounded by beachy artwork under tin ceilings. Fisherman come straight to the restaurant with their hauls early in the morning. A partially open kitchen that looks like it belongs in the bottom of a ship and a large mural of Mykonos sets the mood for traditional delicacies with a seafood-focus: fried crab cakes, flash-fried smelts, a garlicky eggplant puree, whole fried porgy. Order extra tzatziki. A chandelier made of a ship's wheel hangs over you the entire experience, much like the hang over you'll have after too much Greek table wine.
Whole fish, grilled and plated, is the reason to go to Telly's Taverna in Astoria, an airy Greek restaurant with Mediterranean currents. Catches come fresh from Fulton Fish Market, and the selection fluctuates with the market, with striped bass, red snapped, barbounia, and sargos rotating on offer. The staff will gladly debone your choice, but the fish are best when fully intact, and lightly dressed with lemon.Order the sardines fried to start and don't skip tzatziki. A jolt from Greek coffee is the only way to finish, after the complimentary honey-dipped loukoumades (dough balls) on weeknights, that is.
Low-key Mexican restaurant Pachanga Patterson does cocktails right: margaritas are flavored with hibiscus, while proprietary sips have real personality, as illustrated by The Frida (almost as intriguing as the artist herself) which fuses mezcal with elderflower, cucumber, dill and lime juice. The dinner menu scans classic favorites with a few updates: quesadillas are filled with zucchini blossoms, fried cauliflower is wrapped into an empanada. A chicken mole and hangar steak with salsa tatemada sticks to the books. The taco list shouldn't be ignored, especially during the weekday happy hour.
To only consider the pizza at Michael Angelo's Pizza would be an oversight. Don't get me wrong, the homey Italian eatery's thin-crusted pies are exemplary (the classic with mozzarella, garlic, basil and an oil drizzle is to die for), but red-sauce heavy mains like the chicken parm are comfort on a plate.
Meet the king himself, Freddy Zeideia, at this brick-and-mortar expansion of his popular Queens street cart. His crunchy, spice-flecked falafel pitas are loaded with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickled turnips, tahini, and hot sauce -- a formula that helped him win a 2010 Vendy Award for best street food in New York City. The recognition led Zeideia to expand his cart empire and open this Astoria fast-casual, where not much has changed regarding the food. Falafel is still the main event, but with a grill that’s nearly the size of his former mobile kitchen, he’s serving more shawarma, mezze spreads, and spinach-cheese turnovers than ever before. If lines are ever too long, you can expect free falafel samples to curb hunger pains. Long live the king.
Formerly Athens Grill, El Grill taqueria kept 'Athens' on the sign, but made the pivot from Greek to Mexican with a menu of tacos and tortas. Regardless of what you get, apply green sauce liberally. The staff are mostly Spanish-speaking at the modest, wood-paneled stop, but luckily tacos are a universal language.
This one-time noodle food truck has put down concrete roots in Astoria, a mecca for Thai food and many of the cuisines that constitute New York’s melting pot. You can expect mainstays from this quick, casual brick-and-mortar like pad thai and drunken noodles, but also an expanded menu of Thai barbecue with pork and chicken options. You’d be remiss not to branch out from the familiar with other standouts: a brothy beef stew offers complex flavor with tangles of translucent noodles swimming under generous slabs of meat, while the mango-sticky rice item is kissed with coconut milk.
Eat all the by-the-pound smoked BBQ and cornbread you can stomach until the kitchen closes at 2am, but be sure to wipe your mouth periodically if you want to make a good impression on whoever is sitting next to you at the communal picnic table. Although the menu changes daily, short ribs and baby backs are what you're here for. Chase down all the meat with Southern-inspired cocktails and plenty of tap beer. With trivia, Brazilian night, and live music, there's always a side of entertainment coming with your BBQ.
Rose & Joe's Italian Bakery has a well-deserved reputation in Astoria for delivering excellent braided semolina bread, overstuffed cannoli with crunchy shells, and piles of chocolate-dipped and sprinkled butter cookies. The small, cash-only storefront by the Ditmars subway stop isn't exclusively focused on pastries, though. In true Italian fashion, it serves thick Sicilian pizza squares (and triangular margherita slices) that locals fawn over.
If you live in Astoria and have been on the hunt for a neighborhood bar, look no further than Sek'end Sun (pronounced Second Son). The laidback cocktail bar serves riffs on classic drinks, like an amaro Old Fashioned, and seriously good bar bites like chili butter grilled cheese and grilled wings with cilantro, lime, and soy. A giant neon "Queens" sign completes the rustic and industrial decor, proving that the bar scene in the outer boroughs is alive and well.
Bacon-jalapeño-potato nuggets and spaghetti squash burgers make up just some of the creative (to say the least) items at this Queens joint that's doling out comfort foods you never knew you liked. All the fatty and fried carbs you know and love are on the menu, but it's the "why didn't I think of that?" touches -- like Sriracha aioli and Cocoa Puffs on donuts -- that pack the two-hour brunch waits. Oh, and the BYOB deal might be a little enticing, too.
The colorful, narrow noodle shop in Astoria serves up dishes like brothy crab meat and crispy pork rinds with traditional Thai condiments like peppers in vinegar and cane sugar. It's like eating street food in a sit-down restaurant surrounded by antique Thai tchotchkes. A full bar also serves booze-filled slushies, and there's a patio out back for dining in the warmer months.
At Sugar Freak in Astoria, they bring the best of the South right to you, with a menu full of authentic Cajun-Creole cuisine. The extensive po'-boy menu -- including chicken fried french fries, mac & cheese, and fried chicken & shrimp varieties -- is tantalizing. The restaurant is all about Southern hospitality, decorated with quilted patchwork pillows, exposed brick, sponge-painted paper towel holders, and salt and pepper shakers that come in mason jars.
One of the largest outdoor drinking venues in the city, this Astoria beer garden boasts a huge backyard with communal picnic tables and a stage for live music. The Czech-inspired menu features imported pilsners like Krusovice and Staropramen, and traditional dishes like grilled bratwursts, potato pierogis, and roast pork with sauerkraut and dumplings. Though summer is undoubtedly Bohemian Hall's busiest season, the indoor bar makes for a cozy winter hang spot.
The small chain is focused on quality coffee, robust soups, sandwiches, and -- most of all -- your health, using only unbleached and unbromated flour in its bagels. There are spelt and gluten-free options as well, and no quality or flavor is sacrificed for the sake of providing a more wholesome breakfast. The service is fast, but only if you can make up your mind on a bagel/cream cheese combo from their large variety.
This 24-hour, under-the-sea-themed diner has the requisite multi-page laminated menu with everything from all-day breakfast and gyro platters to whole fish cooked-to-order and hot pastrami sandwiches. Servers in suits and stained-glass light fixtures class-up your bacon grilled cheese with cheese fries, but in that Grandma’s-hosting-her-poker-group-for-brunch kind of way.