F Train Food Crawl: The Best Restaurant at (Nearly) Every Stop
Between manspreading, A/C-less cars, and those three little words -- “train traffic ahead,” the NYC subway system is hands-down a hot mess. And the F train, which snakes its way from Jamaica, Queens to Coney Island, Brooklyn, is hardly an exception (remember that time it stalled underground for 45 minutes without lights or A/C?).
But despite its flaws, the F train remains one of the best ways to borough-hop and eat your way through the city -- from Sri Lankan food in Queens to Mexican street food in Brooklyn. To help you take full advantage of the eating potential along the line, we’ve plotted out the best restaurant at almost every stop (we skipped the ones that didn’t have a worthy spot nearby).
Lexington Avenue/63 Street
115 East 60th Street
This laid-back Mediterranean spot relies on relationships with local farmers and fisherman for fresh plates of branzino and grilled whole shrimp, to be paired with a substantial list of organic wines. Keep in mind that the menu changes frequently, so check the website before stopping by.
57 Street/6 Avenue
124 West 57th Street
Located on the ground floor of the Viceroy Central Park, Kingside is the kind of new American restaurant that’s perfect for pretty much any occasion: business lunch, post-work drinks, quick pre-show dinner. The locally sourced, seasonally driven menu features dishes like scallop crudo, skirt steak with chimichurri, and hand-crafted cocktails.
47-50 Streets-Rockefeller Center/6 Avenue
24 West 45th Street
You’ll find Michelin-starred Le Bernardin right near this stop, but for something a little more within budget, head to Xi’an Famous Foods. The hugely successful Western Chinese chain got its start in a subterranean food court in Flushing, and its Midtown West location offers the same spice-packed dishes at reasonable prices. A plate of hand-ripped noodles tossed with lamb, veggies, and a peppercorn-laced chile oil will set you back approximately $11.
42 Street-Bryant Park/6 Avenue
72 West 36th Street
The steaks (and famed mutton chop) are reason enough to splurge on a meal at this 132-year-old steakhouse, but you’re also here for the ambiance -- from the white tablecloths and bow-tie-clad waiters to the storied pipes and other old New York memorabilia lining the walls.
34 Street-Herald Square/6 Avenue
1 East 32nd Street
Opened by a wrestler-turned-comedian-turned-restaurateur, this K-Town chain (which counts Anthony Bourdain as a fan) delivers an authentic experience with staples like kalbi and bulgogi. If you’re rolling deep, order the beef combo -- a shareable feast featuring kimchi and steamed eggs, plus sliced and ready-to-grill brisket, prime rib, and short rib.
23 Street/6 Avenue
27 West 24th Street
Unlike the more casual holes-in-the-wall in Curry Hill or Little India in the East Village, the menu at this Flatiron Indian spot is all about high-end twists on traditional staples (think octopus tandoori, lobster moilee with coconut milk, and lamb shank with cumin yogurt curry and garam masala).
14 Street/6 Avenue
502 6th Avenue
Don’t let the name fool you -- while there are plenty of cocktails to be consumed here, Bar Six, a French bistro with Moroccan touches, is every bit deserving of the restaurant title. Those in the mood for typical Frenchy fare will find what they’re looking for in the steak frites or moules. But the best move is to opt for the North African-inspired plates like slow-cooked chicken tagine with sweet potatoes, or the veggie cous-cous, brimming with yellow squash, zucchini, carrot, peppers, and chickpeas.
West 4 Street/6 Avenue
359 6th Avenue
This intimate tapas spot from Chef Seamus Mullen is perfect for a few glasses of wine and some small plates like ham croquettes and smoked pig cheek with quail egg (though if you’re coming with a bigger appetite, you’ll also find large platters of paella). Park it at the big bar up front with a friend, or linger at one of the wooden tables in the back with a date.
324 Lafayette Street
Food Network star Bobby Flay’s sprawling Mediterranean restaurant lives up to its star power with dishes like an 11-layer potato with caramelized shallots and fried sage; charred beef with blue cheese, brown butter, and broccoli rabe farro; and lamb sausage and tomato jam pizza.
2 Avenue/Houston Street
205 E Houston St
Grab your ticket (and don't you dare lose it) and prepare to do a bit of waiting amongst tourists and locals alike for what's still -- after more than a century -- one of the best pastrami sandwiches in the entire city. The payoff is worth it: a staked sandwich piled high with slow-cured, perfectly spiced meat that does just as well for lunch as it does at 2am.
Delancey Street/Essex Street
179 East Houston Street
The sit-down counterpart to famed Jewish appetizing spot Russ & Daughters may not have as many years of experience in the neighborhood, but that doesn't make the food any less comforting. Opt for a smoked fish board paired with bagels, or other classics like noodle kugel and chopped liver.
East Broadway/Canal Street-Rutgers Street
171 East Broadway
The NYC outpost of a popular SF eatery, Mission Chinese gets playful with Americanized Chinese cooking, doling out over-the-top interpretations like kung pao pastrami with home fries, cumin lamb ribs with charred onions and dates, and shiso fried rice with cucumber and purple sweet potato. There’s even pizza on the menu.
Parsons Boulevard/Hillside Avenue
159-23 Hillside Avenue
Drawing from their shared background, owners/husband-and-wife duo Pratheepan Selvachandran and Marie De Silva Selvachandran bring authentic Sri Lankan cuisine to this corner of Jamaica, Queens. Kick off your meal with the crispy veggie patties, a popular Sri Lankan street food specialty that’s packed with potato, onion, chili powder, and garlic. Then opt for one of the sinus-clearing “deviled” dishes (chicken, fish, mutton, beef, and more are available). Finally, cool things down with a coconut custard pudding.
Sutphin Boulevard/Hillside Avenue
88-38 Sutphin Boulevard
Beijing Dumpling House breaks up the scores of fast-food chains that dominate the Downtown Jamaica, Queens area with plump and affordable house-made dumplings (boiled or pan-fried) and noodles served with different sauces or in soup.
Kew Gardens Union Turnpike/Queens Boulevard
112-04 Queens Boulevard
If you still haven’t gotten around to taking that road trip to the Finger Lakes, Keuka Kafe is your next best bet. Named after Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes, the Forest Hills spot serves a solid selection of wines from the upstate New York region, as well as international varietals. Pair those with meat and cheese boards, oysters, and small plates like salmon ceviche and fish tacos.
Forest Hills-71 Avenue/Queens Boulevard
106-11 71st Avenue
Don’t walk into Station House expecting your average Bud Light-and-wings bar. Here you’ll find a rotating list of craft beers on tap, along with plenty of interesting bottles and cans and upgraded bar bites like Reuben empanadas and vindaloo chicken meatballs.
Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue/Broadway
77-02 Roosevelt Avenue
Maria Piedad Cano, affectionately known as the “arepa lady,” turned her popular late-night food cart into a bonafide brick-and-mortar location back in 2014 and it continues to draw in hordes for its traditional Venezuelan corn-based flatbreads stuffed with a variety of fillings (popular orders include the arepa de queso and the arepa de choclo). Just move fast: The place will reportedly be forced to move in six months.
21 Street-Queensbridge/41 Avenue
43-15 Crescent Street
Housed in a former auto-body garage, this vintage-inspired NYC chophouse is known for its juicy 20oz grass-fed ribeyes and dry-aged porterhouses. Those who are more veg-leaning will find equal satisfaction in the Parmesan-packed Caesar salad or grilled summer squash with pomodoro alla calabrese and polenta.
York Street/Jay Street
72 Hudson Avenue
Located in the outskirts of Dumbo, this cozy new American restaurant invites guests in with its old-timey lanterns, charming wood furniture, and idyllic outdoor garden -- but it’s the silky-smooth chicken liver mousse and octopus with wild leek and tahini (among other knockouts from an ever-changing menu) that truly make it worth a visit.
Jay Street-Metro Tech/Fulton Mall
345 Adams Street
For a taste of Texas by way of Brooklyn, hit up Hill Country on Adams Street. A sister spot to the Manhattan original, this unpretentious spot offers high-quality BBQ at an affordable price. Time your visit right, so you can hear live country music while you eat hand-carved brisket, prime rib, and pork loin.
Bergen Street/Smith Street
320 Atlantic Avenue
From the crew behind Buttermilk Channel, this French-American bistro boasts a warm space filled with a wood bar, leather banquettes, and outdoor seating. Meat-eaters should direct their attention to the dedicated steak frites section of the menu, which includes a 28-day dry-aged steak, but vegheads have plenty of options as well, like chickpea flatbread with English pea hummus and lemon yogurt and ricotta ravioli with summer squash and mushrooms.
Carroll Street/Smith Street
457 Court Street
A pair of Franks (Falcinelli and Castronovo) opened this old-school Italian joint with a contemporary twist in 2004, and it’s been luring guests to its cozy interior and outdoor garden ever since. The homemade cavatelli with hot sausage and browned sage butter is a major draw, but don’t underestimate the gnocchi marinara with fresh ricotta and sweet potato, or the sage ravioli in Parmesan broth. You’ll also find a selection of cheese, antipasti, and cured meats on the menu.
524 Court Street
Whether you’re hungover or homesick, or just in need of some comfort food, Buttermilk Channel is the spot. Though it's best known for its brunch items -- pillowy pancakes, decadent pecan pie French toast, and scrambled eggs with lox, sausage, or mushrooms -- the dinner options are equally worth seeking out (think buttermilk fried chicken with Cheddar waffles, and grilled flat-iron steak with fingerling potatoes).
4 Avenue/9 Street
439 3rd Avenue
Before sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen opened their famed Gowanus pie shop, they were baking the made-to-order desserts inside their Brooklyn apartment. These days, they’ve got an open, airy space filled with wooden tables and a menu that rotates seasonally (though you can always expect a mix of custard, fruit, and chocolate pies made with local, organic ingredients when possible).
7 Avenue/9 Street
369 7th Avenue
Top Chef alumnus Dale Talde draws from his stints at Morimoto and Buddakan (and his Filipino mother’s recipes) for the menu at his namesake Park Slope eatery. That translates to plates like pretzel-pork dumplings, Korean fried chicken with spicy kimchi yogurt and grapes, and lemongrass pork shoulder with pears and nuoc mam.
15 Street-Prospect Park/Prospect Park West
210 Prospect Park West
In addition to an impressive drink menu (featuring a rotating selection of craft beers -- brewed internationally and locally -- and a large assortment of whiskeys from around the world) this neighborhood spot also offers upscale bar food like Sriracha honey wings and a plump and juicy burger.
Fort Hamilton Parkway/Prospect Avenue
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway
This 600 square foot Fort Hamilton Parkway storefront lures in customers with its Italian comfort food (meatballs, sandwiches, cavatelli bolognese, and rotisserie chicken that sells out nearly every day) and keeps them there with old-school hip-hop jams. Do note that it’s closed on Tuesdays.
Church Avenue/McDonald Avenue
709 Church Avenue
This corner of Kensington/Flatbush may not bear much resemblance to Mexico, but step inside La Loba Cantina and you’ll feel like you’ve been momentarily transported, thanks to the tropical décor and the Oaxaca-inspired menu. Choose from a long menu of mezcal and dishes like tlayuda (a popular street snack that’s sometimes referred to as Mexican pizza).
McDonald Avenue/Avenue I
5123 18th Avenue
A quick 10 minute walk from the subway you’ll find this upscale Kosher steakhouse offering cuts like chimichurri skirt steak, 24-ounce Tomahawk bone-in steak, and pepper-crusted filets. Just keep in mind that it’s closed on Fridays and Saturdays for Shabbat.
Avenue N/McDonald Avenue
2325 65th Street
Chef and owner Aye Myint, also known as Oscar, has taken his talent from a small stand inside a grocery store on Avenue U to a full-fledged restaurant that specializes in Burmese soups and curries. Mohinga (a fish soup with lemongrass, ginger, hardboiled eggs, and rice noodles) is a must-try, as is the khao swe (a coconut curry soup).
Avenue U/McDonald Avenue
2725 86th Street
This landmark Gravesend restaurant is known for its doughy Sicilian squares, anointed in reverse order -- cheese first, then tomato sauce -- which can be ordered by the slice or tray, and enjoyed outside on a picnic table when the weather is nice.
Neptune Avenue/West 6 Street
2911 West 15th Street
Between hot dog maven Nathan’s and Totonno's (one of NYC’s oldest pizzerias), Coney Island is not without its legendary food icons. Rounding out the bunch is Gargiulo’s, which has been around since 1907. Today, walking into the old-school Italian-American restaurant -- complete with chandeliers, linen tablecloths, and a menu with classic Neapolitan pasta and seafood dishes -- still feels a bit like a time warp in the best way.
West 8 Street-New York Aquarium/Surf Avenue
1221 Bowery Street
For something that’s quick and cheap, make your way to this nondescript stand near the Wonder Wheel. Here, you’ll find better-than-they-need-to-be tacos, tortas, and quesadillas that are perfect for scarfing down between lying on the beach and cruising the boardwalk.
Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue/Surf Avenue
1524 Neptune Avenue
Ninety-three-year-old Totonno’s has endured quite a lot (multiple fires and Hurricane Sandy), but that hasn’t stopped it from making some of the best thin-crust pies the city has to offer. Opt for the classic margherita or the garlicky white pie.
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.