Food & Drink

13 Reasons to Eat and Drink in Long Island City

Gianni Jaccoma Published On 02/23/2016 Published On 02/23/2016
Jesse Winter (edited)

New York Convincing your friends to hang out in Queens is no easy feat, but NYC's most populous borough has actually seen some exciting food and drink developments in recent years -- as in top-notch breweries, cocktail bars, and brunch spots. Hooray gentrification! We've already laid out the best places to chow down in Astoria, but Long Island City's got its own tale to tell: with long wine lists and whole-rib steaks, these 13 bars and restaurants are well worth braving a ride on the 7 train.

Note: The border between Astoria and LIC is notoriously ambiguous, and while everyone's got their own opinion, we'll use 36th Ave as the northernmost dividing line for the purposes of this article.

Corner Bistro

Best burger: Corner Bistro

47-18 Vernon Blvd
If you're looking for a straightforward beef burger covered in melted American cheese and crispy bacon, this is your jam. If you're looking for that same burger topped with homemade chili instead, this is still your jam. If the idea of getting both McSorley's light and dark ales on tap is appealing in any way... well, you get the idea.

LIC Bar

Best happy hour: LIC Bar

45-58 Vernon Blvd
This 100-year-old place is brimming with history, from the antique wooden bar to the original tin ceilings, but it's not the past that should concern you -- it's the $3 beers and well drinks, and the $5 margaritas and well drinks. Show up from 4 to 7pm on weekdays, and you're set.

Jesse Winter

Best steakhouse: M. Wells Steakhouse

43-15 Crescent St
Suggesting the salad at a steakhouse is usually a bad joke, but the Caesar salad here comes heaped with enough Parmesan cheese to make a lasagna blush, and that's gotta be worth something. On the carnivore front, though, things get ridiculous courtesy of the bone-in burger and the gigantic, 40oz tomahawk steak Peter Wells described as "worthy of a Flintstone" -- it's served on a whole rib and covered with cheese, but at $160, it's only really an option if you share.

sLICe

Best pizza: sLICe

48-11 Vernon Blvd
Sometimes all you really want is a classic slice of NY pizza, be it plain cheese, grandma, or margherita -- and in case the giant neon sign out front wasn't clear enough, this is the place to go in LIC. Give the short rib meatballs a shot as well. It's open 'til 3am on the weekends, too, making it the perfect accompaniment to a night of drinking at...

Sweetleaf

Best coffee shop: Sweetleaf

10-93 Jackson Ave
This place is actually a twofer, equal parts artsy coffee shop and vegan-friendly bakery. All the pastries are made fresh each day -- try the cinnamon donut holes or the chocolate chip cookies -- and there's even a record room in the back where you'll find a turntable and an expansive collection of vinyl. Because nothing complements artisanal coffee like vinyl, maaaaan.

Best wine bar: Domaine Bar a Vins

50-04 Vernon Blvd
With wines by the glass, oysters and cheese plates, and live jazz performances every Thursday, this dimly lit and intimate bar can turn an OK date into a great one -- or a bad date into one you won't wanna immediately sneak away from. The French expat bartenders are super knowledgeable, which is helpful when you're faced with a list of 40 wines and you kinda sorta made your date think you were an amateur sommelier.

Isaac Rosenthal/Dutch Kills

Best cocktail bar: Dutch Kills

27-24 Jackson Ave
Named for the historic subsection of LIC in which it resides, this renowned cocktailery offers a list full of handcrafted mixed drinks, or opt for the bartender's choice by suggesting a base spirit and letting them work their magic. The owners operate a custom ice shop too, so depending on the cocktail, you'll also receive a specially hewn piece of ice harvested from a single 300lb block -- big cubes for rocks glasses and "Collins spears" for highball glasses.  

Best Italian: Il Falco

21-50 44th Dr
Whatever you get here, be it the chicken Parm, the seafood risotto, or the Blue Point oysters, you'll receive complimentary bruschetta at the beginning of your meal and a limoncello shot at the end to cap things off. Plus, the dessert crepes are made tableside -- which, if you've never watched crepes being made, is almost as fun as eating them. Almost.

Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill

Best spot for hot dogs and Manhattan views: Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill

4-40 44th Dr
Yes, the grilled hot dogs and burgers are great, and the corn on the cob is indeed delicious, but the main attractions for this place -- its outdoor seating and waterside Manhattan view -- are only available from April through October. Or, they used to be: Anable Basin will be open year-round starting in 2016, meaning you'll be able to score tasty bison burgers and chorizo sausage even when it's seasonally inappropriate to do so. Welcome to the future!

Flickr/Garrett Ziegler

Best brunch: LIC Market

21-52 44th Dr
Skip the sometimes hour-long wait at this weekend breakfast hotspot by arriving before 11am, then avail yourself of the slow-roasted duck hash bounty that awaits you. Other hot-ticket items include the bullseye eggs, the brisket sliders, and the dirty rice frittata, but you can't really go wrong with anything on the brunch menu. Bonus points if you shout "Hakuna Frittata!" when your meal arrives.

Best restaurant you can dance at: Mundo

37-06 36th St
This eclectic, bi-level spot inside the Paper Factory Hotel takes its culinary cues from Mediterranean and Latin cuisines, and while the food's obviously the main reason you're coming here, the ambience is a close second. Between the exposed-filament mood lighting, the live music and dancing, and the 30ft column made from vintage books (it's the "Paper Factory" after all), this place feels like a swanky Manhattan eatery -- until you walk outside and remember you're in LIC.

Flickr/Daniel Zemans

Best cheap eats: M. Wells Dinette

MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave
An offshoot of the aforementioned M. Wells Steakhouse, the cafeteria at PS1 used to offer exclusively Quebecoise cuisine before adding an array of sandwiches to the menu -- the star of which is undoubtedly the spaghetti sandwich. The. Spaghetti. Sandwich. It's like someone took your favorite food, turned it into a patty, and smashed it between two pieces of garlic bread -- no, wait, it's not like that, it IS that.

Flickr/*Bitch Cakes*

Best breweries: LIC Beer Project, Big Alice Brewing, Rockaway Brewing Co.

LIC's got some stiff competition when it comes to breweries, so we're gonna take the easy way out and say that you should just visit all three -- they're actually close enough that a crawl isn't out of the question. Big Alice and Rockaway both have the advantage in pedigree and beer variety, but don't sleep on LIC Beer Project: the newcomer's been turning out killer suds since it opened in May of 2015.

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Gianni Jaccoma is an editor for Thrillist and, although he currently lives in Astoria, was born and raised in LIC. Follow his identity crisis on Twitter: @gjaccoma.

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1. Corner Bistro 4718 Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

You may have seen its famous sister branch in West Greenwich Village or on How I Met Your Mother, but now the LIT Corner Bistro deserves a shout-out. Burger connoisseurs and average Joes alike rave that this place has some of the best burgers they’ve ever tasted, and the friendly service doesn’t hurt, either.

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2. LIC Bar 45-58 Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

You’ll find a large selection of Scotch and a friendly mixed crowd here. The semi indoor area, complete with TVs, a fireplace and pool table, is a great place to catch a game. The large back patio is normally covered in vines and flowers, and often hosts live entertainment or trivia nights. Stop in for some good vibes.

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3. M. Wells Steakhouse 43-15 Crescent St, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Queens)

From wallpapered ceiling to a visible kitchen, M. Wells offers a vintage-chic take on the traditional steakhouse. The restaurant is doling out some deliciously juicy burgers, flavorful salads, stiff drinks and—prepare yourself—seriously impressive steaks. Plus, theres an outdoor raw bar if you’re feeling seafood. What more could you need?

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4. sLICe 48-11 Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

When all you really want is a slice (or four) of world-famous NY-style pizza, this is the place to go in LIC. For Cheese, Grandma or Margherita pies, sLICe is your go-to for affordable eats. Word on the street is you must give the short rib meatballs a try. This place is good all day, every day, and lucky for us it’s open ’til 3am on the weekends.

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5. Sweetleaf 10-93 Jackson Ave, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

For an authentic hangout spot in LIC, check out this artsy coffee shop and vegan-friendly bakery. The pastries are made fresh every day and there’s a record room in back for extra seating, complete with an impressive turntable and vinyl collection. Check it out if you’re feeling really inspired, or want to be.

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6. Domaine Bar a Vins 50-04 Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

This intimate French wine bar in Long Island City is ideal for weekday date nights or post-dinner drinks. Its small, cozy setting is elevated by live jazz performances every Thursday that you won't want to miss. Another bonus? Weekday happy hour deals featuring oysters and wines-by-the-glass. Be sure to chat up the French expat bartenders -- if they like you, they may just help you out with the list of 40+ wines.

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7. Dutch Kills 27-24 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Queens)

First things first: Dutch Kills is unquestionably the best cocktail bar in Queens. The space is modest with low, moody lighting, and the bartenders really know what they’re doing. Opt for the bartender's choice by suggesting a base spirit and letting them work their magic, or order from the list of handcrafted mix drinks. The owners operate a custom ice shop too, so depending on the cocktail, you'll also receive a specially hewn piece of ice harvested from a single 300lb block.

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8. Il Falco 2150 44th Dr, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

If this isn’t your go-to for a romantic evening, it is now. Il Falco is known for exemplary service and spectacular food. The formal atmosphere is perfect for anniversaries, date nights or other special occasions. The only rival to the meal itself is the complimentary Limoncello and Bruschetta with your check.

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9. Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill 4-40 44th Dr, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

Anable is your classy-casual spot for day drinkin’ and barbecue eatin’. It’s perfectly low key, hidden in plain sight in an industrial area. The food’s on point and the waterfront al fresco seating offers a beautiful view of the NYC skyline.

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10. LIC Market 2152 44th Dr, Queens, NY 11101

This fabulous little eatery in the LIC neighborhood uses only in-season locally sourced ingredients, and offers your pick of natural wine and beers. Insider’s tip: the place is pretty popular for weekend brunch, so get there early! While you’re there, try the duck hash.

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11. Mundo New York 37-06 36th St, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

By day, this swanky, two-level spot offers signature eclectic cuisine— sumptuous blends of Mediterranean and Latin influences. Co-owners Willy and Jon were inspired by the exotic markets and comfort of homemade international dishes, and have brought the two together under one avant-garde roof. By night, Mundo Underground becomes host to a fabulous and fashionable nightlife.

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12. M. Wells Dinette 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Queens)

M. Wells Dinette is now located within the Moma PS1 Museum, doing up eats that range from horse tartare to less sensibility-challenging, still genre-bending eats like escargot & marrow tarts, bibimbap w/ maple syrup & oysters, and caviar/ flower/ whipped butter sandwiches.

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13. LIC Beer Project 39-28 23rd St, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

This small brewery has a spacious open room that’s perfect for group events (BYO cornhole). They specialize in Belgian style beers, with at least four on tap at all times. The menu is short and sweet and the decor is simple and clean, which is especially good for networking or work events.

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14. Big Alice Brewing 8-08 43rd Rd, Long Island City, NY 11101

Big Alice is a nano-brewery, meaning they’re able to produce very creative and experimental small batches of craft beer. As a New York State Farm Brewery, the goods come from locally-sourced hops and malts to produce some seriously fresh artisanal flavors, while doing some good for the boys in flannel.

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15. Rockaway Brewing Co. 46-01 5th St, Queens, NY 11101 (Long Island City)

Rockaway handcrafts every batch with fresh ingredients. RBCo can be found across Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, but it’s so much more fun to fill up a growler and tour the place yourself. Solo or with a group, stop in and jam out to some reggae with co-founders Ethan and Marcus.

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