Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay in Long Island City in NYC
This western Queens enclave is home to buzzy restaurants, museums, and parks with gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline.
Long Island City in NYC may not be at the top of your radar to visit (just yet!), but this western Queens enclave located across the water from Manhattan is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods for innovative cuisine, local beer, and museum hopping.
LIC is also one of the best examples of a mixed-use neighborhood in the city: in addition to many towering residential buildings with gorgeous views of the East River and Manhattan skyline, the area is also home to JetBlue Airways, the film and TV production space Silvercup Studios, and the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign that dates back to 1940. An influx of both residents and businesses over the past few decades means the neighborhood is always abuzz with new development and activity, so don’t be surprised if your latest trip reveals a new hotel or destination-worthy restaurant.
It’s also eminently accessible: LIC boasts eight subway lines, 15 bus lines, three ferry landings, and two Long Island Railroad stations. And specifically for those who loathe to leave your own borough: it’s only a single stop away from both Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Read on to discover why this region of the most diverse borough in NYC—and “most ethnically diverse urban area in the world”—is your next must-try destination worth a trip for the food, drinks, sights, and hotels.
Dine at some of NYC’s most acclaimed restaurants
LIC is home to some of the buzziest destination restaurants in Queens and the neighborhood has an outsized share of critically lauded spots, including Mexican cantina, Casa Enrique, its sister French bistro, Cafe Henri, unpretentious Indian at Adda Indian Canteen, and the always quirky steakhouse M. Wells Restaurant. Chef Dan Kluger’s Penny Bridge is the newest member to join these ranks; his farm-to-table cuisine (and mozzarella sticks) are drawing diners in from all five boroughs.
And of course, there are plenty of other restaurants that don’t have quite the same national reputation that are also worth a visit. If you’re a barbecue fan, hit up John Brown BBQ for Kansas City-style meats or the recently-opened Pig Beach located near Astoria for its ample outdoor dining and its smoked pork shoulder. If old-school NYC is what you’re craving, head to Manducatis for red-sauce Italian dishes like stuffed shells, or Court Square Diner, which has been slinging short orders since 1946. If you’re looking for something quick, there is Native Noodles for Singaporean cuisine; Chinelos Tacos for an excellent version of birria; Makina Cafe for Ethiopian takeout dishes like siga wot (slow-cooked beef stew); Filipino-inspired tacos, health-conscious bowls, and salads at Little Chef Little Cafe; Taiwanese dumplings and fare at Yumpling; and an outpost of Murray’s Cheese for all your cheese plate needs. There is also a the food hall, JACX&CO, which serves everything from handrolls at Temakase to thin crust pizza at Beebe’s. For a quick bite to eat, as you stroll around the neighborhood or waterline, hop by Takumen for an order of karaage chicken and edamame; Peruvian-inspired cocktails and small plates like seafood ceviche are available at local watering hole Jora; or freshly baked pastries and sandwich to accompany a hot cup of coffee from 51st Bakery & Cafe.
Channel your inner beer nerd at one of many breweries
There is a bit more breathing room in LIC as opposed to Downtown Manhattan, for example, so it’s no surprise that many of NYC’s breweries have found a home here. LIC Beer Project has a cheerful tasting room that’s an ideal spot to bring friends as you taste your way through their beers (try the Sour House Autumn Harvest if it’s available). Fifth Hammer Brewing Co. has a massive selection, including IPAs, fruited sours, and Belgians, as well as weekly trivia nights and frequent visits from food trucks. Rockaway Brewing Company was the first brewery in Queens; try their Psychedelic Sea, a hazy IPA, or The Original: ESB, their house ale. And ICONYC Brewing was founded by Queens residents who met as children; their beer garden along the 12th St. Pedestrian Plaza is a favorite spot to sip suds outdoors.
But if cocktail bars are more your speed, the neighborhood is home to some stellar watering holes as well. The most well known is Dutch Kills, which has a mix of classic cocktails like Moscow mules as well as more innovative drinks like a canned Manhattan (which, beware, is actually two-and-a-half drinks per can). Other popular spots include cozy The Beast Next Door and no-frills LIC Bar, which often has live music.
Learn something new at the area’s many museums
There are few neighborhoods in NYC that boast as many world-class museums as LIC. The most famous is MoMA PS1, which is the first nonprofit arts center in the US dedicated to contemporary art. Currently on view is Greater New York, the museum’s exhibition focused on artists living and working in the NYC area. If sculpture is more your speed, however, a visit to The Noguchi Museum is a must-see. The space showcases the work of sculptor Isamu Noguchi, including some of his large-scale works and exhibitions by other artists, sometimes interspersed with Noguchi’s own pieces. You can also continue your exploration of sculpture at the Socrates Sculpture Park, a waterfront park that champions artists making public art.
Aside from its many museums, LIC is also home to many picturesque parks, including the riverside, 12-acre Gantry Plaza State Park featuring the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign, and the 30-acre Hunter’s Point South Park, which has everything from a central green to a bikeway to a 30-foot-tall platform for viewing the skyline. And of course, if the weather is nice, you can even walk the Ed Queensboro Bridge straight to Midtown Manhattan. Also, for anyone looking to go vertical with an indoor workout instead, there’s also two rock climbing facilities to relieve your stress at: The Cliffs at LIC and Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge.
Spend a night with postcard-perfect views of the skyline
LIC is home to a handful of stylish boutique properties, many which have windows onto Manhattan’s skyscrapers. Boro Hotel is a brutalist-chic space, complete with a lively rooftop bar that affords gorgeous views of the skyline. Ravel Hotel has ‘Gram-worthy views of the Queensboro bridge and is also home to the Penthouse, a 9,500 square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge. And if you’re looking for something with a bit of history, The Collective Paper Factory is—you guessed it—a former paper factory that has been converted into a 125-room hotel with reclaimed furniture and luxurious rain showers.