Chow Walking Tours of Brooklyn and Queens
This is an informal guide to ten major chow destinations in Brooklyn and Queens, assembled from comments contributed by participants on the Chowhound Outer Boroughs Message Board. Everything is sketchy and approximate, and while intentions are excellent, accuracy can't be guaranteed. Hopefully it will provide some starting-points for those interested in exploring. Feel free to respond with more suggestions. And if you find it useful, perhaps you can advertise it on appropriate mailing lists and Web sites? Others might find it a good introduction to the Way of the Hound.
Bay Ridge -- Everything
"5th Avenue north of 86th Street in Bay Ridge Brooklyn (R to 86th St) is an interesting vital ethnic melange, with Greek, Middle Eastern, Irish, Scandinavian, Italian all cheek-by-jowl. 3rd Ave. also has a big shopping strip with many Middle Eastern stores. Karam on 4th Avenue/86th is my first food choice in that area, Leshko's bakery on 5th in the 70s in special, a now-rare Scandinavian in a neighborhood that used to be chocabloc with Norwegians, Swedes etc." (Actually, the address I've found for Leshko's is 111 Avenue A, cross streets Ralph Ave and E 87th St, 212 777 2111.)
Brighton -- Russian
Q train to Brighton Beach
"On Brighton Beach Ave., one-street food highlight is pontchiks: bried bread, like a big savory dooughnutt with meat, cabbage fruit etc. fillings. I think the place that sold them out of a front window was White Acacia, but the name may have changed. There is a boardwalk down to Coney Island, with the Brooklyn Aquarium, if your interests extend beyond food."
"Brighton Beach is an amazing place. One of the best places for Russian food is M & I International (249 Brighton Beach Avenue, 718 615 1011). It is one of the largest stores. The pierogi are excellent -- a little salty and buttery but very very good. The appetizing is amazing -- all types of fish that I have not come across in other neighborhoods. There are baked goods up and down the Avenue. And so long as you are there, a stop at Mrs. Stahls knishes is still worthwhile. They still make a mean knish."
Flatbush and Crown Heights -- Afro-Caribbean
"Maybe you should opt for Utica Avenue. Take the #1 or #4 trains to Utica Avenue. If you walk south of Eastern Parkway towards Empire Boulevard you will find many good restaurants. Some specific restaurants include Joyce's Cafe (try the sea moss), Conrad's Bakery (great for desserts; try a cassava pone or a currant roll), or Ali's Roti (337 Utica Ave, 718 778 7329). If you're feeling adventurous, take the #46 bus down Utica to Church Avenue. Walk west and along the way you'll find many other options. One restaurant that a fellow Chowhound has recommended is Paul's Fish Spot, on E. 49th Street, just off Church Avenue. I have yet to eat there, but my source says it's the best fish in Brookyn. He recommended the red snapper in brown sauce. If you walk along Church Avenue, towards Nostrand, you'll enjoy the sights, smells, sounds of the islands."
Here are some other options:
(2) "Take the A train to Nostrand Avenue and walk south towards Eastern Parkway. Along the way you will find many restaurants and sweet shops."
(3) "Take the D train to Church and walk west, across Flatbush Avenue (another hotspot for Caribbean food), and onward, past Nostrand, and so on."
(4) "Liberty Avenue (near Lefferts, the last stop on the A train) is another lively strip."
Greenpoint -- Polish
"Take the G train to Greenpoint Avenue and just start walking down Manhattan Ave. As you walk down Manhattan Ave, you'll notice MANY stores with kielbasa hanging in the window. Some places to hit:
Kielbasa Shop on Manhattan between Driggs and Nasau. I gather from a post on this board that if you get there on 10:30am on a Sat morning you'll get the kielbasa fresh and hot. They also offer "fresh" hot rye bread.
Steve's on Nassau just off of Manhattan (Nassau is also a good shopping area) is another must-stop for kielbasa.
Then of course there is my favorite challah bakery: Rzeszowska Bakery (948 Manhattan near Java, 718 383 8142). $3.75 for a huge challah.
Many of the restaurants are typical Polish meat and potato home style meals. If you're up for that, a good one to try would be Happy End on Manhattan and Kent.
Another good meat and potato is Old Poland Bakery and restaurant on 190 Nassau. ($5 entrees come with two scoops of mashed potatoes and a choice of two vegetables)"
"There's a good Polish restaurant on the corner of Norman and Leonard Streets, called Mareck's. I'm not sure if the name is posted, but the sign used to say Polish dinners. There you will find all of the classics: perogis, keilbasa, cabbage soup, etc. It's cafeteria style and the prices are dirt cheap. The nearest train stop is Nassau Avenue on the G line. I'm pretty sure the #61 bus goes past there, too. The main drag is Manhattan Avenue, a lively strip where you're bound to find some good restaurants. Nassau Avenue also has a lot to offer."
Midwood -- Jewish and Islamic
"Take the Q train to Newkirk. Walk to Coney Island Avenue. Make a left. On Coney Island Avenue you'll pass many Pakistani stores, restaurants, and sweet shops. You'll also see Bahar (984 Coney Island Ave, 718 434 8088), a good Afghan restaurant. In addition, you'll run across some Orthodox Jewish places, including Famous Pita (935 Coney Island Ave.) which has been discussed on this board. When you get to Avenue J (a few blocks), turn right again. Most of the stores and restaurants on this street are Orthodox, but near the train tracks on the right, you'll see DiFara's (1424 Ave. J). The train by DiFara's is the Q train so you can go home from there."
The Queens Council on the Arts publishes a booklet entitled "The International Express: A Guide to Ethnic Communities along the #7 Line".
You can get a copy by mailing $1.00 to:
Queens Council on the Arts
79-01 Park Lane South
Woodhaven, NY 11421-1166
Their web site is here: http://www.queenscouncilarts.org/html...
Astoria -- Mediterranean and Brazilian
"The best stops on the N route for chowhounds are 36th Ave., Broadway, and 30th Avenue. Steinway Street has Middle Eastern/Egyptian restaurants. You can reach Steinway by the Astoria Boulevard stop on the N and walking up a few blocks and turning right."
"The best Brazilian food in the city, bar none, is at La Malagueta at 25-35 36th Avenue in Astoria. The chef worked at CT and prepares refined but authentic Brazilian food at truly bargain prices. Friday is Feijoada night. It is a distance from Ditmars Blvd. but very accessible to Manhattanites who who don't mind taking the N train to the second stop in Queens, 36th Avenue, and walking 3 blocks east."
"Ditmars is north of the Grand Central which divides Astoria in two. There is plenty going on south of the highway, also. 30th Avenue (Grand Ave. to locals) is a great shopping street. Good butchers and fishmongers and several great vegetable stores. Originally a Greek and Italian neighborhood, there are still plenty of good markets (Tony & Dave's, Marino's Fish Market, the Mediterranean Store) as well as Halal meat markets, Columbian "pollos a la grilla", pastry shops, Chinese take out, etc. Broadway is also a fascinating area with several Greek cafes, Karyatis Restaurant, and a great Central European Pork store one or two blocks west of Karyatis."
Flushing -- Chinese and Korean
"Ride in the front of the first car of the 7 train, looking out the window as you go along. It is elevated in Queens, and you can see a few Queens landmarks, like Mets stadium and Flushing Meadows with the 'as seen in Men in Black' big metal globe. You would pass them when riding the 7 train to the end of the line: Main St. Flushing. It is about 30-40 minutes on the 7 train from Grand Central."
"Take the #7 subway to the last stop (Main & Roosevelt) in Queens. Start walking west on Roosevelt Ave. (towards Shea Stadium) for a block or so. You'll be in Flushing and in an Asian food wonderland. It's easy to spend the day exploring, tasting and discovering places. A Taiwanese restaurant I've been to several times that has never failed to please is Laifood at 38-18 Prince Street. There are tons of others however."
"If you go to Flushing, the downtown area has more Chinese restaurants with a sprinkling of others like Malaysian and Vietnamese, especially on the side streets along the northwest side of the LIRR station/overpass at Main Street."
"I would go out of my way to sample the Korean in Flushing. The downtown of Flushing is mostly Chinese merchants, but the majority of the population is Korean. If you travel east/northeast from the downtown area, generally up to and along Northern blvd, you will find a lot of good Korean restaurants."
Jackson Heights -- Latino and Indo-Pakistani
"The S. Asian places are around the 74th St stop. It's more S. American between 74th & Junction Blvd stops, and plenty of Mexican places along the way."
"The stretch under and around the 7 Line from the Woodside Station, to 74th or 82nd Street in Jackson Heights. A world tour in maybe a mile, with a mix that changes all the time. Highlights for me, but just barely scratching the surface, are Sripaphai, Krystal's Filipino (6902 Roosevelt Ave, 718 898 1900, for their wild purple pastries), (Ilhawan with their killer barbecue is right around there too but I've sadly not yet been), the big Korean Supermarket in the ex-A&P on the n. side of roosevelt just east of the BQE (there is a little Korean enclave in that part of the strip), the grocery stores and snack stands in the 74th St/37th Ave (1 block N. of Roosevelt) and vicinity indian enclave -- I recommend particularly Dimple (35-68 73rd St, 718 458 8144) for Indian Snacks/chaat and the Subzi Mandi for groceries/produce. Queens' Broadway crosses Roosevelt at 74th - follow it east a bit and you will see a malaysian rest, Rasa Sayang that some like.
Continue farther in that direction (think it's the F line) and you will come to Elmhurst another good chow spot with multiple Asian cuisines -- a lot of posts about this. Follow Roosevelt instead of Broadway and you will be in the midst of a fascinating Hispanic (from many countries) stew, with street vendors peeling oranges, chopping coconuts, cooking tortillas probably just as they do in their homelands. Endless opportunities to eat and snack and look."
Richmond Hill -- Indian
intersection of Atlantic Ave and Lefferts Blvd
"I think Richmond Hill is typical of a trend in formerly 'Indian-Pakistani-Bangladeshi' food in NYC going regional as certain neighborhoods are settled by specific groups. Richmond Hill is Sikh-Punjabi, Coney Island Ave is Pakistani, Staten Island is Sri Lankan, and (I think) Bellerose/Oakland Gardens is South Indian/Keralan."
also has a Guyanese neighborhood, along Jamaica Avenue
Woodside -- Filipino and Irish
61st street #7 stop is about 20 minutes from Grand Central Station
the area is from the 61st St to the 69th St Stations of the 7 train
Also along that path you pass the much discussed Sripraphai Thai restaurant (6413 39th Ave, 718 899 9599).
"There are a number of very excellent authentic-feeling Irish pubs in Woodside. Problem is they generally do not serve food, so you won't really find much variety in way of Irish eateries. One place however is Kilmegan's with a restaurant and a separate pub area with live music on the weekends."
And Donovan's for food.
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