Never was there a dreamier donut than this PB&J donut made by Montana at Queens Comfort. It’s a cake donut with whole strawberries swirled into the actual batter, like little bites of preserves mixed in with the cake. And they put the donut hole back in before serving it! Only available on the weekends. www.queenscomfort.blogspot.com
Be sure to ask about the brick oven pizza specials at Via Trenta (Italian for 30th Ave), like this fantastic rustic flatbread with garlic, truffle spread, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and basil. And remember at lunch, even if you don’t order one of the weekday $10 pasta/panini/pizza specials (the margherita pizza is always one of the options), you still get soup or salad with your entree. Via Trenta | 36-19 30th Ave, Astoria | (718) 545-2090 | viatrenta.com
The Queens Kickshaw introduces its new dinner menu tomorrow! Above are the kimchi dumplings, stuffed with shitake mushrooms and vermicelli, in a kimchi consommé. There’s also a kimchi lasagna, arancini (deep fried fritters of cider risotto and fontina), homemade beet pasta alfredo, bibimbap with quail eggs and rice cooked in whey, and tortilla manicotti stuffed with ricotta and poblanos. This menu is out of this world! The Queens Kickshaw, 40-17 Broadway, Astoria, (718) 777-0913, www.thequeenskickshaw.com
“Growing up in Austin, Texas smoked BBQ is in our blood. Every Saturday night my parents would get mesquite and hickory burning in our 8 foot backyard smoker (that my dad had welded together) and tend to its fire overnight. On Sunday afternoon, right after church, we had us a good ol’ time. We wanted to offer a “Meatopia” of our favorite meats and the Butcher’s Platter was born—a sampler of burnt end brisket, pork belly, and ribs topped with mac and cheese and bacon-string beans. Just like Momma’s Sunday BBQ!” Orlando Sanchez, Executive Chef, Butcher Bar, 37-08 30th Ave, Astoria, (718) 606-8140, butcherbar.com
The dumplings at JJ’s Asian Fusion are insanely addictive. Their ‘dim sum’ (bottom-left) are homemade crab and chicken meatballs bundled in dumpling wrappers and crowned with shrimp, served with ginger dipping sauce. I also love their playful twist on shumai (bottom-right), where the meatballs are rolled in shredded dumpling skin and then steamed in bamboo leaves to-order. They also serve their famous edamame dumplings in wasabi cream sauce (top) with a drizzle of basil oil, along with traditional gyoza, and even steamed king crab gyoza. All dumplings and sauces are made in-house daily. JJ’s Asian Fusion * 37-05 31st Ave, Astoria * (718) 626-8888 * www.jjsfusion.com
I don’t understand how everyone is not constantly raving about Homemade Taqueria just off Northern Blvd in Astoria/LIC. Fantastic, cheap, authentic Mexican cuisine. They make their own tortillas every day… by hand, not machine. Same with the empanadas (spinach and queso pictured above) and huaraches (try it with the smoked pork chop). The fresh juices are delicious (I added a few ice cubes floating with the seeds… so refreshing!) And the best part… they have a ‘fixins’ station at the counter where you can apply your own pico de gallo, cilantro, salsas, shaved radishes, beans, and nopales (cactus). Homemade Taqueria * 45-09 34th Ave, Astoria * (718) 255-1349 * www.homemadetaqueria.com
The Shady Lady started brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-4 pm… and I predict a line out the door within a few weeks of word getting out. Behold this chicken biscuit… a homemade buttermilk biscuit with gorgeously crispy fried chicken, strips of bacon, melted cheddar, and yes, a slathering of country-style sausage gravy… what!?!?! The whole brunch menu is kinda sorta off the charts. For $20 you can also add unlimited brunch cocktails. The Shady Lady * 34-19 30th Ave, Astoria * 718-440-9081
Millionaire Realty on Astoria Boulevard (near Crescent) still sports the old alphanumeric telephone exchange. Here, AS for Astoria — AStoria4-5500. Millionaire has been here for a long time—but then again, you can tell that simply by looking at it.
Jamaican me crazy with this jerk chicken sandwich at Bareburger… if you haven’t checked out the updated menu, they offer sweet potato croquettes, a crab cake sandwich, and several new items alongside their now famous burgers (try one with bison, wild boar, elk, or ostrich!) But this bad boy is rubbed with a feisty jerk seasoning, served ‘Country Bacon’ style with sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo. From the original Bareburger location at 33-21 31st Ave, Astoria | (718) 777-7011 | www.bareburger.com
Did you know Pita Pan serves a rather killer personal pizza? Their mozzarella sticks are some of the best around, too, served with a special house creamy tomato sauce. You can even order a pizza covered with gyro meat, a Greek pizza, or a delicious version of the Hawaiian with pineapple and ham. Pita Pan | 37-15 30th Ave, Astoria | (718) 204-1633 | www.pitapanastoria.com
If you get a late night craving this weekend, remember that Crave Astoria is open until 5 a.m. (they deliver, too). Serving Greek classics with a contemporary twist in a casual setting, you can find something for almost any palate. Pictured: (top) Philly Cheesesteak Crave Bowl in an iron skillet over twice-cooked ‘chips’; (bottom left) Greek Bowl of french fries topped with lamb gyro, cherry tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, and warm lemon vinaigrette; (bottom-right) Crave Burger with black angus beef, lettuce, tomato, american cheese, and house remoulade. They also serve souvlaki sticks, loaded baked potatoes, fish ‘n chips, and nearly 20 different sauces for dipping french fries (try the kung fu ketchup!) Crave Astoria | 28-55 36th St, Astoria | (718)726-4976 | www.craveastoria.com
This is just the cross-section of the newest vegetarian sandwich from Queens Comfort—a gargantuan, crispy fried mozzarella ball stuffed with roasted red peppers and portobello mushrooms, sandwiched with a smoky mayo coleslaw and served with fries. Queens Comfort * 40-09 30th Ave, Astoria * (718) 728-2350 * queenscomfort.blogspot.com
I couldn’t believe it. On the way to Queens Kickshaw’s 2nd anniversary party (Congratulations, btw!), my foodie senses drew me to this cart. There I realized it was 2 old friends - One was a partner from the original Himalayan Hut in Jackson Heights, and the other was one half of Tawa on 72nd street (his sister recently opened up in the JH Food Court).
Yuvaraaj, the owner, introduced himself to me last year at Viva la Comida, where he said he was opening up a street food establishment… I never thought it would turn up like this. He’s doing homestyle Indian food, with momos too, and selling Lassi from his friend’s business in Jamaica, Queens.
The cart is dedicated to his son, who always wanted to own a pushcart. Quality food, and the freedom of owning their own business - his passion makes me proud to be an American.