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
Finally made the very worthwhile trip to Ridgewood to taste this Pho Ga at Bun-ker Vietnamese. The smoked shallot broth with Bo Bo chicken takes almost eight hours to prepare, and I would find it hard to believe there is a better ‘chicken noodle soup’ anywhere else around. The banh mi (with 5 spice house smoked pate), banh xeo (crispy egg crepe with bacon and veggies), crab spring rolls, creamed taro leaves, tomato garlic fried rice… well, everything was beyond exceptional. Even the artichoke iced tea. But this noodle soup I will dream about. www.bunkervietnamese.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
Have you seen Blood Brothers at the Astoria Performing Arts Center yet? The musical had a record run on the West End and took the Olivier for best musical. This production features creative new direction and staging of the dark musical about twins separated at birth, setting them on different life paths that would ultimately cross again. Hilarious, poignant, and gripping, it tells the story of their life, love, and ultimately perilous fate.
Performances of Blood Brothers run May 2 – 18 at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church (30-44 Crescent Street, Astoria). Visit www.apacny.org to purchase $18 tickets or to contribute to the center, or call (888) 596-1027.
For Cinco de Mayo, Queens Comfort is running some insanely delicious specials this weekend, like these pork tacos—filled with a blend of tangy, tender stewed and smoked pork shoulder, then drizzled with creamy ranchero and salsa verde with a crunchy, cool nest of slaw. Queens Comfort * 40-09 30th Ave, Astoria * (718) 728-2350 * queenscomfort.blogspot.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
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
A whole new BLT at Salt & Fat in Sunnyside… this trio of fluffy bao buns look like Pac-Man savoring a power-up of tender braised pork belly with shreds of lettuce, ruby tomato slices, red onion slivers, and a drizzle of spicy mayo. Salt & Fat | 41-16 Queens Blvd, Sunnyside | (718) 433-3702 | www.saltandfatny.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