04/23/18 10:49pm

Many places in Queens serve wonderful Mexican food, but there’s none quite like Tortilleria Nixtmal. That’s because Fernando Ruiz—who grew up eating fresh tortillas in Veracruz—and Shauna Page make their tortillas the old-fashioned way from freshly ground whole corn. And that’s why the boys from Queens Dinner Club and I have chosen Tortilleria Nixtamal to host our next dinner on May 16th. Tickets are $45 and may be purchased here.

Join us for a very special feast as we help christen Tortilleria Nixtamal’s new salon para fiestas above their tortilla factory on National Street just steps away from the 7 train! The festivities begin with a visit to the factory to taste the freshest tortillas in New York City. And then it’s upstairs to the salon, where the kitchen is rolling out all sorts of Mexican delicacies for QDC, including a taco trifecta featuring trompa de al pastor (rotisserie style roast pork); chivo (slow-cooked young goat); and pollo rostizado estilo Ciudad de México (Guajillo chili marinated rotisserie chicken). You can view the full menu here.

Our friends at Black Label Donuts are creating Mexican-inspired treats especially for this dinner. It’s our most popular event to date, so popular that we might even add a second night.

04/18/18 10:41pm

“You got to try our Cuban,” George Landin owner of street wear boutique All The Right told me when I stopped by other week to sign his copy of my guidebook “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss.”

Landin was referring to a Cuban sandwich on the menu of his latest venture, the Corona Diner, which opened this past summer. Just as my book is a love letter to Queens so is Landin’s diner. A mural featuring a who’s who of Queens—from rappers like Action Bronson, Run-DMC, and Nas to stars like Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, and Lucy Liu—lines one wall and the doors to the kitchen mimic those of the 7 train. (more…)

09/23/17 12:55pm

The King’s bubble gum ice in all its shocking pink glory!

For more than 60 years The Lemon Ice King of Corona has held court on the corner of 52nd Avenue and Corona Avenue supplying frozen treats to Mets fans, neighborhood children, and even the local FDNY company. In an effort to squeeze out the very last bits of summer, I’ve found myself stopping by there rather often. And, since it’s going to be almost 90 tomorrow, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you. Lemon’s the classic, but I also like orange/vanilla swirl, vanilla chocolate chip, and a newer addition, spumoni.

I’ve been branching out with the fruit flavors like the lovely cantaloupe, but the other day I tried a decidedly non-fruit flavor: bubble gum. Perched atop the medium-sized paper squeeze cop was a rosette of bubblegum pink ice flecked with yellow and green bits. (more…)

08/15/17 12:44pm

Steamed veal pelmeni, spa food via Russia and Corona.

There are many, many Central Asian eateries in Forest Hills and Rego Park where one can procure a plate of pelmeni, the pleated Russian ravioli, but there’s none quite like Forest Hills Spa. That’s because the tiny restaurant lies within the only authentic Russkaya banya, or Russian spa, in Queens. Banya—an experience that combines a eucalyptus scented steam room, sauna, and a blistering Russian Room where the temperature hovers around 190F—is a Russian tradition. The banya is just one of many places featured in my new guidebook 111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss, which drops later this year.

The menu at the tiny restaurant illuminated by a skylight includes such spa-worthy items as fresh fruit juices, but on both visits I opted for the Russian ravioli. When in a Russian spa, why not eat Russian food? (more…)

08/14/17 12:03pm

As a friend likes to point out, summer—with its steamy humidity and lazy beach days—is far from over. With that in mind here are seven of my favorite international frozen treats from Indonesian and Thai shaved ices and South American slushies to old-school American ice cream for you to enjoy

1. Pitaya nieves, Los Poblanos Grocery
Nieves, literally snows, are a wonderful frozen Mexican treat. With flavors like lip-puckering tamarind; refreshing melon; and jamaica, or tart hibisicus flowers, it’s easy to think of them as a frozen version of the auguas frescas that many vendors lining Roosevelt Avenue sell. There are many nieves sellers on La Roosie, but thankfully my peeps at Food & Footprints turned me on to one the best, Los Poblanos Grocery. On my first visit I had a jamaica, scarlet and refreshing and on my second, I had pitaya, better known as prickly pear. The tart red snow was shot through with crunchy seeds making it even more fun to eat.  Los Poblanos Grocery, 92-19 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights

2. Naem kaeng sai, Teacup Cafe
When I was a kid I was always jealous of one of my cousins who had the Snoopy Sno Cone machine. We never played with it, no doubt because the novelty had worn off. I trace my fascination with shaved ice to that unrequited desire for frozen confections. Now that I’m all grown up, there’s no better way for me to fulfill that childhood wish than Thai shaved ice or naem kang sai. As served at Teacup Cafe, it has enough sugar and toppings for a kid’s birthday party.

First choose your syrup—red or green—and then pick from eleven toppings. The red syrup, an artificial take on the sala fruit is floral and ultrasweet as is the green, which resembles cream soda. Toppings include taro, black grass jelly, pudding, corn, mixed fruit, coconut, palm seeds, red beans, toddy palm seeds, jackfruit, and popping bubbles. Three toppings will run you $4, but for the princely sum of $5.50 you can get all of the toppings. The result is an arctic explosion of colors, textures, and flavors. Teacup Cafe, 76-23 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, Phone: (718) 426-2222 (more…)

05/04/15 10:12am
BOHIO3

The frio frio man’s new flavor tastes like a tropical vacation via Corona.

There’s no surer sign for this Queens kid that spring’s here and summer’s around the corner than the emergence of the frio frio man, a Dominican shaved ice vendor, in the window of El Bohio Grocery. Bottles of fruit flavored syrup—tamarindo, naranja, limon, coco, and frambuesa—line the counter along with a 75-pound block of ice. By the time I arrived on a sunny late afternoon last week the glacier had been whittled down to about 25 pounds by the shuss shuss shuss of his scraper. If Benfaremo is the Lemon Ice King of Corona then this gentleman is surely Corona’s El Rey del Frio Frio Dominicano. (more…)

07/10/14 10:08am
FRUITMAN

Nothing beats the heat like fresh tropical fruit.

It’s hot in the big city children. As much as I like to sweat over a bowl of mapo tofu or tuck into a bowl of Thai soup, sometimes the best way to cool off is the tropical way, by sipping on the cool hydrating milk of a freshly hacked open young coconut. And there’s no better place  to get one than the decidedly laid back Dominican gentleman who his fruit stand sits on the north side of Rooosevelt Avenue near 104 Street. I’ve been waiting for him to set up shop and was glad to see that he’s back on the street food scene. (more…)

02/19/14 9:57am
CM-MAMAS

An Italian-American cure for the wintertime blues.

If you’re anything like me you’ve had enough of winter. So today’s Sandwich Wednesday is for you and me, one of my summertime favorites, the Mama’s Special ($7.50) from Leo’s Latticini in Corona. I like to eat it in the backyard of the neighboring cafe, which like most of Queens is still a frozen waste land.

Unlike other Italian combos, which employ an entire deli case of meats, this hero takes a more restrained approach. Three ingredients: Genoa salami, pepper ham, and creamy white mozzarella are tucked into a semolina loaf. You will be asked if you want roasted peppers and marinated mushrooms. It’s an offer you shouldn’t refuse. I’d give my lucky chopsticks to eat one right now and watch Corona’s boys of summer play boccie in nearby Spaghetti Park. And, of course an Italian ice for dessert.

Leo’s Latticini (Mama’s of Corona), 46-02 104th St., Corona, 718-898-6069

01/20/14 10:02am
TLAYUDA1

Way better than Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza.

I’ve passed Cienega Grocery & Deli dozens and dozens of times in my perambulations through Corona. I’ve always meant to stop in this Mexican grocer/restaurant. The other day the stars aligned in such a way that I poked my head in and learned that this humble deli specializes in the seldom-seen cuisine of Oaxaca, in the country’s Southwest. “Que es tlayuda?” read a hand lettered menu board. “Tortilla gigante de maiz orginaria de Oaxaca,” it continued, listing several options, including al pastor and chorizo.

I don’t if I was more excited to read Oaxaca or tortilla gigante. “Do you have chivo?” I asked. Once I got through the formalities and told them I knew what chivo was, I asked for a tlayuda topped with goat and eagerly awaited the arrival of the mystery antojito.

(more…)

10/30/13 10:16am
TORTASELECCION

Bisteck a la Mexicana is the star of La Seleccion.

“I’m sorry my friend. After tomorrow, no more tortas for you,” Galdino “Tortas” Molinero said as I perused the menu of Tortas Neza. The six-month permit for his mobile temple of tortas and fútbol runs out on Halloween, but Tortas is closing shop the day before.

“But where shall I go to procure a Mexican soccer themed sandwich the size of my head in the middle of the night,” I thought. Actually that’s a lie my thoughts were more like, “Better try something I haven’t had before.” That’s how I wound up eating a not so little number called La Seleccion ($9). Like of all of his sandwiches it’s named after a Mexican  fútbol club and is so messy that I took my watch off. (I also removed my jacket and did a warm up stretch.) (more…)