02/14/18 11:01am

One of the things I heard most from my editors when I was putting together 111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss was “Joe, there’s too much food on your list.” To which I mentally responded, “Don’t they know who they hired? I am the guy who ate Queens for chrissake!” Somehow I still managed to mention food and drink more than 40 times in the book. Herewith are seven of my favorites. To find out the others, you’ll have to score a copy. A great time to do so would be next Wednesday, February 21 when 111 Places in Queens Comes to Jackson Heights at Espresso 77. Ace photographer Clay Williams and I will even autograph your copy. Can’t make that? Come celebrate Chinese New Year at Leaf Cocktail Lounge with us on February 22nd.

1. Lhasa Fast Food
I’d love to take credit for discovering this gem of a Tibetan restaurant tucked behind a Jackson Heights cell phone store, but I can’t. Momo maven Jeff Orlick turned me on to it years ago. There’s nothing fast about the momo making here though. The reward for your patience? Juicy steamed beef dumplings that are amazing as is the thentuk soup featuring hand-torn swatches of dough. It’s such a special place it merited its own chapter! 37-50 74th St, Queens, NY 11372, 646-256-3805

2. Falafel slice at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant & Sushi Bar
This marvelous Middle Eastern mashup can be had at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant & Sushi Bar. It combines two great street foods New York City pizza and Israeli falafel. Topped with half a dozen falafel balls, I like to eat it with tahini and hot sauce. In case you are wondering, this novelty slice did not get its own chapter. It appears as a tip at the end of the chapter on the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s gravesite. 72-72 Main St, Flushing, 718- 268-0791 (more…)

12/17/13 12:08pm
FALAFELSLICE

It might look meatballs and marinara but it’s not.

When it comes to pizza, I am a hidebound traditionalist who hews to the classic New York City slice as served at Lucia. Glistening with orange grease and dusted with garlic powder and crushed red pepper there’s nothing better. Sure I’ve been known to enjoy blistered noveau Neapolitan pies from places like Co. and Motorino, but there’s one type of amalgam of cheese and dough for which there is little room in my pizza loving heart: the novelty slice. Buffalo chicken, barbecue, and ziti are all legitimate food groups unto themselves and have no business topping pizza. Neither, for that matter, does falafel. Yes, falafel. The falafel slice, as served at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Queens is the best and only novelty slice I have eaten to date. (more…)

05/24/13 2:04pm

Uncle John’s hot links are revelatory.

Saveur’s Editor-in-Chief James Oseland finds the best in-flight meal ever, the bibimbap from Korean Airlines.

The madmen over at the Lower East Side’s Eastwood have created a falafel scotch egg. What would Clint think?

Nick Solares, aka Beef Aficionado continues to make me hungry with an in-depth look at Porterhouse’s steak program. Three words: dry-aged fat baste.

And just in time for Memorial Day meat maven Josh Ozersky pens a Wall Street Journal piece on the New ‘Cue, which includes such wonders as the smoked marrow pho with brisket and house-made spicy Thai sausage at San Francisco’s Hi-Lo BBQ.

The kids over at Home Sweet Queens catch a case of momo fever after the Second Annual Momo Crawl.

Early this week Texas Monthly’s Daniel Vaughn the mag’s barbecue editor, issued “A Declaration of Barbecue War,” which includes such provocative statements as “Texas barbecue has no peer on earth.” There’s also a companion piece wherein Vaughn spars with John Shelton, an expert on North Carolina barbecue. Check out Shelton’s takedown of chain barbecue restaurants: ”pick-your-meat, pick-your-sauce, mix-and-match International House of Barbecue places that are increasingly common in our cities. True, they’re in North Carolina or Texas and they’re serving what they call barbecue, but it’s not North Carolina barbecue or Texas barbecue; it’s food from nowhere, for people from nowhere, who deserve nothing better.”

Robert Moss, a proud Carolinian fires back at Texas Monthly: “I could go on about the numerous contradictions and inconsistencies inherent in Texas Monthly’s barbecue jingoism, but here in the Carolinas, we try to be gracious. When we go to visit friends and they insist their 9-year-old daughter play us her latest recital piece on the violin, we clap when she finishes and murmur warm words about how well she played, considering her young age. If Mr. Vaughn or Ms. Sharpe offered us a plate of brisket or beef ribs from Snow’s or the Pecan Lodge, we would accept it graciously and say at the end of the meal, ‘My, that roast beef sure was tasty.’ Because our mamas raised us to be polite.”

02/13/13 10:23am
Not quite a shawafel, but still a great sandwich.

Not quite a shawafel, but still a great sandwich.

Those who know me well know that I hardly ever cook at home. This is not so much the result sloth as it is the fruit of an unquenchable desire for discovery coupled with the unrealistic expectation that every morsel of food I ingest must be a peak gastronomic experience. I do know how to cook, after a fashion, though. I’ve even burned myself in restaurant kitchens and almost burned down a restaurant kitchen while trying my hand at working the line.

From the moment I put a slice of bologna in an apple as a kid I’ve had a creative culinary streak. My finest creation to date is the shawafel. It occurred to me while eating at the now defunct On the Grill. The Israeli spot had both great falafel, and great chicken shawarma, carved from a gigantic tower of meat as all great shawarma should be.  So it was only natural for a creative genius of my caliber to suggest that the cook take some chicken shawarma and bread it in falafel batter. Thus was born the the shawafel sandwich.  I have not had one since On the Grill closed several years ago. (more…)