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…)

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…)

05/06/16 3:43pm

Living in Queens, arguably the most diverse food destination in the world has made me conversant, if not expert, in global cuisines ranging from Thai and Indonesian to Mexican and Peruvian, to name a very few.

Even though I’m an intrepid explorer of Chinese hawker stands, Central American street food carts, and West Indian roti spots there’s one place that still baffles me, NetCost Market, or as I like to call it “Nyet Cost.” The gigantic Russian supermarket, which offers everything from caviar and charcuterie to fermented mare’s milk and kvass is around the corner from my house, yet I hardly ever shop there. (more…)

04/04/14 10:53am
PLOMBIR

“Best what we have,” from Mother Russia and Dadu via Rego Park.

When it comes to Russian luxury the first thing that comes to mind is caviar and Faberge eggs not ice cream. Nevertheless I could hardly resist this new brand of Russian ice cream I spotted yesterday at one of the many gourmet shops that line the Bukharian Broadway that is 108th Street in Rego Park. Russian ice cream is one of the reasons I love living in Rego Park, but honestly the packaging is usually more interesting than the ice cream itself. And so it proved to be with Dadu’s Luxury ice cream.

The package container a wafer cone packed with decent chocolate ice cream, hardly the equivalent of Magnum’s level of luxury. I’m just glad it didn’t cost more than $1.75. The real luxury was to be found in eating it as I walked down the street on the first real day of spring

To submit your delicious finds to Photo Friday simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it, check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.