About a week ago I had the honor of appearing on Travel Channel’s Street Eats: U.S.A. for a segment on street foods in New York City. For those who didn’t get to see it and for those who crave more curbside cuisine I’ve devoted this week’s edition of The Seven to street food. Here then in no particular order are seven of my current street food faves. Some appeared on the show, and some some didn’t. Have a favorite street food you think I left out? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.
1. Pedro El Cevichero
I first encountered Pedro’s sidewalk ceviche outside a market in Elmhurst. His Mexican ceviche mise en place includes olive oil, limes, onions, cilantro, and a tomato-based sauce. South of the Border ceviche is called coctele, as in shrimp cocktail. It’s more of a cold seafood soup than the Peruvian version. Pedro makes it right before your very eyes. It’s like watching a seafood mixologist as you listen to the 7 train rumble by overhead. Shrimp cocteles are available in three sizes ($8, $10, $12). The excellent mixto, shrimp and octopus is ($6, $8, $10). Find Pedro at Roosevelt Ave. and 80th St. from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
2. Baul Daada Jaal Muri Shop
This is not so much a shop as a streetside Bangladeshi chaat vendor. As the name implies there’s only one specialty here, jaal muri. Three bucks gets you an order of Baul Daada’s spicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. Find Daada on 73 St. near 37 Ave. from late afternoon to around 10 p.m. weather permitting.
3. Lechonera La Piraña
I don’t usually travel to the Boogie Down Bronx to dine, but when I do I usually take a tip from Bronx maven Chris Crowley. I am forever indebted to him for introducing me to Lechonera La Piraña, an outfit that puts the street life in street food. Situated in a trailer that blares merengue La Piraña, is a bastion of Boricua pride and of course, pork. The latter, which emerges from an oven housed in a wagon attached to the trailer, is excellent. The ruddy, shattering skin is encrusted with a garlicky dry rub. Crunch through to find some truly wonderful pork. A generous plate of pork with rice and pigeon peas will set you back $8. Find La Piraña on 152nd St. and Wales Ave., The Bronx, weekends only.
4. The Lemon Ice King of Corona
Started in 1944 by Peter Benfaremo, the Lemon Ice King of Corona is the granddaddy of old-school Queens street food. In addition to the classic refreshing lemon ice find such unusual flavors as peanut butter, licorice,cantaloupe, and bubble gum. My faves these days are the orange vanilla swirl and spumoni (pictured). The Lemon Ice King of Corona, 52-02 108th Street, Corona, 718-699-5133
5. Corner 28 Peking Duck Window
There’s a reason I chose to turn the Travel Channel on to the Corner 28 Peking Duck Window. It’s the same reason I include it on every Flushing food tour. At $1 a pop it’s quite simply the tastiest and cheapest street food in New York City. Each pillowy bao cradles a bit of bird slathered with hoisin and topped with some greenery. Best of all you’ll have plenty of room to eat your way around Flushing. That is of course if you can restrain yourself to eating just one of the delicious little sandwiches.Corner 28, 40-28 Main St., (718) 886-6628
6. Tortas Neza
When the Travel Channel contacted me I also insisted that Galdino “Tortas” Neza, the undisputed king of the Mexican sandwich be included in the show. Tortas sells 19 varieties of overstuffed Mexican sandwiches, all named for Mexican soccer clubs. The Tortas Puma ($14) is an immense creation consisting of a breaded chicken cutlet, head cheese, chorizo, and fried eggs, among other things. It is enough to feed four, or two gluttons. Less hearty eatiers will be satisfied with one of the many other sandwiches. Tacos here, particularly the carnitas are also excellent. Tortas Neza, Roosevelt Ave. and 111th St. Corona, 347-666-1517
7. A&G Himalayan Fresh Food
Momo, the beef dumplings beloved of Tibetans—are everywhere in the neinghborhood I like to call Himalayan Heights. So popular are the crimped top little packages that I have taken to calling the hood’s Tibetan restaurants momo parlors. My favorite place to get them these days isn’t a restaurant though. It’s this cart run by brothers Amchu and Gyatso who hail from Amdo in Central Tibet. In addition to momo ($5 for 8), the brothers also sell a traditional flat bread called baklep. A small one, slightly larger than an English muffin goes for a $1, while the dinner plate-sized version will set you back $8. A&G Himalayan Fresh Food, Broadway and 73rd St., Jackson Heights
Joe- awesome job landing the Travel Channel spot! I had an awesome time chatting it up with Galdino and an even better time gorging on a humongous Tortas con Carnitas! I can’t wait to venture back into Queens to take on the Pumas- but I’ll most likely need your help buddy. See you soon!
Caught you on the Travel Channel show, Joe – good stuff. And you found Pedro! Excellent – have to go see him again