So many restaurants in Queens, where to start? If you’re a food lover and like to try new places but are overwhelmed by the large number of choices, get yourself a copy of “Food Lovers’ Guide to Queens,” a new book that takes the guesswork out of dining.
It is written by food maven Meg Cotner of Astoria, who has done the traveling and tasting so readers can find out where to go for Argentinian to West Indian cuisine — as well as American — and every nationality in between.
“Food is how we connect with others and I’m proud of what Queens offers,” she said.
But as the author admits in the introduction, Queens is a large borough and it would be unrealistic to include every last restaurant. Instead, she focuses on eateries easily reached by subway, and in some cases bus and railroad.
Cotner, a blogger who focuses on western Queens, said it took her three and a half months to test out the restaurants, bakeries and specialty food shops mentioned in the book. Not surprisingly, she also gained 20 pounds, but was able to work them off last summer swimming laps in the Astoria Pool.
The book is broken up by favorite neighborhood restaurants, landmark eateries that have withstood the test of time, specialty stores and street food. Even the most ardent foodie will find some unexpected surprises. Take for example Malu, a Long Island City ice cream shop with intriguing flavors and premium taste. Then there’s the Buttercup Bake Shop Outlet, also in Long Island City, which features freshly made cupcakes and other baked goods with discounted prices. The original establishment is located in Manhattan and is especially known for its cupcakes.
In Flushing, Cotner offers the best places to get dumplings and other Asian specialties. Then she discusses Lucia Pizza on Roosevelt Avenue, located next door to a bubble tea establishment. The author loves the juxtaposition of old Flushing and new coexisting side by side. She raves about the pizza slices in tiny Lucia, which has been around for 55 years.
Over in Bayside, Cotner is a fan of Three Brothers Butcher BBQ, a meat market as well as an eatery. She especially likes the pulled pork sandwich and barbecued fries, topped with a choice of barbecued pork, beef, chicken or chile with cheddar, hot peppers and onions.
For further ethnic selections, Cotner recommends among others El Sitio in Woodside for its Cuban sandwiches; El Riconcito de Tito in Jackson Heights for empanadas; Ayada in Elmhurst for Thai specialties; Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona for tacos and tortillas; Antica Trattoria in Ridgewood for Italian fare; and Cheburechnaya in Rego Park for Russian food.
And there are many, many more, including longtime favorites such as Zum Stammtisch in Glendale for superb German food; Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria for Czech-Slovak cuisine; Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Forest Hills for ice cream delights; the Jackson Diner in Jackson Heights for Indian food; and Ben’s Best in Rego Park for classic kosher deli choices.
Cotner admits that her choices “come down to taste,” but says, “there’s so much variety in Queens that there’s something for everyone.” So you may not see all your favorites; either she didn’t like them or didn’t get to them. In making her selections, the author used her preferences, got recommendations from friends, spent a lot of time looking around and did some research online.
“I feel I chose well,” she said.
The author obviously loves Queens and what it has to offer in food. The reader will not be disappointed. The book, published by Globe Pequot Press, is available for $14.95 online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.