Where to Eat and Drink in Queens: A Local’s Guide
Over 160 languages are spoken in the New York City borough of Queens, more than in any other municipality on earth, and half of its 2.3 million residents were born outside the United States. People of color, who represent 50% of Queens’ population, own a vast majority of local businesses. And in a town where real estate comes at a premium, nearly half of Queens residents own their homes, a figure almost double the New York City average.
None of this data is particularly appetizing, though it’ll help you understand why Queens attracts dreamers from across the world: to build new lives and resurrect far-flung communities, to open shops and start families, to cook and be fed. Queens is far from perfect, but there’s no more inspiring example of the pluralistic America we’ve all been promised.
It’s also America at its most delicious. When I was growing up in the neighborhood of Floral Park, then Whitestone, then Douglaston and Forest Hills, this was obvious to every bridge-and-tunnel kid I knew. If you’re hungry for it, there’s inevitably someone in Queens who cooks or imports it, on the books and otherwise.
You can see this plainly by peeping out the windows along the 7 train, nicknamed the “International Express” for good reason. Or by taking a stroll down Astoria’s bustling Eurozone boulevards. Or by paying a visit to one of the borough’s many Chinatowns—yes, Flushing is only one of them.
Recently, the rest of the country has caught on to Queens’ astonishing array of restaurants and markets, its secret kitchens and stalwart street vendors. This looming gaze is as much a threat as a boon; rising rents and luxury developments, buoyed by all the borough’s hype, run the risk of displacing our most vulnerable neighbors. But Queens endures, and there’s never been a more exciting time to eat here.
There are so many great things to eat in Queens, I could write 10 versions of this guide. So consider this list an opinionated start to give you a lay of the land from someone who’s lived here all his life. Whichever destinations you visit, you’ll undoubtedly find a gem of your own along the way.