While Manhattan is iconic, real New Yorkers know that New York City is much more than the island.
One of the many gems of the outer boroughs is Astoria, Queens, indicated by all the new organic vegan restaurants and artisanal fair trade yoga studios (read: gentrification).
Hipsters and co. aside, Astoria is pretty damn great. It has some beautiful parks, some adorable Mom-and-Pop stores, and a trendy vibe, with slightly larger apartments.
But the best way to really know a neighborhood is to do as the Romans do, or in this case eat as the Greeks do.
Skip your Saturday gym sesh, put on your stretchiest pants, and take the N over to Astoria for a day of awesome food.
Here’s some great spots to indulge in some overindulgence, but feel free to explore for yourself.
Breakfast: Astoria Bagel Shop (28-12 Ditmars Blvd)
This is a no muss, no fuss, carb-lover’s sanctuary. While there are more upscale bagel shops with crazy flavored cream cheese, Astoria Bagel Shop is a neighborhood institution with big traditional chewy bagels.
Service can be a bit slow, but they make up for it by piling on the cream cheese and keeping the prices low. Get their everything, it’s truly everything.
Brunch: Astor Bake Shop (12-23 Astoria Blvd)
Nestled on a quiet corner, with an old diner-style tiled floor and 2 walls of windows, Astor Bake Shop is a bright and eccentric spot. It offers American and European pastries, a coffee bar, and services all meals, but it’s the best space for a relaxed brunch.
The semi-soft boiled egg and salmon sandwich is a great choice, and even comes with some greens so you can pretend you’re healthy. The menu is pretty diverse, but whatever you do order, get their garlic fries. Trust me.
Boozy Brunch: The Astor Room (35-11 35th Avenue)
Brunch is great, but is it really brunch without some spiked orange juice? It’s even better with live jazz music and a historic setting, which is exactly what you’ll get at The Astor Room.
On Sundays, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., you can descend a marble staircase and for $35, you get an appetizer, an entree, and bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys. You can’t go wrong if you get the donut holes and the wonderfully moist buttermilk ranch chicken and waffles.
Lunch: Little Egypt (Steinway Street Between Astoria Blvd and 28th Avenue)
True Astorians know that Little Egypt is the go-to place for halal food and authentic Middle Eastern flavor. Falafel, shawarma, and lamb can be found in both carts all along the street, as well as in small, hole-in-the-wall eateries.
Dinner: e-Taverna (26-19 23rd Avenue)
Astorians also know that despite all the new transports, it will continue to to be the land of the Greeks. While Taverna Kyclades is a known popular spot, a few blocks down is e-Taverna, a small and rustic spot that feels like home.
Any of their whole grilled fishes and souvlaki specials are great choices, but the can’t-miss menu points are the Pikilia (assortment of spreads), the Keftedakia (seasoned meatballs), and the Moussaka (absolute amazingness).
Dessert: Sweet Janes (27-14 24th Avenue)
After a long day of eating, you’ll likely have heartburn, and nothing helps cool everything down better than ice cream. Sweet Janes may be small, but it has a huge range of flavors for traditional ice cream, dairy free ice cream, and ices and sorbets.
The best part? There’s bottomless tasting, so be sure to sample a ton, including the interesting blueberry lavender. You also can’t miss the FudgeStickle, a dairy-free, gluten-free, and Non-GMO low calorie dream.
Drinks: Break Bar & Billiards (32-04 Broadway)
The best way to end the day is through a good drink with great friends. Break Bar features 18 beers on tap as well as dozens of bottle options, a good selection of liquors, and an inventive signature cocktail list--The Annie Jones is a personal favorite.
The spot also has a tasty food menu and tons of TV, but the best part is the games. Beyond billiards, foosball, and darts, the place also has giant Jenga, giant Connect 4, vintage video games, ping pong, and much more![Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]