eating all the way to citi field by ari kellenI love Queens a whole lot, but most people in Manhattan and Brooklyn don’t visit much, apart from going to see the Mets.  Most people just view the 7 line, which runs through the heart of Queens, as little more than a long ride up to Citi Field.  Yet there’s so much more off this above-ground line than meets the eye.  Next time you’re on your way to “meet the Mets”, here are some great places to grab a bite or a drink right off various stops on the 7 line:

Irish pub woodside (Woodside 61st St): Once upon a time, New York was scattered with Irish ethnic enclaves, most of which have faded away as their residents moved out.  One of the few neighborhoods that still has a sizable Irish population is Woodside, Queens.  Although the Irish community isn’t as large as it once was, the pubs in Woodside still offer a level of authenticity that’s now lacking in most of Hell’s Kitchen.  If you don’t want to spend $12 for a Bud Light at Citi Field, then visit Donovan’s or Sean Og’s, both of which serve better beer for half the price.

Papa’s Kitchen (Woodside 61st St): In addition to being an Irish neighborhood, Woodside is home to a large Filipino community.  My favorite joint to visit is Papa’s Kitchen, a tiny spot (I don’t know how they fit in there) serving delicious, authentic Filipino.  Since so much Filipino food is deep-fried, it’s the perfect food to soak up that beer you had at Sean Og’s.  On evenings, they do karaoke, making Papa’s Kitchen an experience that goes beyond food.   

Tibetan food (Roosevelt Ave/Jackson Heights): Jackson Heights is the center of New York’s small but tight-knit Tibetan community.  Here, various hole-in-the-wall restaurants serve up top-notch noodles and momo (a type of dumpling) at ridiculously low prices.  Two places that really stand out are Phayul and Lhasa Fast Food.  Both of these are pretty hard to find; the former is up some stairs marked by a nondescript sign, and the latter is literally in the back of a cell phone shop.  But they’re well worth a visit, and will fill you up for less than what you’ll pay for a hot dog and fries at Citi Field.  

Tortas Neza (Junction Blvd): Owner Galdino Molinero, also known as “Tortas”, is an avid soccer fan who has turned his cash-only food truck into a love letter to the fútbol of his native Mexico.  While his loyalties lie with the Pumas, his 18 different overstuffed sandwiches are each named after a different Mexican soccer team.  Even if Tortas Neza is geared towards soccer, that’s in no way to discredit these sandwiches as a good prep for a baseball game.    

Rincon Criollo (Junction Blvd): After the Cuban Revolution closed down their popular Havana restaurant, the Acosta family brought their home-style cooking to Queens, opening Rincon Criollo in 1976.  Ever since, the restaurant has earned a well-deserved reputation for good old-fashioned, home-style Cuban cooking, and was even featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”.  The portions here are generous, prices reasonable, and the taste beats even Citi Field’s sausage & pepper sandwiches.  

Flushing Chinatown (Flushing Main St): It’s well-known that Flushing is home to New York’s largest and most authentic Chinatown, though most New Yorkers seldom visit; it’s even further than Citi Field, and once you get there, there are so many places, and it’s such a large neighborhood, that it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed.  Yet for your post-game dinner, there are some places that are well worth a visit: the food stalls of the Golden Shopping Mall, hot oil wontons from White Bear, fall-apart tender Muslim lamb chops from Fu Run and the flavorful traditional Sichuan of Spicy & Tasty.  All of these serve truly delicious, stand out food at low prices, offering an authentic experience you can’t get anywhere else in New York.