Archive for August, 2008

Lupita Mexican Grocery Astoria

Posted on August 30, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, Specialty Food Markets |

 Lupita (29-15 21st Ave 718-726-6194 free delivery) es una tienda (bodega) pequena con productos Mexicanos y Centroamericanos…y Norteamericanos. Tienen tacos, tortas y si vienes antes 10am en la fin de semana- compras tamales- dulce o picante- estan muy ricos. Lupita tiene tambien- jarittos soda, dulce de mexico, espices, tostadas marca Los Pericos (me gustas mucho con queso, pollo y tomates), platanos, tomates verdes y mas. Si no tienes hambre, Maria puede ayudarte con su espanol…

Lupita is a small jem of a bodega that has a deceptively large selection. Lupita carries products of Mexico, Central & North America like candy, sodas-jarittos, tosatadas Los Perdicos, spices and general groceries. Lupita also has a small selection of unique produce containing green tomatoes and plantains. Be sure to try the tacos and tortas- sweet or spicy tamales are served on the weekend- but you must get there early. Service is always friendly and may even include a Spanish lesson.

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Deshi Biryani- Bengali Food Jackson Heights

Posted on August 30, 2008. Filed under: Jackson Heights, Middle Eastern |

Deshi Biryani (75-18 37th Ave Jackson Heights 718-803-6232) offers traditional Biryani dishes at decent prices. Biryani is primarily south Asian rice dishes- mainly basmati rice served with meats and spices like cinnamon, cardamon, ginger and cloves. It’s difficult to imagine a restaurant serving dishes smothered in exotic meats and rich spices could fall so short of expectations, alas it did fall hard and short. The menu held such promise, but the entire experience from start to end was an unfortunate disappointment. Upon entering the restaurant, and standing and then waiting almost five minutes to be seated by one of the three servers. It’s a tragedy in the food business to have more waitstaff than there are occupied tables, but still having to wait to be seated. Brought by the first waitress was the crispy nan, hot and buttery. The mango lassi (yogurt drink) was palpable, thick and sweet. But the main entree-brought by a second waitress- left much to be desired. The Cocktail Seek Kabab with spicy minced chicken seasoned with coriander (cilantro) and ginger consisted of barely luke warm chicken sausages on a bed of iceberg lettuce, not so flavorful. The food here is lackluster and the service is scattered and inconsistent.  Perhaps another visit will bring a more gratifying experience with some of the other dishes like the Sabji soup (carrots, cabbage, peas and lemongrass) or the Kaci Biryani- (baby goat & rice with raisins), but wait if I can only find my server…

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Labor Day Weekend en Queens etc- Pie Eating, Music and Movies

Posted on August 28, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, Entertainment, LIC |

If you’re staying in the city for the holiday weekend- here are a few things to keep you entertained…

Head to Pasha in Astoria (corner of 31st St & Newtown Ave 718-726-0203 N/W 30th Ave)- the Bosnian Cafe & Grill is back in business after renovating into a bigger space. Enjoy the Bosnian salad, Pasull soupmade with white beans, smoked beef & lamb or perhaps one of the many sandwiches or ethnic platters available. Prices range from $5-$14

Hell Gate Social 12-21 Astoria Blvd.  718-204-8313 By Train: N/W train to Astoria blvd Aug 31st 2pm- Pie eating contest and outdoor BBQ

Don’t miss the last weekend for Water Taxi Beach and PS1- Party outside with a DJ, sand and drinks to celebrate the end of summer

LIC Bar- (45-58 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101 – 718-786-5400) Saturday 31st 5-7- BBQ & Gillian Visco-Live Indie Folk Music, Sunday August 31st- 3pm Andy Stack- Live Rock Music

Monday– September 1st- Pacific Standard Pub– More free movies in Brooklyn (82 Fourth Ave 718-858-1851 btwn Bergen & St Mark St)- Tonight you’ll be blinded with science… recover from all that drinking, by drinking more! 8pm Real Genius & 10pm Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension

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Natural Market Organic Foods LIC

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, LIC, Specialty Food Markets |

There are a handful of organic markets in the LIC and Astoria area, but this one is a true gem. I stumbled upon this market via a bike trip through the neighborhood and have then since returned.  Natural Market’s (46-03 Broadway 718-274-1591) inventory includes great finds that would otherwise require a trip to Whole Foods or Trader Joes. There is a large selection of gluten-free products such as cake, pancake, and cookie mixes and breads. There is also a variety of dried quinoa, cous cous, polenta and rice- great for vegetarians. For those who enjoy coffee but can’t stomach the acidity or caffeine- they have Cafix- an instant coffee substitute made with chicory root, beet, and barley- a popular drink in N’Orleans country. There is also an array of teas from Yogi to Celestial Seasonings and other brands. This place stands out from the rest for its large selection of groceries, fresh vegetables and fruits, home made deli sandwiches, salad bar, frozen goods (ie burger alt., meals, gelato, soy ice-creams), and organic juice bar. There are peanut-butter alternatives, like almond butter and an entire aisle dedicated to organic cereal. You can enjoy a seat and eat a hearty sandwich inside the store at one of the three tables. Prices range from cheap- $2.75 for a sandwich to more expensive $10 organic bottled juices, depending on the item. They also carry a plethora of Seventh Generation home/cleaning products, JASON beauty items, herbs and natural health supplements. This is a great addition to the neighborhood if you’re looking for variety and an alternative to other area grocers.

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From LIC to Little India Jackson Heights Bike Tour

Posted on August 25, 2008. Filed under: Bike Journeys in Queens, Jackson Heights, LIC |

There are only a few more weeks to enjoy the summer warmth… and that means getting off your bum and onto your bike. Here’s a bike friendly  journey that took me from the heart of LIC to the meat and potatoes of Jackson Heights. Map

Start 50th Ave & Vernon Blvd LIC-Head North/East on Vernon Blvd

Turn Right onto Broadway until you hit 59th/60th Street- then veer left onto 34th Ave

Take a right onto 78th Street until you hit 37th Ave- take another right- You are in Jackson Heights…

Starting Point- Dorian Cafe on 10-01 50th Ave at Vernon Blvd in Long Island City. At this low-key but tasty restaurant, you can stock-up on a hearty and inexpensive brunch-(greek omelets, pancakes, mimosa…) before you start pedaling. You will then head North/East on Vernon Blvd. This is a road that’s wide and scenic with a bike lane. You will pass Queensbridge Park and Rainy Park along the way- so if you need a break- you can stroll along the grassy knoll. Keep going (about 10 min) until you come to the First Stop– Socrates Sculpture Park – at Vernon and Broadway, chain up your bike and take a walk along this riverside amusement. There are always some unusual works by local artists to ponder  or you can just sit along the water and listen to the wind chimes by the trees. Turn left onto Broadway- this is a major street with quite a few lights, but there is no bike lane.

Second Stop- Natural Market (46-03 Broadway LIC/Astoria) for an organic juice or smoothy. There is outdoor and indoor seating and a bike rack so you can enjoy a snack without hassle. They also have a plethora of natural and organic food and beauty products. Keep going on Broadway until you hit 59th/60th  Street- then veer left onto 34th Ave– This is a bike friendly, quiet tree-lined avenue (with a bike path.) Pedal along 34th Ave then take a right onto 78th Street until you hit 37th Ave- take another right- voila! You are in Jackson Heights…

Third Stop- Delhi Palace Sweets 37-33 74th Street- This tiny bakery fits about 2 people standing, and has an assortment of traditional Indian pastries such as milk sweets, milk cakes, and samosas. A perfect taste of culture to-go.

Fourth/Fifth StopBollywood (37-11 74th St) and Golden Music (37-13 74th St) stores. Both stores featuring contemporary Bollywood and Bhangra CDs as well as traditional Indian music and movies for dirt cheap ($5-$7 per CD) and video conversion. Mahek Salon (see review below)– 37-13 74th St for a cheap facial, eyebrow threading to look your best for the next stop…

Final Stop- Jackson Diner– For delicious traditional Indian cuisine- well worth the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.

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Mahek Indian Spa/Salon Jackson Heights

Posted on August 25, 2008. Filed under: Health/Spa, Jackson Heights, Off the beaten path |

Mahek Salon (37-13 74th St 718-205-0391) may be small, but it’s certainly worth the trip to the heart of Jackson Heights. This salon, bedecked in lavender walls, sits among the hustle and bustle of Little India’s 74th Street. The family owned establishment that’s been around only a few weeks is named after the spa manager’s daughter, Mahek. I was won over by this tiny place because of the friendly service and inexpensive prices. Overall the experience was great receiving a facial- there was no rush or attempt to try to up-sell other products or services. Offering everything from haircuts and styles, to henna tattoos (by appointment), eyebrow threading and an assortment of facials. The prices begin at eyebrow threading for $5 and go up to $40+ for facials, hair coloring and henna. The cheapest facial at $20 is the refreshing clean-up- but if you don’t mind paying and extra $5, for a biotech herbal facial- your face will receive the royal treatment. Starting with a fresh cleaning, second- a fruity exfoliation,  then she will steam your skin to remove all impurities, massage your face and neck, and cover your skin in an herbal mask. This process takes about 45-60 min.- at which point you will be serenaded by music streaming through the walls from the Golden Music store next door- but if you don’t mind a little Indian Bhangra, it shouldn’t bother you! There are gift certificates and bridal henna (mehendi) also available.

C. Smith

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A Weekend in Flushing- Queens Museum, Spa Castle & the park

Posted on August 22, 2008. Filed under: Entertainment, Flushing/Corona, Health/Spa, Off the beaten path |

Just like the rest of Queens, Flushing is way under-rated. There is a lot going on in the summer months off the #7 train besides Mets games and the US Open (although those are always good times too) Here are a few ways to enjoy the new and more frequent 7 express line…

Passport Friday at the Queens Museum Aug 22 in Flushing Meadows 6:30-10pmFilm, Dance and Music from Mexico! Enjoy listening to Mariachi Oro de Moon a six man Mariachi band and watch Under the Same Moon- La Misma Luna a touching story about a Mexican boy who crosses the border in search of his mother who is working in the US as a maid.

Spa Castle– Make sure you have the entire day to enjoy this gigantic four story spa. Spa Castle is somewhat of an anomaly. It’s too noisy to have that “spa” feel but too relaxing to be a water park. It’s a little bit of both. Some of the many amenities include rooftop jet pool, jacuzzi, ice saunas, hot saunas, a snack bar, manicures, pedicures, massage, and facials. It’s $35 on the weekday and $45 for the weekend- extra for any of the services. Its pros are it’s open late & all year round and there is a free shuttle bus from Main St stop to take you to College Point- where the Spa is located- to make traveling there a little easier. The cons are- toddlers and teenagers are sometimes one too many and there is a TV around every corner. It’s better and quieter to go on a weekday during the school year.

Flushing Meadows Park (Flushing Meadows #7)- During the summer this a a great park to visit. There is no heavy traffic so you can walk, run or bike freely on the many trails within the park. Go on a Saturday to watch (or play) professional soccer leagues and eat South American food from near-by vendors. Visit Meadow Lake to feed the ducks or the Wild Life Center to see North American Animals wander about. Roller skate by the uni-sphere or head over to the New York Hall of Science.

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Queens Restaurant Week in September

Posted on August 20, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, Entertainment, LIC |

Show your love for Queens by being a patron at a new local restaurant or perhaps there’s one you pass everyday on your way to the train but never made it inside. This event is Sept 15-18 & Sept 22-25 throughout Queens. Three course lunch prix fixe is $25 and dinner $35. Here is a comprehensive list of participating venues.

Amish Market, Anna’s Place, Austin’s Steak & Ale House, Bantry Bay Publick House, Bartolino’s Italian Restaurant, BKNY Thai Restaurant, Bourbon Street Cafe, Brian Dempsey’s, Caffe on the Green, Cara Mia Restaurant, Carosello, Cascarino’s Bayside, Clippers II, Cronin & Phelan, Da Gianni’s Ristorante, Deli Masters, Donovan’s Grill & Tavern, Erawan Seafood and Steak, Freetime Diner, Giardino, Jackson Diner, JJ’s Fusion, Kyoto Japanese & Thai Restaurant, La Baraka, Laterna, Lenny’s Clam Bar & Restaurant, London Lennie’s, Luigi’s Restaurant, Maharaja Rure Vegetarian, Mezzo Mezzo Restaurant & Lounge, Midori Matsu, Miguelina’s Restaurant, Mulan, Mundo Cafe & Restaurant, Mythas, Nuves Tapas Lounge, O Lavrador, Papazzio Restaurant & Caterers, Pasticcio Restaurant, Pearl, Pinocchio Palace, Pizza Classica, Ponticello Ristorante, Raja sweets and festival, Ridgewood Eats, Riverview Restaurant & Lounge, Shaneen International, Shiro of Japan Garden Restaurant, Sidetracks Restaurant & Lounge, Tavern 18, The Family Restaurant, The Kettle Restaurant & Bar, Tournesol Restaurant, Trattoria Lucia,Tung Shing House, Waters Edge Restaurant, Winegasm, Zenon Taverna

For more information visit Discover Queens

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