As I was waltzing around in the sweltering heat I made my way to the Side Door. I was in need of something cold to pour over my head, but I got a drink instead. My self created ice cream float (not on the menu) included lemon sorbet and seltzer water, sort of like a frozen lemonade. It was crisp and refreshing. A perfect drink for the heat wave.
Side Door- 1933 Ditmars Blvd Astoria
Long live the quest for that authentically great tasting cubano in Astoria. The highly coveted sandwich rarely makes an appearance in the neighborhood, but I found one that is sure to please even the pickiest of taste buds. I have passed by Havana Express many times before I noticed their vast array of grilled sandwiches. Being a sweet fanatic I usually fix my eyes on the cupcakes. However, today was an exception. I sauntered into the tiny cafe and decided to try their cubano. And to cure my sleepy state, I washed it all down with a cortadito. While they don’t have outdoor seating, Havana Express offers an open store front, so it is much like sitting outside in the shade. Being a sunny afternoon I picked a spot near the front (great for people watching). The spot has a real neighborhood appeal to it. Diners chat merrily with the servers and everyone seems to know the owner by name. The red bar stools give the place a touch of that 1950s diner ambience. Shortly after placing my order a sweet young woman gracefully placed the giant cubano on my table. Another server brought me my drink. Fearing that the beverage would tumble onto my laptop computer, she strategically positioned the drinks so the had little chance of spilling. Now that is what I call customer service! Not only were they prompt and friendly, but also highly aware of their patrons’ needs. The cubano consisted of grilled pork and ham smothered in melted cheese, with mustard and thinly sliced pickles. The bread was crispy and warm with a soft fluffy center. I gobbled-up the delicacy within minutes. The only remains were the crumbs that covered my lap. Havana Express is a great spot for casual and cheap neighborhood dining. They have free wifi for those workaholics who want a quiet place to log-on while they dine.
Havana Express Cafe & Bakery 21-37 31st Street Astoria 718-545-9344
I stumbled upon Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights, a tiny coffee shop that exudes Queens pride. With many sandwich wraps to choose from, locally distributed coffee, and free wi-fi, this place is a satisfying get-away. Free of pretension and full of neighborhood friendliness,the cafe invites diners to grab a seat and relax comfortably for a while, either trolling the internet, reading, knitting or people watching. The dimly lit space can get crowded but not cramped. In addition to Gimme sustainable coffee, they also carry Queens paraphernalia that hangs proudly from the walls. Depending on the brew the coffee is rich, resonating with hints of cinnamon and chocolate. While I was there I also tried the lemonade ginger ice tea, a blend of citrus with chunks of ginger to give it an extra bite. This place supports our environment both economically and earthly. Drawing young and old alike, Espresso 77 represents the diversity that makes up Queens.
Espresso 77- 35-57 77th Street, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 718.424.1077
Here is letter from Waltz Astoria about this Thursday’s art benefit event.
We would like to invite you to join us this Thursday evening for the opening of Bridy Designs at Waltz! Silent auction will be held to benefit the WORLD WILDLIFE FUND. Here is a little bit about the artist. As an artist working in multiple mediums Bridy’s vision is quest for new life in discarded objects. From unwanted paint colors to construction refuse she reveals their additional purpose in her work. Her inspiration and design sensibilities are heavily influenced by architecture, urban landscapes and the abutment of these with the natural world.”
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If there’s one thing I like more than the seasonal candy canes, holiday lights, and that dreadfully awful Christmas music blasting on Steinway Street, it’s a good hot chocolate. Every Winter I search the streets of Queens in quest for the perfect hot chocolate and here is what I found… so far
Sage General Store– Long Island City– This hot chocolate is pretty standard in taste, worth getting if you are in the area.
*Sweet Leaf – Long Island City– Known for the “best coffee in the world” they will also offer a hot drinking chocolate made from chocolate imported from Brooklyn… I haven’t tried this drink yet- as they are still waiting for the chocolate to be delivered. It sounds so good I had to post it, review pending.
Sugar & Joe– Sunnyside– Malted hot chocolate made with Valrhona cocoa powder from France. This creative drink combines rich, dark chocolate with a sweet malted taste. Definitely worth trying.. again and again.
Himalayan Teahouse-Astoria– This unique tea and dumpling house offers a Chocolate Chai Latte. The smooth essence of chocolate marries the spicy taste of chai layered with creamy foam milk. This drink is a nice alternative to the traditional hot chocolate.
Side Door– Astoria– the proprietors of Bistro33 opened a cute cafe reminiscent of an old fashioned ice cream parlor- called the Side Door. It offers free wifi, panini, ice cream and hot drinks. They also make spicy hot chocolate infused with jalepeno and topped with whipped cream that soothes the burn of the pepper.
Il Bambino– Astoria– The Nutella hot chocolate is possibly my favorite of all the hot chocolate drinks. A tall cup of steeped milk mixed with cocoa and a scoop of Nutella hazelnut spread makes a perfect combination of chocolate nutty decadence.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Local718 is sad to say that Sugar and Joe’s has closed . RIP
Baking out of a tiny kitchen in Sunnyside, Sugar & Joe’s is serving up sweets of all kinds. This cafe is run by a mother and daughter team with the help of their baking assistant. See what inspires Christine and her daughter Emma to make such mouth watering delights day in and day out. (For those who are too tired to bake, ask about their Holiday special orders)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Sweet Leaf ( 48-12 11th Street LIC 917-435-2745 open daily 7am-6pm) is more than a place to get coffee. It’s a place that induces a serene state of mind that is often absent as much as it is fleeting. Walking into this homespun atmosphere one is surrounded by antique coffee presses, hardwood floors and a presence of peace. Missing are the laptops, cell phones, and cacophonies that are so very much a part of daily life. Seating no more than seven people this tiny place is a gem worth discovering. It serves gourmet fair-trade coffee and Mighty Leaf tea- with flavors like- Mayan Chocolate Truffle and Aloe Serenity. Sweet Leaf carries Sutmp Town coffee- NPR voted best coffee. They have specialty drinks such as “Death by Chocolate” mocha, french press coffee and chai tea. The corner cafe also offers cookies and pastries that can be special ordered for catering. Though usually a place where patrons spend no more time there than it takes to order their drinks- my company and I found it a delightful place to sit, talk, gaze out the window and simply… do nothing. Imagine that.
Hot chocolate is one of my favorite things to drink in the winter months. I was on a quest to find a delicious no frills, hot cup of chocolate wholesome goodness… here is what I found and here is what I think is the best cup of hot chocolate (and not so best) in Astoria. Of course I couldn’t go everywhere in the neighborhood- so feel free to tell me your best…
Martha’s Country Bakery-(36-21 Ditmars Blvd.718.545.9737) Better known for their elaborate cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, cupcakes and late-night hours- I stepped in thinking the hot cocoa would be amazing- unfortunately it was merely mediocre. Although the whipped cream (optional) and chocolate syrup swirls presentation were impressive and inviting. Though the taste reminded me of Swiss Mix…
Cafe Soleil– (Astoria Blvd & 37th St) Swiss Mix… ugh.
Chocolate Spoon– 37-03 31st Ave (718) 204-0780 I would expect so much more from an bakery with this name…but it was a yet another disappointing package of Swiss Mix, double ugh. They did however have an unusual and super tasty Yuca Cake which was savory and sweet all at once.
Starbucks (everywhere USA)- OK I know what you are thinking, but the hot cocoa here is actually quite good.
Viva El Mariachi Restaurant– (33-11 Broadway, 718-545-4039) They make their hot cocoa with boiled milk and Abuelita in a paper cup placed in a porcelain saucer. Delicious!
La Guli Bakery– (29-15 Ditmars Blvd 718-728-5612) This Bakery reigns supreme over most pastry making posts in the hood. The hot cocoa was made with real milk and little sweetened chocolate drops. Mmmmmm soooo good- like everything else in that place.
Looking to get out of Astoria for a good cup of hot chocolate of coffee? May I suggest La Colombe Torrefaction (319 Church St 212-343-1515) in Tribeca. The hot cocoa is made with milk and unsweetened cocoa. The coffee here tastes rich and deep- worth the trip. The service is outstanding but there are no bathrooms, so it’s best not to linger.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
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