by nycgo.com staff, 01/01/2010
Spinach rolls from Pitaria (left) and Athens Square Park. Photos: Will Steacy
Long renowned for its thriving Greek community, among the largest in the nation, over the years Astoria has become a multicultural brew, with influxes from the former Yugoslavia, Bangladesh and Pakistan and all over Latin America. The shops and restaurants are bilingual almost as a rule, which is not surprising considering that nearly half the residents were born abroad. With its outdoor cafés, grapes growing in front yard garden plots and football (aka soccer) fever during the World Cup, the neighborhood has a cosmopolitan flavor.
Still, Astoria's Hellenic roots remain strong. Greek cuisine, famous for its fresh seafood and grilled lamb, is the neighborhood's primary draw for visitors. Once there, they'll find a variety of food, drink and culture from around the world. Bustling commercial strips like Steinway Street and the restaurant row along 30th Avenue provide plenty of gems to be discovered, from international feature films, to home furnishings to vintage clothing.
After getting a fix of shopping and exploring, visitors can enjoy a late-afternoon lunch, then take a stroll in Athens Square Park before winding down the day with a glass of ouzo and dinner at one of the neighborhood's classic Greek eateries. With the area's multitude of offerings, you can build your own itinerary.