Must-See Astoria

by Adam Kuban, 07/16/2013

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  • And Every Other Cuisine
    Astoria is rich in diversity, and that’s reflected in its non-Greek dining scene. Along 36th Avenue, you’ll find a concentration of Brazilian shops and restaurants, where Malagueta is a standout. The acarajé (a fritter of mashed black-eyed peas) is particularly good. At Pão de Queijo you’ll find the over-the-top Brazilian sandwich known as the X-tudo—a hamburger with ham, cheese, bacon, egg, calabresa sausage, corn, potato sticks, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Along Steinway Street, with its immigrants from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen and Algeria, you’ll find a number of hookah cafés and some of the best Middle Eastern food in the City. Kabab Café is a destination among the City’s knowing food-lovers, who praise it for the inventive food being cooked up by owner Ali Al Sayed. Be forewarned: the food at Kabab Café is only half the experience. Al Sayed is the other half, as much entertainer and intellectual as chef, and prone to conversation with his guests. You’re better off letting him cook you what he wants rather than going by the menu. For a less-involved meal, try Duzan Mediterranean Grill, a relative newcomer that makes some terrific hummus, falafel and chicken shawarma.

    Italian is another mainstay of Astoria dining. Toward the higher end, Trattoria L’Incontro is a must-visit—the pasta with lobster and the risotto dishes are excellent. Be sure to make a reservation, and though there’s no dress code, Astorians tend to make L’Incontro a special night out, so dress accordingly. Nearby and more casual—but just as delicious—is Ornella, known for its chestnut-flour pasta and more adventurous specials like sanguinaccio (blood pudding). For wood-oven Neapolitan-style pizza, the recently opened Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana makes some of the best in the neighborhood and hosts a tiny farmers market on the sidewalk out front during summer weekends. For Bosnian fare, try Ukus for its burek or its cevapi sausages stuffed in pita.

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