Long Island City, on the western edge of Queens, may not become home to Amazon’s new headquarters, but it has still seen its share of recent changes. New glassy office towers and high-rise apartment complexes have taken root amid low-lying homes and businesses. The restaurant scene has exploded, too, and we’ve got details on 10 of the best places to see what’s cooking right now.
It is no small thing for a modest-looking Indian café in Queens to get two stars from the New York Times. Addã (pronounced ah-DAH) more than earned those stars thanks to the bold curries and biryani. Snacks like dahi batata puri (crunchy potato puffs with tamarind and mint chutney) burst with flavor, as do spicy butter chicken and the slow-cooked lamb. The reasonable prices keep the restaurant busy for lunch and dinner.
Beebe’s stretches out on the lobby level of the chic Boro Hotel, with extra seating on the expansive back patio. The contemporary, all-day restaurant is known for thin-crust pizzas like the Campfire, with smoked mozzarella and mushrooms spread to the edge of the blackened crust, a fragrant dose of fresh rosemary and a shower of grated pecorino. Juicy meatballs in marinara, chicken Milanese, and orecchiette with sausage and Tuscan kale are other winners, as are the Aperol Negronis on tap.
Bellwether is pristine white with modern furnishings, yet has a farmhouse aura due to a wall of spongy moss behind the bar and tiny potted plants sprinkled throughout. There’s a good-size bar, and the dining room’s 60 seats are mostly filled with diners seeking seasonal, local fare. That’s where Preston Madson (ex-Freemans) comes in, preparing tempura green beans with ponzu dipping sauce, seared branzino with pine nut couscous and a grass-fed-beef patty melt on brioche. It’s also a neighborhood standout for brunch and cocktails.
Long wood tables and a giant bar call out for big, festive groups to descend on Bierocracy. The old-world Czech-style beer hall has a multitude of European and American brews on hand, carefully served at the correct temperature and in the right glassware. Dine on mondo Bavarian pretzels with spicy mustard and beer cheese, pork schnitzel, beer-brined buffalo chicken wings and dark beer goulash with potato dumplings and crisp shallots.
Year after year, Casa Enrique receives a Michelin star for chef Cosme Aguilar’s stellar Mexican cuisine. (Don’t even think about wandering in without a reservation.) The modern, white-hued space has a boxy bar and a communal table up front, with more cozy tables in back. Here’s what to order: vibrant guacamole, rajas con crema, chicken enchiladas with sweet, rich mole and, for dessert, classic flan and caramel-covered tres leches sponge cake.
For a casual, romantic liaison or a first, hopeful date, it’s hard to beat this adorable wine bar right near the 7 train at Vernon Blvd-Jackson Ave. Antique-style fixtures and frequent live jazz lend it a speakeasy feel. The wine list includes many bottles from France, and pours are generous. Supplement drinks with fresh oysters, shrimp cocktail, a cheese plate and charcuterie, such as delicate prosciutto and a terrine of foie gras.
Looking for a quintessential hangout in Long Island City? Jackson’s checks that box. There’s a friendly welcome, weathered wood floors, a lively bar scene and big-hearted portions of eclectic fare ranging from meaty burgers and fried chicken to satisfying vegetarian dishes (think grains and greens with spiced chickpeas and fettuccine with root vegetables and walnut pesto). The South gets its due with shrimp and grits and sweet corn hush puppies.
Fans of burnt ends as well as the Kansas City Chiefs congregate at this barbecue roadhouse and sports bar. Check out the menu chalked on the blackboard before joining the quick-moving line. Highlights include pork belly, rib tips, moist cornbread and crisp hand-cut fries. The draft beer list offers hoppy choices strong enough to cut through the richness of the pulled pork sandwich. Find a seat inside at a checkered-cloth-covered table, or head out to the back patio when the weather is nice.
Maiella is a stone’s throw from the Long Island City waterfront, the NYC Ferry landing and the landmark Pepsi-Cola sign, which means you’ll get stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. There is a circular bar for mingling over cocktails, and the modern, 180-seat dining room attracts lots of large parties for special events. The kitchen specializes in Italian favorites such as bucatini cacio e pepe, fettuccine with seasonal truffles and braised short ribs with creamy polenta.
The casual izakaya Takumen feels like a cozy Japanese cottage, with pitched wooden slats over the tables and cheeky prints on the walls. The kitchen is open, and a compact bar displays shelves of good sake. In addition to sashimi, sushi rolls and restorative ramen noodles are big salads like black sesame and kale with fried peanuts. Hawaiian tuna poke is another standout, the rosy fish cubes heaped over rice and circled by avocado salad, seaweed salad, potato salad, tangy cauliflower and broccoli.