Astoria, Queens is one of NYC’s most ethnically diverse, culinarily exciting, and culturally sophisticated neighborhoods. The area is known to most people as home to large Greek and Egyptian communities, but it is truly a melting pot where visitors can experience almost every corner of the world without much looking or traveling. Though Queens may feel a little far, it’s just a quick bus across the Hudson and an easy subway ride on the N or the W — and it’s certainly worth the trip. Read on for some ideas on what to do on a day trip to Astoria.
How to Get to Astoria From North Jersey
There are many NJ Transit buses that go to Port Authority — and once you’re at PA, you’re one subway away. From there, you can head to the subway station at Times Square 42nd Street and take the Queens-bound N or W Train to the end of the line. It’ll be about a half hour on the subway.
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Where To Eat
Favela Grill | 33-18 28th Avenue, Astoria
(Photo credit: @favelagrill)
The best time to come to Favela Grill is Saturday, when the restaurant’s famous feijoada is on the menu. The black beans stew is loaded with dried beef, smoked sausage, and all kinds of tasty bits. As in all feijoada meals, it is served with collard green, orange slices, and farofa. On other days of the week, there is moqueca, an aromatic coconut milk-based fish stew. Carnivores can get the mixed grilled meat, which comes with three different cuts.
Kabab Cafe | 25-12 Steinway Street # E, Astoria
The tiny restaurant showcases everyday Egyptian cooking and has been much acclaimed by New York foodies. The tender lamb shank and the flaky oven-baked bass are both delicious, and the simply spiced grilled lamb is just divine. For starters, we recommend the creamy ful mudammas, crunchy falafels, and smoky baba ganoush.
Sami’s Kabab House | 35-57 Crescent Street, Astoria
(Photo credit: @samiskababhouse)
The small Afghan restaurant has received countless media mentions and it definitely deserves the praise. The lamb kofta, which is a delicious balance of heat and gameyness, bursts with juice and umami. The herb-laced hummus, fried eggplant drenched in yogurt, and cumin-spiced beef manti on the side are a great way to assemble a nice spread for the table. Finish the meal with a wedge of baklava and cardamom green tea.
Telly’s Taverna | 28-13 23rd Avenue, Queens
(Photo credit: @tellystaverna)
This restaurant is a popular spot for local families. Its expansive menu has all the Greek classics American eaters are familiar with, such as spanakopita and moussaka. Eaters who are dazzled by the choices or don’t have a large group should get at least one grill item. To further narrow it down, you can never go wrong with the sardine, sea bass, or lamb chop.
Ukus | 4208 30th Avenue, Queens
Astoria was home to a sizable Balkan community in the 90s — and this Bosnian restaurant is one of many excellent family-style Balkan restaurants that continue to draw eaters from across the city. It makes delicious Balkan specialties such as cevapi (grilled minced beef meatballs spiced with parsley, served on toasted pita), burek (phyllo pie with minced meat and cheese), and begova corba (a thick, herby chicken soup). There are also popular East European dishes such as goulash and stuffed cabbage.
Rio Market | 32-15 36th Avenue, Queens
(Photo credit: @riosupermarket)
The small supermarket looks like a neighborhood store in a Brazilian provincial town. It is fascinating to browse the aisles and discover the goods on offer. There are all kinds of kitchen staples and popular snacks by household Brazilian and Portuguese brands, such as piri piri, smoked sausage, guaraná soda, dulce de leche candies, and different brands of mate tea. The shop’s annex restaurant is just next door, which has grilled meat, buffet por kilo, and a snack bar that makes very pillowy pao de queijo.
Rudy’s Hobby + Art | 3516 30th Avenue, Astoria
The first thing you see when entering the quaint little shop are crates of used books, cases of ceramic religious figurines, and shelves of paints and craft tools. They alone are fun to browse, but the actual show is at the back of the store, where boxes of model kits are stacked floor to ceiling. There are models for cars, trains, heavy machineries, ships, and any kind of aircrafts from WWII bombers to Airbus 380s. The store was first opened in the 1930s as an ice cream shop, but when the ice cream business wound down, the current owner, a model train collector himself, took it over and transformed it to a neighborhood icon and a magnet for model aficionados all over the city. Please note that Rudy’s is temporarily closed — but definitely keep it on your radar regardless.
Titan Foods | 2556 31st Street, Queens
(Photo credit: @titanfoods)
The gourmet food store is a heaven for Greek food lovers. The selection of specialty ingredients is dazzling — olive oil produced by growers from all over Greece, Cretan rusks (double-baked bread to be soaked in olive oil and topped with tomato and feta) made from various types of grains, and a feta bar where large blocks made from different mixes of cow, sheep, and goat milk are cut on the spot and sold by weight. There are also plenty of ready-to-eat items, such as house taramasalata, an umami-loaded dip of fish roe and potato puree whipped light as a cloud in olive oil; canned mezes (dolmas, giant beans, and preserved fish, for example); and freshly baked pies filled with meat, cheese, or grilled vegetables.
United Brothers Fruit Markets | 32-24 30th Avenue, Astoria
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The fruit market has a vast variety of seasonal local produce as well as exotic tropical fruit. The annex juice bar makes delicious juices, smoothies, shots, and granitas. The shop offers an amazing variety of apples in the fall. Ciders and apple teas of different flavors (such as ginger, cinnamon, and lemon) are available year-round.
See More: A Guide to West New York
Activities To Do
Astoria Park | 19 19th Street, Astoria
(Photo credit: @astoriaparkalliance)
Although its famous pool, the largest in the city, is temporarily closed, visitors can still enjoy the playgrounds, running track, tennis courts in the 60-acre park. There is a walking trail along the East River. The best time to come is at sunset, when you can soak in the view of Manhattan’s skyscrapers and bridges.
Museum of the Moving Image | 36-01 35th Avenue, Queens
(Photo credit: @movingimagenyc)
First opened in 1988 and having undertaken a significant expansion in the late 2010s, the museum celebrates the history, art, history, and technology of film, TV, and other forms of digital media. The permanent collection includes a large number of historic artifacts that mark the milestones of photography and movie making. There is also a permanent exhibition, “Behind the Screen,” an interactive show that takes visitors through the creative and technical process of producing, promoting, and presenting movies.
Socrates Sculpture Park | 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Queens
(Photo credit: @socratespark)
This patch of land was an abandoned landfill till the 1980s. Now, it is an open air museum featuring large-scale modern installation art. It also hosts live music, farmers’ markets, and community events (such as yoga and meditation). Check out the calendar for upcoming events. The summer season features a long list of exhibitions that explore human interrelation and community dynamics. Admission is free.
The Noguchi Museum | 9-01 33rd Road, Queens
(Photo credit: @noguchimuseum)
The Japanese-American artist and landscape architect, Isamu Noguchi, is famous for his abstract sculptures and Akari lights, which are lamps made of washi paper and bamboo that create a soft glow. The museum was conceived and designed by the artist himself. The collection features his lights, designed furniture, drawings, and sculptures. Admission is free on the first Friday of the month.