Papri Chaat at Rajbhog Sweets, Jackson Heights
All the right elements of chaat in perfect balance. Crisp and fresh-tasting papri, yogurt, tamarind and cilantro chutneys, soft potatoes, sharp white onions, and crunchy sev. Sweet, sour and tang in harmony on a styrofoam plate.
Pandebono at La delicia en Pandebono, Elmhurst
When a storefront is named La Delicia en Pandebono, the pandebono had better be delicious. And these pandebono definitely are. They're the cheesiest pandebono around, with a crisp crust and a soft, chewy interior. The smell of these round little balls of dough baking up fresh permeates the whole block.
Gorditas at Tortas Neza, Corona
There is so much to love about a ball of masa filled with chicharron and stuffed with crema, cheese, and lettuce, and my favorite version of all was made at Tortas Neza. Although not on the menu, if you ask nicely, Mr. Tortas himself might just make you one. Plump and crisp masa, flash-fried for extra crunch, with all of the fillings, and a great salsa roja. Gordita perfection.
Falafel at Grill Point, Kew Gardens Hills
Authentic Israeli-style falafel, complete with salad bar and chips (French fries), can be found in Queens; and this falafel, which I was tipped off to by a Serious Eater, was one of my favorites. Great falafel, fresh and pickled toppings, and creamy hummus on thick pita bread.
Pupusas at Viña del Mar, Jamaica
The pupusas de queso con loroco at Viña del Mar were particularly good, and I had some great pupusas in Jamaica and beyond this year. Lots of loroco mixed with melty, flavorful cheese, in crisp but soft masa, topped with fresh and crunchy curtido and a mild tomato sauce. One of my favorite bites this year.
Momos at Lali Guras, Jackson Heights
Of the many different styles of momos I tasted in Jackson Heights this year, Lali Guras had one of my favorite versions—not just because the thick dough was filled with flavorful chunks of meat, but also because of the dipping sauces. The bright red ground chili paste was good, but the second sauce, orange in color, was spicy with a distinct toasted, nutty flavor. Delicious.
Brasilian Hot Dog at Todda Nossa, Astoria
I tried a number of fascinating international takes on the hot dog, and the hot dog sandwich offered at Toda Nossa was another one of my favorite bites this year. Split and griddled hot dogs with melted cheese, corn kernels, crunchy potato sticks, and tomato sauce, placed on bread that is then grilled flat and served with ketchup and mayo. A truly unique hot dog preparation that needs to be tasted.
Nieve de Guayaba at Viva Puebla,
Ending the best bites on a sweet and icy note, the homemade nieves at Viva Puebla's summer stand on Roosevelt Avenue were another of my absolute favorite Queens finds this year; I kept going back for new flavors. The guava ice, speckled with seeds and just enough sugar to make it sweet and smooth, was pure refreshment in a cup. Something to look forward to for next year!