Forest Hills, the sleepy Queens neighborhood where I grew up, isn't considered a must-eat food destination. But what it lacks in a flashy restaurant scene it makes up for with some great businesses that have stood the test of time. There's certainly enough in the neighborhood to warrant a day of eating around; here's where you should go.
Forest Hills, Queens
Marani, a recently opened Glatt kosher Georgian restaurant in Rego Park, prides itself on being only the second kosher Georgian restaurant in the world featuring two separate kitchens. Of the two, the dairy-only bakery downstairs is the star.
There are few options for good Mexican cooking in Forest Hills. This little taco cart is the best of the lot.
A British candy is the must-order at this Austrian chocolate shop.
La Boulangerie makes great French pastries, some of the best in Queens, at a fraction of some Manhattan prices. What should you order when you visit? Start with their bread pudding.
Look close under the green and white awning and you'll notice, in the window, brightly painted signs advertising dried fruits and nuts, homemade salads, and more. Welcome to Carmel, a tiny but wonderfully stocked Middle Eastern grocery in Forest Hills. The products are fresh, the staff is friendly, and the affordable prices can't be beat.
There's nothing pressed and melty this "grilled" sandwich, but it's still a worthy bite for a neighborhood that could use more grown-up places to eat like this.
Lots of professional dessert makers make it their mission to see their customers happy above all else; Eddie's Sweet Shop, the ice cream of my childhood, succeeds with the best of them.
Sooner or later, you're going to share a meal with someone who only eats white meat chicken. When you do, take them to Wafa's, share some stellar vegetable appetizers, and let them order the shish tawook ($7.95). You may actually fight them for it halfway through.
Come to Wafa's for the eggplant, but stick around for the shawarma. (The reverse, I suppose, is also okay.) This stuffed-to-bursting version is different from other renditions you'll find in this city, and it's all the better for it.
I wasn't looking for great eggplant at Wafa's in Forest Hills, but it found me, along with several other vegetable-forward wonders. And I'm glad they did.
In July, he opened his bakery, La Boulangerie, in Forest Hills. It's evidently a good-bread-deprived neighborhood, because on weekends the line is out the door.
Purim is this weekend, and Jewish bakeries all over the city are hard at work churning out hundreds of the delicious, triangle-shaped cookies known as hamentashen. Of course, many bakeries sell them year round, but Purim is when they are meant to be eaten. I traveled around Queens, home to so many Jewish bakeries, to find the best of the best.
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