In a nondescript shopping mall, just past a plastic bottle recycling station, in Jackson Heights, Queens, lies one of the best French bakeries in New York. Case in point: this all-chocolate, all-the-time dessert.
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Great news for fans of the Sainted Arepa Lady—street food legend Maria Cano and her family will be opening a year-round brick and mortar restaurant at 77-02AA Roosevelt Avenue later this year, close to her normal 79th and Roosevelt street corner.
The French pastries at Cannelle Patisserie in Jackson Heights aren't all created equal. The Choux pastries are excellent, the short pastry is generally commendable, the croissants skippable. Somewhere between those first two categories, just below the beautiful St. Honoré cream puff and right above their elegant pear tart, is this Gateau Breton.
With a perfectly light interior crust that's just flaky enough to offer a satisfying crunch, this apple pastry at Cannelle worth the trek to Jackson Heights.
The bread basket at this Uruguayan steakhouse is piled high with big, fluffy rolls. They're fresh and warm, but not that good—their crust is lacking, their crumb is bland. But they serve an important purpose that I consider as vital to a meal here as the meat itself: they take care of the Provolone ($7.50).
The first thing to notice in your average New York barbecue joint is the design. Earth tones. Distressed wood. Painstaking efforts to make the place feel more casual than its position in the ruthless New York restaurant world would suggest.
That's not the case at Alchemy, Texas, a barbecue joint in the back of an old man sports bar in Jackson Heights. The wood's been there for a while. So have the balding men drinking at the bar. I get the impression that the plastic red-checker tablecloths were bought to fancy up the place.
And the 'cue? On a good day, it's up there with some of New York's great smoked meat. On other days it disappoints. As the two-month-old spot settles into a groove with its customers and works through the quirks of its smoker, that success seems likely to improve. In the meantime, go early in the evening. And spring for the beef.
When it comes to brisket, I've found that Queens barbecue falls behind its Manhattan and Brooklyn colleagues. But if my sample from the new Alchemy, Texas in Jackson Heights is an indication of future success, the scales are starting to level out.
Popping out of the 74th Street-Broadway station in Jackson Heights, chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok was ready to take us on a Thai market tour around the neighborhood. We traipsed up and down the aisles of a few markets specializing in Thai products as he pointed out the ones he likes (frozen coconut milk) and those he really doesn't care for (canned curry pastes; "don't ever buy them, please.").
The cream-stuffed desserts are my personal favorites at Cannelle Patisserie, but this Pear Tart ($2.50) gives them a run for their money. Because the pastry base isn't really a tart crust—it's shortbread.
Fried sweet plantains are common enough, but at Cevicheria El Rey in Elmhurst they're exceptionally sweet.
Urubamba, in Jackson Heights, is a restaurant to root for, with a clientele utterly devoted to its takes on traditional Peruvian food.
This week's noodle reporting took me to Phayul in Jackson Heights, a Tibetan restaurant on the corner of 37th road, on the second floor of a building on top of a beauty parlor and a kebab joint. Though Phayul has many noodle dishes, the real kicker is the broth.
The Himalayan food at Mustang Thakali Kitchen is very vegetarian-friendly; don't skimp on their flavorful sauces.
Shoko sil sil ngoe ma shows the trouble that comes from confusing humble with meek. It's the Tibetan food equivalent of going from 0 to 80 in no seconds flat.
As important to Himalayan food as sliced bread is to Americans, fluffy steamed tingmo is the best starch to soak up the curry-like sauces and pungent pickles of Tibetan and Nepali cooking.
This kid-friendly "beaten rice" dish has a spicy undertones and a salty kick that makes polishing off this plate a breeze.
There's no shortage of momos in Jackson Heights, but these big ones are some of our favorites.
It's easy to miss the sign for this place. After all, it's buried under an awning that says "Net Gen" in large letters, and the only marking for Bombay Chat lies below PASSPORT PHOTO and INTERNET/FAX. Yet despite the WTF mash-up, this place sells the best pani puri I've had in New York.
Viva La Comida! hits Jackson Heights for a night of some of the best homespun Latin American food Queens—and the city—has to offer. All those Queens taco vendors and arepa makers you keep meaning to see? Some of our favorites will be here.
When the thunderstorm hits, it's best to be somewhere warm, with flowery bachata music tinkling in the background, sheltered by sturdy walls and good food. Tacos Morelos, just might be the place.