Ed Cotton, the executive chef of Sotto 13, has lived in Long Island City, for the past four years (he's in a building right behind the Pepsi-Cola sign). Here's where he goes out to eat.
'long island city' on Serious Eats
The M. Wells crew have set up a forward-thinking steakhouse that pays winking homage to the chop houses of old New York. The twist is that its greatest, most noteworthy features have nothing to do with the steak, which is competently cooked if ordinary. No, M. Wells Steakhouse honors its bloodlines by reviving and subverting all the side shows that its forebears left to rot.
As the head chef of The Sea Grill, Yuhi Fujinaga spends his day cooking up carefully plated renditions of everything from lobster carpaccio to Montauk striped bass atop edamame purée. So when he's home in Long Island City, where's lived the past year with his wife and daughter, he likes to keep it very simple.
"I am too much of a control freak to let someone else age my meat," declares S. Prime's executive Chef Joel Reiss when asked about his dry aging program. There are few chefs with more experience with steak.
There are two desserts at M. Wells Dinette by Pastry Chef Bethany Costello that you may not have had anywhere else. The first is a time-sensitive parfait that you have eat as soon as it's served to you, or else it collapses like an old souffle. The second looks like a standard ice cream cookie sandwich, but is far lighter—and contains no ice cream.
This silky dip of roasted peppers, cream, corn, and gooey cheese is one of the unexpected highlights of a meal at this neighborhood Mexican spot.
The croissant from M. Wells Dinette appears to have more butter worked into it than should be physically possible.
The double chocolate ($3) is like a cross between a less-sweet gift shop style fudge and a fancy-pants flourless dark chocolate cake. There are whole chocolate chips throughout.
Although Manetta's has a special "old time favorites" section on the menu, the truth is that everything feels like an old-time favorite at this trattoria in Long Island City.
An especially hefty Reuben that uses the best of John Brown Smokehouse's barbecue offerings.
In 2010, M. Wells Diner emerged in Long Island City, and before long it became something of a white-hot legend. Critics heralded the arrival of a new gastronomic genius to New York's food world, and it commanded two hour waits for eaters from Queens, Manhattan—even Brooklynites came hungry. And then fourteen months after it opened, it closed. A rent dispute couldn't be resolved, the place disbanded, and M. Wells the legend went quiet.
It's now re-emerged in a new form, M. Wells Dinette, the new cafe of MoMA's PS1 also in Long Island City. The retro diner trappings have been replaced by a bright, airy space housed within a postmodern museum (the aesthetic theme is school cafeteria redux, which is thankfully not overdone). The menu is smaller, both in number of dishes and in terms of their size—not small by any means, but no megaburgers either. And it appears more focused and pared down. We know Dufour and his team can cook. But will this pared down menu and more focused approach make for a more consistently pleasurable dining experience? After our recent visit, we'll—cautiously—say that it can.
Casa Enrique, a six-month old restaurant in Long Island City, is carving out a new tier of Mexican restaurant in NYC. Ambitious but accessible, there's incredible enchiladas, tostadas, and a lamb shank you could bludgeon someone with.
The 5th Annual Burmese Food Fair came to Long Island City this weekend, offering New Yorkers a taste of over 30 dishes made by members of the Burmese community.
Kürtőskalács, or chimney cakes, are traditional Hungarian pastries that originated in Transylvania. Anna, chef and owner of Chimney Cake, has brought this tasty treat to Long Island City in New York's Queens, with a store that opened in late 2011. The cakes are made with long strips of dough that are then wrapped around wooden molds; originally, the chimney cakes were cooked in a fireplace, but at Anna's cafe they are place inside a vertical oven that slowly turns each cake 'til it's done.
Cafe Henri does a strong takeout business, but those who stay do seem to stay for a while, browsing the magazines on offer, ordering another café au lait, adding a commentary to the narrative outside the windows. With its simple but satisfying food and comfortable surroundings, Cafe Henri is best for: a lingering date.
The pub masters behind neighborhood bars Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass., and the original Alewife in Baltimore have opened their latest venture, Alewife Queens, located in the residential recesses of Long Island City. The bar is one of their most ambitious yet, with nearly 30 beers on tap and dozens more by the bottle in labels that will delight even the most experienced beer aficionados. (How often do you see the Belgian Drie Fonteinen or Swedish Dugges around these parts?)
Shi perfectly encapsulates this section of Long Island City. Both exude glitter and polish and sexy elegance, deliberate planning and careful marketing and a little bit of blandness. From inside, you watch Manhattan shine and sparkle, doing the dance it's done in the imaginations of so many for so long. With its floor-to-ceiling windows and plush leather seats, Shi is best for: a loungey date with a lovely view.
This restaurant is more sweet than spice. With its decor and dishes steeped in innocent American domesticity, Sage General Store is best for: a date with someone you'd like to hold hands with.
At LIC Market, just steps off the 7 train at the first stop in Queens, Oatmeal Cookies are gigantic round saucers. They're slightly crunchy along the edges, but other than that, chewy all the way though with chubby little raisins and toasted oats.