Queens is such a diverse place. There’re about 91 neighborhoods with a growing population that was at 2 million in 2016, according to the Census. The differing races you’ll find here are numerous, such as: White, Black or African American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Hispanic or Latino, and some who are a mix of these. So of course in a migrative community like this you’ll find a blend of cultural cuisines. You can barely walk down a street in Queens without smelling something delicious cooking behind someone’s window. However, if you’re like me, you’d rather dine out to taste these exotic foods than attempt to make them on your own. There’s nothing like an original dish made from the people of that origin themselves. Here are a few cultural cuisine spots in Queens where you can get them!
1. Trinciti Roti Shop & Restaurant (South Ozone Park)
This is my favorite cultural cuisine to enjoy! If you’ve ever tasted Indian food then you know a little something about the chana, curry, and soft doughs that are found here. Trinciti’s flavors are native to the island of Trinidad and other Caribbean islands. You’ll find spices such as pepper, curry, and tamarind; and dishes that include an array of meats, poultry, vegetables, and sea food, such as goat, chicken, potatoes, dahl, spinach, chick peas, shrimp, shark and salted fish. Of course there are many restaurants all over Queens with this Trinidadian style of cuisine, but I have to give it up to Trinciti because the food here is always fresh, well flavored, and properly prepared. If you happen to visit, try something like the shrimp aloo pie with tamarind sauce, or the bake and shark (served on weekends) and usually as a breakfast dish. Either way this is one cultural cuisine you definitely have to try at least once in your life if you don’t just get addicted all together!
2. Mamas Empanadas (Jackson Heights)
A popular spot to get some fast-food style cultural cuisine, is Mamas Empanadas. If you’re from Queens then you know the spot right outside of the Queens Center Mall. The one I’m familiar with is much less commercial though. It’s on the busy Roosevelt Avenue of Jackson Heights under the number 7 train. Columbian food has many dishes like rice, savory meats, stews and salads. But a really popular fast food trend are the corn and wheat-based shells stuffed with different ingredients. The interesting thing about this originally Latin cuisine, however, is that the company’s on a mission to combine cultures! Mama’s Empanadas are traditionally stuffed with things like chicken, potatoes, and vegetable combinations, but now they have over 50 universal flavors, like Greek spinach pie, Italian sausage and peppers, or even American cheeseburger. They also come with a dipping sauce. The spicy green one is my favorite for sure. If you’re a visitor to Queens, be sure to try out more than one kind because they’re delicious and addictive! I can eat at least 3. This is one of the best cultural cuisine spots in New York!
3. Don Alex, Pollos A La Brasa (Corona)
My oh my. You haven’t tasted original latin cuisine until you’ve eaten Peruvian food. In Corona there’s a nice little night life/homey restaurant called Don Alex, Pollos A La Brasa, that makes some mouth-watering dishes. Salichipapas – a mix of sausage and fries with pink sauce, Corn and Green Sauce – a roasted appetizer of corn with a zesty sauce, Lomo Saltado – shredded beef, fries, and vegetables, with a side of white rice, and so many more (I cannot do their menu justice). The food here is fresh, and they use so many vegetables. The people are so friendly too. If you’re ever in Corona you definitely need eat here.
4. Imperial Palace (Flushing)
I can’t talk about cuisine in Queens without mentioning the appetizing Asian dishes found in Flushing. Anyone from Queens knows you can get a mix of traditional Asian and Asian-American cuisine from just about any local Chinese restaurant or more commercially located buffet. But if you want to feel like you’re in Asia while you’re eating you’ll go to Flushing and hit up one of the many authentic places found there. A particular culture and flavor you should check out is Cantonese. A restaurant called Imperial Palace just off of Main Street, has a cuisine which is made up of a wide range of flavors: barbecue, seafood, peking, steamy tofu, crispy rolls, roast chicken, exotic walnut shrimp, and much much more. If you’re accustomed to eating take-out trust me this blows that out of the water. Tasty and flavorful foods prepared to the right textures. This is definitely one of the best cultural cuisine spots!
Queens is really such a diverse place and the cultural cuisines reflect that. You really can’t live here without having tasted a variety of foods from different spots. Hope you can make it out and try something different because food is life!