Athens Cafe is one of the best Greek places in Astoria. You can sit there for hours on end and enjoy watching people walking by with a cup of coffee or a beer without any trouble. We were there from 8 p.m. till about 1:30 a.m. this night. I think our waiter was happy to have us because we ordered plenty of wine and food as we sat and talked throughout the night.
You can tell this place is authentic because it is always crowded. When we arrived the crowd was watching a Greek soccer match, with everyone waving flags and wearing yellow AEK jerseys.
We ordered a dip sampler which came with four traditional dips: one with feta, another with dill, and two others I can't remember. Oddly there wasn't hummus. The portions looked small, but we had to order extra pitas to finish it all.
Next we tried a "Greek Pizza" which was served with feta, halloumi (my favorite), Greek sausage and tomatoes. It was pretty good, but the pizza wasn't very large around and the crust wasn't too sturdy, so I had to eat my slices with knife and fork. The sausage was fairly dry, but had a nice flavor.
Dessert was the traditional loukoumades, fried dough balls glazed in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. They remind me of the state fair. The portion was huge - we had the plate on our table for hours and still didn't finish everything. This definitely isn't the healthiest dessert, but divided between 3 or 4 people, it is a good treat.
Really the best thing about Athens Cafe is the atmosphere and the attitude of the place. You can sense the friendliness and the community. It is always crowded, and the food is always good. I've been there many times, and I'm sure I'll be back many more.
Locale's style reflects the neighborhood's modern yet multi-cultural chic aspect, which has become a signature of present day Astoria. Locale's diverse menu can accommodate almost any taste, whether it's and early afternoon brunch or an intimate dinner.
I'd been to Locale before I even moved to the city, but this weekend was my first time back. The small restaurant is a few blocks off the subway line, tucked away in a residential part of Astoria. It has a great atmosphere that's a combination of restaurant and lounge, with a couches on an elevated area in the corner and floor-to-ceiling windows around the dining room. The restaurant was crowded, though I'd say it is a little pricey for the neighborhood, but the cuisine is definitely above average.
We ordered the fried zucchini as an appetizer. It wasn't even on the menu, but our server suggested it, and we were pleased with the choice. The strips were lightly breaded and crispy, and not too greasy. There was a saucer of marinara sauce for dipping, but it was too chunky and the zucchini strips too thin to make it easy to dip into and get good 'coverage'. >We also tried the crab cake, which was served with a dill sauce that I found to be a little overpowering, V liked it though. It wasn't that 'lumpy' but didn't seem to be loaded with much bread either.
I ordered the seafood pasta which was served with a whole assortment of seafood: scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari and crab. There was a good amount of everything but some of it, like the scallops, was grainy. The pasta itself wasn't anything special, and the sauce wasn't quite what I expected, as it was rather thin. I had ordered the dish with a white sauce which was flavorful but thin, and didn't really stick to anything.
Other times we've eaten at Locale the food was very good, and we tried tonight to keep the price down. I can imagine that at a restaurant like this you really get what you pay for, and there are some chef's specialties like the Mozzarella Olivata which is homemade cheese served hot with olives and tomatoes. It is distinctive and delicious. The restaurant has a great atmosphere, good crowd, good service and a unique take on the cuisine, I'll try it again sometime when my pocketbook can better take the hit.
Welcome to Koliba, the best Czechoslovak restaurant in the New York City area. We offer authentic Czech and Slovak dishes and drinks. Come and enjoy our casual and friendly atmosphere, and get a feel of a true central European dining.
Koliba is the second Czech restaurant my grandmother recommended in my neighborhood. I've jogged by it several times before, but it always seemed closed...turns out my Monday jogging route corresponds with their one day off. I was coming home late from work and thought I'd take the long way home and see what the menu had to offer.
The restaurant was homey with a cabin-like atmosphere; there was lots of Czech paraphernalia on the walls–wooden toys, mounted game, plates. The space wasn't very large, I'm guessing there were seats for about 40 people and a small bar. The menu is short, and it seems they focus on a few standard specialties. If you want a 'special order' they advise there will be a longer wait for preparation. Everything was modestly priced, the most expensive entree being $16.75, and most closer to $10-12. The imported Czech beers were cheap too. I had a half-liter BrouCzech for $5.
I ordered beef with cream sauce (pictured) which was simple but tasty and hearty. It was three slices of pot roast with plenty of gravy. There was a lemon slice with cranberry or boysenberry jam for garnish, and a plate of dumplings on the side. I'm not certain Koliba is "the best Czechoslovak restaurant in the New York City area" but they do a nice job serving good food at a good price. Maybe it'll just become my 'regular' bar!
The service was friendly and food was good, but not anything really unique that blew me away. V had a penne dish with sausage. I enjoyed a few bites, and as leftovers the next day with some added cheese, it was great. I had meatloaf, something I figured I wouldn't make at home anytime soon, served with mashed potatoes (real) and corn (from a can). It was pretty good, but not too memorable. The side salad was iceberg lettuce with a few cucumbers, carrots and cherry tomatoes--and the largest glob of ranch dressing ever.
Overall: good for a low key and relatively cheap dinner in the neighborhood, but i probably won't be bringing many out of town guests.
At Kabab King, we have served Halal food for over 10 yrs to our Muslim community in America. Kabab King specializes in excellent diverse ethnic food including Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Turkish and Chinese Cuisine.
I don't pretend to know much about Halal food or Indian or much of any Middle- or far-Eastern cuisine (from what I hear, American 'Chinese' food really isn't that authentic, too). So it is hard for me to know if what I ate at Kabab King, a restaurant in the Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights, was good or not, but I liked it and the overall experience was culturally enriching!
The restaurant is very casual, you order from a counter and take your tray to eat. Being that I was culinarily ignorant and had no idea what to order, I went up to the counter and asked for recommendations. The guy there happily suggested we head upstairs to the $7.99 buffet which had a wide selection of foods to try, and we obliged.
We arrived a little early for the lunch rush and the buffet/dining room was almost completely empty, but they really do go for the King theme - the room was large and open, packed tightly with ornate tables and chairs. It was like we each had our own mini throne!
I tried a little of just bout everything, filling my plate with small spoonfulls (spoons full?) of various meats and sauces. The only problem with this course of action was that I still don't know what I ate, because nothing was labeled. I can say that the naan was good. Otherwise, I found that an open mind (and palate) is a good thing!
Agnanti meze was founded in December 2002 in Astoria, the heart of the Greek culture in New York. This family oriented restaurant, offers an outdoor patio in the summer overlooking Astoria Park, and a cozy atmosphere with a fireplace in the winter.
What a surprise. Many times I've jogged past this small corner restaurant, next to Astoria Park, just a block from the river, and almost a mile from the last stop on the N train...I thought it looked quaint, quiet. I convinced V to walk down there to dinner on Saturday night, not expecting a wait, let alone a crowd. As we approached the restaurant, I thought there was some kind of emergency because there were so many people congregating outside. As it turns out, Agnanti is a hot spot! The space is small, probably seating 50 max, and there is no bar area, so if you're waiting for a table, you're waiting outside. The crowd was diverse: older couples, families, and an odd number of pregnant women, I think there were three at one table.
I was happy we decided to go and the food was great, but there were a few downsides to our experience. First, I was lucky V was willing to wait with me for a table. We stood outside for at least an hour. Our name was never on a list, the hostess just knew what order to seat people.
Things got off to a better start once we were seated. I figured out it was a Greek restaurant (I couldn't tell by the name or decor, and there wasn't a menu outside). We ordered a few appetizers and smaller items instead of main entrees, starting with Saganaki. This is a traditional Greek cheese baked in a dish and served with a lemon wedge. You just eat it, and it was very good, and very cheesy. You can't go wrong there. We followed that up with Mushrooms Kalitsounia, homemade dough wrapped around mushrooms and herbs. These were amazing. Kind of like little raviolis, they were hot, crispy, creamy, and salty all at the same time (sounds familiar).
I then had an order of mussels which were seasoned with a white wine sauce and sprinkled with feta cheese. They were great, and a nice dish to take your time eating and enjoying. I shared a few with V, but she was busy enjoying the swordfish, which was a little dry, but flaky and really very steak-like. It was quite good. Both were reasonably priced too. I found it surprising that the seafood was less expensive than the meat and poultry dishes.
So all the food was great. The odd thing was the service. We waited forever to get in and then our food was brought out so quickly we felt rushed. Perhaps because we were one of the last seatings, the kitchen was closing down. Then, after our rushed meal, our server never came around to see how things were, offer coffee or dessert, or even the check! We waited another half hour before flagging someone else down to get the bill. Then after paying, by credit card, they told us to tip in cash. I needed to make change to leave a proper tip, but the server never came by again...I felt bad leaving a measly tip, but there wasn't anything I could do. The food was good enough that I'll give Agnanti another try. Next time I'll make a reservation, and hope for the best.
El Boqueron serves authentic and traditional tapas, that is, small entree dinner portions from various regions of Spain. We dish up exquisite dishes that leave your mouth savoring for more.
El Boqueron is right on the corner near V's apartment and though she's lived there for nearly two years, we've never been. Finally it seemed like a good time to try it out. The restaurant seems a little too fancy for its location next to the elevated subway tracks in Astoria, the prices of some entrees seem a little high, but we enjoyed the food and the friendly service.
Continuing our trend, and because of the fact that this was a tapas restaurant, we ordered a few little dishes, starting with a spinach salad. It was served with warm crunchy bacon bits and a very nice dressing, which made for a good start to our meal. Next we had a few slices of Manchego cheese, a white Spanish cheese, that is to me, kind of like a mix between cheddar and Parmesan.
From the hot tapas choices, we tried the stuffed mushrooms, which weren't quite as good as we'd hoped. I think because they were rather small mushrooms, and the stuffing, vegetables and bacon, wasn't very bacony. Overall they tasted fine but weren't amazing.
We also tried (for the second time this week) chicken croquettes. About the size of two 'tots,' they were crispy with an almost creamy filling of ground chicken. There was some kind of white cream sauce on the side which was great to spread on the hot 'tot' to cool it down a bit. (I had originally posted this as a description from another restaurant, but that was a mix up and has been corrected for the record).
Our last 'tapa' was my favorite, and probably the simplest too. Chorizo sausage cooked with Rioja wine, was served sizzling in a crock. Hot and perfectly seasoned, not too tough and not too dry, the sausage was very good. It was a nice way to end the meal too. We decided against dessert and that made for a reasonable bill and a satisfying meal.
As V and I were discussing what to order, we decided to take a route we've tried several times before, opting for a few appetizers, rather than individual entrees. I suggested we try a dip and V agreed saying, "I'd try anything but the carrot dip." Admittedly carrot dip does sound a little strange, but it was one I was intrigued by. I wasn't sure if it would be hot or cold, crunchy or creamy, good or bad. The menu described it as "sautéed grated carrots, garlicky homemade yogurt." I had to ask our server if I could try just a spoonful. (V tells me I'm a little crazy.) Our server obliged and brought me a little mini dish to try. I really liked it–a perfect texture that wasn't too creamy like baby food or too crunchy and raw, it wasn't chilled cold but not served hot either. The garlic flavor was well balanced with the yogurt and not too strong. Perhaps next time we'll try a full order!
We ended up ordering the Crabmeat & Artichoke Dip, which was served warm and too was quite good. I found it a little too chunky but really this is a personal preference. The portion was reasonable, especially with our other orders coming.
The Brazilian Coxinha was a chicken croquette with catupiry cheese (a Brazilian cream cheese). The single croquette was a good size and the filling was creamy which was nice with the crunchy crust.
Next we tried Puro Turco, cheese rolls. These reminded me of a cross between the state fair and egg rolls. The hand rolled dough was stuffed with feta cheese & parsley and was hot, crunchy, salty and creamy all at the same time. Great.
Finally we tried the house specialty, a vegetarian dish called Red Sonja. It consists of "red lentil patties with cracked wheat (bulgur), scallion, parsley & oriental spices on a bed of lettuce with lemon wedges." Even from this description, it is hard for us to comprehend what would come from the kitchen. The 'patties' were kind of like a raw mash of all the ingredients. We sprinkled a little lemon juice over the top and with some guidance from our server, picked up the patty in the lettuce leaf for a bite. It had a nice texture which was complimented by the crunch of the lettuce leaf and the flavors were very good–not too strong, just a good mellow mix of fresh tastes.
For dessert we tried another specialty, Warm Semolina Helva with Ice-cream. It was kind of Mundo's take of fried ice cream: a scoop of vanilla ice cream surrounded by a warm, soft shell of coarse-ground semolina flour, with pinenuts, pistachios, walnuts and cinnamon sprinkled over the top. It was really a unique dish, and one that I really enjoyed if only because slightly melted ice cream is one of my favorite desserts.
Mundo really is a great find, the small space means you will get great service and personal attention, the location makes it affordable and the cuisine is authentic and delicious. I'm happy we went back.