Greetings, Internet Stranger, and welcome to a perfect 24 hours in Queens Food Tour. Now, I realize that if you’re not from New York, you might not know what Queens is or why you should go on a food tour there?
Did you know that New York City is made of five different counties? (In NYC we call them boroughs and some borough have a different borough name from their county name–it’s a whole thing.)
Well, many visitors to NYC only stay in the most famous borough, Manhattan, aka New York County, which is tragical. Now I was born and raised in Manhattan, and I’ve lived there my entire life, so I understand why it is so beloved. But all New York City boroughs are equally worthy of love, even Staten Island (aka Richmond County).
And if you’re looking for great cheap eats, no borough is as worthy as the fine borough of Queens, aka Queens County. (Yes, there’s a Kings County. It’s also called Brooklyn. I told you this was confusing.
Join for a an amazing Queens food tour, and we’re going to find all the best places to snack in Queens. In fact, I plan on visiting Queens regularly and updating this post with all the wonderful eats I can consume. Won’t you join me?
24 Hours in Queens Food Tour
Where to Stay?
If you’re a tourist in New York City, you’ll probably be staying in a hotel. And even though Queens is great, it’ll be more convenient to stay in Manhattan for exploring attractions on other days.
I recommend staying in the Artezen Hotel in Lower Manhattan. It’s very easy to get to Grand Central Station from here, which you have to do if you’re taking the 7 train to Queens. Plus, the rooms are affordable and cozy, and there’s free snacks, coffee, and fancy bath products in your room.
24 Hours in Queens Food Tour
- A cell charger so you can keep taking pictures of your delicious Queens eats all day
- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded during your trip without help. You never know when extreme weather will strike or some other emergency. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by deranged Mets fans on your Queens food tour.
24 Hours in Queens Food Tour
Morning: Queens Botanical Garden
You might be wondering why we are starting with a botanical garden when this is a Queens food tour. Well, we can’t exactly eat all day, can we? I mean, our stomachs will start to explode. And they might even finish exploding! We can’t have that.
So instead we’re going to head to the neighborhood of Flushing in Queens, get two different breakfasts, and then we’ll give our bellies a break at the Queens Botanical Garden, which is cheap in the warm months, and free in the winter.
I’ll give you some slightly more specific advice with…
Three Fun Facts: Queens Botanical Garden
1) Where Should You Go For Breakfast Near the Queens Botanical Garden?
Would you like to start the day with something sweet? There’s no finer pastry in Flushing, Queens than the egg custard tart. This tart originally comes from Europe, but they are now a popular Chinese baked good. And since Flushing is famous for Chinese food, this is one of the most local ways to start your day.
I suggest getting your egg tart at New Flushing Bakery. It’s right next to the subway stop, so it couldn’t be more convenient, and their pastries are flaky and fresh. You’ll never forget the soothing taste of the wobbly egg tart filling.
Wash it down with some boba tea, which is a Taiwanese drink that pairs tea, usually iced, with bubbles, usually made of tapioca. A lot of the boba places in Flushing aren’t open at breakfast time, but Coco Fresh Tea is, so just stop in there. You can get basically any tea-fruit combination your heart desires. I recommend passionfruit green tea on a hot day. You can even adjust the sugar and ice level to your preference.
See my photo of the egg tart and bubble tea above? That’s my favorite way to start the day in Queens! Breakfast of champions!
2) I’m a Hobbit, so What About Second Breakfast?
I’ve got you covered! If you want something a little more savory, one of the best hidden treasures in Flushing is the Soy Bean Chan Flower Shop. Yes, most of what they have to sell is flowers, but I’m not going to make you eat tulips for breakfast, Internet Stranger! The soybean part is what’s relevant here. We’re going to snack on their amazing tofu.
If you think tofu is bland and boring, you just haven’t had the fresh stuff straight from the pot. Go right up to the tofu server and ask for a small portion. It’s so smooth and sweet and a little gingery. It also comes with some sweet sauce on the side, and if you pour it on top of the warm tofu, it’s like eating tofu oatmeal with maple syrup on top–minus the oats.
3) I’m Full! Can You Bring Me To This Botanical Garden?
Of course! The Queens Botanical Garden isn’t huge, but it’s a lovely place to spend an hour or so in the fresh air. They say the three themes of the Queens Botanical Garden are conservation, community, and color. You can see examples of conservation all over the garden because they try to plant greenery all over, including places where you’d think it would be hard to have a garden, like on the roof of the gift shop.
Even the parking lot is green!
You can see all sorts of Community events at the Queens Botanical Garden too. While I was there, I saw a local high school rehearsing its graduation ceremony and a group of elderly people taking a tai chi class. But my favorite Community event at the Queens Botanical Garden is at Christmas, when you can enjoy a special event for the tree lighting ceremony.
See! Even Santa is there!
And for color, of course we have the flowers. They have blooms in every shade, but my favorite is the roses. Don’t forget to stop and smell them.
That’s right, lean right in a take a big sniff! Of course, they smell a lot better in person than they do through your computer screen.
24 Hours in Queens Food Tour
Afternoon: Roosevelt Avenue Food Crawl
Roosevelt Avenue is the main drag that runs from the Flushing neighborhood all the way down the rest of Queens in a Manhattan-ward direction. And it’s also chock-full of amazing places to grab snacks. For the rest of this crawl, I plan on sharing all my favorite places on and around Roosevelt Avenue. That way you can make your own Roosevelt Avenue Food Crawl.
And what’s more, I’ll keep adding to the food crawl, probably about twice a year. Eventually, it will include every good eatery in this part of Queens. MWAHAHAHA!
Ready to go? Then lets not waste any more time. We’ve got the…
Approximately Top 5: Roosevelt Avenue Food Crawl
1) Xi’an Famous Foods
Xi’an Famous Foods is a small chain now, but it all got started in Flushing, so it counts as a local business as far as I’m concerned. You want to go to the Flushing location for the purposes of this food crawl. Xi’an was one of the first places to popularize the cuisine of Xi’an, a large city in northwest China that is famous for its lamb and noodle dishes.
If it’s your first time here, you want to get their specialty: spicy lamb cumin hand-ripped noodles. You can choose the spice level, and I prefer regular spicy, which is hot enough that you’ll want a drink, but not so hot that it will burn your mouth off.
There’s indoor seating in Xi’an, so take the opportunity to rest your feet because we have a long walk ahead of us. Just be sure to not make a mess on your table with the yummy noodles. They are super slippery and kept falling out of my chopsticks. But it was worth it just to get to snack on them!
2) White Bear
Next we’re heading to White Bear for what some say are the most delicious dumplings in NYC. This hole in the wall is just a short walk from Xi’an Famous Foods. They serve more than one item, but they know what you came there for: the wontons with chili oil, aka the Number 6. There’s even a small sign on the wall telling you this is what you want to get.
Despite the presence of chili oil, these wontons are only slightly spicy. What makes them special is the light as Santa’s beard wrappers on the wonton combined with the delicious savory scallion-ness in the filling. The best part just might be the burnt, salty, umami little numnums on top. (I assume the technical name for this topping is “numnums”.)
If there’s no seating available in White Bear, just take it to a nearby park bench and then keep going! We’ve got our first dessert to try.
3) Beard Papa
Speaking of things that are as light and fluffy as Santa’s beard, it’s time for dessert at Beard Papa, located in the food court of The Shops at Skyview Center. Beard Papa is a cream puff chain from Japan, and it serves poofy choux buns filled to your order with any flavor cream filling you choose. You can get anything from a green tea bun with a vanilla filling to an Oreo cookie crumble bun with a chocolate filling.
I selected the simple original bun with green tea filling, and it tasted just like the cream puffs I used to get in Japan. Right now, when I can’t travel to my favorite country in the world, these buns made me feel like I was there for a second.
As you can tell from my photo, the buns are quite delicate, so don’t wait to take your picture of them or they’ll get smooshed. You don’t want to disappoint your legions of Instagram followers!
4) Arepa Lady
So this Queens food tour is leaving the realm of the Asian cuisine and heading towards Latin America with a stop at the legendary Arepa Lady. This Colombian restaurant started as a food truck before becoming a brick and mortar destination just off Roosevelt Avenue. Arepas are a thick maise cake covered with yummy toppings like creamy, salty, white cheese.
You can eat your arepa in the restaurant or take it to go, depending on how your feet are feeling. Either way, dig into this deliciousness. It’s like corn on the cob covered in butter, only in cake form. Don’t miss out!
5) Bee Cafe
At this point in our Queens food tour, you’ll probably want to give your stomach a break. And what could be more soothing than a fine cup of tea from the adorable Bee Cafe in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens?
If it’s a hot day, which it was when I visited, I recommend their nitro iced tea. This tea uses the magic of chemistry to get extra cold. Plus it also has a delicious natural floral taste and sweetness, so you don’t need to add any sugar. It’s a great break from all the fabulous fat and calories we’ve been indulging in!
24 Hours in Queens Food Tour
Evening: Dessert + Beer = Happy Times
We’ve almost come to the end of our Queens food tour–only two stops left. And they’re the only thing we’ve missed so far on this tour: a delicious dessert and a boozy beverage.
Lucky for you, I’ve got one of the best bakeries in Queens and a delicious craft brewery to recommend. Let’s not waste any more time!
24 Hour Treat: Nita’s European Bakery
So Nita’s European Bakery claims to be European, and indeed they sell many varieties of European baked goods. But I’ve read that their specialty is Romanian treats, and indeed the Romanian flag on the wall of the bakery seemed to confirm this.
So I suggest getting one of their Romanian treats like these yummy raspberry rugelach you see in my photo above. Rugelach are really popular in any Eastern European country that had a sizeable Jewish population. Everyone in my Romanian Jewish family loves them, and I’m sure you will too. Nita’s rugelach are especially flaky and melt-in-your-mouth.
Nita’s also has an impressive selection of Cakes Shaped Like Cute Things. I recommend this adorable penguin. He looks good–and what’re more important, he tastes amazing. But frankly, he’s such a cutie-pie that I felt a little guilty eating him. 🙁
But I did it anyway…I bit his head off first! >=D
24 Hour Treasure: Big Alice Brewing
We come to our final Queens neighborhood of the day: Long Island City. LIC, as many locals call it, is home to several outstanding craft breweries. (Also it’s pronounced ell-eye-see, not Lick.) Today we will stop at one of my favorite breweries in NYC, Big aLICe. (Yup, the LIC in the middle is capitalized to honor the neighborhood.) This is where we will end the Queens food tour.
At Big aLICe, you can make your own beer flight by selecting the smaller pours. I chose three, which was the perfect amount for me. Also, when I went they had one section of seating outdoors for vaccinated people that was super crowded and another section for unvaccinated people that was completely empty. So I had to sit in the unvaccinated section, even though I am VV. (Very Vaccinated.) Oh well, at least I didn’t have to be around other people, and that always makes me happy.
The first beer I tried was the Blackberry pomegranate sour. Every good craft beer tasting needs a sour! They’re all the rage these days, dahlink! This beer seemed to get progressively more sour as I drank it. Also it coordinated with the color of my purse, which I appreciate.
Next we have a red ale that was almost caramelly, and also a fab color, though it didn’t match my purse. 🙁 If you want a beer that’s hoppy yet sweet, this will be your friend.
And finally we have a honey wit beer, which was very light slightly fizzy. I could actually pick up the honey in the aftertaste of the beer. This is really a great drink for summertime in New York.
One final tip: I really did the beers in this flight in a totally wrong order. You’re supposed to start with the lightest beer and work your way to something heavier like an ale. And with that bit of sage advice, I bid you adieu. Now it’s time for you to head out and experience this Queens food tour for yourself!
24 Hours in Queens Food Tour
How To Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of the finest cans of craft beer. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to Queens for this amazing Queens food tour.
But I can tell you that if you’re looking to take the subway from Manhattan, or any other borough, to Flushing, Queens, it’s quite easy. Just take the 7 train from Grand Central 42nd Street to the Main Street train station in Queens, and you are right at the first stop of this Queens food tour.
However, if you need to take a plane or car to get to New York City, I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight or car rental, depending on how you want to get around. Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight or car rental, so you can head out on your Queens food tour ASAP.
That’s the Best Queens Food Tour!
What do you think are the best things to eat on a Queens food tour? Do you think you could eat all this food yourself on one Queens food tour, or is it too much? And is it actually possible that Santa himself lives in Queens? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. If you’d like to try exploring towns outside of NYC, try spending 24 hours in Cold Spring as well. Or you could make time for 24 hours in Beacon. I’ve got you covered either way!