I Saw the Sign from Queens Food Tours: Flavors of Long Island City (Slideshow)
Queens Food Tours: Flavors of Long Island City (Slideshow)
I Saw the Sign
The iconic Pepsi-Cola sign that topped Pepsi’s bottling factory in the 1940s was restored in the 1990s after sustaining storm damage. Despite not technically being old enough due to that restoration, the sign was granted landmark status in April 2016. Community support for preserving a piece of Long Island City’s manufacturing history was intense and unwavering throughout the 28-year long landmarking process.
Pull Into The Garage
The first stop on our tour was The Burger Garage on Jackson Avenue. Can’t you imagine The Fonz pulling up on his motorcycle? It feels just like a ‘burger joint’ from the 50s or 60s where they serve up a nice juicy burger on a soft, white bun with all the fixings. All their food is made-to-order and I was happy to discover that the meat is completely free of hormones and antibiotics and ground fresh daily.
The Garage Menu
The Burger Garage’s fairly extensive menu also includes chicken, fish, grilled cheese, and veggie burgers. And you can’t have a burger joint without shakes! Theirs are made with hand-dipped premium ice cream. They also have six beers on tap and eight others in bottles and cans. (I made special note of this for next time.) There’s something for everyone here and the staff and menu is super kid-friendly.
Down on the Corner
Next stop was the recently opened LIC Corner Café a sweet little coffee shop in a beautiful old building. They serve a nice array of sandwiches, salads, and pastries — not to mention delicious coffee. We had the pleasure of sampling their salted chocolate chip cookie, which my daughter pointed out is “just as a cookie should be.” Translated that means crisp around the edges and chewy in the center. Drooling much?
Corner Café owners Terri Gloyd and Annie Tsantes are proud Long Island City residents, living next door to each other since the 1980s. Together they are not only making their mutual dreams come true, but they’re giving back to their community by offering high quality food at a reasonable price.
No Knock on Wood
Next up was Woodbines Craft Kitchen, a relaxed pub-like establishment where we all (including my sometimes finicky daughter pictured here) enjoyed a traditional snack from the UK called Scotch eggs. This dish covers all the bases. Cooked egg surrounded by sausage meat, breaded, and flash-fried. And, at Woodbines, served up with some dark mustard. So good.
Something is Brewing
Ok, can I tell you how badly I wanted a beer by now? And the lovely vintage-looking bar at Woodbines has plenty of good ones, too. Plus, there’s not a craft cocktail in existence they couldn’t whip up from this stock. I made special note of this… For next time. Despite the “bar presence,” Woodbines is very family friendly, offering a kids menu all week long.
Not Just Another Brick in the Wall
Next stop was Manducati’s Rustica. Up front you’re welcomed by a plethora of authentic Italian breads and pastries to take home with you. In the back is a warm, inviting restaurant. The exposed brick walls are full of old photographs and many of its wooden tables sat families of eight in neighborhood dining rooms before making their way to the restaurant.
Manducati Rustica’s owner, Gianna Cerbone (or Mamma G, as she’s known in the ‘hood), is something of a local celebrity. Her family has owned sister restaurant Manducati’s since the 1970s. Housed in a squat, non-descript building with no sign and no menu out front, Manducati’s doesn’t need to advertise. All the locals know exactly where to find it.
Our delightful host, Mamma G, served us this simple and delicious pizza made in her brick oven. She sources her ingredients locally and most of her produce is brought fresh from neighborhood markets. She explained that she allows her pizza dough to rise several times before baking it, which keeps it nice and light. “So you don’t feel like you just ate a bomb,” she quipped. Whatever she’s doing, it’s working. Let’s just say there were no leftovers.
The Dessert Part
And our final stop? Dessert at Cannelle Patisserie, owned by pastry chefs Jean Claude Perennou and Gnanasampanthan Sabaratratnam, who hail, most recently, from The Waldorf-Astoria. And their extensive collective experience shows in the shop’s menu. You can get everything here from your morning breakfast to your wedding cake. Cannelle is located right near the river, making it the perfect spot to pick up a pastry and stroll along the waterfront.
I’m glad our dessert option was chosen for us on this tour because I would have been there for days trying to decide. This almond croissant was soft in the center, flaky on the outside, and oh-so-buttery all around. Simple, indulgent, and the perfect ending to our tour — which, thankfully, included a lot of walking so I was able to dig into my croissant guilt-free. My only regret is not picking up a freshly baked baguette to take back home to Brooklyn.
Last But Not Least
Just in case all that food wasn’t enough to get you on the train to Queens, here’s my parting shot. This photo was taken at about 1:30 p.m. on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Where else in NYC will you find prime waterfront real estate this crowd-free on a day like this? I can tell you: Nowhere. Whether you’re a tourist or an NYC native, the Flavors of Long Island City food and walking tour is a great way to spend a day doing something different. And do it now, before word gets out!