Part of the MTA + James Beard Foundation DineAWAY series
Below the elevated tracks in Astoria, Queens you’ll find a bustling community that’s home to everything from Sesame Street to some of the best Greek eateries in town, with new spots opening all the time that add to its vibrancy.
One of the newer additions is Beatrice Ajaero’s Nneji, which opened in 2020. In her small and colorful storefront, which has become a destination-worthy spot, Ajaero has been serving up delicious West African comfort food to-go. During a recent visit, she shared more about her own endeavor, as well as some of her favorite stops in the neighborhood:
Here's your beginner’s guide to getting to know Astoria like a local (and we recommend walking as much as you can, to take in all of the delightful architecture and lawn decor along the way).
You’ll find Beatrice Ajaero serving up her West African comfort food cuisine in this tiny but lively storefront on 34th Avenue. The menu isn’t lengthy, but it’s bursting with flavor (and has the coveted Pete Wells-approval). Hearty stews, warming egusi soup and jollof rice are just some of the staples you’ll find here, with new items added to the rotation now and again. And you can take home more than your meal with you, as Ajaero also offers pastries and pantry items, like olive oil and sardines.
Nneji is located at 32-20 34th Avenue
6 minute walk from Steinway Street
6 minute walk from Broadway
ROSE & JOE’S ITALIAN BAKERY
The classic signage outside lets you know you’re in good hands here, but take it from a fellow Astoria resident — this is one of Beatrice Ajaero’s favorite spots. “If you’re going to have a dessert, have the highest quality you can,” she says, and that can be found here. They’ve got some savory items, too, so whether it’s pizza, rice balls, focaccia, cannolis or zeppoles that you’re craving, head over here. Rose & Joe’s has got all that and even more classic Italian bakery items that you’ll want to pile into a pastry box and bring home.
Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery is located at 22-40 31st Street
1 minute walk from Astoria - Ditmars Boulevard
GREGORY’S 26 CORNER TAVERNA
This corner spot comes with an old timey, bucolic vibe and some of the best Greek dishes in town. It’s another one of Ajaero’s favorites, and she says, “When you step in here, you’re in Greece.” Get the tirokafteri (feta with a kick, and a side of pita), flash-fried smelts, fried eggplant and zucchini, and save room for the free sweet treat at the end of the meal.
Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna is located at 26-02 23rd Avenue
5 minute walk from Astoria - Ditmars Boulevard
TEA AND MILK
Right next door to Ajaero’s Nneji you’ll find another little storefront, Tea and Milk. You’ll order from the sidewalk here, and as the name suggests the menu is heavy on the tea. Milk tea, bubble tea, or just straight up iced tea. Get the Brown Sugar Matcha Tea Latte, or the Hibiscus Peach White Tea, or a number of others. Your pairings include: coffee jelly, chia seeds, aloe vera, tapioca/boba and herbal jelly. You can also take home a DIY Bubble Tea Kit, or a Vietnamese sandwich.
Tea and Milk is located at 32-02 34th Avenue
5 minute walk from Broadway
7 minute walk from Steinway Street
Ovelia Psistaria delivers a Greek culinary experience with a modern twist. The Astoria staple offers a chic welcoming vibe – the perfect spot for meeting up with friends. Their “original Hellenic specialties” are both classic and new. Kick things off with the sesame crusted feta drizzled with honey, or the pulled leg of lamb with kefalograviera and fries, before moving on to the entrees (including an authentic Monastiraki Bifteki that’s straight out of Athens and a Greek coffee-marinated skirt steak). Level up with some cocktails — from a fig-infused Ovelia Sikatini to a refreshing Frosé.
Ovelia is located at 34-01 30th Avenue
4 minute walk from 30 Avenue
This vegan restaurant will delight even the meat eaters amongst your crew, with flavorful pan-Asian dishes. You’ll find rice bowls, noodles, fried tofu, baked eggplant, and even a full gluten-free menu. And of course, a staple at so many vegetarian spots around town: General Tso’s Soy Protein.
Jujube Tree is located at 35-02 30th Avenue
4 minute walk from 30 Avenue
Tucked amidst plenty of Greek restaurants, you’ll find this spot serving up consistently delicious Indian food. Along with your Chicken Tikka Masala or Vegetable Biryani, be sure to order a bread basket for the table (even if you’re solo dining), filled with your choice of naan and more. As with most Indian restaurants, there are plenty of meatless options, but here they’ve even got vegan drumsticks.
Namaste is located at 31-15 30th Avenue
1 minute walk from 30 Avenue
SALVATORIA KITCHEN & BAR
Swing by Astoria’s go-to for pupusas and other Salvadoran food. In addition to their signature offering (those pupusas!), you’ll want to get some salchipapas for the table while you decide on your entree. Expect a sizeable outdoor crowd on nice weather brunch days (which feature unlimited cocktails — mimosas, sangria, bellinis and screwdrivers — for one hour).
Salvatoria Kitchen & Bar is located at 31-18 Broadway
2 minute walk from Broadway
A cornerstone of Astoria since the 1970s, when owner John Arvanitis immigrated from Greece, Omonia has become a must-stop for any pastry-lover. Get the sokolatina if you're craving chocolate, and the politiko or any of the Greek speciality pastries. But in addition to the top notch sweets, you'll find a cozy restaurant, meant to harness the energy of European cafes and provide a comfortable meeting spot for friends to gather over food.
Omonia Cafe is located at 32-20 Broadway
2 minute walk from Broadway
BETWEEN THE BAGEL
It’s always good to know where the best bagel shop in a neighborhood is, and in this Queens neighborhood it’s Between the Bagel, which opened up during the pandemic and offers a delicious twist on the New York staple. As the name suggests, it’s not just about the bread here, but what you’re serving it with — and here your options feature a Korean spin from owner Ben Suh. A local fave: the Bulgogi, Egg & Cheese with sauteed kimchi and gochujang mayo.
Between the Bagel is located at 31-13 30th Avenue
1 minute walk from 30 Avenue
Partake in “New York City’s next great pizza feud” and swing by Bellucci Pizza, run by Andrew Bellucci, who previously slung pies at Lombardi’s (his family’s legendary SoHo spot). Customer faves include the Vodka-Roni, the Veggie Royale, and the Carbonara (because you can never go wrong when you put an egg on it).
Bellucci Pizza is located at 29-04 30th Avenue
3 minute walk from 30 Avenue
BENCH FLOUR BAKERS
This new bakery drops a small town vibe in the middle of Queens. Expect a line on weekend mornings for their fresh-out-of-the-oven treats, which include morning buns and plenty of seasonal fruit inspired pastries. On the savory side, you’ll find a sourdough breakfast bread pudding, croissant breakfast sandwiches, and a new item: the Pork Katsu Hero.
Bench Flour Bakers is located at 43-18 25th Avenue
14 minute walk from Astoria Boulevard
BOHEMIAN BEER HALL
Sure, you can find fancy cocktail spots in the neighborhood these days, but nothing beats the beer hall, which has been a fixture in the area forever. For real. Opened by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria, the group raised funds to purchase lots in the area way back in the late 1800s. By 1910, they had purchased two lots, part of a farm, and laid the cornerstone for the Bohemian Hall. And by 1919, just as the prohibition era began, the outside Bar and Park were finished... but it all worked out, and the beer hall is still there to welcome you with a tall frosty one today.
Bohemian Beer Hall is located at 29-19 24th Avenue
5 minute walk from Astoria Boulevard
LOCKWOOD HOME & GIFT
Astoria resident Mackenzi Farqueri opened the first version of Lockwood in 2007, and there are now six storefronts around town. Here in Astoria, you’ll find the Lockwood Home & Gift shop, which has everything you didn’t even know you were looking for — from Ted Lasso and Dolly Parton candles, to a wide array of delightful planters (be sure to step out back into the “greenhouse” for these. Farqueri’s inventory highlightscustom and locally designed items, so you’ll be sure to find a unique gift here. Even if it’s for yourself.
Note: Lockwood Paper stationary store is right next door.
Lockwood is located at 32-15 33rd Street
3 minute walk from Broadway
MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE
Hands down one of the best museums in all of New York City, the Museum of Moving Image is worth carving out a couple of hours for when you’re in Astoria. It’s home to “the nation’s largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts relating to the art, history, and technology of the moving image.” There are rotating exhibits, movie programs, and permanent displays — one of those is the Jim Henson Exhibition, which features upwards of 300 objects from the mastermind behind The Muppet Show, Sesame Street (which is filmed nearby!), and more.
Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Avenue, in the former Kaufman Astoria Studios building
5 minute walk from Steinway Street
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