Queens: A Roosevelt Avenue Street Food Tour
I don't get out to Queens much. In fact, besides going to the airports, I mostly like to avoid the borough as a whole. That said, I've been hearing great things about the great food there for years. Last year, the lore took me out to M Wells - twice. Last weekend, it took me to Roosevelt Avenue, where I grazed my way down thirty blocks with my fellow Midtown Lunch contributors, Donny (of Eat To Blog) and Siobhan (of Blondie & Brownie).
The trip wasn't entirely for leisure, though. Siobhan and her blogging partner Alex are writing a street food cookbook and Donny and I will be providing some of the photography. So, you know, it's research. Leading us through this unfamiliar territory was Jeff Orlick, aka JeffreyTastes, who runs regular tours of the area.
I hope to write a few posts about some of the specific places we visited, but who knows when I'll have time for that, so let's start with the highlights - after the jump.
We met up at Tortas Nezas, a truck on Roosevelt and 111th Street that specializes in those delicious football-shaped sandwiches I fell in love wi in Mexico City five years ago.
One of the few explicitly Mexican places we visited (most are Ecuadorean), the menu lists a dozen tortas, each named after a different football team.
I chose the Torta Toluqueñas with chorizo, salsicha, cheese, avocado and god knows what else. It was huge. I ate the smaller half and wondered how I was going to eat anything else for the rest of the night. Thankfully, someone suggested that I take the rest to go.
The salsicha caught my attention - basically strips of hot dog (Jeff says he thinks they use chicken dogs) that are split and plumped on the griddle.
Once Jeff got there, we started wandering down Roosevelt. There was at least one cart and often many more on every block. I'm glad I had a guide, because I'd have just gone to the first five, gotten full and headed home, thus missing the amazing snacks we ended up enjoying later.
Presuming not everyone wants their photo taken, I didn't shoot every place we went to. I enjoyed the hell out of the tamal I got from this lady, but assume the shopping cart she sold it from hadn't been inspected by the DOH. She also sold Donny a cup of corn soup that reminded me of all the delicious food I had in Peru.
When passing places he hadn't been to yet, like this salchipapas stand manned by a pair of older ladies, Jeff made a point of introducing himself and explaining his tour.
Another favorite from the walk was La Esquina del Sabor, where they make what I guess are huaraches from handmade masa. We spent bout half an hour there chatting and watching her at work. I hope to post a bit more about them specifically at some point.
We shared a huge huarache filled with huitlacoche, cheese, spicy pickled veggies and a ton of lettuce.
While we were there, Siobhan made a friend with a rather outgoing little girl who was out on Roosevelt that night.
Just across the street from there, was a whole strip of trucks, tricked out with some small seating, tv screens playing telenovelas and the like. It was an impressive sight.
By this point, I started wondering how much longer we were going to be out. I couldn't imagine eating another thing and after walking thirty blocks, all I could think of was what a pain it was going to be to get home.
Then I saw this...
These arepas, cheese-filled corn pastries, looked amazing. But I was SO full!
We ended up splitting two varieties of them and I have to say, I'm craving them a week later.
The Arepa Lady is famous in these parts. She only works certain nights and closes up entirely during the cold months. She's a worthy destination for anyone interested in good food and I'm not following her on twitter, where she may tempt me into another trip to Queens some time soon.