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Cuisine de Queens: Recipes from the Borough’s Most Gastronomically Exciting Communities

The borough of Queens, New York offers some of the most diverse dining options in the country. From Chengdu-worthy noodles and dumplings to Bangladeshi, Ghanaian, Ecuadorian, Polish, Nepalese and Filipino staples, the borough has long exemplified New York City’s melting pot (plus it has some outstanding hot pot). Here we’ve picked favorite recipes from some of its most gastronomically exciting communities to tide you over until you can visit.

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Photography by Nico Schinco

Neighborhood: Astoria

Greek immigrants started moving to Astoria in the 1920s, but the neighborhood’s Greek population exploded in the 1960s, when country-specific immigration quotas were eliminated. Though Astoria also boasts prominent communities from the Middle East, the Balkans and South Asia, the Greek population has grown even further in the last decade with the fallout of the Greek financial crisis. Come here for whole grilled fish, overflowing Greek salads, and meze like dolmadakia, skordalia, and keftedes (fritters) at Astoria’s many Greek tavernas.

Kolokithokeftedes (Greek Zucchini Fritters)

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Wine Pairing: Assyrtiko

One of Greece’s iconic white wines, Assyrtiko has citrus, mineral and saline notes that make it a versatile partner with almost anything. Like Chablis, with which it’s often compared, it’s especially good with strong cheeses, because it refreshes without losing its own rich personality. Real Greek feta and Assyrtiko is a heavenly match.

You May Also Like: The Best Greek Wines to Drink Right Now

Griot with Pikliz
Photography by Nico Schinco

Neighborhood: Queens Village

There are more Haitians and Haitian Americans in New York and New Jersey than any state besides Florida, and there are Haitian communities in every borough. In Queens, you’ll find the most Haitian businesses in southeastern neighborhoods like Jamaica, St. Albans and Queens Village. Haitian cuisine is distinct among Caribbean cuisines, with African, French, Spanish and native Taíno influences.

Griot with Pikliz (Haitian Fried Pork)

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Wine Pairing: German Off-Dry Riesling

While the spicy sting of the pikliz can make for a tricky pairing, a low-alcohol, slightly-sweet Riesling (look for “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” on the label) merges so seamlessly that it almost feels like another condiment on the plate. It plays multiple roles: The sweetness complements and mitigates the heat, while the wine’s acidity cuts through the pork’s richness and also confidently zips alongside the vinegary pikliz.

Photography by Nico Schinco

Neighborhood: Flushing

Almost one in five Queens residents are of Chinese descent, and you can find examples of the eight major Chinese regional cuisines—Guangdong (Cantonese), Anhui, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang and Sichuan—throughout the borough. Flushing’s Chinatown is as rich and varied as NYC’s other two major Chinatowns (Sunset Park and lower Manhattan), and is particularly strong in Sichuan cuisine.

Dandanmian (Dan Dan Noodles)

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Wine Pairing: Provence Rosé

Though simple to prepare, Dan Dan noodles boast layers of strong flavors, from salty soy and sweet hoisin to burning chili, numbling Sichuan pepper and funky mustard greens. Pairing with something heavy, like beer or baijiu, can be delicious but make for an intense, brooding experience. A light-bodied, crisp Provençal rosé lifts the whole dish up, like a spritz of lime over a meaty taco.

Bandeja Paisa
Photography by Nico Schinco

Neighborhood: Jackson Heights

Jackson Heights is often said to be the most diverse neighborhood in the country. Among its many demographic shifts post-World War II, Colombian immigrants started arriving in the 1950s, followed by other South Americans and then South Asians after passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. The stretch of Roosevelt Avenue between, roughly, 79th and 84th Streets has been dubbed “Little Colombia,” though that moniker is sometimes given to the neighborhood as a whole. At the area’s restaurants, you’ll find dishes like sancocho and ajiaco that are virtually unknown elsewhere in the city, but Colombia’s culinary crown jewel may be this breakfast of champions, which also makes a fun (and hearty) dinner.

Bandeja Paisa (Colombian Breakfast Platter)

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Wine Pairing: Carménère From Chile

This hearty, meaty dish benefits from a wine with abundant fruit and palate-cleansing tannins. Carménère also adds “green” notes of bell pepper, chili pepper and dried herbs, which, combined with its buoyant acidity, makes the pairing feel fresh and never heavy.

Photography by Nico Schinco

Neighborhood: Bayside

East of Flushing’s Chinatown, a Koreatown has evolved in neighborhoods like Auburndale and Bayside. Though Bayside had historically housed Greek, Italian, Irish, German and Polish communities, Korean families started moving there in the mid-’90s and today the neighborhood is more than 40% of Asian descent, with Korean Americans a majority. It has further cemented New York City as having one of the best and most varied Korean food scenes.

Tteokbokki (Korean Rice Cakes)

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Pairing: Soju

The Korean distillate soju varies wildly in terms of ingredients, styles, textures, and flavors, with so-called “green bottle” diluted soju being both the most common and the least flavorful, much like a massproduced light beer. However, artisanal soju—cold and neat—can be revelatory, with faintly sweet and creamy notes that complement the dish where other straight spirits would just feel harsh.

You May Also Like: Shochu vs Soju: A Quick Guide

This article originally appeared in the May 2024 of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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