From Mexican food to some of the city’s best dumplings, these are our favorite restaurants for lunch in Queens. Head to one of these spots for your work day break. By Yvo Sin.
5 Burro Cafe
7205 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375
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Everyone wishes they had the perfect neighborhood Mexican spot; 5 Burro is that perfect little spot. Thankfully open for lunch, 5 Burro offers their full menu for lunch, with minor changes like two tacos instead of three. This will still definitely stuff you full of delicious food inexpensively, with enough for leftovers to take home. Try anything with the ‘tasty pork & cilantro’ because, as the name suggests, it is tasty. VERY tasty. Each platter comes with rice, beans, healthy scoops of sour cream, guacamole, and refreshing pico de gallo for you to garnish your tacos, though they don’t need any additions to be delicious. If you’re feeling daring, try a mini-margarita – each garnished with a cute toy – for $5.
135-02 Roosevelt Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
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The awning may say “ICE CREAM” and the menu may have other items on it, but make no mistake: you are there for one thing and one thing alone. The best Sichuan dumplings with chili oil (pictured) that you will ever eat in your entire life can be found here. Order #6 – 12 such dumplings for $4.50 – and wait eagerly for the Styrofoam container to be passed to you as you hand over your money. Try to be patient, or you may just burn your mouth on each succulent, tender morsel. The skin is impossibly thin, breaking apart with pressure from your teeth to reveal juicy, flavorful pork. The crunchy pickled veggies tossed casually on top create a textural contrast to make you smile, while the chili oil – frighteningly bright red – adds just the slightest touch of heat to eat bite. You’ve just experienced dumpling nirvana – but if that isn’t enough, the dan-dan noodles (#12) are also an excellent addition to round out any lunch.
Tito Rad’s Grill & Restaurant
49-12 Queens Blvd
Sunnyside, NY 11104
At Tito Rad’s, you’ll feel right at home eating the bountiful delicious, authentic Filipino food – if you grew up in a Filipino home. The beef steak with onions comes incredibly juicy, with a sauce that delicately balances savory and sour, screaming for a bowl of fluffy white rice to sop it up. The mongo (mung bean soup) is neither too thick nor too thin, sitting squarely on just right, but these are all just preludes to the main event: crispy pata (pictured). Pork leg, cooked, then chopped open and fried to get the outside crispy and yummy, while the inside remains tender and fatty, is nothing short of a heart attack on a plate… and so worth it. Waddle out happily, knowing you’ve just taken a peek into the heady world of pork loving Filipino feasting.
6902 Roosevelt Ave
Woodside, NY 11377
Embrace your adventurous side, and sit inside Krystal’s Cafe. On one side you’ll see bakery cases of delicious looking goodies, and all around you are Filipino locals in the know about Krystal’s. Have a seat and order the lumpia, which look much like standard egg rolls, but one bite and you’ll find yourself in pork heaven. Crispy outside, juicy, meaty inside, the dipping sauce only enhances each bite with a bit of sour tanginess. Order the sizzling sissig (pictured) – if you’re squeamish, don’t ask what parts of the pig it is – and mix the raw egg with the hot meat quickly, then squirt the lemon juice over it liberally. Delicious, fatty, wonderful with fluffy white rice. Yum!
70-17 Austin St
Forest Hills, NY 11375
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Up a short flight of steps from the main drag of Forest Hills along Austin Street sits Corfu Grill. Its unassuming posture might make you keep walking, but go inside and browse the lunch menu. A measly $6 will get you a Greek or Caesar salad, a bowl of lentil or chicken soup, pita bread, tzatziki, choice of rice, hand cut fries or lemon potatoes (a classic Greek carb)… and that’s just the “comes with” part of the lunch menu. In addition to all of that, you can choose from a variety of kebabs, gyro, falafel, moussaka, and a couple of classic American diner dishes thrown in for good measure. But Corfu’s draw isn’t simply the cheap lunch menu; the lamb souvlaki is juicy, tender and not gamey in the slightest, while any of the kebabs are delicious as well.
89-14 Queens Boulevard
Elmhurst, NY 11373
86-12 37th Avenue
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
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It’s always good to have a solid, consistent Japanese take out place nearby from which you order whenever the mood strikes. Tomo fills that need for many in both neighborhoods it serves; lunchtime workers from the nearby mall satisfy their cravings with the great lunch menu, boasting standards like chicken teriyaki, shrimp tempura, or pork katsu (fried pork cutlet), ranging in price from $5.95 to 8.95. Don’t overlook their ‘roll lunch’ (pictured), where you can choose two from the list for a mere $7.25. Try the spicy tuna roll with crunch (pictured left); not overwhelmingly spicy, with a nice textural contrast from the crunch. Or stick with standards like the eel avocado roll (pictured right), which is perfectly tasty.
124-18 Queens Boulevard
Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Located close to the courthouses, Pasta Lovers certainly feeds the masses inexpensively. While the pasta may not be the most innovative, you will not leave hungry. Once you’re seated, bruschetta (pictured) is brought to the table for you to munch on while you browse the menu, which, despite the name, does not only have pasta. Really, Pasta Lovers is closer to a diner that happens to do pasta quite well, if that’s what you desire, but also has plenty of other choices with an Italian-American slant to them. Soup, salads, sandwiches, and – if you’re in a hurry – check out the express pasta section of the menu. Pasta Lovers is sure to have something to make you happy.
New World Mall
4021 Main St
Flushing, NY 11354
The latest addition to the Flushing food-mall scene, New World Mall made a splash with its similarities to food stalls in Asia. While the food court can be incredibly daunting to those not quite fluent in a Chinese dialect, head straight to SnoPo (down the escalator, to the back left) for an icy treat that will fascinate your senses. Shaved ice that tastes creamy but approximates the texture of very cold cotton candy – yes, cotton candy – order from the Pure Snowy side of the menu (Romantic Snowy loosely translates to “dump a lot of unnecessary toppings that distract from the essence of SnoPo”). Green tea is the pictured flavor, but better choices are mango, lychee, or coffee. And if you really need to have something savory for lunch, the stall next to SnoPo offers handpulled noodles that pass muster.
104-05 47th Ave
Corona, NY 11368
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A short walk from the 7 train lies a place where fresh tortillas are made starting at 4am each day. Indulging yourself won’t be hard on your wallet here at Tortilleria Nixtamal either – a plate of three tacos will run you about $7. The fresh tortillas are enough to make the tacos great, but the fish taco – made to order – is incredibly light and flavorful at the same time. Wash it all down with a tall horchata, a refreshing rice milk drink.
40-09 Prince St
Flushing, NY 11354
Ribs at Fu Run are prepared here unlike anything you’ve had in the past (unless you spent a lot of time in the northeastern parts of China, perhaps). The menu calls them Muslim lamb chops (pictured); the rack of lamb is crusted in an intensely thick layer of cumin, cooked until the meat just about falls off the bone – with the crust intact – and perfumes each mouthful with its heady scent. When you’re done, the ba si will teach you about the original molecular gastronomy: cubes of taro are deep fried, then quickly tossed with sugar while still piping hot. Brought to your table with the sugar melting fast over each piece of taro, you’re meant to swipe a cube of taro off the plate, dip it quickly in the bowl of cold water provided, and then bite into it. The cold water makes the sugar immediately crystallize, leaving you cracking through a shell of intense sugar and revealing underneath it a creamy, sweet and soft piece of taro. Amazing.
1022 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10021
10710 70th Road
Forest Hills, NY 11375
89 South Street
New York, NY 10038
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Cabana’s multiple locations make their Nuevo Latino cuisine super accessible to anyone in the mood for their unique mixture of Latin cuisines. With a rather reasonably priced lunch menu – items run no more than $12, and include empanadas, crisp shells filled with your choice of beef, shrimp or chicken, or ropa vieja, that classic dish of shredded beef, onion, bell peppers and tomatoes; all lunch dishes come with your choice of soup or salad. There’s even “churrasco” on the lunch menu; for $12, you receive a tender skirt steak that has been marinated in garlic and fresh herbs, its own pot of chimichurri to slather on it, and cebollitas (grilled green onions). Be sure to pick up some breath mints though – the garlic in that will be enough to knock anyone out.
Andy’s Seafood Grill
95-26 Queens Blvd.
Rego Park, NY 11374
Andy’s claim to fame is being one of, if not THE, only Taiwanese restaurant in this part of Queens. But Andy doesn’t let that go to his head and just slack off; you’ll find here solid Taiwanese dishes like the ‘gua bao’ or Taiwanese hamburger that has been so touted of late. Beyond that, though, the Szechuan dumplings in chili oil are a great start, but if you’re looking to heat things up, get the beef noodle soup (pictured). The heat – temperature-wise – will warm you to the bones, while the heat – spice-wise – will clear your sinuses and set your face aflame in the most wonderful way. Not feeling noodles? Try the pork chop over rice, another great classic that will fill you up for around $7.
195 5th Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn
40-11 Bell Boulevard
Bayside, NY 11364
22 North Park Ave
Rockville Center, NY
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While it’s true that panini are nothing new, Press 195 takes them to a whole new level. Innovative ingredients and a lot of care go into each one – any panino with their housemade maple syrup basil pesto (which can be purchased on its own to go), for example, is worth getting, but if you’re having a bad day, the meatloaf panino deserves a second look. Comfort food at its finest, the meatloaf panino delivers tender, moist meatloaf, mashed potatoes, cheddar, and gravy, all in a handheld device sure to please. Eat with one hand while still banging out angry emails on your smartphone – truly innovation at its finest. You’d also do well to order the frites, some of the best around, with delicious dipping housemade sauces – roasted garlic, honey jalapeno, or roasted pepper being just a few of the options available.
98-10 Queens Boulevard
Rego Park, NY 11374
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Spice up your lunch with the buffet at Sajni 026. Over 10 items regularly rotated and only $6.99 for the lunch buffet Monday through Thursday and $7.99 Friday through Sunday, Sajni’s Indian flavors will surely awaken your senses. If you’re averse to spicy flavors, not to worry – many of the items on the buffet are mild when it comes to heat, though they still pack a lot of deliciousness in each bite. The buffet price includes a basket of freshly made, still hot naan, to help you mop up the sauces on your plate.
My Uncle’s Steakhouse, Restaurant & Parrillada (Mi Tio)
89-08 Queens Boulevard
Elmhurst, NY 11373
My Uncle’s Steakhouse is as authentic as its prices: South American cuisine for rock bottom prices that truly cannot be beat. The entraña completa (complete skirt steak, pictured) can easily feed a person for two or three meals at the justifiable price of $28.95. But the lunch specials, served Monday through Friday from 11:30a to 3:30p, include a 1/4 skirt steak with your choice of side order (French fries, salad, Russian potato salad, rice & beans, oven roasted potatoes or simply rice), for just $8.50 – a deal if ever there was one. If that seems a bit too heavy for your midday meal, not to worry, because the lunch specials also include lighter fare, such as a sausage sandwich ($6.50 with soup & soda, or $6.95 with French fries & soda), steak sandwich ($6.95/7.50), or 1/2 grilled chicken with soup ($7.50). Mi Tio even has pernil – lunch special price of $7.95 with a side – though you might do better sticking to the South American specialties.