The Best Restaurants In Sunnyside and Woodside

Where to eat in two of Queens’ most diverse neighborhoods.
The Best Restaurants In Sunnyside and Woodside image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Like twin Bengal cats eating tuna in matching turtlenecks, or a pair of polka dot cowboy boots on a sale rack, Woodside and Sunnyside are two great things that happen to be right next to each other. These neighboring areas in Queens have some of the best Thai, Nepali, and Salvadoran restaurants in NYC, plus a bunch of Irish pubs and eateries. You’ll find all of the top spots to visit on this guide.


photo credit: Adam Friedlander



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Right underneath the 7 train line on Roosevelt Ave. in Woodside, Renee’s has been making excellent Filipino food since 1992, and looks like it. The restaurant has a  lived-in feel, with random trinkets, lanterns, and wooden spoons hung up haphazardly around the room, like a child took over decorating duties. Sisig is the move here; in a neighborhood with enough quality sizzling pork to keep you busy for awhile, Renee’s stands out for exclusively using pork head pieces, which are nicely charred and finished with a sprinkle of crunchy chicharron.

photo credit: Kate Previte

$$$$Perfect For:LunchOutdoor SeatingOutdoor/Patio Situation

You might need a few extra water bottles to get through your new favorite fried chicken sandwich, the Diablada: a bright red piece of chicken covered in locoto chile fire sauce that had us tearing up, half in pain and half out of happiness. Bolivian Llama Party in Sunnyside does a great job with traditional Bolivian food too—their signature salteñas in particular are perfect little pockets of beef, pork, and chicken stew. There’s just some basic outdoor seating including under a little structure, but they’ve got a good takeout operation going, taking care to separate ingredients that could get soggy on the way home.

photo credit: Kate Previte

You’ll find limited selections of Bhutanese food at a few different spots around Woodside, but for a full menu dedicated to the South Asian country, head to Zhego. Datsi, the favorite cheese of Bhutan, stars in several dishes, but start with the national dish, ema datsi, with cheesy hot green chili peppers. Come early—because Zhego is so small, you might have to wait for a table during peak dinner hours. If a trip to the mountain kingdom isn’t on the cards, this is the next best thing: A meal here will instantly improve your Gross Happiness Index.

There’s an incredible amount of good Thai restaurants to choose from in Woodside, but only SriPraPhai has a spacious, enviable patio. Surrounded by lush trees, flowers, and even a big fountain, this might be one of New York’s best “green spaces that also serves chicken satay,” if that’s a category. The menu at SriPraPhai is as thick as a luxury travel magazine, featuring dishes from all over Thailand, from the north’s signature khao soi, to seafood dishes commonly found in the south. With dishes ranging from $8 steamed dumplings to $24.50 soft shell crab, nothing here will cost you too much, which also makes the cash-only policy easier to manage.

photo credit: Adam Friedlander


Just around the corner from Renee’s is Ihawan, the first spot we send anyone who wants Filipino BBQ. For best results, bring as many friends as you can—the best way to eat here is kamayan-style. This involves sample portions of dishes like lumpia Shanghai, tortang talong, and a bunch of different kinds of barbeque served on banana leaves, and eaten with your hands. The kamayan dinner is available for parties of up to eight, and there’s plenty of room for big groups in the huge dining room on the second floor. The ambience up there is somewhat lacking, but eating off banana leaves is exciting enough.

Woodside is chock-full of momos, but you’d be hard pressed to find tandoori or taco momos anywhere except this sunny cafe near the 69th Street station. This “fusion” cafe is known for its inventive takes on the classic Himalayan dumpling style, and the  momos here are among the best in the city. If taco momos sound gimmicky, think again, because these deep-fried, black bean and avocado-topped dumplings are a hit.

photo credit: Nikko Duren

$$$$Perfect For:Lunch

The award for “tallest sandwich in town” goes to Cemitas El Tigre. We don’t actually know if that’s true, but with ten layers of meat, avocado, chipotle puree, and a whole bunch of other stuff, the cemitas at this Mexican restaurant are definitely in the running. Pork, short rib barbacoa, and even Southern fried chicken cemitas are available, and you can also get those proteins, plus some other options, in burritos and tacos (our go-to is the fish burrito). Order at the counter and then hang out at the eight-seat bar, where you can get one of those frozen margaritas with a beer bottle in it.

Sotto Le Stelle is Sunnyside’s go-to date spot. They do wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas in a casual, rustic room that looks like it’s been around forever, even though it only opened in 2017. The pizzas come out with charred, airy crusts and toppings like sopressata, hot honey, and artichoke. You can’t really go wrong with any of them. This place feels a little less romantic during the day, when they tend to have the big TV on behind the bar. But get a seat in the backyard on a nice evening, and it becomes a magical experience. Afterwards, grab some dessert from Arcobaleno, their gelateria next door.

The Sotto Le Stelle team has a sister restaurant down the street, seemingly so they can show off the rest of their skills with simple, solid Italian food. There’s no TV or faux distressed wood here, just an unpretentious dining room where light hits the sunny orange walls at just the right angle. This is the quintessential neighborhood restaurant, where they keep the menu simple—think trofie with fresh pesto and pollo al limone—and the manager himself comes to check on you.

Sunnyside and Woodside are historically Irish neighborhoods, so if you’re looking for a good pub or bag of Taytos (an Irish crisp brand that we can only hear in an Irish accent), you’re reading the right guide. Your first stop should be Butcher Block, an Irish supermarket with the deli counter to end all deli counters. Head to the back of the store for fresh batches of shepherd's pie, sausage rolls, interesting sandwiches, and of course, top-tier corned beef—as well as a coffee brisket that might be one of the city’s best-kept secrets. There’s nowhere to sit, but this is the kind of food you want to eat on your couch anyway.

We don’t know why more restaurants don’t put giant pictures of their food on their signs, but the pupusas on Rica’s bright blue awning lure us in every time—and they do not disappoint. Our favorite item at this Salvadorian spot is the revueltas pupusa, which is full of refried beans, cheese, and chicharrón, all packed in the warm embrace of sweet masa. Each one will run you about four bucks, and three or four of them, topped with some vinegar-soaked pickled cabbage, is a nice, hearty dinner. There are just a few small tables and counter seats, so this spot works best for a quick solo meal.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

$$$$Perfect For:Quick Eats

At the risk of infuriating all pizza snobs, the buffalo chicken slice at this pocket-sized pizza shop could be a certified classic. Every square inch of this pie is covered in red chunks of chicken that are actually spicy, and drizzled with a blue cheese sauce. If you find this offensive to your New York pizza sensibilities, try the chicken parm or a perfect pepperoni slice. Whatever you get, ask for their sesame crust, which adds a rich, nutty taste to each pie, and turns each edge-piece into something like a chewy toasted breadstick. There’s just enough room for two-and-a-half people inside, so plan on taking yours to go.

We’re pretty sure this cafe gets its name from the blissful married couple running the place. Your incredibly friendly hosts will greet you as soon as you come in, and everything they serve tastes truly homemade, happily modified according to your exact specifications. The cafe has all the avocado toast you’d expect from a rainbow-bright, vaguely hippy-dippy place, but you’ll also find some excellent Indian breakfast options. You can get eggs masala, chicken curry kathi rolls, or a rarer find, the Bombay masala toast, a thick piece of bread with a thoroughly spiced vegetable medley and melted cheese on top.

A chain from Kathmandu that expanded to the US, Bajeko Sekuwa has a replica of a traditional Himalayan kitchen when you first walk in, and the dining room is filled with lots of tables that can seat a group of five or more. The menu is pages long, so bring friends and try as much food as you can—this is the kind of place where you could have a big group meal or a casual birthday dinner. The menu has a whole section dedicated to goat head (try the fried version), but you’ll also find classics like chili dishes and thali.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsLive Music

The next time you need somewhere to take a big group, try this huge, banquet-style Romanian restaurant on 43rd Ave. Not only do they have a solid selection of traditional dishes like stuffed cabbage, ciorbă de perișoare, and plenty of polenta, but come on a weekend, and you’re basically at a big party. Surrounded by families enjoying live music and big, juicy racks of lamb, you might find yourself on the dance floor after a few glasses of Romanian wine.

Of the area’s many Irish pubs, Donovan’s has the best food, and one of the best burgers in the whole city. They serve 18 versions of their famous, half-pound hamburgers, perfectly cooked with a bit of char. This classic establishment has been around since the ’60s, and like any good pub, they’ll have you hoping for a storm so you can hold court by their fireplace all day. It’s old-school, dark-wooded, and drab in the best way; you half-expect little elves and fairies to fly up from under the floorboards and peek out the stained glass windows.

In addition to serving pretty great Mexican food, the folks at La Flor know how to create a mood. During the day, breakfast included, it’s a pleasant, sunny place where people eat chicken tinga tostadas and tortas filled with spicy, chipotle marinated barbecued pork. True to its name, the restaurant is covered in hand-painted flowers and filled with bouquet centerpieces. As you look out at people rushing on and off the 7 train, the quiet, spacious restaurant feels sort of serene. At night, soft lighting and the low hum of jazz music turn this into a mellow date spot. Some nights, there’s live music. Whenever you come in, expect a solid selection of dishes like sweet mole enchiladas and jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab meat.

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