If you woke up in Forest Hills one morning and had no idea where you were, you’d probably assume you were several hours outside of the city, or possibly even on a nicer planet where at least one architect was really excited about Tudor buildings. This neighborhood is relatively quiet, with lots of houses, trees, and birds who spend the majority of their lives in those trees. Whether you live in the area or plan on attending something at Forest Hills Stadium soon, here’s where to find the best ramen, BBQ, excessively large ice cream sundaes, and more.
We like Forest Hills so much that we decided to host our first NY EEEEEATSCON here. It’s at Forest Hills Stadium on October 6 - click here for the full lineup and tickets.
If you’re hoping to get a table here after seeing Interpol perform a couple blocks away at the stadium, you’ll probably need to leave before the encore set. Station House is the most popular post-show bar in Forest Hills, and it usually fills up on random nights, too. The dimly-lit space feels kind of like a sports bar (there are big TVs all around the room), and it works well for anything from casual drinks with friends to a solo dinner at the bar. There’s a long list of craft beers on tap, and you’ll also find good cocktails, plus bar food like a massive burger topped with melted cheese, fried onions, and braised brisket.
If you’re looking for pizza in Forest Hills, go to Nick’s. It’s a neighborhood spot with formica tables and vinyl booths, and it serves crispy thin-crust pies topped with fresh mozzarella. You can also get flattened calzones that are sort of like big grilled cheese sandwiches, and you definitely want one of those in addition to your pizza. They don’t do slices, so plan to share everything with a few other people.
If want to eat some BBQ, day drink with a group, watch sports on TV, or all of the above, go to Queens Bully. This BBQ spot on Queens Boulevard is one of the best places in Forest Hills to spend a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, when the long bar and communal tables are filled with people sharing wings and baby back ribs while watching football on the big screens. The meats, like the nicely spiced smoked chicken and the brisket with thick bark, come with your choice of slaw or potato salad. Get the potato salad, and an extra side of BBQ sauce for dipping.
5 Burro Cafe is the sort of place where you can hang out with a frozen margarita and eat free tortilla chips out of a colorful plastic basket while you think about quitting your job and moving to a beach. It’s a neighborhood Mexican restaurant on Austin Street, and it tends to stay busy. The food is pretty good, the portions are big, and it’s a fun place to have a drink and some tacos with a friend or two. They also have flautas, burritos, and roughly 40 other food options, from ceviche to pork chops.
There are several things you should be able to locate. Your keys, for example. And the nearest post office to your apartment. Also, the best ramen in your neighborhood. In Forest Hills, that’s Tamashii, a mini-chain that also has locations in Astoria and Long Island City. They serve a bunch of different types of ramen (including a few vegetarian options), along with some rice bowls and small plates like fried chicken and dumplings. Come for a weeknight meal the next time you want a bowl of noodles and possibly a few servings of sake.
At Nick’s Bistro, they give you a little serving of pita and hummus to start your meal. We appreciate this because a) hummus is good and b) free things are nice. This Greek spot on Metropolitan is a great spot to sit down and eat kebabs or shawarma. The stuffed grape leaves are also great (and full of meat), and the menu has all kinds of other options. Come with a friend on a Friday night and see how much wine and Greek food you can consume.
Pahal Zan is a kosher Middle Eastern spot that’s useful for a ton of different situations, from healthy solo lunches to hangover-preventing meals after some drinks at Station House across the street. Along with salads and sides, the menu consists mainly of falafel and various cuts of meats that come in pitas or on platters. Our favorite is the falafel platter, which has a lot of crunchy, spiced falafel over a massive plate of hummus, baba ghanoush, potato salad, and pickled vegetables. This place is right under the LIRR and a block from the subway, so keep it in mind for a quick bite or takeout before leaving or after getting back to the neighborhood.
There are a lot of old-school Italian places in Forest Hills, but we like Alberto for several reasons. There’s a big bar in front where you can eat pasta and watch TV, plus a dining room in the back with high ceilings and plenty of tables - a few of which are big, round, and good for large groups. More importantly, everyone’s really friendly here, they give you the equivalent of a whole loaf of bread with your meal, and the gnocchi are more or less as soft as the clouds you see from an airplane window.
Violet’s is a counter-service Vietnamese spot with a couple of tables and some very good banh mi sandwiches. We really like their house special, which comes with pork, Vietnamese salami, and ham - but other options range from one with flounder to a vegan version. If you’re not interested in bahn mi, you can get some pho or a rice or noodle bowl.
The menu at this casual Middle Eastern restaurant is long, with everything from lamb shawarma and moussaka to savory pastries and a whole grilled chicken - and if you’re having trouble making a decision, the friendly servers will be happy to help. This spot is ideal for a group lunch or dinner when you want to share a bunch of things in a low-key space that happens to have a giant picture of a goddess on the back wall.
We would recommend Matiz as a date spot - the food is good, the cocktails are strong and tasty, and the dark, narrow space has a lively atmosphere - but the portions are so generous that you may have trouble dancing at the stadium (or generally staying awake) afterwards. No matter who you’re here with, start with some tostones with beef and chicken, and then share the platter with steak, spicy sausage, and sweet plantains. Also keep it in mind for later dinners - it’s open until midnight on the weekends.
Do you need to get a meal with your aunt and uncle who want to listen to you talk about all the things you’re currently doing (or not doing) with your life? Go to Cabana. It’s a Latin American restaurant with a bar up front and a little dining room in the back where there are bunch of tables covered in white tablecloths. The food is solid - they have everything from salad and ceviche to steak and empanadas - and despite the white tablecloths, it actually isn’t formal at all. Wear a t-shirt, and drink a pitcher of sangria.
Hanging out in this old-school ice cream shop (which has been around for roughly a century) feels like going through a time warp to an era when you could smoke on airplanes and watch The Monkees on TV. You’re here for an ice cream sundae with classic toppings like whipped cream, hot fudge, and sprinkles - and while these come in a few different sizes, you should probably get the largest one, with three scoops. Share it with someone before asking if they want to go steady.