Despite its relatively small size, Jackson Heights has a huge number of places where you can eat a meal you’ll spend the rest of your night thinking about. There’s excellent Colombian, Uruguayan, Indian, and Nepali food - plus plenty of other options, from Peruvian sandwiches to pancakes. Use our guide to plan anything from a big group dinner to a solo meal at midnight when most of your friends are sleeping.
The first time you visit this place, you might wind up standing outside, looking confused while people walk by and think, “That person is definitely looking for Lhasa Fast Food.” But just follow the little sign hanging in the doorway at 37-50 74th Street, then walk down the hallway behind the cell phone store. That’s where you’ll find a tiny dining room with some of the best Tibetan food in the area. You should absolutely get some momos when you come here (try the beef or beef and chive variety), and also split a bowl of soup with someone. There will probably be a wait for a table, but it shouldn’t be too long.
Phayul is up a flight of stairs in a two-story building just across the street from Lhasa Fast Food, and - as much as we like that spot - this place is even better (and has a much longer menu to choose from). Start off with some steamed or fried momos, then try the beef and radish soup filled with floating peppercorns. Also, get the blood sausage and the Lhasa fried noodles. That might sound like a lot, but just text some friends. They’ll want to eat here with you.
Just across from Phayul, you’ll see a big white truck. That’s Amdo Kitchen. It’s a great spot to grab some quick momos (chicken or beef), and they have noodles, fried rice, and Tibetan bread as well. There’s also a little counter on the side where you can stand and eat your food (don’t ignore the sauce you’ll find in squeeze bottles there - you want that on your momos).
Delhi Heights is a casual sit-down spot that serves our favorite Indian food in Jackson Heights. There’s a long menu with a ton of vegetarian options, some delicious bhuna lamb, and naan that’s pillowy in the middle and crispy on the outside - and there’s a separate menu section with Nepali dishes (you definitely want the beef and chive momos). There are plenty of tables big enough for groups, so bring some friends and get a bunch of things to share.
Juanita’s Cafe pretty much only makes Peruvian sandwiches, and they’re really good. Each one comes on a giant, flat roll that’s soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and you also get your choice of regular fries, sweet potato fries, or salad. Most of the sandwiches involve large chunks of meat, like the Chicharon, which has crispy pork shoulder, sweet potato mash, and a spicy salsa. Come with your family or a big group, try some chicha morada (a sweet Peruvian purple corn drink), and sit outside on the patio when the weather is nice.
It probably goes without saying, but at Arepa Lady, you should be eating arepas. There are a few different kinds, like the grilled and stuffed arepas rellena and the thinner, folded arepas de choclo. Both of those are solid choices, but be sure to get at least one arepa de queso. These are thick, fluffy, and filled with melted mozzarella (plus a meat of your choice) - and if you don’t order one, you might lie awake at night and wonder how you could have done things differently.
This Jackson Heights spot has been around since the 1980s, and it’s a pretty popular Indian restaurant in the neighborhood. But the one-room space is giant, so you won’t have trouble bringing a group here to split some biryani and curries. The dishes are generously portioned and mostly in the $15-20 range.
When you walk inside Chivito D’Oro, you’ll see a big grill covered with various pieces of meat. The signature order at this Uruguayan restaurant is the parrillada, which comes with a huge pile of steak, sweetbreads, and a few different sausages. It arrives at your table on a big platform-like platter - and the version “for one” will feed between three and four people. So bring a group, prepare for a brief wait on weekends, and order the spinach as a side to balance everything out.
Cositas Ricas is essentially a big Colombian diner, and it’s ideal for when you need to eat with a bunch of people who all want different things. The menu is huge, and you can get everything from a whole fish to some chicken fingers - but we typically eat steak of some kind with rice and beans or yuca. There are also plenty of TVs where you can watch soccer while you eat, and a lot of neon lights that will subconsciously improve your mood.
Walk into Nepali Bhanchha Ghar and you’ll see a few tables and an open kitchen with someone making sel roti (circles of sweet, fried rice flour bread). If you don’t want to eat one of those after watching as they’re cooked, you probably need to do some thinking about your life priorities. This Nepali restaurant is on the same street as Phayul (and right by the Roosevelt Avenue subway station), and also makes some excellent momos and thali plates. Come with a group and sit in the full-service dining room downstairs.
Just inside the front door of Merit Kabab Palace, you’ll see an assortment of things like samosas, paratha, and tandoori chicken. And you should order all of those things. This is a small, constantly busy place where you can just seat yourself, then order some very good, relatively inexpensive curries, kababs, and biryanis. There’s also a separate counter in the back where you can get some quick momos with a side of fried noodles.
Kitchen 79 has a massive menu with dishes from both northern and southern Thailand, including noodles, curries, and a very wide selection of other options - like a whole red snapper cooked in lime and chilis that you should definitely eat. Aside from the food, the string lights, full bar, and top 40 music make this a fun choice for a meal with friends or a casual weeknight dinner.
If you’re looking for a spot to sit down for a few minutes and have a light meal while you read a book or text a few people you’ve been ignoring for several weeks, go to Potala. It’s a counter-service place with a short menu of things like momos and laphing (chewy mung bean noodles). The momos are made to order in the tiny kitchen in the back, and we especially like the beef ones. Get an order of those and some butter tea, and claim one of the stools along the wall.
This is a Colombian counter-service spot that’s part bakery and part diner, and it has a few locations in Queens. You can come here for anything from a whole cake to some empanadas with a rich beef filling, and there’s also a bandeja tipica plate with rice, beans, steak, chicharron, two types of sausage, a rice cake, avocado, and a fried egg for $12.50. If that sounds like a lot of food, that’s because it is.
Samudra is an Indian spot that’s completely vegetarian, and many of the dishes on the menu involve fried potatoes and breads. You shouldn’t leave this place without ordering a dosa - each one is giant and costs around $7. It’s not technically on the menu, but ask for a dosa filled with the Gobi Manchurian (spicy cauliflower) entree. It’s worth a trip here on its own.
If you look in the window of Taqueria Coatzingo, you can see flames coming off the grill, and when you walk inside, the dining room might even be a little smoky. Take this as a very good sign. The kitchen here is big and constantly busy, and it produces some very good tacos (that come with a lot of meat). If you want something else, there’s a long menu with a lot of other options like huaraches, enchiladas, and bigger dishes like pork chops and steaks. There are also plenty of tables in the big back dining room, where you can simultaneously listen to music and soccer announcers on TV.
Maybe you’re really hungry, or you’ve had a long day and you don’t have the patience to go to a place where you might have to wait for a table. Try this Nepali spot. It stays relatively quiet, and you can sit down and get a good thali with rice, vegetables, lentil soup, and your choice of protein. The momos are also pretty solid, and everything on the menu is less than $13.
The Queensboro is big enough to accommodate your extended family’s brunch gatherings where everyone lovingly talks sh*t about how your aunt is always late. This restaurant has booths big enough for 15 people, and an American menu with lots of different options. Including some remarkably fluffy pancakes that we’ve been thinking about since we ate them.
Los Chuzos is perfect for when it’s 11pm and you realize that, more than anything else in the world, you want some very good meat on a stick. It’s a tiny Colombian spot that’s open late and has a very short menu of things like chuzos (skewers of meat) and arepas. As much as we like both of those things, though, our go-to order is the big, crispy chorizo. It’s exactly what you need when you have a few drinks, then start thinking about food like it’s your job - but it’s also great for a grab-and-go snack any time of day.
While there are technically menu signs above the counter at Raja Sweets And Fast Food, no one really seems to use them. Instead, people come in here knowing exactly what they want. There’s a selection of fried things, like some excellent samosas and very good pakoras you buy by the pound, plus some curries and stews, and a refrigerated dessert counter. Raja is cash-only and has a bunch of tables where you can stick around and eat, but it’s also perfect if you need something quick to-go.