The Best Restaurants In Astoria guide image


The Best Restaurants In Astoria

From spanakopita and mole-covered enchiladas to bulgogi bagels and Neapolitan pies, here's what to eat in Astoria.

In Astoria, you’ll find everything from Greek and Mexican food to sushi, pizza, and a Brazilian buffet where you can casually enjoy a pile of grilled meats. The next time you're looking for the best food in the area, this guide will point you in the right direction.


Taverna Kyclades

We aren’t going to weigh in on what we think the absolute best Greek place is in Astoria, because it would sort of be like choosing the best pizza in NYC (tough and inevitably controversial). That said, Taverna Kyclades is up there. Everything is served family-style here, and they specialize in seafood. You can get things like stuffed clams, several types of whole fish, and grilled octopus—or you can do some pork kebabs and lamb chops. This place gets busy, but they might pour you some free wine while you wait for your table.

Little Flower is an all-day halal cafe that serves exciting food and some of the area’s best coffee in a beautiful space that you’ll want to hang out in all day. The wood is blonde, the lighting is industrial, the tables are modernist gray slabs. Everything about the space says “this is a cool place to be,” and it is. They brew Sey coffee, make all of their Afghan-inspired pastries in house (the Firni doughnut is a must-try), and they make one of our favorite fried chicken sandwiches in the five boroughs. 

A trip to Astoria Seafood is equal parts meal and activity. At this hybrid seafood market/Greek restaurant, you pick out all your food from a big counter display. You'll find scallops, squid, shrimp, octopus, and many different types of fish, and once you choose what you're having, you hand it over to be cooked in whatever style you want. It gets very busy here, so come earlier if you can, and be sure to bring a bottle of wine. This place is BYOB.

Think of Abuqir as a smaller, less-hectic, Egyptian version of Astoria Seafood. It’s another place where you go to a display and pick out your fish, and, like Astoria Seafood, there isn’t much going on in terms of decor. The chef here will also cook your food however you want, although you should probably just go with their recommendations. A few things you should absolutely get are a whole blackened fish, some fried shrimp, and the baba ganoush. Other than that, go wild. This place is pretty affordable, they serve some of the best seafood you’ll find in the city, and it’s absolutely worth a trip.

Don’t confuse Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria with Bellucci’s Pizza just a few blocks down the road. Chef Andrew Bellucci left the latter to start his own shop on his own terms, and he took his famous clam pie with him. You’ll have to order 48 hours in advance to try the clam pie, but you can get other pizzas—with dense, fluffy beds of dough sitting atop crispy bottoms—anytime. We highly recommend the vodka-roni.

Seva is one of those restaurants that you won’t be able to shut up about until someone from your social circle tries it for themselves. To keep things affordable, you can go for the prix fixe sampler, which includes an appetizer, an entree, and dessert of your choosing for $15.95—but then you might miss out on the lamb spring roll, intensely flavorful chicken tikka, or lamb saag. Make a reservation, bring friends, and see who can best handle their spice when the lamb vindaloo hits the table.

Thanks to Sami’s, Astoria can claim some of NYC’s best Afghan food. Their lamb and beef kofta kebabs are worth traveling for, the borani banjan comes covered in yogurt that melts into a bed of fluffy seasoned rice, and the vinegary leek aushak is a must-order. Come for a family or group dinner, get a variety of kebabs, and pretend that you don’t fully intend to bogart multiple orders of Afghan bread.

Villa Brazil is a cafeteria-style buffet complete with sneeze guards and tiled floors, and all of the food here is sold by the pound. But unlike your typical buffet, this Astoria spot has amazing homestyle cooking and a dedicated Meat Guy. After you’ve piled your plate with freshly-made Brazilian hot dishes and salad, go to the churrasco window where the Meat Guy (who's also the head chef) will offer you the day’s selection of grilled meats. This is one of our favorite homestyle Brazilian spots in the neighborhood, and the quality of the food is on par with what you'll find on higher-end à la carte menus.

No matter how busy Between the Bagel gets, Ben, the highly animated owner, will probably offer you one of his balls as soon as you walk in. We can explain. "Ben’s Balls" are essentially Korean arancini—delicious deep fried balls of kimchi rice and cheese—and they’ll keep you occupied until you get what you came for: the SMB. Between The Bagel quickly caught heat on social media thanks to its Seoul Meets Bagel (SMB) breakfast sandwich, a glorious bagel filled with bulgogi, egg, cheese, kimchi, and spicy gochujang mayo. It’s the best hangover cure in the neighborhood.

At this tiny counter service spot Astoria, you’ll find one of the few restaurants in New York serving comfort food from the Maghreb region of North Africa. That means Algerian-style pizza with sweet tomato sauce, a creamy garantita sandwich with egg and brie, and the shop’s namesake item, juicy grilled merguez sausage et frites on a crusty baguette. The small, often smoky shop has barely enough room for two people inside, so expect to stand outside waiting for your order. This is one of the more unique offerings in the neighborhood and totally worth the wait.

Astoria is home to a number of excellent souvlaki trucks, but you’ll always see a crowd around Franky’s on Steinway, and for good reason. Their meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, shrimp) is high quality, and they put large, generous chunks of it in their gyros and sandwiches. You can get a thin, tangy white sauce that makes your meal feel less like late-night drunk food, or you can ask for tzatziki instead. The best experiences here are spontaneous, when the smell of freshly cooked meat wafts down the street and you can’t resist stopping by for a nicely seasoned stick of lamb.

There’s something about the old-school, decadent way the food is presented at Christos that makes you feel like you’re eating a meal fit for a villain. A robber baron, perhaps. But you’re (probably) not an oil tycoon. You’re just someone who enjoys eating lobster mashed potatoes served in a whole, cracked open lobster shell at a low-key steakhouse in Queens. The menu here leans Greek, which means the steak has a distinctly Greek seasoning, and you can (and should) get a fried saganaki appetizer, juicy loukaniko sausage, and a huge Greek salad with your meal.

If you're looking for Neapolitan-style pizza in Astoria, go to Milkflower. They make great wood-fired pizzas with toppings like fontina, speck, and cherrystone clams. Stop by for a casual date night, order a bottle of wine, and avoid the pizza topped with truffle oil (because it’ll make your mouth smell like truffle oil). Your date should enjoy the exposed brick and dim lighting.

With a drink menu full of mezcal and cachaça, a massive sunset mural, and a TV over the bar playing ESPN, it might be tempting to assume District Saigon is doing too many things. They’re not. They’re simply serving some of the best Vietnamese food in NYC. The short rib fried rice has caramelized beef, juicy tomatoes, and chili-garlic sauce that all balance each other perfectly, much like the fatty brisket, bright cilantro, and sriracha-hoisin sauce in the steak phở. Order those, as well as the extremely tender lemongrass-chili dumplings with a Beer Lao, or a mezcal if that’s your thing.

From the excellent mole selection to mezcal flights, Ruta Oaxaca takes the maximalist approach at every turn. And that’s exactly why we love this Mexican restaurant. With the electric pink patio structure to the rich mole-covered enchiladas, you’ll feel like you’re in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reboot without any of the terror. If you need another reason to make this Oaxacan spot a priority, know that Ruta offers a 2-for-1 cocktail special during brunch service on weekends—all tables are first come, first served until 4pm.

Arepas Cafe is a casual Venezuelan place where you can get an arepa stuffed with cheese, avocado, and whatever kind of meat you want. They also have pitchers of sangria, and you should probably order the appetizer sampler that comes with multiple types of fried things such as yuca and empanadas. This spot is great for something relatively quick, and, if you stop by on a weekend, you can expect a crowd.

Gregory’s Corner Taverna both looks and feels like a little house in the Greek countryside. There are paintings of Greece on the walls, the tables have red-checkered tablecloths, and there’s a lighting fixture made from the steering wheel of a boat. The food is very good in a home-cooked sort of way, and you should definitely be eating some kind of grilled meat and/or seafood here.

Kal is one of the few Korean spots in Astoria, but it’s not just a solid option for Korean favorites in the neighborhood. The food here is just as good as anything you'll find in Koreatown. They have an extensive menu with staples like japchae and bibimbap, and we especially like the galbi jjim, spicy rice cakes with extra cheese, and boneless KFC that’s on par with the best in the city. Come by for a cozy meal with super friendly staff and a fun K-Drama playlist, and check their Instagram for specials like free soju shots.

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photo credit: David A. Lee

The Best Restaurants In Astoria guide image