If you like staring at animals, you’ll enjoy a day at the zoo. And if you want to drink a lot of wine while a server pretends that you were never born and technically don’t exist, you should move to Paris. Similarly, if you’re a fan of seafood, there’s a very good chance that you’ll develop strong feelings for Abuqir.
This is a little seafood restaurant/market in Astoria with a counter in the back where you point at exactly what you want to eat. The daily selection usually includes a few types of whole fish as well as some smaller things like baby octopus, squid, and a few kinds of shrimp. And, after you pick out all your food, you then specify how you’d like it cooked (baked, fried, grilled, etc.), then just have a seat and wait.
Once everything arrives, it will inevitably be some of the best food you’ve eaten off of plastic plates. The fried shrimp, for example, come perfectly cooked and dusted with spices, and the grilled shrimp are so good that you might become angry. “Why are these even better than the fried ones?,” you might wonder. And when you try the baba ganoush, you will once again become upset. Because it’s that good. Finally, you’ll eat a whole fish, and leave happy.
One thing to know, however, is that this place doesn’t really have any ambiance. The lights are bright, the decor consists of a dolphin poster that was probably stolen from a pediatrician’s office in 1985, and the furniture looks like it might have belonged to an Office Depot collection called “Just Furniture.” In other words, it isn’t fancy - and you probably shouldn’t bring a date (unless your date is a merperson, a dolphin, or just a seafood enthusiast in general).
Fortunately, the ambiance doesn’t matter. At least if you love seafood. Because when you get your bill and realize how little you paid for some truly great fish, the world will feel like the best version of itself. Abuqir is a seafood lover’s seafood place, and if you just thought, “Hey, that sounds like me,” you should start planning a trip here immediately.
Start your meal with this. It’s thick and garlicky, and you’ll want to take some home.
You can get a side of eggplant a few different ways here, and we like it best when it comes covered in garlic and vinegar. Once again, you’ll want to keep a container of this in your fridge.
The person behind the counter here will tell you that the small shrimp are best when fried, and they aren’t wrong. Get as many of these as you can handle.
The fried shrimp are great - but these grilled ones might be even better. They’re plump and juicy, and you’ll consider getting seconds.
There are a few different ways you can get a whole fish here, although you should get it “Egyptian-style.” I’ll come out crispy, blackened, and covered in various spices. Also, it’ll cost less than almost any whole fish you’ve ever ordered.