Category Archives: New York

Upper West Side, Manhattan

Actually upper-upper west side, Manhattan, NYC.

I explored around Broadway from 96th to 110 St. Train #1.

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Sal and Carmine: pizza slices. Spinach is very good.

Xi’an Famous Foods: Started in Flushing, Queens and now all over NYC. Cumin lamb noodles or cumin burger is addictive food.

Absolute Bagels: Some of the best bagels in NYC. 108th and Broadway.

Eat a pizza slice at Sal and Carmine, walk up 20 blocks to buy bagels for everyone, then have a beer around there before leaving the area.

Astoria, Queens

Western section of Queens, NY.

Huge area, covered by two train tracks. N/W on one, and E/M/R on another.

I explored areas around 36th Ave (N/W) Station, and Steinway St (E/M/R) station.

High density of very good bars and restaurants.

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Gastroteca Astoria bar.

Mama’s Empanadas: small bites and great mango milk shake (batidos con leche).

Max Bratwurst Und bier

Copacabana: Brazilian grilled meats, sold by the weight for eating-in or take-out. Excellent sirloin steak, rice, beans, flan.

Astoria Seafood: Great seafood, but very slow and confusing self-service, and messy place. But great grilled/broiled seafood.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Greenpoint is in Brooklyn, New York.

It is the northwest section of Brooklyn. It is south of Long Island City, Queens.

I explored Manhattan Ave, around Nassua Ave and Greenpoint Ave stations on the G train.

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Russ Pizza: crispy crust pizza, lot of cheese so with greasy goodness! Tomato garlic mozarella white pizza slice is great. Messy with eat with fingers, may have to resort to using a knife and fork – a very non-New York-pizza eating style, but necessary.

Little Italy pizza is also good.

Screamers Pizza: Vegan pizza is very popular too. For those who don’t the real cheese! Good pizza but nothing beats real cheese.

Xi’an Famous Foods: Chain restaurant, hand-ripped noodles. Cumin lamb noodles or burger are good choices.

Vivi Bubble Tea.

Other choices: Mexican food. Many bars. Frankel’s Deli for pastrami and corned beef.

The neighborhood is “Little Poland”. Many Polish shops and restaurants.

Rainbow Bagel: A curiosity, may be worth one vist? That is a bit futher down in East Williamsburg. Bus B43 or G or L train to Graham & Metropolitan Ave. The Bagel Store-Original Rainbow Bagel. Expensive, at $4 each (2018) while regular bagels are $1.25.

Xi’an Famous Foods

Xi’an Famous Foods is worth the long trek down to Flushing, Queens. And one of their best items travel well too – the cumin lamb burgers – though be aware that the appetizing, hot, spicy smell of the food pervades the subway, the bus, and car, so make sure it is wrapped well!

The best item here is the Spicy cumin lamb with hand-ripped noodles plate. Chewy flat noodles in a spicy sauce. Noodles taste great but are difficult to eat, very long strands! I usually use the spoon to cut them into manageable pieces and then use the chopsticks. I wonder what is the right way to eat them. ? If this was served in a bowl, then would be easier to eat. On a plate, have to be careful and try to avoid splashing drops of the spicy liquid all over the table when shoving the noodles into ones mouth!

Flat noodles

Their original location is in Flushing, Queens, New York at 41-28 Main St underground eateries.
This place has only 6-10 seats.
For nicer surroundings, visit the adjacent restaurant at 41-10 Main St.
Both are self-service.
If walking from the Train 7 Flushing station on Main St, 41-10 is around 3-5 blocks down, and 41-28 Golden Mall location is another 2 blocks down.

And now they have multiple locations in the city too – mostly downtown, in and around Chinatown: 45 Bayard St is one location. Most locations are quite small, with very little seating. And it can go from empty to crowded in seconds. Think standard NYC hole-in-the wall type of place, with great food. Visit their website at for their current locations.

While it is difficult to take home the cumin lamb since it has a lot of liquid that can slosh around, the lamb burgers are a better bet for takehome.
If you do take the lamb cumin burgers home, sprinkle some lime juice on them, to kick up an already excellent dish another notch!

[2015] They have a full-service restaurant two blocks away at 41-10 Main St. They label it as a chic version of their original restaurants and have renamed it to biang!. It does look really nice.
Update: As of January 2017 (maybe earlier), the name is back to Xi’an Famous Foods and it is also self-service like most (all?) of their other locations.

Copacabana Brazilian Grill and Buffet

Best way to eat Brazilian food.
They have the famous grilled meats, churrascaria style.
And a buffet of hot food and cold salads.

Rice, beans, and a sample of the meats, and it is a wonderful dinner.
Place is self-service for both takeout and dining-in.
ood is great.
Especially the grilled beef sirloin sliced on order.
They have both regular grilled meats and blood varieties too.
Stick to chicken and the sirloin steak for normal American tastes.
They will explain and describe all the skewers, just ask.

Astoria location pictures:

80-26 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights location pictures:

This place is so much better than many Brazilian restaurants in the US that only serve all-you-can-eat type of meals. Here, get as little or as much you wish without the pressure of trying to gorge excessively:-)

The name of this place is Copacabana Pizza and Grill, but that is just a name and there is no pizza available here!

May 2017: A second location has opened up in Jackson Heights, nice!
80-26 Roosevelt Ave, 82nd St station on #7 train. This one has the correct name: Copacabana Brazilian Buffet and Grill.
The first location is in Astoria: Near N, W trains 36th Ave subway station. Corner of 32nd St.

Absolute Bagels

These bagels are the best in New York City and therefore in all of the US. 🙂
Perfect combination of chewy bagels with crusty exterior and light-airy interior. And they taste great too.

Chewy and airy-light at the same time.
Not dense.

My second choice bagel place in NYC is Russ & Daughters at 179 East Houston Street, near Chinatown. Have tried all the usual other well-known places, but Absolute Bagels has the best bagels.

Eat the bagel without toasting, or lightly toasted. Texture is different when lightly toasted – more crusty exterior and airy interior.
Optional: sliced onions (with lemon juice), sliced tomatoes, smoked salmon, capers.

Sesame Bagels
Absolute Bagels – Inside
Mornings – especially weekends, be prepared for long lines. And if you want sesame bagels, arrive a few hours before closing – they usually run out. This is important for me since every few months or so I buy a dozen plus bagels from NYC to carry back to Boston – really a downer when they run out of bagels. Best to call if you are going to get there late afternoon or evenings. There have been a couple of times when I had to leave without sesame bagels.
Sometimes they have the dough ready and can bake up bagels in under 20 minutes which they did for me once!

When taking a dozen or more bagels home, be careful to let the bagels breathe. Warm bagels will steam up and the steam should be allowed to escape otherwise it will flatten the bagels at the bottom of the bag and make the bagels go all crooked.

Freezing bagels

Bagels easily last 3-6 months in the freezer, and thaw out nicely, and still taste great. (At least NYC bagels do that well.)
No need to slice large bagels before freezing too, in fact, they are better off not sliced beforehand. Montreal bagels are good too, but they just don’t freeze well – they don’t taste as good after a stint in the freezer, have to eat them fresh.
Unlike Montreal bagels, NYC bagels are pretty big. For long term keeping, I think the bigger size of NYC bagels allows them to handle the freeze and defrost cycle better.

My method to get frozen bagels back to edible creations: Sprinkle water or wet the full bagel. Put in microwave on 50% for 25 seconds. Then wait 1 minute, slice bagel, and toast it.
Water trick and then toasting helps with non-frozen bagel that may have slight gone stale or hard too.

Absolute Bagels Price
2020: $1.50 each and $18/dozen (13).
Previously: $15 (2016), $12 (2012).

They have a small seating area, and also offer the usual toppings – cream cheeses, salmon, etc.
Zagat Review
And what about the New York vs Montreal bagels comparisons? Pointless. They are quite different and both are great! Here’s a write-up on the St Viateur Bagels of Montreal.