Although Anthony Bourdain may have adopted New York City as his headquarters, even the travel guru doesn’t know everything about the seemingly never-ending metropolis.
On Sunday night’s episode of “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain explored the borough’s diverse ethnic, cultural and, of course, culinary scenes.
Queens was recently named one of the best food capitals of the world for its diverse collection of restaurants. It’s also got more languages within its borders than anywhere else in the world.
Bourdain’s whirlwind tour from coast to coast highlights some of the borough’s must-see (and must-eat) spots.
Bourdain arrives at the Roosevelt Avenue subway station to eat Ecuadorian food at one of the many food carts along the street. The street food scene is rich in Queens, and visitors should not have any problem finding treats — just follow the scents.
Later in his journey, Bourdain shares a Korean meal in Flushing with two of Queens’s best restaurateurs: Joshua Smookler of the delectable, bone-warming Mu Ramen and Cosme Aguilar of Casa Enrique, the only Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant in the city. (Their two restaurants are located in Long Island City, not far from MoMA’s contemporary art satellite MoMA PS1.) Flushing is home to a particularly good line-up of Asian eateries. Visitors should stop in the neighborhood to take part in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.
Further in Queens, Bourdain dines at one of Jackson Height’s best known eateries Lhasa Fast Food — a Tibetan joint shoved between two electronics shops — with Himanshu Kumar Suri, half of the hip-hop group Swet Shop Boys. (The other half of the group is Riz Ahmed of newly found Star Wars fame, by the way.) Elsewhere in Jackson Heights, the Jackson Diner is one of the city’s best-loved places for Indian food. There’s an all-you-can-eat buffet that sets visitors back only $10.
Bourdain also makes a stop at Neir’s Tavern — a bar which many may have already seen without ever realizing it. Part of “Goodfellas” was filmed in the bar, which dates back to the late 1800s.
At the very tip of Queens, Bourdain visits the Rockaways, exploring the beach community’s devastation after Hurricane Sandy and the gentrification that threatens to take over. The beach is one of the best escapes for New Yorkers who feel trapped in the city.
Visitors (and locals) who want to follow Bourdain’s lead and venture through all of Queens’s diverse neighborhoods are probably best served by buying a subway pass. Be sure to delve into the wealth of culture from all around the world concentrated in Queens by doing something immersive like taking a cooking class.
But those who are nervous should relax and take a note from Bourdain. During his visit, while eating Jamaican beef patties and losing money at a horse race, he proclaimed the whole borough of Queens to be a “judgement free zone.”