16 Outer-Borough Restaurants Worth The Trip

The beauty of outer-borough restaurants is two-fold: They get you out of your familiar surroundings, and, as this list proves, they knock your socks clean off with the culinary delights of far-off lands. Unlike Manhattan or Brooklyn (sorry, BK, you're not part of this pack anymore), here, you're not likely to run into everyone from your ex-roommate's cousin to that DJ you un-ironically asked to play Ace of Base last Saturday. (Embarrassing.) You are likely, on the other hand, to run into some truly authentic cuisine from a host of foreign countries: China, India, Thailand, Italy… Whet your appetites with these spots in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, then continue to explore on your own—and let us know what you find!
Hungry yet? Check out our ultimate outer-borough restaurant guide!
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QUEENS

Above, The Queens Kickshaw, Photographed by Emily Malan
The Queens Kickshaw
On the Kickshaw's menu: coffee and grilled cheese. Nay, great coffee and deliciously high-brow grilled cheese. The former comes from Mexico, Honduras, Ethiopia, or Guatemala; the latter in unexpected combinations of prune jam, blue cheese, and fresh pear on cranberry-walnut bread with pickled blueberries, for example (a side of tomato soup is included, too, if you so desire). And in keeping with the grown-up versions of favorite childhood dishes, there's a hot-chocolate made with Mast Brothers' chocolate.
Standout dish: Great Hill Blue sandwich; coffee.
40-17 Broadway (at 41st Street); 718-777-0913.
Rockaway Taco
Now that the New York Times has put Rockaway on blast, there will likely be a long line emanating this taco shack every weekend. We recommend taking turns with friends (you hold your place for five, they sizzle in the sun for five—switch!) for a taste of the fresh, surfer-friendly faire.
Standout dish: Fish tacos; cucumber, mango, and jicama salad with chile and lime.
95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard (at Beach 96th Street); 347-213-7466.
Spicy & Tasty
Almost all Chinese restaurants—or at least all Sichuan restaurants—offer smoked-tea duck. But the aptly named Spicy & Tasty's version takes the cake for us. Cured before cooking, it's intensely flavored—best to be eaten with a side of something starchy, which is easy to find here. For what else to order, look at what the families who dine here have on their tables and point.
Standout dish: Smoked-tea duck.
39-07 Prince Street (at Roosevelt Avenue); 718-359-1601.
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Sripraphai
Ask any food-forward person in New York City where to get good Thai food, and the answer you'll get is Sripraphai. The original Woodside location got a facelift since its opening a little over a decade ago, but who notices? Come here for the incredibly well-balanced food. Be warned, though, that this will spoil you; takeout from your local Thai-fusion spot will never again satisfy. Standout dish: Crispy Thai catfish salad.
64-13 39th Avenue (between 64th and 65th streets); 718-899-9599.
Above, Tortilleria Nixtamal, Photographed by Emily Malan.
Tortilleria Nixtamal
As many have reported [link: http://www.villagevoice.com/locations/tortilleria-nixtamal-904465/0], the lure of this place is that it grinds its own nixtamal, which means the cooks make their dough from scratch, starting with the corn itself. Take note that this is the only NYC restaurant we know of practicing this. The work they put in—and the train ride to Queens—is so worth it.
Standout dish: Chipotle tamales (with pork and chicken); skate tacos.
104-05 47th Avenue (at 104th Street); 718-699-2434.
Vesta Trattoria and Wine Bar
Vesta is Italian through and through (the owners are named Leo and Giuseppe!), and their bread, baked fresh daily, comes from Gianpiero Bakery. And though chef Michelle Vido has worked at Monkey Bar and Little Giant, she now cooks thin-crust eggplant pizza and pork-butt Milanese in this charming space that could easily survive in the West Village. Bonus points for the $2.50 "shots" of wine that let you taste a few before you settle on the perfect pairing.
Standout dish: The menu changes, but go for Vido's specials.
21-02 30th Avenue (at 21st Street); 718-545-5550.
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Agnanti
Bring your big, fat group of friends to this Greek joint in Astoria and settle in: You'll be here for a while. Start with appetizers, and then move on to some "Tastes of Constantinople," and wash it all down with plenty of wine. There's no pretense at this simultaneously cozy and spacious restaurant; co-owner Maria Stavropolous might just pull up a chair to say a quick hello.
Standout dish: Saganaki (cheese baked in phyllo dough).
19-06 Ditmars Boulevard (at 19th Street); 718-545-4554.
Golden Palace
It's hard to know what to say about the Golden Palace, mainly because so many dishes are so very good: Dumplings, pork, fish, egg dishes, and even the free pickled things. So, here are three Golden Palace talking points: 1.) The food hails from China's Shandong region; 2.) Your meal will come with steamed dough as opposed to rice (well, there may still be some rice...); 3. Tsingtao beer comes by the pitcher.
Standout dish: Bean curd skin noodles.
140-09 Cherry Avenue (at Kissena Avenue); 718-886-4383.
Above, Hunan House, Photographed by Emily Malan
Hunan House
Hunanese? Yes, it's a thing, and it's about time we all got hip to it. Sure, there are Hunan sections of pan-Chinese restaurant menus, and there are Americanized versions of the cuisine, too. But Hunan House is a lesson in true Hunanese: whole fish (heads, too!), pickled chiles, dried bean curd... Don't worry so much about the ingredients. Order, enjoy, and walk away with a renewed sense of regional Chinese food.
Standout dish: Braised fish with pickled chile sauce.
137-40 Northern Boulevard (between Union and Main streets); 718-353-1808.
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Mumbai Xpress
It doesn't look like much, in fact it's vaguely reminiscent of your college cafeteria (buffet-style, replete with plastic cutlery). But this vegetarian restaurant specializing in the street foods of Mumbai is far from bland—owners Hina and Mahendra Shah made sure of that. Both the familiar dishes (samosas, chaats) and the playful ones (Mumbai grilled cheese with chutney and onions) are crunchy, spicy, salty, and delicious, and you'll be hard-pressed to find one of them over $10.
Standout dish: Fried pakoras.
25605 Hillside Avenue (at the fork of Langdale Street and Cherry Lane); 718-470-0059.
Nick's Pizza
Nick Angelis has no wood-burning oven his Forest Hills restaurant, but his crispy crusts will make you think he does. Though it's only been open since the early '90s, this is some of the best pizza in all of New York City—yes, it ranks up there with Di Fara and Lombardi's. Angelis has since branched out to Manhattan, but do be sure to make a trip to the original, subdued location.
Standout dish: Half-red, half-white pizza.
108-26 Ascan Avenue, (between Austin and Burns streets); 718-263-1126.
The Bronx

Above, Umberto's Clam House, images courtesy of Umberto's
Umberto's Clam House
Skip the pasta and go straight for the seafood here. A very happy meal can be made of appetizers: Octopus, baked clams, or our personal favorite, a chilled, Southern Italian-style seafood salad of shrimp, squid, and garlic. Lots of garlic.
Standout dish: Baked clams; the seafood salad.
2356 Arthur Avenue (at Belmont Avenue); 718-220-2526.
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Estrellita Poblano III
You'll want to take home the fresh pico de gallo at this Mexican spot, and the $2 tacos don't fail to inspire thoughts of thievery, either. But the thing to get is the cemita sandwich: Fried strips of beef, avocado, cheese, and onions piled atop a sesame bun. You'll be full and happy, but an hour after you arrive home from your trek, visions of pico will dance in your head.
Standout dish: The cemita sandwich.
2328 Arthur Avenue (at Crescent Avenue); 718-220-7641.
Staten Island

Above, Dosa Garden, Photographed by Emily Malan.
Dosa Garden
Vegetarians and carnivores alike will be happy here, for meaty South Indian dishes take up half of the menu. You must love spice, though, because it comes in many layers—and these are deeply flavored dishes. The namesake, dosa, a large, crispy kind of rice and lentil crêpe is best stuffed with potatoes and dipped in the array of condiments that escort it to your table.
Standout dish: Paper masala dosa.
323 Victory Boulevard (at Cebra Avenue); 718-420-0919.
Enoteca Maria
Many great Italian chefs reference their nonnas as the inspiration for their cooking. But at Enoteca Maria, nonna herself is the chef. Currently, eight Italian grandmothers are on the rotating lineup, and they're whipping up their regional dishes with heart, soul, and the expertise that comes from a lifetime of rolling pasta by hand.
Standout dish: The menu changes daily.
27 Hyatt Street (at Central Avenue); 718-447-2777.
LaRocca's
If you thought you'd get through our Staten Island picks without finding a good slice, fuggedabboutit! LaRocca's pies boast sweet sauce, crispy crusts, and oozy cheese. Finish with a cup of Italian ice—the store next-door offers a rainbow of flavors.
Standout dish: Sicilian pizza.
489 Midland Avenue (at Kiswick Street); 718-979-8833.
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