Restaurants have always been a vital part of any New York City neighborhood. One of the greatest perks of being a New Yorker is the vast array of places we have to eat on any given night, even during a global pandemic–but over the past year, they did even more, banding together to feed those in need in their community and sending countless meals to frontline workers during COVID’s darkest days here last spring.
So now that summer’s here again, and the city’s back open in a way that seemed almost unfathomable during our long, dark Covid winter, let the multi-block party begin… even if that means ordering in – through Seamless we can keep the feeling alive with a great meal, made with love, delivered directly to our home. The choices of cuisine are staggering. The ordering couldn’t be easier. And it’s definitely the most delicious way to support your local favorites or try something new. When you donate the change on your Seamless order, your donation will go to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to support LGBTQ+-owned restaurants impacted by the pandemic.
Gothamist and Seamless have teamed up to celebrate amazing restaurants over the coming weeks that, whether they’re a few blocks from your place or a bike ride away, are NYC favorites that we think you’ll love too. If you haven’t yet, check out the previous installment — the food lovers guide to the West Village — and stay tuned for upcoming guides coming at you in the next few weeks. Next up: Jackson Heights.
Jackson Heights residents love to brag about how theirs is the most culturally diverse neighborhood, not only in New York City, but literally on the entire planet. We have no idea if that’s actually true, but with a purported 167 different languages spoken in a community roughly the size of Central Park, the claim to fame is likely a valid one.
What we do know for certain is that there are an extraordinary number of excellent restaurants in this part of Queens, serving distinct national and regional cuisines from and within places such as Nepal, Tibet, India, Thailand, Myanmar, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, France, America, Spain, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Japan, and on and on and on. And many of these places are owned and operated by Jackson Heights locals, so ordering in via Seamless is like neighbors feeding neighbors.
In fact, there are so many good places to eat here, covering so much culinary territory, that any list of best Jackson Heights restaurants is going to feel incomplete. So let’s just say that here are some of our current go-tos that satisfy a broad range of our most frequent cravings. Jackson Heights got hit hard by the pandemic, so now is the time to support your favorites–and make some new discoveries–by ordering via Seamless.
One of the surprisingly best meals in the city can be found in a kiosk-sized storefront down inside one of the busiest transit hubs in Queens, the Roosevelt Avenue E/M/F/7 Station. Now that everything’s opening up again you’ll be pleased to know that you can easily get Yun Cafe’s delicious Burmese dishes delivered right to your home with Seamless. Favorites include the Tea Leaf Salad with dried shrimp, the stuffed Bean Tofu street snacks, and the spicy, lemony, chilled Seafood Salad. And offal fans will not want to miss the Tripe Soup. Owned and operated by local couple Tin Ko Naing and Thidar Kyaw, Yun Cafe is one of NYC’s only Burmese restaurants, making this even more of a must-try.
Myanmar’s, or Burma’s, southern neighbor Thailand is amply represented in NYC’s culinary landscape, but if the mood strikes you there’s a really good Thai restaurant right nearby on 79th Street called Kitchen 79, with a menu that goes well beyond the usual suspects. And if you want to jump the South China Sea for some Filipino fare, Papa’s Kitchen on 83rd Street is the move.
Yun Cafe is located at 73-05 37th Road, within the Roosevelt Avenue subway station, directly below Diversity Plaza (646-920-6723) – Order Now
Nepali Bhanchha Ghar
Jackson Heights is rightly famous for its almost embarrassing surplus of first-rate spots to fill up on Momo, those lovely plump dumplings most often associated with Tibetan, Hymalayan, or Nepali cuisines, but the single best place to get your fix is probably Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, located right on Roosevelt Avenue and loaded with options for an at-home feast. Chef and owner Yamuna Shrestha prides herself on delivering big flavors from her homeland and, in addition the many types of Momo available here, there’s Nepali Barbecue (including Goat Ribs and homemade jerky), lots of vegetarian options, and an excellent Sel Roti, that fried rice doughnut with spicy dipping sauce.
If you’re looking for a more Tibetan twist on Momo, and nearly 50 other delicious things to eat, try ordering from the sprawling, newish second location of Phayul on 74th Street.
Nepali Bhanchha Ghar is located at 74-15 Roosevelt Avenue (917-745-0533) – Order Now
There are seemingly endless choices to be had at this big, festive Mexican restaurant located along the clubbiest stretch of Roosevelt Avenue, from platillos like the juicy Chuletas Fritas to all sorts of tortas (including a Birria beauty) and cemitas (the Carne Asada packs a wallop). But the core of the menu at Taqueria Coatzingo is, obviously, the Tacos, which come in 16 varieties and, whether shrimp, tripe, brisket, vegetarian, or tongue, always arrive fat and fully loaded. Get four for under $20 and treat yourself to at-home fiesta on a random Tuesday night!
There are many other great Mexican spots in Jackson Heights as well, including La Esquina del Camaron Mexicano which, among other delights, delivers a superb Shrimp and Octopus Cocktail from the back of a Roosevelt Avenue bodega; and The Cruz-z Family Corp, also on Roosevelt, which excels at massive burritos.
Taqueria Coatzingo is located at 76-05 Roosevelt Avenue (718-424-1977) – Order Now
Sitting in the shadow of the elevated on 74th Street just off Roosevelt Avenue, Merit Kabab is one of those glorious steam-table places with a ton of choices, all of which taste just-made because the place is always so busy. Order with confidence from all over the menu, but know that Merit’s Biryani, in all of its varieties (Vegetable, Goat, Roast Pulao), are the real crowd-pleasers here, and the plump and steaming Vegetable Samosas always do the trick.
Indian food options abound around these parts, but two other spots worth noting here are Al-Naimat Sweets and Restaurant, a friendly halal place on 73rd Street up near 37th Avenue that has some excellent tandooris, curries, and breakfast dishes; and Samudra on 37th Avenue, which is all vegetarian and mostly vegan.
Merit Kabab is located at 36-67 74th Street (646-309-8691) – Order Now
The backstory here is more than a little lengthy, beginning in 1897 in Mott Haven, through the “Jahn’s empire” phase at mid-century (at one point there were 30 of these ice cream parlors) and segueing in the 1970s into its current iteration as a classic NYC diner that also happens to sell a bunch of crazy sundaes. The Jahn’s on 37th is the last one standing, and when you’re in the mood for diner food–omelets, burgers, french toast, triple deckers, spanakopita, banana splits, and literally at least a hundred other things–it totally hits the spot.
The Queensboro up on Northern Boulevard has a decidedly shorter menu (and history), but this semi-ambitious restaurant has been making the locals happy since 2018, with a solid array of standards like Pepperoni Pizza, Shrimp Linguini, Hanger Steak with horseradish, and Roast Chicken with Mashed Potatoes.
Jahn’s is located at 81-04 37th Avenue (718-651-0700) – Order Now
Maria Piedad Cano, aka the Arepa Lady, is a legend in these parts, a Colombian immigrant who came to NYC in the 1980s and worked a cart on Roosevelt Avenue for twenty years before opening her first storefront in 2014. Cano is retired now, but the Arepa Lady restaurant on 37th Avenue is going strong, slinging a full slate of its namesake doughy delights, in four separate formats, as well as some wonderfully gut-busting Patacones, which are like sandwiches made with fried tostones instead of bread.
In addition to arepas, there are lots of other South American favorites to be had in Jackson Heights, including monster-sized Saltchipapa (basically, loaded fries) and Perros Calientes (basically, loaded hot dogs) at the great El Perro on Northern Boulevard. And if you’re really hungry, order any of the massive platters at the tiny Ecuadorian spot on 83rd Street, Picanteria El Austro.
Arepa Lady is located at 77-17 37th Avenue (917-745-1111) – Order Now
As restaurants continue to open up throughout the city, New Yorkers can keep supporting these institutions by exploring new spots or ordering our favorite meals with Seamless. Consider supporting a neighborhood business and treat yourself to some delicious food delivered right to your door!
This post is a sponsored collaboration between Seamless and Gothamist staff.