If Queens, NY was its own city it could lay claim to being the greatest food city on Earth.
As it stands now, it’s the largest of New York City’s five boroughs, has a population of almost 2.5 million residents, half of whom are foreign-born. Queens County itself is one of the top five most densely populated counties in the United States. Think of it this way, if each New York City borough were an independent city, Queens would also be the nation’s 4th most populous city, and today is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.
There’s almost nowhere on earth I would rather eat.
So yes, it has 2 major airports, pro sports teams, beaches and more…but for me I inhale Queens on a plate. What makes the food so good? Well since I’m a globalist it’s the sheer volume of ethnic eats, and all of these communities are cooking for new waves of immigration, their friends and family. That keeps the food honest. There are 138 languages spoken here, and almost 60 percent of the borough speaks a first language that isn’t English. The food here is a direct mirror of that cultural diversity, from the Greeks in Astoria and the Latin vibe of Jackson Heights, to the world class Chinese chow in Flushing and the Bukharans in Rego Park. Nepalese and Bangladeshi food your vibe? Queens has you covered with high quality choices. You get the drift.
Morscher’s Pork Store in Ridgewood is a Slovenian-style German deli that joins Muncan Meats as my two favorite delis in the borough. Golden Mall in Flushing has some of the best Chinese dumpling and noodle vendors in the county. Milkflower has some stunning pizza. Rokhat Kosher Bakery serves Bukharan meat pies, breads and some of the most amazing specialty breads I’ve ever tried.
Hit Kababish for my favorite Pakistani dish, kata-kat, a savory, spicy sauté of minced offal, or go to Maima’s in Jamaica Queens for some of the crazy-hottest Liberian cuisine you will ever have. Superb shellfish and homemade ginger beer to wash it down. Tawa in Jackson Heights is a tiny Nepalese restaurant that serves sukuti, the famous dried beef of that region, with a full range of superbly cooked dishes to accompany.
Head to Flushing’s Fu Run for some world class Manchurian-style roasted lamb rib. If you want something a little more experimental and a tad French—all shot through the Quebecois lumberjack gastro pub prism—chef Hugue Dufour has M Wells Dinette and M Wells Steakhouse, both of which serve some of the best food in all five boroughs.
Need more? For the grandaddy of premium eating experiences, head to Chopsticks and Marrow and book one of my pal Joe’s extraordinary food tours of his hometown. It’s worth it.
Originally published on TravelChannel.com.