Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists (2016)
Map 27. Long Island City
Long Island City has some excellent waterfront features, but it’s also one of Queens’ most developed, Manhattanish neighborhoods, plus when the 7 train is acting up, it turns a 5-minute ride between boroughs into a commuting nightmare. LIC’s technical boundaries stretch from Newtown Creek to the south to roughly 34th Avenue to the north, bordering Astoria, but LIC has two distinct areas separated by Queens Plaza.
South of Queens Plaza beyond the Citigroup Building, which until recently was the only large tower in the area (still the tallest building on Long Island, though perhaps not for long), Beaux-arts Long Island City Courthouse and Hunter’s Point Historic District lies gentrified Hunter’s Point, which has grown rapidly thanks to rezoning that allowed Battery Park City-like high rises along the waterfront. The young professional influx brought new stores and restaurants to Vernon Boulevard. Sushi, that leading gentrifying indicator, shows the evolution: until relatively recently Hunter’s Point had no sushi at all, but today there are several sushi joints, not to mention a handful of comfort food spots and even a full-time comedy club. Even the New York Irish Center arrived, providing a community center for the city’s Irish diaspora. Gantry Plaza State Park along the waterfront is hands-down the best view of Manhattan anywhere, and it has grown along with the neighborhood; all the way up to Anable Basin near 46th Avenue. South of Gantry Plaza State Park the city has started work on Hunters Point South, a project that will bring thousands of middle-income units to the waterfront. The city-owned Hunters Point South Park completes the ribbon of waterfront open space along the East River; the park offers the requisite panoramic Midtown skyline vista along with well-maintained recreational facilities and a lovely concession attached to the water taxi dock. Also along the waterfront is the LIC Community Boathouse, which heralds the triumphant reuse of the city’s waterways; just keep your kayak out of Newtown Creek until the EPA is finished there.
The area around Queens Plaza has seen much new development. Expensive condos with great Manhattan views now surround Queensboro Plaza, the first stop in Queens for the N and Q trains and a transfer point for the 7 train out to Flushing. Also north of Queens Plaza lies the vestigial Dutch Kills neighborhood, which looks much like Astoria (so much so that you are forgiven in advance for simply referring to it as Astoria), and Queensbridge Houses, one of the largest public housing projects in the nation. Onetime home to artists like Marley Marl’s Juice Crew and Nas, Queensbridge is to hip-hop as Addisleigh Park is to jazz. Linked to Midtown via one or two stops, the area between 37th and 41st Avenues north of Queens Plaza has seen a (literal) rise in mid-range hotels slowly squeezing out light industry while providing an inexpensive and convenient option for visitors. Meanwhile, the area south of Queens Plaza is filling up quickly with luxury condos and rentals. The Citigroup Building is looking a lot less lonely these days.
Light industry sprang up in LIC after the Queensboro Bridge (or 59th Street Bridge, depending on your point of view) opened in 1909 and thrived until the middle of the century, though parts of the area are currently designated an Industrial Business Zone by the city. The iconic Pepsi-Cola Sign along the waterfront is a vestige of LIC’s industrial past preserved for all Beekman Place to see. Many of LIC’s industrial buildings were repurposed for studio space in the 1970s and 1980s, giving the neighborhood its artistic reputation that survives today. MoMA PS1, housed in a historic school building, dates to 1976. Other museums and galleries followed, including the Noguchi Museum (1985), Fisher Landau Center for Art (1991) and SculptureCenter (2001). Smaller galleries, performance spaces, and collectives such as Flux Factory, Dorsky Gallery, Local Project, and The Chocolate Factory thrive even as real estate prices have risen.
Long Island City is about location, location, location — both in terms of real estate and as a hub of New York City’s film and television industry. Silvercup Studios uses the former Silvercup Bakery building along the East River, and what was once a sleepy industrial area best suited for taxi companies is now clogged with film crews for on-location shoots. The two are combined at Taxi Depot, whose vintage cabs parked out front are not for hacks but rather film crews needing props.
Hit Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill for outdoor waterfront drinks or indulge in mixology at Dutch Kills. Join the locals at LIC Bar and Dominie’s Hoek. Try the beer selection at Alewife. Both The Creek and the Cave and Laughing Devil offer top-notch comedy.
Long Island City
✵ The Chocolate Factory ✵ 5-49 49th Ave
Performance space for experimental theater.
✵ Citicorp Building ✵ 1 Court Sq
This 48-story structure is the tallest New York building outside of Manhattan.
✵ Fisher Landau Center for Art ✵ 38-27 30th St
Temporary exhibits plus a world-class permanent collection of contemporary art.
✵ Fresh Direct ✵ 23-30 Borden Ave
This is where all those cardboard boxes come from.
✵ Gantry Plaza State Park ✵ 4-9 47th Road
Waterfront park and piers with breathtaking skyline views.
✵ Green Space ✵ 37-24 24th St
Dance company sublets professional rehearsal space sublets to artists.
✵ Hunters Point Historic District ✵
21st St & 45th Ave
Well-preserved homes from LIC’s first heyday in the late 1800s.
✵ Hunters Point South Park ✵
Center Blvd & 50th Ave
10 acres of prime parkland along the East River.
✵ LIC Art Center ✵ 44-02 23rd St
Theaters, galleries, and studios in former LIC factory building.
✵ LIC Community Boathouse ✵ 46-01 5th St
Launch kayaks from here, explore the waterfront like never before.
✵ Long Island City Courthouse ✵
25-10 Court Sq
Built in 1876 and rebuilt in 1904, an architectural gem.
✵ MoMA PS1 ✵ 22-25 Jackson Ave
MoMA’s contemporary art space, w/ dance parties every summer Saturday.
✵ New York Irish Center ✵ 10-40 Jackson Ave
Bingo nights for the tri-state Irish community.
✵ Pepsi-Cola Sign ✵ 47th Ave & Center Blvd
Iconic sign atop the Pepsi Bottling Company building saved here.
✵ Queensbridge Park ✵ Vernon Blvd & 41st Ave
Park for the people under the Queensboro Bridge.
✵ SculptureCenter ✵ 44-19 Purves St
An artist-run nonprofit and gallery supporting experimental sculpture since 1928.
✵ Silvercup Studios ✵ 42-22 22nd St
Former bakery is now a busy film and television studio.
✵ Taxi Depot ✵ 43-01 Vernon Blvd
Check out the vintage cabs parked out in front.
✵ Communitea ✵ 11-18 46th Rd
Coffee, tea, and café food.
✵ The Mill ✵ 44-61 11th St
Coffee, tea, and fun baked goods.
✵ Sweetleaf ✵ 10-93 Jackson Ave
Stumptown coffee and tasty homemade sweets.
✵ Long Island City Youthmarket ✵
Hunters Point South Park
✵ Socrates Sculpture Park Greenmarket ✵ Vernon Blvd & Broadway
Saturdays, July-Nov, 8 am-3 pm
Standbys like Manducatis, Bella Via, and Tournesolall chug along. Casa Enrique’s offerings are inspired by the cuisine of the Mexican state of Chiapas, Corner Bistro serves West Village-style burgers, and John Brown Smokehouse is the current neighborhood go-to for barbecue. Mu Ramen’s broth blows people’s minds.
✵ Alewife ✵ 5-14 51st Ave
Dozens of beers on tap on LIC side street.
✵ Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill ✵ 4-40 44th Dr
Outdoor spot along East River with direct view of Midtown.
✵ The Baroness ✵ 41-26 Crescent St
High-concept wine and beer joint close to Queens Plaza.
✵ Bierocracy ✵ 12-23 Jackson Ave
Beer hall with old-world flair.
✵ BLVD ✵ 47-20 Center Blvd
Wine bar/small plates in tall building near Gantry Park.
✵ The Creek and The Cave ✵ 10-93 Jackson Ave
Subterranean lounge with awesome comedy nights.
✵ Domaine Bar a Vins ✵ 50-04 Vernon Blvd
Great new wine bar from the people who brought you Tournesol, with oysters to boot.
✵ Dominie’s Hoek ✵ 48-17 Vernon Blvd
No-frills bar with backyard patio and live music.
✵ Dutch Kills ✵ 27-24 Jackson Ave
Old time saloon decor and a classic cocktail menu.
✵ LIC Bar ✵ 45-58 Vernon Blvd
Vintage New York saloon with serene backyard BBQ patio and photo booth.
✵ Penthouse 808 at the Ravel Hotel ✵
8-08 Queens Plaza S
Former hotsheet now swank hotel, still under the Queensboro Bridge though.
✵ PJ Leahy’s ✵ 50-02 Vernon Blvd
Sports bar. Aka WP Dick Whistle’s and HB Hanratty’s.
✵ Rest-au-Rant ✵ 30-01 35th Ave
Wine, beer, cheese, and various smallplates.
✵ Shannon Pot ✵ 21-59 44th Dr
Irish dive bar, nothing more, nothing less.
✵ The Standing Room ✵ 47-38 Vernon Blvd
Full-time comedy club in Astoria/LIC.
✵ Studio Square ✵ 35-33 36th St
Huge, new-school beer garden with plenty of space for groups.
✵ Veronica’s Bar ✵ 34-04 36th Ave
Formerly old-school, with new ownership…
✵ 5 Star Punjabi Diner ✵ 13-05 43rd Ave
718-784-7444 ✵ $$
Indian diner/cabbie hangout/banquet hall.
✵ Alobar ✵ 46-42 Vernon Blvd
718-752-6000 ✵ $$$
Charcuterie and cocktails in a farmhouse setting.
✵ Arepas Cafe ✵ 33-07 36th Ave
718-937-3835 ✵ $$
✵ Bella Via ✵ 47-46 Vernon Blvd
718-361-7510 ✵ $$
Wonderful modern Italian dishes and brick-oven pizza.
✵ Blend ✵ 47-04 Vernon Blvd
718-729-2800 ✵ $$
Sleek Cuban-fusion spot.
✵ Breadbox Cafe ✵ 47-11 11th St
718-389-9700 ✵ $$
Breakfast at repurposed gas station between Queensboro & Pulaski bridges.
✵ Cafe Henri ✵ 10-10 50th Ave
718-383-9315 ✵ $$
Low-key French bistro.
✵ Cafe Ole ✵ 38-09 36th Ave
718-349-7777 ✵ $$$
Spanish, paella, etc. sprucing up 36th Avenue.
✵ Cafe Triskell ✵ 33-04 36th Ave
718-472-0612 ✵ $$
Cash-only French-style bistro on 36th Avenue.
✵ Casa Enrique ✵ 5-48 49th Ave
347-448-6040 ✵ $$$
Mexican cuisine from Chiapas via Bar Henry folks.
✵ Chela & Garnacha ✵ 33-09 36th Ave
917-832-6876 ✵ $$
Charming brick-and-mortar outpost of Mexico Blvd food truck.
✵ Coffeed ✵ 37-18 Northern Blvd
718-606-1299 ✵ $
Locally sourced coffeehouse with Brooklyn Grange-supplied food.
✵ Corner Bistro ✵ 47-18 Vernon Blvd
718-606-6500 ✵ $
Legendary Village burger mainstay’s LIC outpost.
✵ Court Square Diner ✵ 45-30 23rd St
718-392-1222 ✵ $
Reliable grub available 24 hours.
✵ Crescent Grill ✵ 38-40 Crescent St
718-729-4040 ✵ $$$
Stylish farm-to-table cuisine.
✵ Cyclo ✵ 5-51 47th Ave
718-786-8309 ✵ $$
Vietnamese pho and banh mi from the folks behind Tuk Tuk.
✵ Dorian Café ✵ 10-01 50th Ave
718-937-1120 ✵ $
Cozy neighborhood diner, excellent turkey club.
✵ Gaw Gai Thai Express ✵ 23-06 Jackson Ave
718-706-0999 ✵ $
Tuk Tuk’s express lunch service near Court Square.
✵ John Brown Smokehouse ✵ 10-43 44th Dr
347-617-1120 ✵ $$
Kansas City-style barbecue just off the E train.
✵ LIC Landing ✵ 52-10 Center Blvd
COFFEED’s contribution to the Hunter’s Point waterfront; spectacular views.
✵ LIC Market ✵ 21-52 44th Dr
718-361-0013 ✵ $$
Handsome space with seasonal dishes and wine bar.
✵ M. Wells Dinette ✵ 22-25 Jackson Ave
718-786-1800 ✵ $$$
Kind of like if Matthew Barney ran a museum café.
✵ M. Wells Steakhouse ✵ 43-15 Crescent St
718-786-9060 ✵ $$$$
More boffo dishes from strange animal parts at this hipster meat palace.
✵ Malagueta ✵ 25-35 36th Ave
718-937-4821 ✵ $$
Great Brazilian/Euro food in a downright classy setting.
✵ Manducatis ✵ 13-27 Jackson Ave
718-729-4602 ✵ $$$
Classic Italian cuisine expertly prepared; a beloved neighborhood institution.
✵ Manducatis Rustica ✵ 46-35 Vernon Blvd
718-937-1312 ✵ $$
Warm, welcoming Italian café. And gelato!
✵ Manetta’s ✵ 10-76 Jackson Ave
718-786-6171 ✵ $$
Above-average brick oven pizza and good house-made pastas.
✵ Mu Ramen ✵ 12-09 Jackson Ave
917-868-8903 ✵ $$
Big-league ramen with crazy attention to broth detail.
✵ Mundo ✵ 37-06 36th St
718-706-8636 ✵ $$$
Two words: Turkish meatballs.
Get your custom-built axe at Sadowsky Guitars. Go to Hunter’s Point Wines & Spirits for a carefully curated selection and great guidance. Quality and prices are both elevated at Food Cellar, which is the cost of doing business here. And Just Things is a quirky amalgamation of thrift, junk, and antique store that we hope never ever leaves.
✵ Petey’s Burger ✵ 46-46 Vernon Blvd
718-937-4040 ✵ $
It’s like an In-N-Out cover band; fills a need.
✵ Sage General Store ✵ 24-20 Jackson Ave
718-361-0707 ✵ $$
Comfort food made with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients to takeaway or have delivered
✵ San Remo Pizza ✵ 48-20 Vernon Blvd
718-937-2484 ✵ $
Just a straight-up slice. Perfect.
✵ Shi ✵ 47-20 Center Blvd
347-242-2450 ✵ $$
The view is LIC. The decor is Soho. The diners are Murray Hill.
✵ Skinny’s Cantina ✵ 47-05 Center Blvd
718-806-1068 ✵ $$$
Upscale Mexican comfort food.
✵ Testaccio ✵ 47-30 Vernon Blvd
718-937-2900 ✵ $$$
Yet more higher-end Italian, though there is oxtail.
✵ Tournesol ✵ 50-12 Vernon Blvd
718-472-4355 ✵ $$$
Cozy French bistro, a neighborhood gem.
✵ Tuk Tuk ✵ 49-06 Vernon Blvd
718-472-5597 ✵ $$
Hip space. Good Thai food.
✵ Water’s Edge ✵ 4-01 44th Dr
718-482-0033 ✵ $$$$$
Mom will like the American and Continental cuisine with views of the skyline.
✵ Artbook @ MoMA PS1 ✵ 22-25 Jackson Ave
Fabulous selection of art books.
✵ Astoria Seafood ✵ 37-10 33rd St
Top-notch seafood in unsuspecting location.
✵ Blue Streak Wine & Spirits ✵ 4720 Center Blvd
Wine and booze from around the globe.
✵ C-Town ✵ 44-65 21st St
Your basic no-frills, comparatively inexpensive New York supermarket.
✵ Court Square Wine & Spirits ✵
24-20 Jackson Ave
Excellent selection and prices.
✵ Duane Reade ✵ 47-02 5th St
Good for toilet paper, nail polish remover, and Us Weekly.
✵ Foodcellar & Co. Market ✵ 4-85 47th Rd
Like Whole Foods, but not.
✵ Greenmarket ✵ 48th Ave & Vernon Blvd
Local farmers and bakers, every Saturday except in winter.
✵ Hunter’s Point Wines & Spirits ✵
47-07 Vernon Blvd
Trust the owner to recommend great wines from $5 to $50. Also a well-edited liquor selection.
✵ Just Things ✵ 47-28 Vernon Blvd
Quirky amalgamation of thrift store, junk store, and antique store.
✵ Matted ✵ 46-36 Vernon Blvd
Picture framing plus an assortment of artsy tchotckes.
✵ Nomad Cycle ✵ 47-10 Austell Pl
DIY bike shop and café.
✵ Rio Bonito Market ✵ 32-15 36th Ave
Brazilian-focused specialty store.
✵ Sadowsky Guitars ✵ 21-07 41st Ave
Custom-made guitars and basses since 1979.
✵ Sage General Store ✵ 24-20 Jackson Ave
Find cult-yummy groceries and local artisanal chocolates.
✵ Spokesman Cycles ✵ 49-04 Vernon Blvd
Great bike store on Vernon Blvd.
✵ Vernon Blvd Pharmacy ✵ 48-15 Vernon Blvd
Local pharmacy gives you the attention the chains don’t.
✵ Vernon Wine & Liquor ✵ 50-06 Vernon Blvd
Use when you need cheap prosecco for the party.
✵ Western Beef ✵ 36-20 Steinway St
Stock up on cheap meat.