i live in sunnyside, queens. i like to eat.
as a means of resolve.. almost a year later.. Shauna Eats Sunnyside is now defunct.
I’ve left the city (and soon-to-be Eastern Seaboard) in pursuit of other obstacles and adventures.. B still livelies up the neighborhood, this time on the opposite side of the Blvd. Show him some love.
I often ache for our borough’s bountiful realm of worldly cuisine, and hope that this blog’s legacy of destination dining lives on — whether it be as a reference guide to some of your favorite non-DOH’d Sunnyside haunts, as an inspiration for your next Boulevard empanada walking tour, or as documentation of a beautiful and exhilarating time of creative and passionate food exploration in our lives.
For that matter, long live the original Pecas y Mas cholado.
Thanks for reading. Eat well.
Update and ‘Hood Observations
Mayjah apologies, dear readers, for the lapse in posts. B broke his foot and mama got laid off, so the neighborhood dining circuit has taken a backseat in recent weeks as B moonboots his way to recovery and I hoard cash in cannisters in the pantry. We’ll be back and eating soon. Lots goin on in town… a few notes:
- New McDonald’s house on Queens Blvd. looks exactly like the old one
- Casa Romana apparently does catering
- Bucharest European restaurant on 40th St. has huge, cozy interior (bar and dance floor), festive exterior holiday lights
- The Grind appears to be rockin’ new fluorescent beer signage
- Manhattan spawn Arriba Arriba! on Queens Blvd. is (finally!) accepting apps for bar and floor staff
- Tasty Thai dies; new Mexican joint on Greenpoint
- Baked Argentinean goodness and killer whole pea soup at Sur Empanadas
- Mysterious Tibetan gift shop on 47th St. - there are lots of Buddhas
- Las Americas Carniceria moves around the corner to 46th St. - no more hot food counter?
- New wine bar on Skillman at 46th St. has sparse interior, ginormo Xmas tree; may be a solid local cocktails option
- B spots fluorescent orange (apparently off-duty) hot dog/knish truck near 40th St. station
- Piazza Pizza tags parked cars with menus, torrential downpour mushes marketing scheme
- Even the Churro Lady eats at the weekend Ecuadorian cart on 46th St.
- I Love Py. delivers (fresh!) empanadas; B is beside himself
- Another fro-yo place opens on Greenpoint, inconveniently enough, in the wintertime
- Gray Point Thai menus everywhere; we’re still skeeved by 26 violation points in April, down from 56 in March…
- The villainous eSparks Coffee flips to Ave Cafe; coffee still sucks.
Bloody Mary Blitz
In respectful observation of annual Bloody Mary Monday (the first of the month), B and I embarked on a 2+ hour Sunnyside scavenger hunt for proper ingredients and beverage receptacles before returning home on a worknight to assemble our honorary cocktails.
Word to the wise: If you seek celery salt, you will not find it in the Butcher Block. Further, you will not find it a convenience store, regardless of whether they are open 24 hours or have an elaborate wall of spices near the door. The shit was ever elusive, thus we were forced to trek to the overpriced Met for a $5 shi-shi organic cannister of the very-necessary Bloody Mary seasoning.
On the topic of the highball: B, though jaded by the blatant price boosts at 99¢ Treat, dragged me back there to take a whack at locating the ultimate (relatively cheap) Bloody Mary glass. And find it, we did… ergonomic heavy square base with round lip, spacious enough for ice and all the spicy pickled add-ins we planned to cram into it. Of COURSE, the smug thrift store pirates charged more than $1 each, but it was late in the game and we were desperate to celebrate.
We swung by Euro Shop after peering in at their solo shelf of pickling jars and spotted this $4 pot of intimidating red and yellow peppers. They aren’t nearly as spicy as they look (um, upon further inspection, perhaps because we got the MILD ones), and pack a nice crunch amidst the pickling juices. Bonus: pepps can double as cocktail swizzles.
Badass Ecuadorian hot sauce was poached from Pioneer on one fateful empanada weekend, and duty-free Grey Goose rounded out our booze project nicely. B worked his mixologist magic (it’s all in that bionic wrist), and by 10pm boo and I were (finally) cheersing to the beauty of a bomb-ass Bloody Mary.
The Butcher Block
43-46 41st Street (b/w Queens Blvd. and 43rd Ave.)
Sunnyside NY 11104
99¢ Treat (a.k.a. “Markup Central”)
Queens Blvd. b/w 41st and 42nd Sts.
Sunnyside, NY 11104
Euro Shop Meat Market and Bakery
42-07 Queens Blvd (b/w 42nd and 43rd sts)
Sunnyside, NY 11104
45-60 46th St. (b/w Greenpoint and 47th Aves.)
Woodside, NY 11137
Sunshine and Sperm at TJ’s Asian Bistro
HA. Okay, before you lambaste me for the slanderous header… take a look at these decorative sushi platters we scored last week at TJ Asian Bistro (on Skillman Ave. b/w 50th and 51st Sts). We all know TJ’s mad scientist sushi chefs have a borderline drug-induced flair when it comes to swirly, multi-colored condiment splash art, but c’mon… really?!
Above: One of our favorite standbys, the Lobster Tempura Roll (which, judging by our last run-in with it, looks different every time)… meaty hunks of lightly batter-fried tail meat, strips of cucumber, tobiko, and considerable avocado immersed in flamboyant streams of sweet (possibly unagi?) sauce alongside an explosive, tie-dyed sun.
Above: B’s faithful, the Black Pepper Tuna roll (again, different flow than last time… the mad scientists love to keep ya guessing). The slithering sperm wishes us to know, quite interpretively via orange spicy mayo, that we are “OK.” Thank you, abstract sperm. And chuckling sushi chefs…
(moving right along)
Even TJ’s BBQ Beef Salad came festive in presentation:
Though I could definitely nosh on some tasty romaine rather than a bland bed of iceberg, this was a hearty appetizer of medium-rare beef filet (sweet-n-sour saucy) that B and I filled up on. Crunchy veggie strands and sesame seeds were a nice touch, though B still won’t go near tomatoes.
TJ’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests get better with every visit. Somebody should be framing this shit and auctioning it at Sotheby’s. We admire the staff for having fun at the job, and for dropping some serious artisanship onto an otherwise ho-hum plate of seaweed-wrapped fish. For that matter, we do dig Hanami's swagger (and it can sometimes be a bit easier on the pockets), but TJ's fish quality has proven consistently on point… and as visually evidenced, their band of junior Picassos behind the sushi counter deserve your support. On one particular visit, B and I actually witnessed TJ's men assemble sashimi fish over multicolored neon LED ice cubes in an elegant frosted martini glass. NO F'N SHIT.
TJ Asian Bistro
50-19 Skillman Ave (b/w 50th and 51st sts)
Woodside, NY 11377
Nibbles at Nita’s
The other evening, prior to B’s return to moonbootdom, we were taking a meandering stroll toward the depths of residential Greenpoint when I thought of Nita. I’ve gotten several reliable recs for Nita’s European Bakery (on Greenpoint Ave. b/w 40th and 41st Sts.), and I always respect the word of the Translater. We’d arbitrarily wandered into the longstanding bakery once before, but this time, though already stuffed, we were determined to sink our chops into some of its primarily Romanian wares…
As I pored over heaping trays of colored sugar cookies and chocolate covered cream pastries (I’ve also heard lore of Nita’s elusive creme-filled donuts… unfortunately, bastards were nowhere to be found), B beelined straight for the flaky filled pastries. The store is crowded with L-shaped display cases, so our space-occupying debates were brief. We finally walked out with two of the wee fluffy nugs (priced by the lb., came to 40-cents each), one stuffed with mushrooms and one with ground beef.
Talk about delicious. Of all the beautifully decorated sweets to choose from, whatever made us think two plain, flaky ping-pong-sized balls of savory breading could steal our hearts? But the second B brought the mushroom-stuffed morsel to his lips, that boy was hooked. Deceptively light and tender, the layers of exterior dough are the perfect chaw without any distraction from butter or grease. Room-temperature mushrooms within the bready caverns are sauteed and well-seasoned, making them far more exciting of a treasure than the typical omnivore (us) might imagine.
The meat pastry was similar in its gloriously executed flake packaging. To be honest, the moist ground beef within—though tasty—did not live up to some of the more spectacular empanadas we’ve tasted up the street. It was satisfying, though cold meat wasn’t quite workin as well as the erotic appeal of delicate funghi.
Next time we’re out that way, B and I plan to pounce on a baker’s dozen of those succulent little ‘shroom wads. I’m also liking the look of Nita’s stock of homemade breads and jam-topped cookies…
Afterthought, up the street: How festive!
Nita’s European Bakery
40-10 Greenpoint Avenue (b/w 40th and 41st Sts.)
Sunnyside, NY 11104
Night Fever at Bar 43
Thursday night post-Jerz and pre-boozy thanks ramblings, B and I decided to survey the premises at Bar 43 (on 43rd St. b/w Queens Blvd. and 43rd Ave.) for some drunken revelry. It always seems happenin’ over there—ciggy crowds cackling out front late in the night, tables packed and music bumping, string lights and inflatable sports mascots decorating the outside of the restaurant bar. You see the intrigue.
Since we’re penny-pinchers lately (F you, Black Friday!), we slugged some shots of whiskey in the comfort of our own kitchen before (um, and after) going out to pay for drinks. Besides, a little pregame buzz never hurt the cause…
Patrons at 43 were holiday-raucous, of the casual late-20s to late-30s set, sharing laughs and wings beneath 13 plasma screens. Opened earlier this year, it’s a largely Irish draw, and a new, high-tabled take on the dark, dank pubs populating the Boulevard span from Sunnyside to Woodside. With multi-textured, track-lit interior design (I was fascinated by these quaint construction-paper-rigged candle holders, until later realizing that apparently half the spots on Skillman do this trick), 43 is cozy but welcoming, shi-shi yet attainable.
B had a Smithwicks on tap, I classed it up with a Corona Light bottle (that’s what our pre-game buzz put me in the mood for. Haha..wtf?) We dropped $10.50 for the round. As B says, “It’s not Flynn’s prices, but it’s sure as hell not Manhattan prices, either.”
With roughly 16 beers on tap and a full cocktail list in addition to the expanded dining menu, there are more reasons to check this place out than just its badass futuristic bathrooms with floating bowl sinks, automatic soap dispensers and nifty hands-free dryers:
43-06 43rd Street (b/w Queens Blvd and 43rd Ave.)
Sunnyside, NY 11104
Shauna Eats the County
Back in mama’s old stomping grounds of backwoods MD last weekend, I enjoyed some of the finest seasonal Bay-area cuisine in “the County” with my lively and equally-as-hungry fam. It’s been months since I was last down for a visit, but I still swell with yearning for the simple elements that marked my youth: Porch swings. Soft grass in bare feet. The hum of cicadas. Honeysuckle. Huge starry nights. Summer storms. Windy back roads. Silence (!) …
Prior to this particular visit, I’d worked myself into quite a batch of homesickness. I first survived a rather cumbersome Amtrak mishap (that bastardous train broke down ten minutes from my stop and following several failed attempts to “recharge the locomotive,” all 180 passengers were forced to execute a train-to-train transfer, complete with luggage, wheelchairs, strollers and golf clubs, before continuing to our respective destinations). Upon eventual arrival, moms and I promptly hit the bar for some crabcakes and booze.
Woody’s Crab House is a hot spot on Main Street of a small town, and they make a mean crabcake. We entered the packed bar area to a black-beréted, grey-haired artisan gyrating his way through the most off-key rendition of “Fade to Black” my ears have ever been privy to. Guess that’s “small town,” for ya. Dude was a trainwreck of epic proportions… especially when he began beat-box improvising during the instrumental segment. But the drunken crowd egged him on, and mom and I had no choice but to chill. Madre ordered us two crabcake sandwich platters and we pulled up bar stools to eat and imbibe merrily.
My county knows what’s up on the crabcake tip. Unlike other areas of the country, it really is an abomination in Maryland to sub imposter crabmeat into any recipe calling for the shellfish (that means you, Foxy’s!). MD restaurants take pride in their blue crab dishes, and the freshness and size of meat hunks is really a culinary pissing contest, of sorts. You don’t mess with that…
Fuck up #1: I neglected to photograph the infamous house specialty. Here’s the only pic my nearly crapped-out Mac could nab from the Woody’s Crab House website… just try to envision it bigger, like the size of a succulent, ocean-floor-dwelling softball:
Woody’s has been lauded by local media for many years for their jumbo lump crabcakes and creamy crab bisque. During the summer, with its close proximity to the water and bad-ass deck seating, the restaurant becomes a free-for-all of bushel-cracking seafood tourists, and for good reason.
This crabcake is the hotness. Lightly fried or broiled (go broiled, the deep-fry distracts from the meat), substantially chunked with fresh, tender crabbie and minimal seasoned breadcrumb filler in a whopping cylindrical patty on (or off) a potato bun alongside crisp fries and a delicious (non-pungent) cabbage slaw. At $10ish, depending on the daily specials, it’s a good deal among local crab shacks well-versed in overcharging for shellfish. Alongside my $3.50 Coors Light draft (what can I say? You can take the girl outta MD…), it was the perfect meal to usher mama into a slower, hometown state of mind, despite the manic man in black harrumphing into the house mic.
The next morning, the women of my family convened over breakfast at the wide, patchworked world of Cracker Barrel. My cousin S, grandma Babs, sister D, and my mama were pumped to hit the countrified, wood-paneled nook for some (meh, somewhat authentic) Southern staples. Although CB is a chain that B adamantly shuns, I say ya can’t argue with biscuits and apple butter. Or hash brown casserole. Or baked apples-n-cinnamon. Or mugs of Stewart’s root beer (big ups, Pop-Pop!). Or grits and maple syrup. Or bottomless sweet tea.
S hails from New Hampshire, goes to college in VA, and pounces on the Barrel every chance she gets. If it’s any indication of the voracity of appetite in my family, this girl housed a three-pack of french toast, a cheesy scrambled eggs/crispy bacon/hash brown casserole combo (with obligatory orange slice) and TWO chocolate milks in one sitting. Gotta respect that flow.
Babs went with a similar potion of fried eggs, hash brown cass, beautiful sausage patties (kinda hard to come by, and MUCH better slathered in maple syrup than their oblong linked counterparts), fluffy biscuits, and a side of grits and butter.
D gussied up light and low-carb with scrambled eggs, sliced tomatoes, turkey sausage and fresh bananas (see? Cracker Barrel isn’t all country fried steak with sawmill gravy)…
I attempted “not overly gluttonous” but got screwed on the dual-biscuit clause… Moms and I both got these fun (new) egg-and-veggie skillets (hers with cheddar, mine without) alongside twin biscuits and fresh apple butter (huzzah!). I really dug the veggies, to be honest. Al denté broccoli florets, peppers, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and not-too-greasy potato wedges underlying scrambular eggs. I didn’t mind the lack of cheese but mom certainly appreciated hers. The biscuits, though heavy on the ass, were undeniably savory.
As if life couldn’t get any more foodcentric, S, mom and I stopped at our local orchard (word on the big pumpkins), following breakfast, where I picked up $2.67 jars of tangy plum butter and strawberry rhubarb preserves. (B and I have since cracked the PB on some hearty grain toast with peanut butter, and it’s proven an ideal drunken midnight snack.)
Later that night, mom made the most unnecessarily excessive bowl of stir-fry yet. But fuck it was good. Tender chicken cubes, white rice, scrambled egg, canned water chestnuts, scallions, shredded carrots and the most tongue-pleasing crunch snap peas with some spritzed soy sauce action. I may be grown, but there’s still nuthin like a home-cooked meal, and ma killed it!
Last stop of the evening (and my gut’s still paying for it, eight days later): S and I threw fat flaps to the wind and oven-toasted two fresh sugared apple cider donuts from the orchard. Whence warmed, buried them in bowls beneath mounds of vanilla and cookie dough ice creams, both chocolate and strawberry sauces, peanuts (S went with big with peanut M&Ms and a chewy ginger cookie), and swirls of Cool Whip. Complete and total gluttony. Halfway through the mooshy mess, my logic kicked in. WHAT THA HELL AM I DOING?!?! But sometimes, being bad feels so good. It was sickeningly delicious, achingly decadent and surely cavity inducing. I’ll be working that fucker off til Xmas.
My final county throwdown came at my sister and her boo’s favorite haunt, the Rendezvous Bar. D & her man J make a weekend habit of the local sports bar, and in fact, plan on having their bachelor/bachelorette blowout there this spring, complete with strippers, penis theming, and beer pong. I give ‘em credit for doin “drunk messy party” right.
Mom and I decided to casually split a 1-lb. jumbo shrimp and Old Bay fries special ($10) and piping cheesy crab dip in a bread bowl while D and J watched the Eagles take a beating from the f’n Cowboys. Our shrimp were huge, spicy, and tender… fries were, um, fried, and Old Bay seasoning just makes everything better. Dip was creamy, cheesy and bubbly, with hunks of crabmeat throughout (though not a lot of other seasoning). The bread bowl was dense and absorbant, and scooped remnant cheese nicely. Paired with a pitcher of domestic (you know how we do) and a pack of Marlboro Lights (NOT MINE), a solid way to spend a football Sunday south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Tonight post-T-day in the Jerz, B and I hit up Johnny Walker Green, hard. And Bar 43. But that’s another post…
I’ll spare you the details of our Italian-angled gazillion-course Thanksgiving, as, frankly, it’s all rather played out amongst foodies. Equally as cliché would be a list of things we’re thankful for on this fine celebration of Indigenous Holocaust and false iconization of poultry, but perhaps the drunken rambling will tonight work in mama’s favor…
- Duty free Johnny Walker Green… for getting us through the dark days of winter.
- Flynn’s Pub, for opening at 6:30am on game days.
- For El Vagabundo taco truck, except when they’re M.I.A. on a national holiday and we’re craving fuckin carne asada tacos at 1am.
- Alpha Donut, for that French cruller (and only that French crull).
- My legs, for never losing their urge to kick recklessly.
- The New Yorker, for maintaining “high-brow” whilst covering the edgy techno descendant of Johnny Coltrane, Flying Lotus.
- Our super, for (perhaps) finally taking the hint and lowering our stifling thermostat to a flip-flop manageable 72-degrees. On second thought, nevermind. She’s a tramp.
- The purveyors of NJ Transit, for gifting us with a hassle-free bus trek this afternoon into the bowels of highway strip-mall central.
- B is “thankful for having a job and a roof over his head and the money to be able to go out and try out foods in the neighborhood because 90% of the world does not have those things.”
- Now back to my fun times…
- Shit. B’s also “thankful for his health and the ability to be active and play soccer when he wants to, because there are people who don’t have use of their legs or the ability to move when they want to.”
- (Back to me)
- Ghostface, for shouting out Ted Koppel, Mrs. Dash, Elaine Benes, and Judy Blume. All in one breath.
- Allen Iverson, for rockin the cajones to stand up to the irrational demands of his new Detroit management… and getting slapped with a game suspension in the process. Gobble gobble, Bubba Chucks!
- The readers of this site, for entertaining such bad behavior from a tormented writer and local foods enthusiast. I apologize in advance and post de facto.
- B, for being my muse, eating whatever I put in front of him (even crap cupcakes), and letting me take endless pictures of his face from the nose down.
- And for the occasional spontaneous jigs.
- For the ability to laugh and love and enjoy life, day to day, and not suffocate on the disillusionment of consumerism, job competition, or tourist traffic in NYC.
- For little gems along the way. Like I Love Py. chilena empanada. And B’s French Press skillz. And za’atar bread from El Shater. And Nutella, on baguette.
- For anyone who can brew a sly iced coffee. Especially if they’re within walking distance.