It’s in Queens
#MonthlyPicks | December 2018 by Ethan Frisch
As a former chef, I’m pretty happy to live in Jackson Heights with easy access to all the neighborhood’s amazing restaurants. My favorite breakfast spot is either Raja Sweets and Fast Food on 37th Avenue and 73rd Street or excellent tamales from one of the street vendors around the 82nd Street subway station. I go to Phayul on 74th street for momos and vegetables stir-fried with a really special Himalayan spice called “timur pepper,” and to Lety’s Bakery on 37th Avenue for some of the best cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. There are always great new restaurants opening up, and it’s really exciting to see fellow entrepreneurs making their mark on NYC’s restaurant scene.
I love exploring Queens supermarkets, especially in neighborhoods as diverse as Jackson Heights. It’s probably the only place in the world where you can find arepas, halal meats, and fresh durian all in the same store. The Queens Night Market is another destination that couldn’t exist anywhere else — every Saturday night from April to October, the borough’s best chefs (and eaters) come together behind the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to celebrate their culinary heritage.
Jackson Heights on a beautiful Saturday morning has got to be the best place in the world. Everyone — of all ages, backgrounds, languages, orientations, and identities — is out enjoying the sunshine and community. The various festivals, parades, flea markets, and other neighborhood events bring people together who probably wouldn’t interact anywhere else.
I’m a native New Yorker going back four generations — my great-grandparents were born in Brooklyn — and I’m fascinated by local history. The 7 train offers a fascinating look into the changes the city goes through. Queens has always been in a state of flux, with new communities, new businesses, and new people, but in the last few years, it’s becoming more corporate and less interesting. As Queens residents, it’s our responsibility to keep our city diverse, equitable, and exciting.
Ethan Frisch is the cofounder of Burlap & Barrel, the only comprehensive, single-origin spice company in the United States. The native New Yorker is also a chef and an activist around issues of intercultural communication and social justice. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School and the City College of New York.