#MonthlyPicks | What Does A Bolivia-Born Community Advocate Love about Queens?
BY QEDC It's In Queens
Fadia Mohama is Senior Director of Strategy and Workforce Partnerships at Commonpoint Queens and an active member of the Queens Borough President’s Civic Engagement Committee, Elmhurst Community Partnerships, and other volunteer coalitions. In other words, the Forest Hills resident is ALL IN for Queens. We’ll get to know her better at the end of this column. First, let’s find out what she loves about the World’s Borough.
It was so hard to choose only a few places! One of the many reasons why I LOVE Queens is the diversity. You can visit any part of the world here and try their food while being surrounded by their culture. Some of my favorite places follow.
Bolivia: Bolivian Llama Party in Sunnyside. I was born in the high-altitude Bolivian city of La Paz, and there are not many places that serve the cuisine in NYC. Unfortunately, I can only eat gluten-free food now, but when I did eat gluten, I always had Salteñas (Bolivian Baked Empanadas). Now, I only order them for my family, and they absolutely LOVE them. If you have not tried Salteñas, you must, but beforehand, I suggest watching some YouTube videos on how to eat them for the full experience. You will see why, LOL.
Ecuador: Leticias in Corona. They have the best tostones in NYC. My friends and I always order the Tres Chanchitos and the Tostones. You’ll thank me later!
Australia: Thirsty Koala in Astoria. They have a lot of gluten-free options. My son and I love to order the GF Fried Calamari and pancakes. Absolutely DELICIOUS!
Colombia:Los Arrieros in Jackson Heights. This restaurant holds a special place in my heart as I used to work there during my teenage years when I visited NYC for the summers. I fell in love with the Bandeja Paisa, and I guarantee that you will, too. You simply cannot go wrong with any dish!
Latin Fusion: Matiz Latin Cuisine in Forest Hills. Matiz offers a fusion of flavors from different Latin American countries. The tacos are my favorite. The explosion of flavors will make you close your eyes in sheer delight.
Cuban: Rincon Criollo in Corona. Growing up in Miami, I was thrilled to find authentic Cuban food in Queens. Rincon Criollo not only serves delicious meals, but also hosts Comedy Nights, giving you the opportunity to enjoy great food and a good laugh!
Wine Bar: Keuka Kafe in Forest Hills. They offer a variety of excellent wines, and their gluten-free bread is so good that I question its authenticity, LOL. My favorite thing there is the Cheese-and-Meat Platter.
American Kitchen: White Radish in Forest Hills (middle photo). OMG! Their appetizers are the BOMB! White Radish is an incredible spot for American cuisine. While they don’t have gluten-free pastas on the menu, the chef goes above and beyond to accommodate my dietary needs. I bring my own gluten-free pasta, and the chef prepares a delightful GF Shrimp Pesto Pasta for me. It’s my absolute favorite!
Vegan: Urban Vegan Roots in Astoria. Okay, many people get scared when you say “vegan food.” But I’ve tried this place a few times and every time I take a friend. They hesitate at first, but after trying it out, they love it as much as I do. The lasagna is not only vegan, it’s GF!!! My two favorite items there are the lasagna and tacos! The best part of the venue is the décor (below photo). They have pictures of many artists from the 1980s and 1990s on the walls. They love music and helping the community so that is a HUGE plus! They host a lot of community events. How can you not love them?!
Empanadas: Empanadas Cafe in Corona. I’ve had plenty of empanadas, but these are the best in NYC. They offer a piece of heaven in every bite! I favor the beef and cheese ones.
Chocolate: Aigner Chocolates in Forest Hills. It’s actually the number one chocolate store in NYC. What I love about this place — besides the chocolates — is that owners Rachel and Mark are always giving back to the community.
I love walking around Flushing Meadows Corona Park, especially the Queens Museum-Queens Theatre area. We live in such a busy and hectic city, it is beautiful that we can go there and connect with nature. It brings me so much peace and relaxation. Fun fact: It’s bigger than Manhattan’s Central Park!
According to the Queens Historical Society, the Cinemart on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills is the borough’s oldest continuously operating, independent movie theater. Built in 1925, it began life as a 1,500-seat, single-screen showplace called “Metropolis,” but was soon renamed “The Inwood.” Cinemart is the last of a generation of independent neighborhood theaters. In the early 1960s, a New York art exhibitor acquired the venue and renamed it the “Cinema Art” with plans to use it as the Queens leg of his circuit that included the Cinema Village in lower Manhattan and the D. W. Griffith (now the 59th Street East) on the Upper East Side. The booking policy drifted into more studio fare, and the theater was converted into a twin in the early 1970s. Later on, the gem — whose name in the meantime had become shortened to Cinemart — was expanded and renovated into five screens with a Dolby Digital sound system, new projection equipment, and recliner seats.
The owner loves the community and keeps the prices affordable so all families can see a film together. Adults can attend for $12, while seniors and kids pay $9.
My favorite unique thing about Queens is its vibrant cultural tapestry! I have had the incredible opportunity to immerse myself in so many diverse holidays, culinary delights, and lively celebrations here. It fills me with immense pride to be part of a community that wholeheartedly embraces and welcomes individuals from all walks of life, irrespective of their nationality, language, cuisine, or cultural background.
Thanks, Fadia, let’s get back to you. At Commonpoint, she manages the Outreach Department for the Adult Workforce, Benefits Enrollment, Family Initiatives, and the Vocational Training Department, which prepares learners for IT, Health, Culinary, Construction, and Security Guard careers. She manages several programs focusing on civic engagement, community outreach, job readiness, work support, and partnership building. Additionally, Fadia chairs the Elmhurst Corona Resource Collaborative, a community initiative consisting of 26 local nonprofits to meet the needs of the Elmhurst and Corona communities. Members collaborate so families have access to food, job resources, and financial security, as well as pathways for community-anchored health-and-healing programs and shared educational and cultural experiences.
Fadia (IG: @queensconnection) has hosted and/or participated in hundreds of community events and workshops to benefit seniors, women, teens, families, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities. She loves the following Arthur Rubinstein quote: Love life and life will love you back.