#MonthlyPicks | What Does Sam Smouha Love about Queens?
BY QEDC It's In Queens
Richmond Hill (aka Little Guyana) is one of the city’s greatest neighborhoods for food, thanks to its large Indo-Caribbean and South Asian communities. Guyanese cuisine features a melding of Caribbean, Indian, South American, and Chinese influences. This year, Condé Nast Travel highlighted NYC’s Guyanese cuisine in its feature “50 States, 50 Cuisines: The Food Worth Traveling For in Every State.”
Right below the A train station at Lefferts Boulevard and Liberty Avenue, I love to stop for a quick bite at Tropical Isle, where you can find doubles (a Trinadadian delicacy with spicy chick peas) for breakfast or a pine tart for dessert. There are many excellent spots within several blocks of the Lefferts stop. One of my favorite places is Anil’s Roti Shop on the corner of 125th Street, where I like to have stewed fish and rice or the daily special. Further down Liberty is Sybil’s Bakery & Restaurant and Singh’s Roti Shop, which are more well known throughout New York. Both fantastic are experiences. The fish sandwich from Sybil’s and the shrimp roti from Singh’s are favorites. I also recommend the Banga Mary fish and Che Chi Kai chicken at the Nest on 101st Avenue.
I love Rishi Video Palace on the corner of 124th Street and Liberty. You can usually hear the owner, Rishi, playing Chutney and Soca music outside on the sidewalk. He sells a large selection of Indo-Caribbean music and Bollywood movies, and he’ll make you a custom mix of songs on a USB if you don’t still have a CD player.
I love to show people the open air vegetable markets on Liberty. It’s unique from regular grocery shopping in the city, and you can find a lot of great produce and spices there. During non-pandemic years, there are amazing parades and festivals in the neighborhood, including the Diwali Motorcade.
Richmond Hill has a large Punjabi Sikh population, particularly around 101st Avenue. A stretch has recently been named “Punjab Way.” The Sikh community welcomes visitors for a free meal each day inside their Gurudwaras, and there are two of them within a few blocks of each other near 101st Avenue.
To learn more, I recommend the episode of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS show, No Passport, where he tours Richmond Hill’s culinary scene.
Lastly, be sure to look out for the Richmond Hill food guide that Queens Economic Development Corporation will publish with Queens Together in the near future, and follow our new Facebook page, It’s in Richmond Hill.
Sam Smouha is QEDC’s Avenue NYC Program Manager, focusing on commercial revitalization in Richmond Hill. The Long Island native has a background in urban planning. In his free time, he enjoys abstract painting and exploring NYC neighborhoods by bike.