It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done a new neighborhood but I finally found some time to go exploring. This week I ventured to Astoria, Queens. Before I lived in New York, Astoria was actually one the first neighborhoods I stayed in when I visited friends. Founded in 1839 as Hallet’s Cove, Astoria had a reputation as a recreation an resort spot for many affluent Manhattanites. In order to coax an investment out of John Jacob Astor, the then wealthiest man in the states, the neighborhood received its name as we know it now. Astoria, like all of New York, has seen its share of cultures and their impact can still be see today; especially the Greeks whose restaurants, tavernas, and bakeries sprinkle to neighborhood. Much of the water front area has been used for industrial purposes but as is the way in New York, new developments and high rises are being planned and built. There are also several smaller, non-independent, areas like Ditmars and Ravenswood that comprise the rest of the neighborhood. Astoria is easily accessible from the N, Q, R, and M trains.
I wanted to fuel up before heading out on my journey so I stopped by The Queens Kickshaw, as recommended to me by some friends. Chef Kenji Hurlburt whips up delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and tasty craft beers are on hand to compliment; full entrees are also available. Most of the ingredients are sourced from local New York Farms so you know it’s fresh.I decided to get the Gruyere grilled cheese with caramelized onions, cornichon, pickled red onion and a salad with cherry tomatoes. I’m a big fan of cheese and this sando really hit the spot. It was a bit early for an ale so I washed my meal down with a mint iced tea. If you’re looking for a quick bite an some good food then The Queens Kickshaw is your spot.
Topped off from lunch I made my way down to the Museum of the Moving Image. I’ve been once before when visiting NY but I love film and television so I thought it deserved another visit. Unfortunately I didn’t check the days and it turns out they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. If you have any interest in film or t.v. then definitely check out this museum when they’re open. They have one of the Yoda puppets on display!
Although I was bummed to not get in the museum I had a back up plan. I wasn’t quite ready to brave the heat but I embarked westward towards Socrates Sculpture Park, located right along the East River. This small park has various art pieces on display that rotate out just like an art gallery, plus it’s free! You guys know how much I love free (especially art) and parks. You can take in the art, some of which is interactive, lounge in grass, or admire the Manhattan skyline. The park is just off a bike path so it makes a nice stop or destination if you’re riding around.
Exhausted from walking around in the humidity and in need of a drink and some aircon, I cheated a bit and caught a lift back over to Sweet Afton. I only say cheated because I really like to walk the neighborhoods when I go out for these articles to get a real feel. What relief I felt as soon as I entered the bar where I was welcomed like a regular by Mike, the bartender on hand. I couldn’t pass up the refreshing sounding Saints of Liberties (Teeling Irish Whiskey, Genepe Des Alpes, Velvet Falernum, Black Cardamon, Lime, & Boker’s Bitters). After some chatting I found out that Mike created the current specialty cocktails on the menu. I also had the Lolita (gin based) which was equally refreshing and delicious. Sweet Afton is only 3 blocks from the train so there’s no reason to not stop by. P.S. They have and patio out back.
And now for views from the streets.
Pachanga Patterson, Arhan Thai, Rizzo’s Pizza, HinoMaru Ramen, BZ Grill, Sanford’s (open 24 hrs), Pye Boat Noodle, The Strand Smokehouse, Taverna Kyclades, Sugar Freak, Artopolis, Sorriso, Duzan, The Bonnie, Queen’s Comfort, E Taverna, or try one of the many diners like Neptune Diner.
The Astor Room, Mar’s, S Prime, Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, The Sparrow Tavern, Hell Gate Social, Sunswick 35/35, Mad Donkey Beer Bar and Grill, Astoria Brewhouse, Rapture Lounge, or Cafe Bar.
Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria Park and Pool, Steinway and Son’s Piano Factory, Noguchi Museum, Rainey Park, Q.E.D. – A Place to Show and Tell, or Kaufman Studios (where many movies and TV shows like Sesame Street and Orange is the New Black have been filmed).
Fairfield Inn New York Laguardia, Paper Factory, or of course an AirBnB
Photography and editing: Nick Pierce