There are a few summer inevitabilities: A heat wave that will test the limits of your window air-conditioner. Sweating on a subway platform. One of your favorite bands or musicians playing a show at Forest Hills Stadium.
Concerts are a boon for restaurants in that tree-lined section of Queens, and, if you’re not a local, you may find yourself wandering among the area’s Tudor-style buildings in the coming months searching for a quick bite or an entire meal.
If you need a preshow pick-me-up …
Compared with performances at venues like Kings Theater or the Bowery Ballroom, most shows at Forest Hills start on the earlier side, with doors opening between 3 and 6 p.m. depending on the show — great news for anyone who prefers to pregame with iced coffee and loves getting to bed before midnight.
Try Forest Cafe, open since October, a charming coffee shop outfitted in blond wood and hanging paper lights about a five-minute walk from the stadium. This is where you can get that iced latte or cold brew, or a matcha-based drink without the grainy texture that makes most examples disappointing. I wouldn’t necessarily rely on them for food — on a recent visit they were sold out of everything at 2 p.m. — but if you’re lucky, you might be able to grab a gochujang tamago sandwich or a croffle (croissant-waffle) drizzled with Nutella.
If you’re running late …
Familiarize yourself with Forest Hill’s main drag, Austin Street, one block south of the Forest Hills-71st Avenue subway station. This commercial strip is teeming with popular chains like Shake Shack, Bareburger and a Boston Market. But if there’s one I’d recommend, it’s Oh K-Dog.
That K stands for Korean, and the specialty is made-to-order corn dogs encrusted in a deep-fried, slightly sweet, rice flour-based batter. The hot dog itself is no Nathan’s or Sabrett, but it doesn’t matter much as you bite into a perfectly crisp exterior drizzled with your choice of toppings, or — my favorite variation — a rice-cake corn dog. Take yours to go on the way to the stadium, or stick around and watch K-pop music videos on the restaurant’s TV.
If you have time before the show …
For a proper sit-down meal you can fly through with relative ease, walk over to Tengri Tagh, a tiny restaurant, also on Austin Street, that specializes in Uyghur cuisine. This location, open since May, is the restaurant’s second. (The original is on West 37th Street near Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.)
Tengri Tagh exemplifies hospitality. When I visited (anonymously) on a hot Sunday afternoon, Kudusi Simayi, an owner, handed me and my friend two ice-cold Coca-Colas on the house. The portions at Tengri Tagh are as generous as the service, so it’s best to choose one menu item to split between two people. A nonnegotiable order is the handmade noodles with Uyghur stir-fried lamb, featuring pleasantly chewy lagman noodles surrounded by thinly sliced halal lamb, tomatoes, green peppers and cloud ear mushrooms in a sauce that is spicy enough to awaken the senses without overwhelming them. In other words, it’s worth visiting whether you have concert tickets or not.
In other news …
Two things: I made a mistake two weeks ago and said that the original Frenchette Bakery is closing; it is not. They’re simply adding a second location. The other thing is that the jerk chicken cart I mentioned in last week’s newsletter is called Wadadli Jerk and you can, and should, enjoy their Caribbean cuisine six days a week at their newish brick and mortar space at 419 Putnam Avenue in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
This week, Pete Wells reviews the new Superiority Burger, finding many of the restaurant’s decisions seem to stem from the question, “Wouldn’t it be cool if …” The attention to detail, Pete writes, pays off: “Sitting in a booth at Superiority Burger for an hour or so gives you a stronger sense of place than reading some novels.”
Openings: Nasrin’s Kitchen is bringing Iranian cooking to a space on West 57th Street; and Cecchi’s Bar and Grill on West 13th Street is leaning into old-school fine dining (think chicken à la king and crab Louis) starting on Saturday.
In her latest, Tejal Rao looks at the new season of the hit show “The Bear,” and how “it conveys an unexpected optimism about the restaurant industry and the people who make it run.”
The pandemic — and a sudden hyperawareness of how illnesses spread — nearly spelled the end for the buffet. But in the face of inflation and rising food costs, the wallet-friendly buffet is making a comeback, reports Kim Severson.
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