A vibrant food scene, a melting pot of people and cultures, a palpable sense of local pride—Astoria has long flown under the radar as a community that’s got a whole lot going on and is just 10 minutes from Midtown Manhattan by subway or car. And with WeWork Studio Square celebrating its grand opening in the center of Astoria’s creative hub, there’s no better time to visit. One piece of advice: Come hungry. These local joints are definitely worth checking out.
Astoria has several quick breakfast options in close proximity to the Broadway stop. Family owned and operated since 1969, Parisi Bakery is a true neighborhood institution, all the more beloved for the fact that a large coffee and croissant (or danish, or apple turnover, or muffin, or scone) won’t even break $5. Get your egg sandwich fix a couple of blocks away at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company, which churns out grilled sandwiches on any of their big, mini, or spelt bagel varieties.
The Italian-inspired cafe, Il Bambino, serves antipasti, salads, and a couple dozen varieties of crostini and panini sandwiches. All ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. Likewise, ingredients from New York drive the menu at The Queens Kickshaw, another locally owned neighborhood gem. Open from 7 AM until late, lunch is the perfect time for TQK’s casual comfort fare: soups, salads, and grilled cheese sandwiches to die for. Homemade Falafel, a tiny storefront known for Middle Eastern staples, and King of Falafel & Shawarma food truck are both Astoria classics.
Astoria has a plentiful assortment of business-worthy lunch options at fair prices. The closest option to WeWork Studio Square is literally down the block: Tacuba Cantina Mexicana, the Queens outpost of NYC restaurateurs Chef Julian Medina, Louis Skibar, and Brian Sobhan. Psari, a nearby seafood restaurant and raw bar, offers a $13 lunch that includes your choice of fresh catch accompanied by a Greek salad, garlic bread, and choice of potato or rice. As far as ramen goes, Tamashii Ramen is where it’s at. Because who doesn’t love talking business while slurping a bowl of noodles?
Coffee, Tea, or Something Sweet
The brainchild of two local residents, Astoria Coffee began as a whole bean delivery service and has since expanded into a brick-and-mortar location that features beans from roasters around the country. Teapigs tea and treats including Ceci-Cela pastries, St. Louis gooey butter cake, and gluten-free brownies are also on offer.
Retro-style Gossip Coffee purchases single-origin beans and then roasts them at a facility in nearby Maspeth, Queens. The team has also tapped Chef Scottish Francis of MasterChef fame to create wildly inventive donut flavors: orange Creamsicle, prosciutto Guinness, and a cold brew series that’s caffeinated and vegan.
There’s a reason why Omonia Cafe has been a neighborhood establishment since 1977 (and has several locations). While this quintessential Greek diner has a menu that goes on for days, a perfect way to sample its offerings is to stop in during the afternoon for a coffee and one of the many traditional Greek dessert specialties including karidopita, politiko, and baklava, of course.
Given the convenience of its location, Studio Square is sure to be the default destination for WeWork members, particularly once the weather warms up. Featuring a massive, 19,000 square foot outdoor space lined with picnic tables (and Wi-Fi), Studio Square is the perfect place to decamp with the team to unwind in a relaxed, open-air setting.
Astoria has long been an incubator for creativity and culture in New York City: Paramount Studios had production facilities here as far back as the 1920s and 1930s just down the block. Known today as the Kaufman Astoria Studios, the location is still a working film and media powerhouse.
To sample a bit of film history lore, it’s worth checking out The Astor Room at Kaufman Studios. Originally built as the commissary for Paramount, by any standards it’s a classy affair today, with a great happy hour including $8 signature cocktails, $1 oysters, and live music. The Museum of the Moving Image is also on site and is free to the public during extended hours on Fridays.
Photo Credit: Katelyn Perry