Just a 10 minute subway ride out of Manhattan, Sunnyside forms a triangle with Astoria and Long Island City. When K+M began looking for a new apartment, they hadn’t even heard of Sunnyside prior to their search. As we considered making Sunnyside our home more and more, we began learning about this seemingly secret neighborhood and spending time poking around to get an idea what being a resident here would entail.
Well, obviously we loved what we saw, and after about a month of intensive searching, we found “the one.” Nestled amongst delicious restaurants, cafes, public transportation, grocery stores, bodegas, and more, is our new home. Every week it seems we find a new spot or we’re topping the dinner we had before… there’s so much to eat and so little time! But we’re trying, one bite at a time.
Sunnyside has quite an interesting history, which makes K+M love it even more. The Sunnyside Gardens community which was developed in the ’20s, attracted primarily artists and writers. It soon after became widely known as a “bedroom community.” The crème de la crème execs from Manhattan sought a cheap and quiet location, and just a stone’s throw from Midtown, to house their mistresses. Thus, Sunnyside earned its name and reputation.
Aside from its risqué history, Sunnyside was a haven for many Irish immigrants. It’s been talked about in K’s family that her grandmother grew up here, as she was a descendant of the “Old Immigrants” who emigrated from Ireland in the 1880s as a result of the potato famine. Today, Sunnyside still boasts diversity, as it is still a home to many immigrant groups, such as Latinos, Koreans, Romanians, Turks, and even “New” Irish Immigrants. This is what makes Sunnyside so special… and the food so good! All of Sunnyside’s restaurants offer culturally accurate cuisine… prepared just like in the old country. And we are so thankful for it!
Just a few days after we moved into our new place, K had gotten wind of an event called the “Taste of Sunnyside” where all of Sunnyside’s restaurants would be housed at the Sunnyside Community Center for a grand tasting of the best this neighborhood has to offer. It was the perfect introduction to the ‘hood… and we were “wow-ed” by one dish after the next! We had the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the chefs and owners, which made the experience that much better. They were all extremely hospitable and put their best foot forward. We put restaurant after restaurant on the agenda, and still haven’t managed to make it to them all!
Since we have at least a dozen faves on our current list, we have decided to put forth a few now, and save a few for later… and even more down the road as we continue to experience more and more! (It’s going to be especially dangerous when the weather gets warmer… as we’ll be much more motivated to explore more on foot!) We are so excited to be a part of such a culturally rich and diverse community. So, hop on the 7 train and come on down for some exceptional fare. You won’t be disappointed!
718-937-7411 www.claretwinebar.com Mediterranean, Wine+Beer, Queens
K+M were driving by this place and K immediately said, “This place looks super cute… we have to go!” She was right. It was cute and we HAD to go… which is why we’ve been back over and over again. Claret offers a warm, quaint ambiance to enjoy small plates and many glasses of wine. Everything we all love in a wine bar, Claret delivers. Great atmosphere, exposed brick, good music, a massive selection of wines by glass, carafes and/or bottles, plenty of local beers on tap, and even more by the bottle. They also offer the staple meat and cheese plates, unique salads, thin crust pizzas, paninis, and some fantastic small plates.
Every time we come here, we end up ordering the same dishes. First, we always start with the Baby Arugula Salad with Green Apple, Shaved Parmesan, and Lemon & Olive Oil, wrapped up into little bundles with San Daniele Prosciutto. Such a unique presentation! Then onto the Black & White Truffle Gruyere Mac & Cheese and Sweet Meatballs. Each is just unbelievably good, we can’t seem to get enough. We really need to start trying some other things on the menu…. the pizzas and paninis sound delicious! Next time! (With all of the above on the side!)
When planning what to do for his birthday, M was looking for a low key place to get a couple of our friends together to eat and drink. He didn’t want to do any bar hopping due to the cold weather. So, Claret was the first place that came to mind. Getting a couple of friends together ended up being a group of about 18 people. M was a little worried about the size of the group, as we were unsure of Claret’s ability to handle groups, especially since they do not really take reservations. They said they would try to hold some tables for us. We would hope for the best!
When we arrived, an entire row of tables were vacant and ready for us. We were very impressed that they made an exception for us. Additionally, our server handled our large group with flair and the night ended up being a great time. And best of all, M never had an empty glass of beer all night long. (He paid for that the next day, which was spent laying in bed.)
What we ate…
- Alexandre Loiseau Côtes du Rhône and Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (K)
- Allagash, Main (beer on tap) (M)
- Black & White Truffle Gruyere Mac & Cheese (K+M)
- Baby Arugula, San Daniele Prosciutto, Green Apple, Shaved Parmesan, Lemon & Olive Oil (K+M)
- Sweet Meat Balls (K+M)
A: What a great find! Comfy and cute and full of warm hospitality.
K: Love this spot! It’s super cozy and offers all of my favorite things! The salad is so uniquely prepared… I crave it! So glad Claret is just around the corner!
M: MUST HAVE MEATBALLS!! They are the best dish this place has to offer. Very glad that I chose this place for my birthday. The food was great as usual and the beer that was on tap that night went down very smooth. Thank you all for coming out. Hope you had just as much fun as I did!!!!!!
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Exposed Brick and Local Art
- Food/Drinks- 3.5: Pleasantly Stellar
- Tip Worthy- 3.5: Gratuity included (the waitress handles groups with no problem)
- Coordinates- 4: Neighborhood- Centrally Located
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green Light
718-729-9584 www.PJHorgans.com Traditional Pub fare, Beer, Queens
After their trip to Dublin, K+M have been on the look out for a real, traditional Irish Pub in NYC. Not just for the pint of Guinness, but the whole scene– the décor, the atmosphere, all the makings of an authentic Irish Pub. Finally, after our move to Sunnyside, we have found our replica. P.J. Horgan’s is just blocks from where we live and it’s everything we have been looking for on this side of the pond.
Our first visit here was a spontaneous stop after dinner. We didn’t want to end on the early side and were craving a pint. We walked in and looked at each other immediately and smiled. The pub is exactly like one you would find in Dublin… and of course the bartender is Irish (even better). We sat at the bar and ordered two pints of Guinness. The bartender poured a perfect pint, which included a shamrock on top of the foam (then we knew it was going to be good). So good that we had to have just one more. Now, if you have been to Dublin and have had the Guinness straight from the Storehouse, you know how hard it is to find one to match its caliber. At P.J.’s, the pint comes very close to that and it is one of the best (if not THE best) we have had in the City.
After that first night, we have come back a couple of times to grab a Guinness before heading home. One time we did get to eat here and had the well known Sunnyside Hamburger. It’s good, but it’s not what keeps us coming back here… it’s that perfectly poured pint in a pub that takes us away to Ireland.
What we ate…
- Guinness (K+M)
- P.J.’s Sunnyside Hamburger (M)
- Potato Leek Soup (K)
K: Definitely the best Guinness I have had outside of Ireland. I love the authentic ambiance… some live Irish music would just take it to the next level.
M: Not sure if I can say it enough. Great Irish pub. Best Guinness I have had in NYC.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Traditional Irish PUB (straight out of Dublin)
- Food/Drinks- 3.5: Pleasantly Surprised – (The Guinness brings it to a 3.5)
- Tip Worthy- 3: Gratuity included
- Coordinates- 4: Block – Fun is just around the corner
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green Light for that pint of Guinness!!
(Taco Truck)Queens Blvd. & 41st Street, Sunnyside
347-276-4522 (free delivery!) Monday to Wednesday 8pm to 3am Thursday to Saturday 8pm to 4am Mexican, Food Cart, Queens
One night after work, K walked out of the Subway stop and stumbled upon El Vagabundo Taco truck. She was immediately enveloped in the delicious scents coming from the truck and couldn’t resist ordering two chicken tacos to bring back to the apartment, as M had had a late lunch, and wasn’t up for dinner. After that first bite, she couldn’t stop telling M how amazing the tacos were and that he needed to try them immediately!
The next night was soon enough. K didn’t mind at all that she had just had the tacos the night before, because they were THAT good. We ordered two beef and two chicken tacos with everything on it, including the HOT sauce, and jalapeños on the the side. When we got back to the apartment, the boxes couldn’t be opened fast enough. With a double layer corn tortilla, fresh veggies, and perfectly marinated meat… K+M were sure they died and went to taco heaven.
From that night on, the taco truck has been a constant place for K+M to pick up from while taking the dog for a walk. Admittedly, the chicken tacos are the best! So the order usually sounds like “Cuatro tacos de pollo con todos, con salsa picante (muy picante!), jalapeños, y una coca, por favor!” And for 11 dollars, who could ask for a better dinner?! Additionally, the guys who run the truck are super vibrant, fun, and very hospitable. Tip them well!
The truck is at the corner of 41st Street and Queens Boulevard, Monday through Wednesday from 8pm to 3am and then from Thursday through Saturday from 8pm to 4am. Sometimes they run a little late, so don’t give up hope if you are there at 8:20 and they have not arrived yet. They will show and the wait is well worth it!
- Chicken Tacos (everything on it) (K+M)
K: Food trucks have come a long way… and as someone who is a believer in the food truck revolution, I have definitely come to select a top five of all of the trucks in NYC. El Vagabundo certainly tops the list… and I will definitely be a regular here for the long haul!
M: Yes it’s a food truck. But it’s a damn good one. These tacos are great!! I was on line talking to someone who takes the subway from the Bronx to get this for dinner. They are really good, one of my favorite food trucks in NYC. If I were to rate this with other food carts, the tacos would get a 5.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Street Corner/ Food cart
- Food/Drinks- 3.5: Pleasantly Stellar
- Tip Worthy- 3: The guys are really nice so we always leave some extra bucks!
- Coordinates- 5: Block – Fun is right next door.
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green light! Cheap, amazing tacos… of course we are coming back here.
One can only be so lucky to live around the corner from an oasis… one is especially lucky when it happens to provide some of the highest quality services around. The facilities at Pure Spa are beautiful. You are instantly taken away to a far away land the moment you step inside. The staff is welcoming and more than accommodating. Pure offers a full menu of services, including hair, nails, and skin and body treatments.
Let yourself sink into a trance with soothing music, dim lighting, and a comfortable atmosphere. Drop off all of your belongings in the locker room, don a cozy robe, and then head to the relaxation room for some green tea (and light snacks, if you wish!). Hopefully, you’ve scheduled the “Untie That Knot Massage,” as K can attest that it’s the best massage she’s ever had in her life. K was especially impressed when her massage therapist took the time to share a list of stretches she should be doing to help alleviate some back and neck pain.
After your massage, or other fabulous service, spend a little more time in the relaxation room, sipping on tea and drinking water to flush all of those toxins from the body. Guaranteed that you will leave feeling like a new woman (or man!)… better than you’ve ever felt before. And you’ll be counting the days (and saving those dollars) until your return.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- A spa oasis in the heart of an urban neighborhood
- Food/Drinks- 5: Mind-blowing and life changing!
- Tip Worthy- 5: The New Yorker 25-30%
- Coordinates- 5: Block – The subway station is just across the street! (Or you can just walk home… like K!)
- Return Rate- Green light! Best. Massage. Ever.