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Queens political palate: Discover where your local leaders love to dine

Mar. 14, 2024 By Iryna Shkurhan

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, a nonprofit that represents restaurants, released a first of its kind report this week with insights into where the city’s elected officials dine. 

The “District Dining Guide” highlights the go to restaurants, and favorite dish to order, of elected officials from the mayor to the city council. Since the Alliance’s founding in 2012, they’ve worked to bridge the gap between the government, press and the 20,000 eating and drinking establishments across the five boroughs. 

“Our City offers the best restaurants and flavors in the world, and we’re thrilled to release our first annual District Dining Guide and give New Yorkers another tool to deploy in their search for their next great meal,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “Every corner of the five boroughs has a vibrant restaurant scene and with so many excellent options, it’s great to hear directly from our elected officials about the spots they enjoy and return to again and again.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards selected The Door, an upscale Jamaican restaurant on Baisley Boulevard in Jamaica, as his go to establishment. When he dines there, he orders the Honey Jerked Salmon with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, plantains and cornbread. 

“The food, the ambiance and the service are second to none. Southeast Queens deserves eateries like The Door, which has become a true community staple,” said Richards. 

Coincidently, City Council Speaker, Adrienne Adams, also chose The Door as her favorite establishment. She says that her go-to dish is the Buttered Lobster Entree which she called a “delectable dish unlike any other.” It is also the second most expensive dish on the menu priced at $38. 

But City Council Member and Majority Whip Selvena-Brooks Powers, who also selected a Jamaican restaurant in her Jamaica district, opted for something more affordable without sacrificing quality. She frequents Jamaica Breeze Restaurant on Linden Boulevard where she orders the sailfish and okra with green banana, yams and plantains. 

City Council Member Nantasha Williams, who represents southeast Queens, frequents Nettie’s Restaurant, an American soul food restaurant, popular for brunch, on Hempstead Avenue. Her favorite menu item to order is the chicken and waffles. 

“This hidden gem is located in Hollis, Queens and is a black-owned restaurant that provides great service and world class Southern cooking,”  said Nantasha Williams. 

Ten Queens City Council members participated in the survey and unsurprisingly, they all selected eateries in their district. 

Council Member Sandra Ung, who represents Flushing, recommended the popular Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao. The restaurant opened in Flushing in 2006 and has since gained popularity and opened new locations in Manhattan. Ung’s recommended dish is the steamed pork soup dumplings. 

Over in Astoria, Council Member Tiffany Caban chose the “weekend special” at Bench Flour, a bakery on 25th Ave that offers a range of pastries and breads. She noted that the popular spot also sells the best chocolate chip cookie in the city. 

“Whatever it is, the weekend special is always the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten,” said Caban. “It looks beautiful and tastes even better.”

In the neighboring district, Council Member Julie Won frequents Dawa’s Tibetan restaurant on Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside. She recommends ordering the Thenthuk, a hand pulled noodle soup in a rich oxtail broth with vegetables and spices, a common meal for dinner in Tibetan cuisine. 

In western Queens, Council Member Francisco Moya says he frequents Empanadas Café on Van Doren Street in Corona where he orders the chicken empanada. 

Several council members recommended Indian eateries that go to destinations for tasty vegetarian options. 

In Floral Park, Council Member Lina Lee frequents Usha Foods, an Indian restaurant on Hillside Boulevard. She recommends ordering the Dosa, a thin hot crepe popular in south Indian cuisine. The speciality comes in a dozen flavors such as masala, green chutney and paneer. 

“My district has many different options to choose from, but Usha is one of my favorites, due to the warm atmosphere & variety of choices,” noted Lee.

Council Member James F. Gennaro selected the exclusively vegetarian restaurant, Annam Brahma, on 164th St in Jamaica Hills. Established in 1971, it is a cash only Indian restaurant with a sunday buffet and “spiritual vibe” according to reviews. 

He orders the Chapatti Roll-Up – whole wheat indian bread made to order filled with curried vegetables, salad and mayo-tamari sauce. They also have a vegan option available. 

Council Member Shekar Krishnan, selected Samudra, another vegetarian restaurant specializing in south indian dishes. When visiting the longtime restaurant on 37th Avenue in his Jackson Heights district with his children, he orders the Idli, a savory rice cake typically eaten for breakfast, and sambhar, a stew made with lentils, vegetables, herbs and spices. 

The city council members were not the only ones who said that eateries with plant based menus made their favorites list. Mayor Eric Adams, who has been an advocate of healthy eating and a plant based diet, said that he frequents Uptown Veg on 125th Street in Harlem. 

“Uptown Veg is delicious, affordable, quick-service – good for a Mayor on the move,” said Mayor Adams.

The Hospitality Alliance said that they hope to release the report every year going forward and broaden the number of elected officials who participate. City residents can also find out their district and representative by searching up their address online. 

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