A quick ride on the 7 train takes you right to Hunters Point, the neighborhood most associated with Long Island City. Who doesn’t love an excuse to travel through Grand Central? One of the immediate appeals of this Queens neighborhood is its proximity to Manhattan. I spend the day in LIC, take in some art, and lots of yummy food.
The once predominately industrial neighborhood has received a lot of attention in recent years for being the next “hot” neighborhood. With this transformation come new, trendier eats, sadly more chains, and hopefully the preservation of neighborhood favorites.
Start your day at Sweetleaf, a coffee shop that defines quaint and charming on the corner of Jackson Ave and 11th St. They make those perfectly delicious lattes you have to Instagram and leave you winking at the barista because you think that heart pattern was created just for you. Accompanying the expertly brewed coffee (they take their beans very seriously) are daily offerings of scones, cookies, cakes and muffins all baked in house.
You can’t talk about LIC without mentioning MoMA PS1 and the effect of this contemporary exhibition space on the thriving arts scene. Through the courtyard that’s home to the museums summer weekend party, is M. Wells Dinette, the classroom turned restaurant from husband and wife team Sarah Obraitis and Hugue Dufour. Don’t let the chalkboards and desks fool you, the fare is a far cry from anything you ate in school. The offal friendly menu includes veal brains, tongue, coxcomb, and a re-interpretation of Korean Bibim Bop with foie gras and oysters. I had the bottarga sandwich; thin slices of cured fish roe on brioche with a lemon chive compound butter. It’s served with a shot of arak, a Lebanese anise flavored digestif. A glass (or two…) of the Santorini also helps wash down this decadent treat. The banana custard pie, with its crispy burnt sugar topping and creamy center was a sweet finish.
Family run Manetta’s Ristorante has been serving high-quality tasty Italian classics since 1992. It has a cozy old school vibe and the spaghetti carbonara indulges to the point of immobility. I especially enjoyed the attractively priced wine list, think $28 Dolcetto d’Alba. Other menu highlights include rosemary charred Portobello mushrooms with parmigiano and arugula and a comprehensive list of thin crust pizzas. The dining room fills up quickly reaffirming this neighborhood spot’s local appeal.
I can’t wait to return and hit up LIC Market for its famed seasonal American menu or stare at the Manhattan skyline from one of Long Island City’s waterfront restaurants.