Note: In exchange for a review, Queens Food Tours offered me a spot on their inaugural fall 2016 Long Island City food tour.
When a New Yorker refers to Long Island, we’re referencing Nassau and Suffolk counties…even though New York City‘s boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn are geographically a part of the island. Just call someone from Bayside or Bensonhurst a Long Islander, and see what happens. OK, so it’s not as cathartic as calling a Taiwanese person Chinese – as true as it might be – but that political border between New York City and “Long Island” can still be a source of contention.
So then, why Queens, have you a neighborhood called Long Island City? Simply because it’s at one of the westernmost points of the island, as if to remind visitors about their current location? On second thought, that’s a fair reason. Trite, but fair.
In any event – as a local – I was never that keen on specifically visiting a place called Long Island City (better known as LIC), but I did want to see exactly what kind of foods Queens Food Tours would showcase in that rapidly re-developing section of Queens.
For the nearly three hours we were on the tour, Richard was our affable guide. He’s a native of Queens, and fervently proud of his home borough. If you accidentally catch a glimpse of Manhattan while walking throughout LIC, forgot about that other long island for a bit, and appreciate what New York City’s 2nd-most populous county offers…
…such as The Burger Garage, close to the Citigroup building at Court Square. We started the tour at this casual eatery, which was dotted with license plates and tires to reflect its and its neighbors’ past as a garage. Good burger, too…though I’m perpetually hungry for more.
Nearby is the old Supreme Court of New York City, Queens edition. Originally built in 1874, it is now most popular as a tv set. Also, it was Willie Sutton’s adulthood “home.”
While ambling through LIC’s varied streets, we learned about Long Island City’s heavily industrial past, and how it supplied the US during both World War I and World War II with significant numbers of aircraft and munitions.
A Scotch egg at Woodbines, close to the 21 Street-Van Alst G subway station. Just before this nosh, Richard told us about the history of PS1, the first public school in New York City, which has been converted into an offshoot of Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art.
The owner of Manducati’s Rustica might as well be mayor of Long Island City. She’s as local as you can get, knows all about what’s happening around town, and happened to serve up some quality pizza to boot. Pizza, in New York City, you say? Good call.
The last stop on the tour– an almond croissant at Cannelle, featuring a pastry chef formerly of the Waldorf=Astoria. Not knowing how pastries were at that hotel, I can’t exactly – and won’t – compare, but if this particular almond croissant was around the corner from my home, I’d need to get a wider door.
Thanks again Richard and Queens Food Tours for the invitation, the history lesson, and the good grub! Now let’s see what you folks can do in Richmond Hill.