The Best of 36th Avenue
By Vincent Velotta
Astoria has got a lot of great locations when it comes to food and drink. Like, a lot, you know? That makes it pretty hard to narrow down the absolute best of anything in the neighborhood. So, I decided to confine my search to just one specific area: 36th Avenue. It was still pretty difficult; that’s how spoiled we are. But by all means, continue spoiling yourselves with this list of the best spots on good old 36th.
Best Bang for your Buck – Arepas Cafe
Let’s cut straight to it: Astorians love value, especially when it comes to food. Enter: Arepas Cafe. What exactly is an arepa? It’s a traditional South American food that uses ground maize dough to form a pouch-like shape which holds various kinds of fillings. The great thing about this spot is that they’ve got over twenty different kinds, all filled with something different like pork, beef, chicken, beans, cheeses and more. The best part? They all range between $6-$10, with a sampler of mini arepas for just $5.
3307 36th Ave. | 718.937.3835 | @arepascafe
Best “Extra” Night Out – Cafe Ole
We all need that “extra” night out where we simply treat ourselves to an extravagant meal at an outstanding sit-down restaurant; the kind of outing where you couldn’t care less about the prices so long as the service treats you like royalty, the food makes your taste buds pop and your credit card isn’t declined upon checkout. On those nights, you can’t go wrong with Spanish eatery, Cafe Ole. Highlights include the Paella Valenciana (yellow rice, shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, lobster, Spanish sausage and chicken), Mar Y Tierra (filet mignon, stuffed and baked shrimps with chopped crab meat bread crumbs) and the Pulpo a la Plancha (imported Spanish octopus served on a hot skillet). Good luck choosing a plate.
3809 36th Ave. | 718.349.7777 | @cafeole_nyc
Best Change of Pace – Copacabana
Feeling adventurous? Got that itch to try something new? Something different? How does a Brazilian buffet sound? Copacabana is a lowkey pay-per-pound, self-serve buffet that features over 15 kinds of Brazilian cuts of meat, fresh soups and salads, sides and more. Homemade authentic desserts are also featured. As their website says: simply pick a table, pick your food, and enjoy!
31-13 36th Ave. | 718.545.3685 | @copacabanabraziliangrill
Best Cocktail – Dive Bar LIC
If you’re on this month’s featured avenue, you’ll find no better selection of alcoholic concoctions than those at Dive Bar LIC. And yes, I’m cheating by nominating the entire drink menu. Sue me. However, if you take one look at the menu you’ll probably cut me some slack. There are tons of intriguing options like the Skinny Dipper (gin, passion fruit, lemon, pineapple, vanilla syrup), six frozen drinks including Aqua Man (vodka, lychee, apples, lemon, Blue Magic), and the Jaws Attack (Bulleit Rye, bourbon, falernum, passion fruit, vanilla, almond syrup). Great indoor and outdoor modern ambience will top off whatever you select.
33-10 36th Ave. | 718.304.8154 | @divebarlic
Best Seafood Psari Seafood Restaurant & Bar
One does not simply make a list of the best 36th Avenue locations without mentioning Psari. Astoria has a lot of seafood places, and this one may very well be the absolute best. But where to begin? How about with a raw bar that features a small sampler of two oysters, two clams and two jumbo shrimp? Fried calamari is also an option alongside a plethora of fish choices that can be prepared grilled or broiled. Oh, but what about the shrimp bisque? Or the grilled scallops? Lobster tail? Fried shrimp basket? King crab legs? Red Snapper? Get my point yet? They’ve got it all and the word on the street is that every inch of it is superb.
32-10 36th Ave. | 718.786.6015 | @psari_restaurant