A day in Sunnyside

Explore this multicultural hub in Queens.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Baruir Coffee store

    Baruir Coffee store

  • The Art Deco arch

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Sunnyside Gardens

    Sunnyside Gardens

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Stray Vintage & More

    Stray Vintage & More

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Comic Book Heaven

    Comic Book Heaven

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Book Chang Dong Natural Tofu

  • Photograph: Courtesy Thalia Spanish Theatre

    Thalia Spanish Theatre

  • La Kueva 2.0

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Baruir Coffee store

Baruir Coffee store

11am


Sunnyside's Chamber of Commerce has dubbed the Queens neighborhood "a small town in a big city," and after spending a day here, it's easy to see why: The busy streets are dotted with homegrown, multicultural businesses, and a different part of the world can be found on nearly every block, including Nepal, Korea, Russia and Colombia. Start your day by popping into Baruir's Coffee (40-07 Queens Blvd between 40th and 41st Sts; 718-784-0842, baruirscoffee.com) for a small cup of freshly roasted Hawaiian Kava ($2.50). If you go iced, rejoice, because the coffee ice-cubes are gratis—the java here is never watered down. The shop also sells a variety of Middle Eastern treats like Turkish delight ($8.70/lb, $4 a bar) and an array of coffee-making accoutrements, such as wooden hand-cranked grinders ($28, two for $51).

Noon


Cross the street to check out a neighborhood icon: The Art Deco arch, which was built in 1983 and now, following a $500,000 renovation in 2009, lights up at night (Queens Blvd at 46th St). Double back to the Sunnyside Greenmarket (Skillman Ave between 42nd and 43rd Sts, grownyc.org/sunnysidegreenmarket), which is open on Saturdays (8am--3pm), to pick up provisions from vendors like Meredith's Bread and Ardith Mae Farm. Then head toward 50th Street and stroll through the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District (the area on 39th Avenue between 47th and 52nd Streets is quite nice), which is made up of beautiful brick townhouses built in the mid-1920s. Stroll by pretty Sunnyside Gardens Park (48-21 39th Ave between Gosman Ave and 50th St; 718-672-1555, sunnysidegardenspark.org); though entrance to the park requires a membership ($41/year), guests can accompany park members for a small fee. The space will also be open to the public on October 8 for its annual Oktoberfest celebration.

3pm


Take 48th Street to Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside's vintage-shopping mecca. Start by browsing at Stray Vintage & More (48-09 Skillman Ave between 48th and 49th Sts; 718-779-7795, strayvintage.wordpress.com), which carries items like a vintage hatbox suitcase ($35) and new jewelry by local artisans. Belle D'Epoque Vintage (48-06 Skillman Ave between 48th and 49th Sts; 917-215-0537, depoquevintage.com) is part antique store (armoire $500) and part junk store (1993 Ashley Judd poster $5). But in the event that your preloved obsessions are a little geekier, paw through vintage Spider-Man and Superman comics at Comic Book Heaven (48-14 Skillman Ave between 48th and 49th Sts, 718-899-4175). If the issue you're looking for isn't in one of the many cardboard boxes, ask a staffer—the store also sells goods on eBay.

6pm


Stop for a plate of tofu and kimchi at Korean restaurant Book Chang Dong Natural Tofu (40-06 Queens Blvd at 40th St, 718-706-0899). Serenely decorated in grays and dark wood, the restaurant is famous for its speedy service. Regulars know that the eatery is all about its soft tofu bowls ($8.95), which are served with everything from oysters to beef intestine, plus free banchan (side dishes).

8pm


Thalia Spanish Theatre (41-17 Greenpoint Ave between 41st and 42nd Sts; 718-729-3880, thaliatheatre.org) is the only bilingual theater in Queens, staging premieres of musicals, plays and dance productions from Spain and Latin America. From Sept 30 through Oct 30, the Thalia will show Colombia en su Salsa ($25--$30), which features music and dance from South America's northern coast. Many productions feature supertitles, so don't stress if your Spanish is muy mal.

10pm


Pump up the Spanish heat with a drink and a dance at La Kueva 2.0. This "Casa del Rock en Espanol" (39-31 Queens Blvd between 39th and 40th Sts; 718-930-5416, lakueva.com) is open on Fridays and Saturdays only (9pm--4am) and hosts a range of Latin-rock DJs, plus classic cover bands (Bob Marley tribute Zion Reggae Band plays Fri 23 at midnight). There's no cover before 11pm, so grab your friends and a few Heinekens ($6 each) and shake it Sunnyside-style.

Why I love Sunnyside

Patricia Dorfman
Artist and founder, Sunnyside Artists
"Calvary Cemetery is amazing, with graves [that date back to] when [Sunnyside was] the outpost for the city's dead. The area around it looks like a noir film from the '30s, with low buildings and empty streets."

"For 20 years I lived in Manhattan, where I felt I had to wear Prada to the corner to get respect. Here, one can reinvent oneself as anything in the world and succeed on the basis of talent and drive. It is a blissful, egalitarian meritocracy without pretension. It is heaven to me."

Luke Adams
Marketing Director, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce

"One of my favorite places is Ariyoshi (41-13 Queens Blvd between 41st and 42nd Sts; 718-937-3288). My favorite [dish] is the katsu chicken ($10.25), and they have wonderful fried pork dumplings ($3.75)."

"Dazies (39-41 Queens Blvd at 40th St; 718-786-7013, daziesrestaurant.com) is probably the best Italian food in town. It's the most elegant place in town. You know, the mayor eats here. They have a piano player every [Friday and Saturday]."



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13 comments
zeynep
zeynep

soooooooooooo boring but i like the pics

Marion
Marion

Grew up in Sunnyside and retain ties to the neighborhood through today. This article really does seem like phony balony, based on previous articles. Daizies gets a lot of write-ups ever since MOMA was in the neighborhood, and it was the nearest non-diner to the museum. It's okay, but certainly not the "best" dining experience in the neighborhood -- especially when there are tons of Italian places in every neighborhood of the city, but not nearly so many Turkish, Thai, Mexican, Japanese, etc. etc. Per other comments the arch is just an arch and you can't go into Sunnyside Gardens Park without a membership. Baruir's is worth a stop and worth picking up some beans at, but Pyramid on 43rd street, and 43rd Avenue is a far more "exotic" shopping experience. And anyone going to Sunnyside for lunch and/or dinner would do well to research the many restaurant choices to be found on Queens Blvd, Skillman Avenue, Greenpoint Avenue and other avenues and sidestreets. (Sidestreet in fact is a restaurant and a better choice than Daisies). One neighborhood characteristic not mentioned enough is the echo under the concrete el. Try walking in the middle between Bliss and Lowery and shout.

Summer
Summer

Check out side tracks but I recommend sitting at the bar. Or bar 43. These are the fun

SLD
SLD

Geez. Read one of these articles about a neighborhood you DON'T live in and see if you have such negative reactions! Clearly those of you that live there have your favorite places--and who doesn't wherever they live?--but I can't come knocking on your door to ask about them. And, "Single Woman", I don't know what TimeOut pays its writers, but it certainly isn't enough to hang out there for they think is best. As someone who will only ever just pass through Sunnyside, this article is perfect.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for the insight! I went to Sunnyside recently and went to many of the same places. I really enjoyed the way the author discussed Sunnyside and I don't know why everyone is up in arms. I for one found it accurate and it surely reflected my experience there!

FoodCriticz
FoodCriticz

Everytime I read about Sunnyside restaurants, Dazie's is mentioned as gem. This is false. On two occasions I found their food quite mediocre, overpriced, and paired with poor decor. "Best food in town?" Pul'leeese

Concerned boyfriend
Concerned boyfriend

SingleWoman, I'm glad you haven't had the same experience. To each their own. My girlfriend never reported a problem in Woodside, which is filled with Latino day-laborers and bakeries. Maybe it's because those guys are trying to send money home to their families, and have given half a thought to the international community they live in. Maybe we have a particularly sleezy bunch of middle-aged jerks who have become too comfortable in public. Who knows. All I'm saying is that it sucks that these guys project their unwanted, provincial cultural norms on people just trying to go home after a long day of work. Of course, rude men of a certain cultural background isn't a surprise to anyone in NYC, but if you went to say, Jackson Heights, you'd find that unfortunate behavior diluted by many other cultures.

Mike Novak
Mike Novak

No fact-checking! Totally forgettable. Thank God. I remember back in the day, really cool places (like the Mudd Clubb) were ruined once they were mentioned in New York Magazine. We have nothing to fear from this article. LOL!

ddub
ddub

Sunnyside Gardens Park is a members only park and not open to the public. If the writer really wandered in and had a picnic it's only because she did not look out of place but directing people there in a TimeOut article is actually wrong and it makes me think she did not even come to Sunnyside and wrote this tour from previous articles. I mean the Sunnyside arch is a cool landmark if you live there but you honestly would not visit the neighborhood to see it - it's just an arch with the word Sunynside on it! Also she tells us nothing real about La Kueva - except the price of Heineken?! Give me a break.

mike Magill
mike Magill

Sunnyside Gardens Park is a members only park and not for the casual stroll through the hood. Stop ruining our neighborhoods.

Marilynfk
Marilynfk

Don't forget about the great crepes and paninis at Cafe Marlenes. Or the Sunnyside short film festival or our St. Pat's for all parade!

Marilyn
Marilyn

Elyssa Goodman missed one of the gems of Sunnyside/Woodside--Cafe Aubergine at 50th St and Skillman Ave. A delightful place reminiscent of the traditional Greenwich Village coffe houses of the 50s and 60s --serves coffees, teas,scones, bagels, quiche, salads, sandwiches, soups, and panini and sweet cakes and desserts with pleasant jazz music in the background and attracts a diverse, creative crowd of all ages.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I love living in Sunnyside! Such a little gem of a neighborhood and so affordable! I'm surprised Donatto's, Salt and Fat, Kettle, Chips, De Mole and Quaint were not mentioned though. There's so many good eats in the neighborhood!