New York’s crop of Long Island City restaurants has been steadily improving for years, with notable projects from the M. Wells team, the addition of a high-profile noodle joint serving some of the best ramen NYC has to offer and, of course, the staying power of Casa Enrique, the only Mexican restaurant in NYC with a Michelin star. Whether you’re craving one of the best burgers in New York or casually elegant pasta dishes, check out the best Long Island City restaurants in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Long Island City, Queens
Best Long Island City restaurants
Taco trucks line Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights as the 7 train rumbles overhead, so it’s fitting to find New York City’s sole Michelin-starred Mexican spot at the International Express’ first stop outside Manhattan. Cosme Aguilar’s menu includes such favorites as the earthy pork and hominy soup pozole and enchiladas de pollo en salsa verde. Chamorro de borrego al huaxamole—tender lamb shank braised in ruddy sauce of chili pulla, huajes and epazote—eats like South of the Border ossobuco. And the tacos, including one stuffed with slow-cooked cow tongue, are cradled in house-made tortillas.
When Per Se alum Joshua Smookler caught the ramen bug, he never looked back. Mu started as a popup in a bagel shop, but these days, Smookler operates out of a sleek 22-seat restaurant offering such bowls as the signature Mu Ramen—which tips its hat to the New York deli with brisket and half sour pickle in an oxtail and bone marrow broth—and offbeat apps like tebasaki gyoza, deep fried chicken wings stuffed with brioche and foie gras.
This joint offers some of the finest Kansas City–style barbecue—pulled pork, spare ribs, and burnt ends—in the city. The burnt ends, twice-rubbed and twice-smoked chunks of brisket are so good some folks call them meat candy. And in true multicultural Queens fashion, owner Josh Bowen offers some zippy kimchi to go with the meat. How’s that for Korean barbecue, y’all?
The West Village institution, open since 1961, debuts its first spin-off in Long Island City, where locals will find an identical menu, including, of course, the beloved Bistro Burger (broiled beef, cheese and bacon on a sesame-seed bun), along with 12 draft beers (Guinness, McSorley's Ale and Dark Lager). The decor also takes its cues from the flagship location: The laid-back 75-seat tavern features a mahogany wood bar and booths, antique brass chandeliers and a pressed-tin ceiling.
Tender braised tripe, French onion soup crowned with a beef marrow bone and spaghetti bottarga are not the stuff of steakhouses. Then again, Hugue Dufour’s Michelin-starred avant-garde chophouse is not your father’s old-fashioned steakhouse. At M. Wells, sit at the bar beside the open kitchen and watch the flames dance as your porterhouse is cooked over oak and maple wood. Oh, and if meat masterpieces aren’t enough, Sunday brunch includes oatmeal with foie gras and Russian waffle, an over-the-top combination of smoked fish and several types of caviar that vary from week to week.
New American plates—like wild-mushroom toast, braised short ribs and organic roasted chicken—make up the menu at this handsome 100-seat eatery. The spot features orange banquettes, cast-iron light fixtures and framed pages from vintage industrial magazines and catalogues of machine parts.
“Farm-to-table” and “New American” are buzzwords often tacked on to make a place sound hip, but not at Crescent Grill. There, ingredients—including grass-fed Hudson Valley beef, Long Island duck, heritage pork and rainbow cauliflower—come from 45 different Northeast farms. Chef Kenneth Corrow’s cooking draws upon a global pantry and turns that colorful cauliflower into a soup with crispy guanciale and vadouvan, a Frenchified masala blended with shallots and garlic. Rosy smoked duck breast goes the Southeast Asian route with orange nước chấm, a New American take on the Vietnamese umami powerhouse fish sauce. House-made pastas include pork cheek pappardelle, while desserts are updated classics like pears poached in mulled wine with brown butter foam and ginger almond crumble.
The team behind the Long Island City steakhouse is also behind this museum cafeteria inside MoMA PS1, which turns out quirky plates like a grilled cheese with foie gras and grape jam, meat pies filled with beef cheek and smoked capon, and a spaghetti-patty sandwich topped with Caesar salad on sesame brioche.
The waterfront Italian restaurant issues out contemporary Italian plates, from pastas (house-made ricotta gnocchi with fresh summer truffls, squid ink pasta with seared calamari) to pizzas (pancetta with braised radicchio, white shrimp with artichoke) and meaty mains like pistachio-crusted rack of lamb with Sicilian caponata and polenta.
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Thirsty for a margarita or caipirinha in Bedford-Stuyvesant? Look no further than Latin American bar and restaurant Brooklyn Beso. You might want to start with some tapas, like jerk mac and cheese, platanos rellenos, chipotle chicken empanadas and crab fritters (all $8). Seafood lovers will note the drunken mussels with coconut milk ($14) and shrimp with coconut rice and plantains ($22). Feeling more like red meat? There’s a ribeye steak with chimichurri, papas fritas and grilled asparagus ($26) that might strike your fancy. Enjoy half-price margaritas and well cocktails, plus discounts on most other drinks, at happy hour all day Monday and from 3 to 8pm Tuesday through Friday. Otherwise, mojitos and specialty cocktails like the Beso, with raspberry vodka, cointreau, cava, pineapple and cranberry, will run you $12, while a margarita on the rocks goes for $10.
Venue says: “Join us for happy hour all day today at Brooklyn Beso! Every Monday is happy hour day! Make a reservation today at www.brooklynbeso.com”