Queens is one of thecounties in the U.S., and of residents are foreign-born. Walk the five miles from Astoria to Corona through Elmhurst, and you’ll Greek, Makassarese (a language spoken in Indonesia), and Cuicatec (an indigenous language of Mexico).
The immigrant communities that call Queens home do much of the. Nearly 24/7, there’s a steady stream of residents headed from Queens into Manhattan for work and coming home to sleep. Whether it’s a 5 a.m. corn husk-wrapped breakfast tamal from a street vendor in Corona on the commute to work, or a comforting bowl of bubbling tofu soup in Murray Hill on the way back home, this borough’s food culture is designed to sustain its residents at all hours.
This is New York City, so nothing stays the same for long. Gentrification has been rolling through Queens, nowto Manhattan and Brooklyn. In 2023, the borough-wide asking rent for residential properties rose to a record high, particularly hitting the neighborhoods in northwest Queens closest to Manhattan. Small immigrant-owned businesses in Queens are dealing with some of the in the city.
Despite the challenges facing many small business owners in Queens right now, these local legends—some have been thrumming along for over 20 years—continue to cater to their communities. Whether in Little Egypt, Little Guyana, Little Manila, or Little Colombia, the restaurants in Queens’ cultural enclaves serve as pillars of community. I grew up and still live here, and I’ve been reporting on Queens’ food scene for years. And still, it’s hard to keep up with the sheer breadth of restaurants opening and developing around me. This guide is not exhaustive by any means, but it’s a great way to start getting to know one of New York’s most delicious and layered boroughs.
The many neighborhoods of Queens
To get the most out of a visit to Queens, it’s helpful to situate yourself in each of its neighborhoods. Queens is the geographically largest of New York’s five boroughs. Making up the easternmost part of the city, it sits on a massive island that it shares with Brooklyn in the southwest. Immediately to its west, above Brooklyn, the East River separates it from the Bronx and Manhattan.
and directly to its north, , make up the northwestern end of Queens. Just above Long Island City, Astoria is a huge, sprawling, residential neighborhood that spans five subway stops and, beyond the last station, a network of bus lines. Many immigrant communities—Greek, Mexican, Brazilian, Serbian, and countless others—have settled and set up restaurants in this expansive neighborhood. Walk east underneath the train tracks in Long Island City and you’ll find yourself in , where Irish bars stand alongside restaurants selling Ecuadorian stews, Paraguayan cakes, Bolivian empanadas, and Turkish flatbreads.