The restaurant scene near St. John's University (Queens campus) has been heading uphill for the last few years, with a number of quality restaurants adding to the neighborhood standbys. It used to astound me that surrounding a major university were such slim pickings for tasty grub. Luckily that has changed.
Even as this article goes to press, it looks like a new Thai restaurant, Tuang Thong, is opening its doors at 178-19 Union Turnpike (718-591-0936).
I hope it adds the level of spice that the neighborhood taste still craves.
What's your favorite place near St. John's campus? If you live in Fresh Meadows or Jamaica Estates, or work or study in the neighborhood, please add your insights to our comments.
Restaurants Near St. John's University
Splurge on Italian with an Argentinian twist or two at Vino Ristorante (179-22 Union Tpke, Jamaica Estates, 718-380-8466, reservations recommended). Parents of St. John's students will appreciate the peaceful, Italianate decorations and the ravioli specials. Their kids will appreciate not having to pick up the pricey tab ($20+ entrees). Grilled salmon, seared tuna, roasted chicken, and rack of lamb cover the bases for meat and fish lovers, and the lasagna is tasty and rich.
Acquista Trattoria (178-01 Union Tpke, Fresh Meadows, 718-969-1411) scores the game winner for inexpensive, delicious Italian food.
Share a long table with local families and students or discover the back room at this Union Turnpike star. The Acquista family excels at home-cooking and soccer, as the newspaper clippings on the wall attest.
Peking House (185-23 Union Tpke, Fresh Meadows, 718-454-9230) is a classic. They serve American-style Chinese food, but it's the best of that too-often uninspired genre.
The shrimp with garlic is a standout, as is the service and price at this sit-down restaurant.
A little farther west on Union Turnpike, Kyoto Sushi (153-11 Union Tpke, Hillcrest, 718-380-7777) has been a bright spot since 2004 and deserves more attention. Skip the Thai side of the menu, and stick to Kyoto's strong suits: sushi and teriyaki. And don't forget the sake. The Japan-meets-IKEA space would make a lovely setting for a private party.
Drinks Near St. John's University
Want to meet for drinks before the Red Storm play? A couple rounds at the popular Sly Fox Inn (177-23 Union Tpke, Fresh Meadows, 718-969-8169) sounds great with its great big rectangular bar and booths and skylight. (But for dinner you can do better than pub grub and steaks in its faux-library dining room.)
Iguanas (179-11 Union Tpke, Fresh Meadows, 718-969-5447) and its tequila museum boast the American record for most tequila vintages. Don't just take their word for it! The margaritas are delicious, and the happy-hour food specials attract plenty of students. For the best Mexican food in the area, you'll have to hike--well, drive--over to El Coyote (178-27 Hillside Ave, Jamaica, 718-558-5931).
King Yum (181-08 Union Tpke, Fresh Meadows, 718-380-1918) wins the award for best theme with its tiki bar facade and decorations.
This old-school Polynesian Chinese-American restaurant is tops for its tiki ambiance, umbrella drinks, and karaoke.
Breakfast, Bakeries, and Cafes Near St. John's University
Lu Lu's Italian and American Bakery (185-26 Union Tpke, Jamaica Estates, 718-454-4300) is the neighborhood's prize for Italian cookies and pastries. Sip a cappuccino at one of their four little tables, or order that special cake for your next big celebration.
Bagel Oasis (183-12 Horace Harding Expwy, Fresh Meadows, 718-359-9245) is a little inconvenient unless you're headed east on the LIE, but the trip is worth it. The classic NYC bagel is the draw - crispy outside, chewy inside, just the right size. Make it a Sunday morning tradition.
Housed in a shiny box that looks straight out of the 1980s, the Fame Diner (176-19 Union Tpke, Fresh Meadows, 718-591-0033) can't be beat for its convenience to St.
John's campus and the staff's attention to detail. The diner easily handles large groups and families with little kids.
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