Thursday, November 29, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 29.11.07

Here we are, heading into the last month of 2007! And to think- there is still new stuff to do and places to discover :)

I have gone ahead and flavor tested the new Luna de Juarez (25-98 Steinway) restaurant for you all and am pleased with the results! Wrote about it yesterday! They have a little room for improvement, but are definitely worth a visit on your way home tonight.

When the sun goes down on Fridays, you should go up! Upstairs that is... and I quote "housey vibes, the chillest friends, some comfy couches, a fireplace, breakdancin', happy hour, sugar sweets!, city sunsets, food food, 'i can feeeeel it !' music ...served fresh ^.)" If that piqued your interest, then go find out what they are talking about at AeroTropic :World Series (31-29 Ditmars Blvd.)

The Seeds of Love fundraisers are back for a holiday helping! They had an outdoor event but now with the cold and all, they've gone indoors -- Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Steinway Reformed Church (41st St. at Ditmars Blvd), find a ton of clothes, shoes and bags for you to snap up. Get a little more into the holiday spirit by bringing an item or two from their wishlist and help make some child's wish come true

Sunday - over at Waltz (23-14 Ditnars Blvd.) you can find all types of goodies from the Astoria Craft Collective. IIn my opinion, this is the best way to shop for the holidays this year -- no crowds and super original (local) stuff. Meg got a sneak preview this week to share with you all. Take a gander at some of the originals before running out there!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Handmade Holiday - Astoria Craft Collective

This weekend the Astoria Craft Collective presents Handmade Holiday. This ten person collective will have their wares for sale at Waltz-Astoria (23-14 Ditmars) on Sunday, December 2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. And last night, I had the pleasure of meeting with some of them for a preview of some of the things that will be for sale this Sunday. These five crafters present - Jenn McKinney, Bonnie Sharpe, Lorina Pellach, Alison Shanik, and Marianne Hodge - do great work. Everything was beautiful, from the jewelry to the hand screening to the crochet work. Here are a few pictures (more can be seen here) of what you can expect at their sale at Waltz-Astoria this weekend:

Earrings by Jenn McKinney

Beadscarves by Lorina Pellach

Cards by Alison Shanik

Hand screened bag by Bonnie Sharpe Skiver

Crochet work by Marianne Hodge

So, support your local artists and crafters! Their work is gorgeous and you'll get a one of a kind gift for your loved-ones. These artisans are deeply devoted to their work, very talented, and some have recieved international acclaim. Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Keep an eye on the Luna

Last night I felt the need for Mexican. It could be because of all the talk on here and in the neighborhood in general, that Luna de Juarez is open and looking to please.
This Mexican (slightly fusion) restaurant has been open about a week now in the old Santorini spot on the corner of 28th Ave & Steinway St. The actual decor and ambiance of the place is quite nice, very comfortable and warm. They even have a chiminea at the entrance with candles burning it. The front of the place has a few bar tables mixed in with regular seating to create a very chill area. It definitely lends itself to a casual hang- maybe for the free wi-fi and/or a slice of cake and some coffee.
The most stand out thing to me from the get go and throughout the evening was the people. Everyone was so sweet and welcoming, the service was impeccable. I felt like royalty! If there was a lack for anything- they were on it right away. Our server for the night was Roosevelt- gotta love the name, and the guy was even better! He was so nice and patient and super informative and open to all my questions. The basic round up is- the cuisine is all authentic Mexican from Mexico City and most everything is made fresh in house.

Now for the food of course.
Since we are trying to behave with the overindulgence's while dining out- we decided to share everything. This is also a good way to go when you want to try several things. Right away I was intrigued by the table side guacamole making option on the menu, but since we were already noshing on chips and interesting salsa (its a much more mashed avocado with tomatillos and other peppers) we decided to go with the very interesting Stuffed Avocado (Aguacate Luna de Juarez $9.95). This is apparently a very traditional dish from the region and it did not disappoint. Be sure to have more chips on hand for all the avocado goodness! The massive appetizer is stuffed with shrimp, cheese, squid & corn and sits on a creamy wine sauce.
Next on our list was the Signature House Salad (Ensalada Luna de Juarez $7.95) tortilla strips & goat cheese on a bed of mixed lettuce with a guajillo pepper vinaigrette. It was fresh and tasty and I could have eaten alot more of it all by myself..
I love the smell of steak on the grill so I had to go for the Steak Fajitas ($16.95). They come with all the regular fix-ins, but the guacamole and the tomato salsa was really really spot on. The meat could have been a bit more seasoned in my opinion- luckily though, when you put everything together and wrap it up in the tortilla it all comes together in a delicious smorgasbord of flavors! We wanted a bit more kick so I asked Roosevelt if they had any hot sauce. He brought us what looked like the same green salsa that came with the chips but he told us it was just the hot part of it without the avocado. I'd call it mild tomatillo salsa, it added great flavor with minimal punch- it worked fine for me.
This alone filled my dinner partner and I up more then I would have imagined! Roosevelt would not accept that, he really wanted us to try the tres leches cake. He sent us home with a complimentary slice... that I am sitting here eating while i type this :)

Go eat.
This place has to iron out a few "taste" kinks but I have high hopes for these guys.
Authentic Mexican close to home sounds good to me!

Luna de Juarez
25-98 Steinway
Astoria, NY 11103

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Bike Parking

Multimedia message
Originally uploaded by mcotner
I was walking down 31st Street near Ditmars and saw this new rack for bike parking in front of Soho! Or, perhaps it's been there and I just noticed it... anyway, nice to see that bikes are being considered.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren
Originally uploaded by mcotner
This pizza was by far the best I've had in Astoria. It's from Michael Angelo's II on 23rd Ave near 29th Street. This is the "Sophia Loren" pie, which is fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and a little sauce. Absolutely fantastic!! I'll be ordering it again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Organic Beef in Astoria

Organic Beef
Originally uploaded by mcotner
As I was getting off the train today at Ditmars Blvd, I noticed that the butcher on the east side of 31st Street is now selling USDA certified organic beef. They have been selling organic chickens for some time, but this is a nice new development. I haven't tried any of the beef (I don't eat much beef, honestly), but if anyone does, we'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 22.11.07

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Joey in Astoria! We hope you're having a great day with family, friends, and loved ones. If you're still looking for a place to have dinner, you can try Neptune (31-05 Astoria Blvd) and Bel Aire (31-91 21st St) as far as diners go, or Brick (30-95 33rd St) for something more upscale. Also Zenon Taverna (34-10 31st Ave) is having Thanksgiving dinner, with a few Greek items thrown in.

Friday after Thanksgiving is often referred to as Black Friday, the start of the Christmas shopping season. The term was coined in the 70s, indicating the period where retailers are in the black. Not interested in partaking in the shopping storm? Read JIA friend John Roleke's take on avoiding Black Friday in town. And Friday night at sunset, check out dj onda Skillet at AeroTropic: World Series upstairs at Mezzo Mezzo (31-29 Ditmars Blvd). That place has all sorts of things going on, it seems.

This weekend is a fantastic one for classic films at the MOMI (35 Avenue at 36 Street) Saturday they're showing Meet Me In St. Louis (2pm), The Wizard of OZ (4:30), and Singin' in the Rain (7:00). Sunday is the magnificent Gone With the Wind (2pm) and Brokeback Mountain (6:30). Every single one of these is worth seeing! Note that the Museum is closed on Thanksgiving.

For something a little different, movie-wise, head to Hellgate Social (12-21 Astoria Blvd) on Sunday at 8:30pm to see Jingle All the Way, starring California's own Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger as a frazzled dad. I was there for movie night last Sunday and it was awesome. Loved the relaxed vibe and the Polish beer I had was excellent. Stop by Saturday night for DJ Lo-Fi, who will undoubtedly be spinning great tunes.

Great recent eats include Guacamole (38-07 Broadway), Rizzo's Pizza (30-13 Steinway St), and I hafta say - check out the coffee at Cafe Expresso (not a typo) on Steinway (25-51 Steinway St). I had a cappucino there recently and it was really good! Oh, and by the way - Rose and Joe's Bakery (22-40 31st Street) is making little baby cream puffs that are extremely tasty.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

LIC Bar Back on the Web

For a while now, I've been trying to find the LIC Bar's website but always got a 404 or some such thing when clicking on their old site at Good news is that they are back with a new domain, LIC Bar is a great watering hole with good beer, scotch, and mixed drinks. They offer sandwiches, and I recently heard a rumor that they serve burgers now - I'm always on the lookout for a good burger in the area.

In the summer they offer live music on Sundays, and throughout the year they do trivia on Thursday nights. Their backyard garden space is really nice, too. According to the website, they have a separate party room for large groups.

Glad to see LIC Bar's site back up! LIC Bar is at 45-58 Vernon Blvd in Long Island City.

Photo credit: maura on Flickr via a Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mexican in the 'Hood

There are a few new Mexican places open or opening soon in Astoria. This weekend I went to Guacamole, a nice little place on Broadway (between Steinway and 38th Street) that replaced a fast-food Mex place (that's what the waitress told me). The space is calming with the green walls, and the food is definitely tasty. I had a chicken and vegetable quesadilla and my dining companion had a beef wrap; we shared a chicken tostada. The best thing about the meal was the salsa chile de arbol, a red-yellow spicy pureed sauce served on the side. The guacamole was very good, too. I had a glass of horchata, which was particularly creamy and not overly sweet. I wonder if they put dairy in it...

Walking home from Guacamole, we passed by Luna de Juarez a soon-to-be-open restaurant on the corner of Steinway and 28th Ave, the location of the old Santorini Cafe. I read about this place originally on astorians, and from what I can gather from her message the grand opening is this Friday:
they have a great chef who just loves to cook and supposedly the Guacamole will be done table side, the Fajitas nothing like your use to, and they will make their own mole, hopefully with this great Colombian Chocolate Cordillero.
There's also been chatter about a new place opening up where the old All-Star Burger was on 31st Street near Ditmars under the subway. The lease is held by the same person who owns Agave Restaurant in Manhattan, so it's expected that this will be the Astoria outpost of this well-received Southwest restaurant. I've peeked in the space while walking by and it's looking really nice inside. And yeah, while it's not really a Mexican place, it's definitely worth mentioning. Astoria has nothing like this, so it's very exciting to see a new cuisine come to town.

Important Astoria Community Meeting

Over on the there have been a number of conversations regarding "quality of life" issues in the greater Astoria community. Forum member Debbie Riga decided to do something about it, and has put together a meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, November 28 at 6:30pm. Here's the press release I received regarding the meeting. I hope all of you who are concerned about the issues that affect are community will consider attending. And fellow Astoria bloggers, please feel free to post this on your own blog.
Over the past few years, a number of internet forums where residents of Astoria discuss various issues which pertain to the area have been created. While most of the participants are relatively new (5 years or less) to the area, many have resided here for years. The meeting is expected to bring together a mixed audience and will be representative of a diverse group of people.

The purpose of this meeting is to give everyone an opportunity to meet each other, and to give our Representatives the opportunity to respond to the most pertinent questions that center around our community. Most of those questions will be focusing on quality of life issues which include overcrowding, overbuilding, transit issues, trash, Astoria Park, noise pollution, local crime etc. The questions will be formulated prior to the event by a smaller group of people in an effort to focus on the issues.

While there are many Associations in Astoria, this is the first opportunity which will bring together old and new residents, and people who use the Internet as their main source of information regarding the area.

Date – Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Time – 6:30 p.m.

PlaceQuinn Memorial Building / 35-20 Broadway / Gallery – Lecture Hall

For further information, please contact:
Debbie Riga

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 15.11.07

As much as I walk by Bar 36 (36-05-30th Ave) all the time, I still haven't gotten the urge to step in. Maybe now that I know about Martini Thursdays, I'll bite! The deal is $2 off regular price martinis and they've got snacks... what they are I don't quite know! Maybe they are the chocolate chip cookies I saw them giving out today? This is a quote from them I came across online:
Come and hang out with your friends with us in our ultra slick and trendy atmosphere.... we see you all looking in our doors everyday anyway..... so come on in and see why sex and the city the movie chose us for a few scenes....
How hilarious!?!?! OK, now I gotta see what its all about.

Friday night on your way home, introduce yourself to some Venezuelan cheap eats! We've got a new place on the map, and I've tried it - Yum! The Arepas Cafe (33-07 36th Ave) Give the menu a gander or just go-go-go. There is something for everyone pretty much and it's something just a wee bit different.

Saturday afternoon at the Greater Astoria Historical Society (35-20 Broadway, 4th fl) catch a screening of "New York, the Way It Was: Queens." Its a walk down memory lane for some and an interesting peek for others. Movie time is at 1 p.m., so grab an arepa and get going.

Sunday brings you live jazz, brunch, mimosas, bloody marys and a good time at Time Cafe (44-18 45th street)

Doyle's Corner (42-02 Broadway, 718-278-9402) has a plan for Sunday night. It's got something to do with drinking and a ride out to a boat and an open bar...they've even chartered a 150-foot yacht!

Everything gets going at Doyle's Corner with an open bar and nibbles at 6 p.m. Then promptly at 8 p.m., the bus arrives to take all the party people into Manhattan where the festivities really get in gear. After the four-hour cruise around Manhattan, you get to drip-dry in the bus ride back to Doyle's. All of this can be yours for $50! See Barry or Brendan at Doyle's Corner for tickets - not many left!

And of course, if I missed anything- you can find it here!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 08.11.07

Well, life got overly crazed this week, and JIA friend John Roleke gave us some weekend fun to start our Astorian Weekend Edition off:

There's only one event I can give my full love to -- a walking tour of Old Astoria. Join Kevin Walsh of Forgotten NY and Richard Melnick of the Greater Astoria Historical Society lead an exploration of Old Astoria Village. See it before disappears, replaced by six-story boxes. Sunday at 1pm. Call 718–278–0700 for exact meeting place and additional information. Tour will last about 2 hours.

Thursday through Sunday, the 5th Queens International Film Festival is going on at various Astoria locations, including the Museum of the Moving Image, Cup and Cavo, among others. There will be plenty of special screenings and parties going on, all celebrating independent films. It looks like a great lineup, so check it out.

Friday night brings us a performance of the Lost Dog Ensemble, Astoria's own new music ensemble. They'll be performing at the intimate space that is Waltz-Astoria (23-14 Ditmars Blvd), with works by Michael Hersch, Paul Yeon Lee, Gordon Beeferman, and Per Norgard. No cover and 2 drink minimum.

At the Beer Garden this Saturday from 8pm-midnight, join Chickenhead live in concert. $10 gets you in for music and dancing. Plus all that great bohemian grub. And speaking of Czech food, consider stopping at Koliba one of these days, just a short ways away from the Beer Garden (31-11 23rd Ave). I hear they have the most amazing lentil soup.

And the Hunters Point/LIC Greenmarket is still up and running. It's located at 48th Avenue between Vernon Blvd and 5th Street in Long Island City and runs from 8am-3pm on Saturdays.

Photo (c) Joy Victory

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 01.11.07

Purge your system of all that Halloween candy by enjoying some tea and company at Thursday night's crafting Freeze Peach (22-00 29th St). All crafting is welcome, even if you don't know how to do it. There should be someone there happy to share tips, tricks, and pointers. Show up around 8 p.m. and just look for the knitters! They now have a blog to show the fruits of their labor.

Friday nights are made for eating out. Of course there are tons of options in Astoria. Meg recently turned us onto Mexican and Greek and reminded us of the goodies at Sparrow. Pick one and go for it.

Saturday, the fittingly named Steinways will perform at the Shillelagh Tavern (47-22 30th Ave) I have never heard of the band or the bar, so this sounds like a new adventure! It's only five bucks and starts at 9 p.m.

If you're not out too late on Saturday, you can prolly make it to Sundays TAWQ Rockaway Bike Ride. The roughly 45 mile jaunt will be starting at 9 a.m. in Astoria (Brooklyn Bagel on Broadway between 35th and 36th Sts), ending up in the Rockaways. It's suppose to be a relaxed pace, but with miles and miles before you sleep, it is recommended for experienced cyclists. (Sponsored by: Transportation Alternatives Western Queens Committee, join the ride by emailing