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The 7 Train: A Foodie's Favorite Subway
Manhattan may be known for its fine four-star restaurants, but food lovers know there's one train line to take to some of the best eats in the city. The 7 train snakes its way through the middle of Queens, and conveniently through some of the best eating neighborhoods in New York. Because the tracks are elevated, it's easy to get a handle on your surroundings—and to know where to find the train once your explorations are through.
Irish expats have long settled in the adjoining neighborhoods of Woodside and Sunnyside (near the 61st Street stop), the site of many great Gaelic bars and a few restaurants. Get a proper Irish breakfast, including black and white pudding, at the casual Stop Inn (6022 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside 718/779-0290). At Donovan's Pub (5724 Roosevelt Ave., at 58th St., Woodside 718/429-9339) ask for extra napkins and get one of the best burgers in New York City, nicely charred and served with home-cut steak fries.
But the main reason foodies flock to Woodside is for the Thai restaurant SriPraPhai (64-13 39th Ave., Woodside 718/899-9599), pronounced See-PRA-pie, widely considered the best Thai restaurant in New York. Don't miss the crispy watercress salad and the larb (ground pork with mint, lime juice, and onions). It's closed on Wednesday.
At either the 74th Street or 82nd Street stop, diverse Jackson Heights offers not only outstanding Indian restaurants but also many other Southeast Asian spots and fantastic eats from all over Latin America. Named after a town in Puebla, Mexico, Taqueria Coatzingo (76–05 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights 718/424–1977) has deeply flavorful mole poblano, but those in the know stick to daily handwritten specials like Pipian en Puerco Rojo—pork cooked in red pumpkin-seed sauce. El Chivito de Oro III (84–02 37th Ave., Jackson Heights 718/424–0600), a Uruguayan diner, serves up parades of grilled meats called parrilladas—easily enough for two. Since many Uraguayans are of Italian heritage, Chivito also serves delicate pastas.
The 7 train may save the best for last: at the end of the line is Flushing, home to the second-largest Chinatown in the United States. (First is San Francisco's.) Wide streets have few tourists and many interesting stores and restaurants, making the long trip worth it. The standout is Spicy and Tasty (39-07 Prince St., at 39th Ave., Flushing 718/359-1601), which lives up to its name with numbing Szechuan peppercorns and slicks of red chili oil. Tea-smoked duck has crispy skin and smoky, salty meat. Eggplant with garlic sauce tastes of ginger, tomatoes, and red chilies. Cool it all down with a Tsingtao beer.
A few tips: Bring cash, because not many of these restaurants accept credit cards. Be prepared to encounter language difficulties, as English speakers are in the minority. In Manhattan, catch the 7 train at Times Square or Grand Central Terminal.
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