If you consider Central Avenue’s approximately 60 non-chain, full-service restaurants plus the dozens upon dozens of markets, delis, slice joints (Yonkers has about 15!), and Chinese takeout places, it can be a dizzying prospect to figure out what and where to eat. So, here is a guide to some of the best grub on Central Avenue that will save you many a Yelp search and leave your palate—and stomach—satisfied.
All things Greek (plus Turkish, Israeli, Bulgarian, Arabic) can be had at Yaranush Mediterranean Foods (322 Central Ave 914-682-8449; www.yaranush.com), a mom-and-pop ethnic grocery that offers grade-A feta cheese, falafel, cheese pies, and what’s perhaps the top selection of dried fruit in the county.
City Limits Diner and Niko’s Greek (see map on next page) are both worthy dine-out stops, as is the easy-to-miss (it’s in the strip mall perpendicular to T.J.Maxx) Mariachi Loco (394 Central Ave 914-287-0001; www.mariachilocoinc.com), a destination for gigantic burritos and Margaritas that’ll have you singing the Mexican national anthem shortly after your first few sips.
A taste of classic Japanese fare (no cream cheese or avocado in the sushi rolls here) is what to expect at Fujinoya (26 Central Ave 914-428-1203; www.fujinoyarestaurant.com). The tables are filled with many native speakers munching on hamachi carpaccio and soba noodles.
Continuing the Asian route, Central
Avenue is home to the sole Vietnamese eatery in the county. Go to Saigonese (158 Hartsdale Ave 914-288-9088) for three types of papaya salad and six different phos (the best version of the signature Vietnamese soup noodle dish being the Saigon dac biet with four types of beef). For what may be the best Chinese option on Central Avenue, head to the smartly decorated, yet poorly named, Fantasy Cuisine (20 Central Ave 914-358-9046; www.fantasycuisine.com) and order the pork soup dumplings and any dry pot or kung pao dish. The service can be sluggish so don’t go if you’re in a hurry.
Late-night dive Candlelight Inn (see map, page 83), with its legendary wings, may be the most recognized Central Avenue foodie stop, but if the wait for one of the few tables is too long, then there’s another legend of sorts to try (albeit in a different category: Jewish deli). The seventh location of Ben’s (718 Central Ave 914-468-2367; www.bensdeli.net) is the county’s first, serving the hearty, gut-busting food Grandpa Marty and Bubbie Tova kvell over: kreplach (Jewish wontons), matzo ball soup, and chicken in a pot. The coleslaw is a must-order.
The most congested and unsightly parts of Central Avenue are in the stretch that runs through Yonkers, but don’t let that be a deterrent. There are many foodie finds here, including High Ridge Bagels Factory (1805 Central Ave 914-337-7848) with a second location at 415 Central Ave in Hartsdale; BurgerMeister Food Truck (2575 Central Ave 610-301-4034), which sits most days across from Best Buy, offering splendid patties; and The Souvlaki Truck (2467-2495 Central Ave 914-500-7580; www.thesouvlakitruck.com) serving gyros, oregano fries, and hummus. Spend a nice chunk of time exploring Arab market Al Rayyan (785 Central Ave 914-200-5666; www.facebook.com/alrayyanmarket), where singular cheeses like Nabulsi studded with black caraway seeds and akkawi, a smooth, soft table cheese, are on offer, plus pita bread loaded with za’atar, and sweet halvahs.
If pizza is what you’re after, Frank Pepe Pizzeria (1955 Central Ave 914-961-8284; www.pepespizzeria.com) is the king of the crust—they’re especially known for clam pie with oodles of garlic—though La Bella (1566 Central Ave Yonkers 914-961-6628; www.labellayonkers.com) is also a solid choice.