Exit the 7 train at Vernon Boulevard and head over one block to 51st Bakery & Cafe for Intelligentsia coffee and pastries from Manhattan’s Balthazar Bakery. Then stroll up 51st Avenue to Hunter’s Point South Park/Gantry Plaza State Park and soak in the unbelievable views —the Queensboro Bridge, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and Freedom Tower in one panorama — while you sip your brew.
Get back on the 7 train to Court Square for a visit to the quirky MoMA PS1 — Long Island City’s bastion of contemporary art. Expect strangely beautiful (and just plain strange) boundary-pushing works from emerging artists. The former public school boasts classroom-sized galleries, lofty ceilings, and a dizzying swirl of stairwells, all of which have you bumping into art at every turn.
Try LIC Market for lunch. The intimate spot boasts an impressive selection of natural wines and beers, plus menu standouts like ricotta-and-pignoli salad and a frittata of the day. Also in walking distance of PS1 is Casa Enrique, a Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant.
Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image (take the M train to Steinway Street) is a true gem. Located on the grounds of the Kaufman Astoria Studios (where Orange Is the New Black is filmed), the museum includes a fascinating permanent collection of historic movie and television artifacts, plus rotating exhibits. An exhibit on Martin Scorsese (through April 23) displays handwritten original film scores, Scorsese’s costume notes, items from the iconic director’s childhood, and an array of correspondence and photos.
The Astor Room is the perfect spot for post-museum drinks. The speakeasy — once the original Kaufman Astoria Studios commissary and rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Pickford — has an Old Hollywood vibe, generous Happy Hour specials (try the Studio Cocktail), and spiced candied bacon served at the bar.
Though Astoria is synonymous with Greek food, Middle Eastern is the hood’s new specialty. A quick Uber ride will bring you to Little Egypt, where you can try Mombar, a homey, art-filled BYOB (cash-only) serving simple but flavorful fare (we love the tagines), always accompanied by a pyramid of couscous.
Before heading back to suburbia, enjoy a drink at Sweet Afton, a hip local pub. Specialty craft beers, New York State bourbons, and a killer Prosecco (Prima Perla) are among the offerings; in nice weather, the back garden can’t be beat.
Queens’ trademark hyphenated addresses are actually helpful once you know what they mean. Take 10-41 47th Avenue in Long Island City. The “10” represents the lower street, meaning the address is located between 10th Street and 11th Street at building number 41 on 47th Avenue. Got it?