Ever since my trip to Greece in 2009, I’ve had an undying love for Greek food. We found a great restaurant in Charlotte, but we hadn’t really had Greek food since moving to New York. I had heard that Astoria, Queens had some of the best authentic Greek food in the city. While Astoria is a melting pot of many ethnicities, the 1960s saw a large number of ethnic Greeks from Greece, and immigrants from Cyprus in 1974. The Greek cultural imprint can be seen in the numerous Greek restaurants, bakeries, and cafes, as well as several Greek Orthodox churches. I grabbed Rob and our friends Richard and Jessa to go try Stamatis Greek Restaurant for lunch one Saturday, followed by some exploring in a neighborhood we hadn’t yet seen.
Stamatis was fantastic – truly authentic, and a huge portion of tzatziki & lamb souvlaki for me. I was in heaven! Richard and Jessa got a little more adventurous with some seafood and Greek lasagna. The restaurant even surprised us with mini baklava for dessert! That really sent us over the edge, so we walked it all off through the streets of Astoria and Astoria Park. Astoria Park is right next to the water, with a view of Randall’s Island and the Triborough Bridge, with some of Manhattan in the background.
Since I love maps so much and always like to orient myself, here’s where Astoria is located. It’s really not that far from where I live on the Upper East Side – you can see it from across the water! But the subway takes you a roundabout way, so it took about 30 minutes for us to get from the Upper East Side to Astoria.
- Astoria is the final resting place of New York City mobster Frank Costello
- In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is pulled over by a policeman on a “motor cycle” in Astoria while driving with the narrator into the city.
- The television series Cosby was set in Astoria and was filmed there
- David Schwimmer, who played my favorite character on Friends (Ross) was born in Astoria.
- The block of 37th Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue is sometimes referred to as “the Seinfeld Street.” In the Seinfeld television show, this street is occasionally seen in external establishing shots as the block where George Costanza’s parents live.