Thursday, August 6, 2015

Astoria Favorites: Queens Comfort & MexiBBQ

Astoria is one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York City. It's found in the borough of Queens, and was my on-again-off-again home for a couple of years. Even though most tourists who visit the Big Apple spend most of their time in Manhattan, the locals know that some of the best food is found in the outer boroughs, and Queens is no exception.

A couple of my favorites are found on the same Avenue in Astoria mere blocks away from each other. The first is Queens Comfort, a fun and cozy spot with a retro vibe, filled with collectible toys, comics and more from years past. Their window display even features "The Game of Jaws." It's cash only with a BYOB policy.

Queens Comfort is incredibly trendy, and can boast quite the line at peak times. The gentleman who wrangles all the waiting diners makes it a one-of-a-kind experience, telling jokes (you have your choice of "spicy" or "mild") and asking each guest a question of the day. I was recently asked what my favorite toy is, and he mentioned another question he's used is one's spirit animal. He then calls out your answer instead of your name when alerting you your table is ready.

I was dining alone (a CEO according to him, since CEO's don't eat with their employees... or something), and he made an effort to even get me seating earlier rather than later since I was alone. I was seated at the bar, which was fine by me.

Considering that Queens Comfort is such a busy restaurant, the service is great and the food is quick. There is a long communal table down the center, which is actually where I sat the very first time I dined here. There's very little elbow room and you are SUPER close to your neighbors, but I think it's just part of the experience.

I've eaten at Queens Comfort twice thus far (and I assure you, if I still lived nearby it would be more often). The first time was a year ago for dinner, and most recently for Saturday brunch. The menu changes daily, and there are some favorites that will stick around regardless, but other dishes with fluctuate. You definitely can't go wrong, as everything on the menu is a real winner.

Brunch menu 8/1/15

During my first visit, I split an appetizer order of Roasted Sweet Corn and Cheddar Empanadas. There were two to an order, and each was excellent. A little sweet from the corn, a bit cheesy, gooey and soft, yet crunchy on the outside, served with a spicy chipotle aioli.

Roasted Sweet Corn and Cheddar Empanadas $6

My entree for dinner is also available on the brunch menu, and it's truly a classic: Chicken and Waffles. It's served with a Tabasco glaze, maple syrup and powdered sugar. It's a fried breast, making it much easier to eat than chicken on the bone, but it still manages to be perfectly juicy and tender. It's really a wonderful rendition of this sweet/savory/(and just a bit spicy) favorite.

Chicken and Waffle $14

My friend picked the "Lil' Dizzy" Captain Crunch fried chicken Po Boy sandwich with tomato, slaw, pickles, and spicy remoulade. She loved it!

"Lil' Dizzy" Po Boy $16

During my brunch visit, I really struggled to make a decision between several of the creative Benedicts on the menu. I was also really intrigued by the Burrito, among many other choices. I narrowed it down to the Hobbits Salty Pork Benedict featuring bacon, fig jam, brie, poached eggs, buttermilk biscuits and Hollandaise, the "South by Southwest" Benedict featuring a crispy corn tamale, smoked pulled pork, BBQ sauce, poached egg and Hollandaise, and the "Down by Law" Benedict featuring roasted chicken, bacon jam, poached eggs Hollandaise, buttermilk biscuit and chipotle aioli. That's only three of the nine-ish Benedicts served that day.

"Down by Law" Benedict $16

I selected the Down by Law, but really I wanted someone else to just make the decision for me, because they all sounded so good (and so did everything else on the menu, I really can't stress how AWESOME everything sounds). I was very pleased by my choice at the end. The chicken almost reminded me more of chicken confit in the way it was pulled and yet very tender and flavorful. The buttermilk biscuits had great flavor, the Hollandaise was sparse, but just enough (you never want your Benedict drowning), and the chipotle aioli offered a little bit of heat. I was VERY pleased.

Even after standing outside in the excruciatingly hot, sweat-dripping-down-your-back-and-everywhere-else weather, it was still totally worth it in my opinion.

Fun 3D decorations by the bathroom doors

A few blocks west of Queens Comfort is another great Astoria restaurant, this one with much shorter lines, and a great option if you just aren't willing to wait. MexiBBQ is a fusion of Mexican and BBQ, just as the name suggests. I've only been here for brunch, but I've visited twice, and enjoyed my meal exceptionally.

The Hangover Cure features corn torillas in salsa verde and salsa roja, with sliced chicken and chorizo, and is topped with two fried eggs. In short, it's chilaquiles, one of my absolute favorite things in the world. This can be on the spicy side, but a very comfortable spiciness for a Mexican food aficionado. My friends who live nearby tend to order this dish almost exclusively.

The Hangover Cure $14

I've also ordered and enjoyed the BBQ Brisket Eggs Benedict. It's jalapeno goat cheese cornbread topped with poached eggs and chipotle Hollandaise, served with home fries. This dish takes on more of the BBQ side of MexiBBQ. It's equally delicious, yet very different. Both this and the Hangover Cure are dishes I'd happily recommend and order again.

BBQ Brisket Eggs Benedict $14

The Bloody Mary has a chili powder rim, and from what I can remember was pretty spicy. I like spicy, so that's okay!

Bloody Mary

These are just a couple of my favorite Astoria hot spots. I dine in Astoria a lot because not only am I a former resident, but my closest New York City friends still live there. I hope visitors and residents alike will check out both of these wonderful restaurants if they haven't already. Thumbs up all around!

Queens Comfort
40-09 30th Ave (btwn Steinway St and 41st St)
Astoria, NY 11103
(718) 728-2350

37-11 30th Ave (btwn 37th St and 38th St)
Astoria, NY 11103
(718) 626-0333


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