Tapas in Astoria and LIC
Some of the best authentic Spanish Tapas is served in Astoria and Long Island City by top rated, new and classic, cafes and restaurants.
The Spanish call them Tapas; the Greek word for small plates, is Meze. But however you say it, the Tapas dinning style is great portion-control. Nutritionists and trainers always advise their clients to not only watch what they eat, but how much they consume when having a snack or meal. Smaller portions go a long way to helping us achieve a healthier and fitter body, by keeping our metabolism running strong. And we don't have that unpleasant, stuffed or bloated feeling when we leave the dinner table. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy ingredients including seasonings, veggies and fish. But it's also about the amount of food that we put on our plate. The Italians can make a meal out of a couple of antipasto plates; prosciutto and sliced melon or clams oreganata. In most Italian households pasta is a side dish, used to complement a veal, chicken or fish entree.
In the Mediterranean; whether you are eating at home with the family or at a restaurant with friends, enjoying good food is a social occasion as well. Sitting around a table is an opportunity to talk and catch up with people you care about. Food is meant to be enjoyed slowly and savored. Not scarfed down in a rush. That's not good for the digestion or bonding with friends, family or even business associates.
El Boqueron - Astoria
Let's start our tapas journey at EL BOQUERON. On the corner of 31-01 34th Avenue, just one block from Broadway N/Q Train Station. EL BOQUERON offers a strong menu selection of both hot and cold tapas from Spain. Their cooking reflects the various regions of Spain.
The cozy atmosphere at EL BOQUERON invites you to stay awhile, sip a glass of Sangria and savor the tapas in a cool and colorful envoroment. Cold tapas include Jamon Serano (cured Spanish country ham), ensalada de patata y atun (the best potato salad ever, with vegetable, tuna fish and light mayo), and Alcachofas (artichoke hearts with chardonnay vinaigrette).
For fish lovers, EL BOQUERON'S hot tapas are highly reccomended. The Gabas a La Plancha, (grilled shrimps with sea salt) is a simple yet very tasty dish. A specialty of the house is the Mejillones Boqueron (fresh mussels in a light tomato and herb sauce). The kitchen also does a similar dish with Almejas (clams), as the featured attraction. If you like bacon, then you must try their Setas Del Huerto Rellenas (stuffed mushrooms with veggies and crispy bacon).
May we refer to desserts as tapas? After all, most desserts come in small plates, right? EL BOQUERON has a flan on the menu that you'll want to order every time you come here. Their Flan De Mocca Sabor A Cafe, is a caramel custard with a Mocha coffee flavor. It is truly outstanding! Whether you dine in or call to order pickup or delivery, you will enjoy the experience. Saludos from El Boqueron.
Trakia Grill - Astoria
Old World Balkan home cooking and Mediterranean tapas are on the menu at a brand new venue that has everyone talking... TRAKIA GRILL. The site of this latest foodie sensation is 38-14 30th Avenue in Astoria. Phone # (347) 813-4709. TRAKIA translates to Thrace, which was an ancient civilization that at the height of its power, occupied the border areas of Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, and Greece.
The chefs at TRAKIA pay tribute to the unique array of food and drink that came from this region, by creating a menu of Balkan-fusion Tapas and Meze. You'll love the delicious flavors and the rustic atmosphere. Just at the entrance are barrels that serve as tables, with high-backed chairs. Inside, the wood covered walls and furniture call to mind a country Inn or taverna.
One of the best things about living in Astoria is the ethnic diversity. Trakia gives us a chance to sample small plates of regional Serbian, Bulgarian or Romanian cuisine that we are probably not familiar with. Burex is the Slavic version of the much loved Greek spinach pie. At Trakia they serve both cheese and spinach burek.
The Bulgarian fries are freshly-cut potatoes topped with sheep's milk feta. The kitchen's sausage and beans plate, is a Meze that is also a hearty meal. Another tasty flavor is the Monastery Eggplant,(roasted eggplant, black salt and truffle oil). For a very light treat, order the cold Meze Snow White, which is yogurt made in-house with garlic, cucumbers and dill. Also on the menu are stuffed grape leaves, fried zucchini and cold potatoes dressed up with olive, onions and lemon.
From TRAKIA's brick oven comes a wealth of individually portioned hearty dishes. Each dish is baked to order inside a genuine Bulgarian Terracotta Pot. Choices include Kavarma ( a pork, onion and mushroom stew, topped with egg) and chicken Guvech, which is a blend of chicken and vegetables, a Balkan Pot Pie, if you will.
The tastes on your plate at Trakia are different but very appealing. Balkan cuisine has, to our knowledge, never been featured on any of the food network's shows. If it were, the way the food is done at Trakia, several of their signature dishes would go mainstream.
The tapas and small plates at Trakia are a great reason to treat yourself to an evening out. You will simply love it!
Cafe Ole - Astoria - Long Island City
At Cafe Ole in Long Island City/Astoria, when it comes to food everything is possible. There is no limit to the chef's ingenuity and culinary skills as he provides his own spin on traditional Spanish cuisine and tapas.
Intimate and very inviting, Cafe Ole is located at 38-09 36th Avenue, (718)349-7777. It's a great place to take your date. The brick walls, cute lighting fixtures, and small bar at the back of the restaurant, all contribute to the cozy atmosphere and trendy scene. Cafe Ole's tapas bar has everything that you are craving. You won't be able to choose just one plate, so why not order several tapas to share with your significant other or good friends? They also have an excellent wine list and delicious in-house sangria that will light up any conversation. Ole!
Pulpo Cafe Ole, is octopus sauted with sweet red peppers, tomatoes, onions and white wine. Their chorizo salteado plate, is spicy Spanish sausage with onions and peppers. The Queso Manchego plate consists of Spanish goat cheese and fresh olives. Guys; if you can't get enough steak, then Cafe Ole is your place. The Medallones a la Plancha gives you expertly seasoned and grilled filet mignon medallions ( a must-try.)
Cafe Ole's joyful eating doesn't stop with tapas or their entree-sized meals. Desserts are homemade and the spotlight shines brightest on their Tres Leches cake and rice pudding. The chefs and staff at Cafe Ole specialize in catering and private parties on site, so you can have a tapas themed party of any kind.
Blend - LIC
True to it's roots, Latin Fusion food has re-invented at one of LIC hottest restaurant, Blend. If you're all about quality, great tasting food that won't bust your budget, then Blend is your destination for brunch, lunch or dinner. The address for Latin dinning at it's very best is 47-04 Vernon Blvd. Blend is just a couple of blocks from the #7 train Vernon Jackson Station and only a short walk from the Court Square neighborhood. So if you are bored with the same old stuff for lunch, try Blend. Should you be stuck in your office and things are too hectic to go out; no problem. Blend does delivery.
The chefs at Blend have been inspired by the regional cuisines of Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic as well as other Latin American countries. Showing respect for these Nation's time honored recipes and traditions, Blend's culinary team is not afraid to tweak an ingredient or two in order to provide you with a dish that is unique to the restaurant. A dish that you will want to share on Instagram or Facebook.
At Blend, the tapas or small plate choices are varied and delicious. A fusion of traditional tapas and appetizers, the house has aptly named them... Tapatizers. The calamari Taptizers comes with sweet plantains, Pico De Gallo and Verdi Aioli. Mexican street vendor food is represented by Mazorca, (grilled corn with chili lime mayo and cotija cheese.) Another street food with Blend's comtemporary twist is Arapa Fresca (sweet corn cakes with mozzarella, dressed with black bean sauce, pico de gallo and sour cream).
The Taco Trio is a decetively basic dish. Yet, there is nothing bland about the wonderful flavors on your plate. The combo of chicken, pernil and braised beef is served with avocado, cotija cheese and sour cream. Their chicken Quesadilla is a not too spicy blend of pepper jack cheese, peppers and onions, black beans and sour cream. One of Blend's most popular dishes is the classic Mofongo, which is a Dominican staple. The kitchen will prepare this dish, either entree size or as a Tapatizer. Whatever the portion, this blend of mashed plantains, pork, garlic mojo and sofrito is mouth wateringly good.
The bar at Blend has everyday drink specials and on weekends they have a Latin themed brunch. Their brunch is made extra special when accompanied by the house Cafe Con Leche. This coffee is the real thing!
In Queens, many Latin cuisine foodies love their Inca Cola. But outside of some Bodegas and specialty stores, Inca Cola is hard to find. Most restaurants don't carry it. But happily Blend does, and it goes great with tapas, especially Empanadas. Blend bakes up their Empanadas with a lot of old-fashioned love. the Pollo Empanada is done up like a chicken fricasse turnover. The filling is a mini feast. Not to be ignored is the Chorizo, filled with slices of spanish sausage.
With a combination of a festive, cool atmosphere, great drinks and even better food, this LIC go-to spot knows just the right "blend" to keep everyone happy.
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