I got an email asking for 5 must-tries along Roosevelt Ave. At first I hesitated, but then I saw it as a challenge. Then I saw it as a blogpost. Let’s concentrate on 74th street eastward….
3) Little India
4) Ices/warm drinks
5) Warren St/Junction Blvd
5 Must haves for Roosevelt Ave: Dayside
1) Tacos – It’s the most obvious thing to get along the avenue. But there are so many taco vendors, how do you know which one to go to? All I would warn you against is crap – and there really isn’t one crappy one on the avenue. My only recommendation is to participate. Carnitas have the most highs and lows in general, but there are fans of each type of taco (lengua, steak, tripe, enchilada…). Most of the stands are very good, the ones at the 74th street station are great – they are where I get mine most often – and are a good meeting place for you and your friends (EFMR7). Try any truck or Mexican restaurant, it’s hard to fail. If you need a little guidance, go somewhere with customers in view. This is a life lesson in grub search: In any city, places with lines 5 people deep usually have something to them.
Also, while we’re talking carts, you might like a quesadilla. The cart at 99th is very popular. My regular stop is the cart on the SW corner of 75th and Roosevelt (huitlacoche, packed with peppers from the ledge).
Try some ceviche from an Ecuadoran truck like El Guayaquileno. Pretty damn good. The Ecuadoran versions are cooked with heat, then added to the acidic juices. So you can quell your squeamishness before you approach. They have other fish stuff too like Bollos de pescado – it’s a ridiculous thing.
There’s a cart on the south side of 80th street, on Warren St, and possibly other areas.
3) Little India
Skip what Zagat tells you. For a quick bite, try a kebab sandwich from Kebab King (7301 37th Rd) or Kababish (70-64 Broadway) or some chaat at the Delhi Palace sweet shop. If you have about 30 minutes to chill without putting more food in your mouth, get some paan from one of the vendors who inhabit cutouts from other businesses (there is one at Kebab King). For more experiences, 74th Street and 73rd Street south of 37th Ave have malls full of clothing and other types of vendors. There are many nooks and grannies to discover. I’m always discovering new things here.
4) Ices/Warm drinks
There are raspados or shaved ice all along the train tracks, but the most popular one is El Bohio (99th st). You’ll see a line rounding the corner if it’s a hot day.
These are ices shaved from a huge block of ice, then squirted with your choice of syrups. It’s nice to see the process done, that’s half the fun.
And look out for Nieves at Viva Puebla, 89-16 Roosevelt Avenue. They are a rare thing, homemade ices made in barrels outside the store. You’ll find flecks of lime in your limon.
In the colder months, try champurrado (hot chocolate), Atole (hot corn drink) or Avena (oat drink) – you’ll see signs taped on the taco carts advertising these.
5) Between Junction and Warren is the pot of pork at the end of the rainbow. Mostly during the day, Ecuadoran vendors hawk parts of roast whole pig, morcilla and other sausages on the carts, along with humitas (similar to tamales), big corn kernals and chicharrones. These are great, but usually they want to give you a whole meal (usually for $8). Tell them you only want to spend 3 or 5 dollars, to give you a small plate. There’s very little information on the internet about this, so it’s on my list of summer activities to make a guide for you on this. For now, I say go with an open mind, no dietary restrictions, and get what looks good and fresh. Use your finger and point to what you want.
There’s so much here and it’s always changing. What are some of your favorites along Roosevelt?
For more info on specific carts, see my Roosevelt Ave page