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Local Restaurants Duke It Out For Top Spot in 'Queens Taste'

Pop Diner and Uncle Peter's are competing for top honors in
Pop Diner and Uncle Peter's are competing for top honors in "Queens Taste 2012."
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Queens Economic Development Corporation

JACKSON HEIGHTS — Local favorites Pop Diner and Uncle Peter’s will duke it out for borough bragging rights at Tuesday night's "Queens Taste 2012."

The annual event brings restaurateurs from across the borough to Citi Field’s Caesar Club where foodies can munch their way through culinary delights from more than 50 participating Queens restaurants. Five taste masters will sample the wares and pick a best appetizer, entrée and dessert.

Elmhurst’s Pop Diner wants to hang on to the "Best Appetizer" title it nabbed last year for its plantain-wrapped seasoned ground beef.

"I’m expecting to win," manager Angel Almonte said going into this year’s event, where his chefs designed a lineup they hope will help them knock one out of the park.  

For starters, they will be serving up perenil, a roast pork shoulder, served with cilantro sauce and cinnamon potatoes, followed by a Cuban version of ropa vieja — a skirt steak with onions and peppers.  For a sweet finish, they'll top it off with a dulce de leche cheesecake. 

Jackson Height’s Uncle Peter’s has been in business for 11 years, but the family-operated joint is making its first Taste appearance.

"We are very nervous," said owner Patty Medina. "Actually, we are more excited than nervous."

Known for its seafood and skirt steak, Uncle Peter’s will be serving up a mini seafood salad as an appetizer, a Chilean sea bass mini plate and a mini dulce de leche mousse to round it out.

"The Chilean sea bass is always on our specials. People love it," Medina said. "It’s one of our best sellers."

Both restaurants hope get some attention at this year’s event, which is expected to draw some 1,000 visitors from across the city.

"We have a lot of interesting folks participating," said Rob McKay of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, which is organizing the event with sponsors. "Everyone should come down and see and eat for themselves."

The Entrepreneur’s Space — a food and business incubator in Long Island City — will also set up shop, offering samples from 25 budding businesses that make, for instance, Moroccan cookies, brownie lollipops or exotic marshmallows.

The event "reinforces our distinction as America’s most diverse county,” Borough President Helen Marshall said in a statement. "Where else can you taste everything from Moroccan cookies to Sunnyside duck?"

Medina and Almonte were looking forward to seeing the competition.

"I want to see what the other people bring,” Medina said.

Almonte added, "The last time we met a lot of people. It was a pretty interesting evening."

Queens Taste 2012 is Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Tickets cost $100 per person or $185 per couple. Proceeds will support QEDC's ongoing efforts to attract and maintain jobs in the borough.

 To buy tickets online, go to www.queenstaste.eventbrite.com

For more information, go to www.discoverqueens.info