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Jackson Heights' Best Food Carts On the Menu for Three-Hour Tour

By Smriti Rao | May 18, 2012 2:45pm
Take an insider's tour of Roosevelt Avenue's social and culinary history with a food tour
Take an insider's tour of Roosevelt Avenue's social and culinary history with a food tour
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JACKSON HEIGHTS — When it comes to Latin American food carts, Jackson Heights is caliente.

The neighborhood's diverse array of cultures will be on the menu this weekend during a tour of the area's best street food, including delicious treats from Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador.

Famished foodies can sink their teeth into freshly made chicken quesadillas, jaw-busting tortas and sweet and salty specialty Colombian bread, pandebono that will come straight out of the oven during the ten-block "Eat the Street" excursion on Roosevelt Avenue, from 74th to 84th streets.

“I love the idea of a food tour in Queens,” said Mary Mathews, 31, a tourist visiting from Detroit, who said she had never left Manhattan during her previous trips to New York. “I would totally go,” she nodded enthusiastically.

Visitors can sign up for the $79, three-hour tours, which kick off at Grand Central station, online at www.streetwisenewyork.com. The first is May 19 with more tours scheduled for June 2 and 16.

The tour, a partnership between Streetwise New York, which operates in immigrant neighborhoods and Feet in 2 Worlds, an online and radio news source about immigration, aims to fill the bellies not only of tourists, but other New Yorkers who never venture outside their borough for a nosh.

Part of the proceeds from the non-profit tour will go towards supporting immigrant journalism across the city.

“People visiting the city and people that live in New York are amazed by the food in Queens,” said Andrew Silverstein, who conducts the guided tour in Jackson Heights. “We want them to taste the food and get context out of it." 

The first stop on "Eat the Street" is El Guayaquileño, an Ecuadorian food truck specializing in Bollos de Pescada (a plantain and fish tamale). For $9 a plate, visitors can sample a generous helping of freshly made ceviche or other classic seafood from the Ecuadorian coast.

Regulars like Tony Lucca swear by the bollos de pescado. “It’s amazing," he said. "You can’t go wrong this kind of food." 

A few blocks over on 82nd Street, kiss your diet goodbye with hot Mexican elotes — grilled roasted corn slathered with mayo, sprinkled with grated cheese and drizzled with chili sauce.

But make sure you reserve some space in your stomach for Mi Mexico Lindo’s tortas and tacos on 83rd Street.

The truck, which entices with its array of freshly-made tortas stuffed with chunky meat, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños and red peppers, stands out for the sheer volume of business, guide Silverstein said.

It reportedly dishes out a gut-busting 15,000 tortillas each week, serving 1,500 regular customers daily, according to the food tour. Open almost round-the clock, the car is a staple for clubgoers on Roosevelt Avenue and others hankering for a daytime snack.

“I am a big fan of the tacos,” said lunchtime regular Yoselin Diaz. “Everyone should come and taste this.”

Sweet South American cookies from La Gran Uruguaya bakery and a stiff Colombian coffee spiked with brandy, carajillo, at Terraza Café 7 provide a sweet finish for the feast.