ASTORIA — This welcome wagon has a delicious destination.
Three Queens food bloggers are rolling out the red carpet for their new neighbors with the Astoria Welcome Wagon, a project that helps newcomers find and explore local eateries through the eyes of insiders.
Folks who are new to the neighborhood can e-mail the Astoria Welcome Wagon with information about themselves — what kind of cuisine they like, how adventurous they are, their budget and what Astoria subway stop they'd like to eat near — and they'll get suggestions from the group within a few days.
Sue Yacka, who chronicles her favorite meals at the blog Tastoriaqueens, started the Welcome Wagon with Anne Noyes-Saini, a features editor at the website Real Cheap Eats and Meg Cotner, a food writer and co-founder of the neighborhood blog We Heart Astoria.
They say they want to highlight neighborhood joints that offer great meals, but might not necessarily be high-profile.
"The smaller mom-and-pop places, the older places that aren’t as hip, aren’t on Twitter, and don't always know how to get the word out...we wanted to make sure people know about them and they don’t fall by the wayside as the neighborhood changes," Noyes-Saini said.
"Hidden gems," said Yacka. "Places that are heard about by word of mouth."
And for a diverse and food-centric neighborhood like Astoria, hidden gems abound.
"You can eat a different cuisine in Astoria for 30 days and not repeat yourself," said Cotner. "People like to ask the question, 'What's your favorite restaurant?' Which is really impossible to answer. It's like, who's your favorite child?"
In a neighborhood known for its Greek food, Cotner says Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna, located on a quiet corner at 23rd Avenue and 26th Street, is at the top of her list. She also recommends To Laiko, a small Greek coffee shop at 29-29 23rd Ave. that serves up frappes and mushroom phyllo pies.
For Middle Eastern cuisine, Yacka recommends Duzan at 24-11 Steinway St., a hummus, kabob and falafel spot which she didn't discover until more than a year living in the neighborhood, but which is now a must-visit.
"I order from there almost constantly, and I refer almost everyone there," she said.
"It's just a comfortable place to to go and the food is so good, everything is made fresh," Noyes-Saini said.
For more suggestions, new residents — or even seasoned Astorians — can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get great food picks.