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Guide to Woodside

Not sure of any specialties as I've never actually inquired -- honestly, there is little excess communication with the waitstaff when we visit La Hacienda because of the language barrier (ie. when I asked about the portion sizes I got a "good" in response and just had to run with it).

Their menu is very extensive and we're usually craving traditional dishes when we go -- I can't speak on the Ecuadorian side of things, but they've never faltered with the burritos (they are huge and a great value). I found the tacos a bit bland, but workable (I also sort of feel that way about De Mole's too, though, so it could just be that tacos are generally pretty basic items -- I always crave something bursting with guacamole and pico afterwards ). I normally hit a home run with their chicken dishes -- they are prepared so well. The Pollo a la Mexicana is piled high with sauteed bell peppers & comes with rice & beans. Not spicy, but some really great flavors. It hits the spot. Salads I didn't particularly care for -- lots of iceberg lettuce and wasn't necessarily appetizing.

It has been a while since we've gone (before our most recent visit) but I think we're going to be doing take out more often & I'll update when that happens.

Mar 16, 2010
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Guide to Woodside

Ooooh gotcha. Good, I actually felt a little protective there for a second.

Mar 15, 2010
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Guide to Woodside

Wanted to add a note about La Hacienda, as our visit last night for dinner was mildly entertaining. Let me state that I have never had a bad meal food-wise, but the experience almost always proves to be awkward.

We've been here a few times and enjoy the place, but it's mostly because we want to tuck it under our wing and help it thrive. I don't think I've ever seen La Hacienda busy (we're normally the only ones there, actually), but we've never had any complaints about the flavors of the food -- when it is actually Mexican that they are serving [more on that later].

To be blunt, my boyfriend and I are white and speak only limited conversational Spanish. I'm always very cordial, but I feel like the waitstaff is so intimidated by the notion of having us there. (One time while dining in another Mexican spot out in Jackson Heights, they literally turned off their music and put Coldplay on -- "White people, quick! Put on the Coldplay!".. we laughed so hard). We shrug it off because in Woodside, we are certainly the minority, but there's a reason we go to La Hacienda and they always act like we must not know where we are..! Our server spoke very minimal English, which is absolutely fine, but I think the service went down the drain a bit because of it -- she was so hesitant.

We were so utterly perplexed last night, for a number of reasons:

1. Cloth napkins on the tables and silverware wrapped in paper napkins -- plus MORE paper napkins when we were brought our drinks and meals.. what a waste of money for this place! Choose one or the other. Don't bother wrapping the silverware in paper if you set the table with cloth.

2. Same with utensils -- silverware presented on the tables, but plastic spoons brought out with our complimentary appetizer.

3. The appetizer wasn't chips and salsa like usual, but instead four small pieces of bread with two little packets of jam -- like you would get off of a hotel continental breakfast counter or cheap diner! We really did not know what to make of this.. bread and jam..? At a Mexican place..? That's new. What's the point -- why do they even waste their money stocking that stuff..? I'm hoping that perhaps this is not the norm, and maybe they just ran out of chips or something? I can't even imagine them making a decision to serve that pathetic little plate to everyone. Don't even bother!

4. Water glasses pre-set on all of the tables -- but our waters were brought out in plastic tumblers..! So confusing..! Why waste your time setting all of the tables when you don't even use the glasses?

5. The side salad to my boyfriend's burrito was presented with a bottle of Italian dressing "Pear & Walnut" right from Champion supermarket down the street..! Oh goodness, we were just having a field day at this point.

We both have restaurant backgrounds and we were so perplexed by all of these quirks -- altogether a waste of time and money on behalf of La Hacienda. They're little things, but likely add up. I feel like they're trying to be a fancy little spot (fake flowers eeeeverywhere -- the decor is really bad) but don't know how to do it correctly. I just wanted to reach out to the manager and give him/her some tips. I think they should take a cue from De Mole in Sunnyside and tone down the tacky interior and focus on the food. We joked that we will only be ordering take out from now on -- it's just too awkward to go eat in the restaurant and their bottom line must be hurting from all of those nonsensical items..!

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La Hacienda
61-17 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11377

Mar 15, 2010
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Guide to Woodside

I didn't take it as a pompous remark -- I actually thought it was a legit compliment and am in agreement. I think Cuckoo's Nest does their food very well and it's a staple for us in the neighborhood -- I am a loyal fan of their veggie burger, that's for sure.

Mar 15, 2010
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Guide to Woodside

We've visited Quaint a few times and it wasn't mentioned because it's in Sunnyside. Though we adore the concept and the fact that Chef brought American cuisine to the neighborhood, it's been hit or miss for the money we spent. I've received cold dishes a couple of times and though I don't think much of it, I don't necessarily appreciate the waiting either. We've recreated many of their dishes at home (especially the arugula/pear salad) because we liked them so much.

Mar 15, 2010
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Cozy Spot for Casual Meeting & Getting Some Work Done

Yes, I love their lobby. I thought of the Ace and am considering it, but find that their seating fills up so quickly. Definitely on the short list though.

Mar 12, 2010
c.rogers in Manhattan

Cozy Spot for Casual Meeting & Getting Some Work Done

Have a casual brainstorming session on Monday evening and am in need of a decent spot where we can kick back, set up shop for a couple hours, have a few drinks & get some work done. Ideally off of the 456 below 42nd street, but flexible (crew coming in from Queens and Brooklyn, so want it to be a short-ish commute).

I instantly thought of Penelope [30th & Lex] because of their space but would like something with a decent bar and perhaps happy hour specials.

Mar 12, 2010
c.rogers in Manhattan

Guide to Woodside

We've been in the neighborhood for four months now, and the Food & Dining category on my Mint Account will agree that my other half and I have gone out to eat pretty often. Just posting some quick notes on spots that we've frequented as they're close to home and have served as "default" options when we're just too darn lazy to think about anything new.

Woodside Cafe - There have been comments that this spot is inconsistent, which I may agree with though my meal has never faltered. I normally have griddle items here and have not had a bad plate. My boyfriend is so-so about this place, as he's a stickler for well-cooked eggs and it seems that he hasn't gotten them here. However, I love the space and I found that it is good quality food (relatively) for the money. We have only had breakfast there.

La Flor - In agreement with the majority of positive reviews, though our last two trips reminded us that nothing can be perfect. Overall, you are absolutely safe if you order their tacos, which are the perfect portion size and come with a small salad. I love the tacos. My usual is the vegetable, though the shrimp is quite nice. I won't order the Huevos Rancheros again, as it's basically an egg floating in black bean sauce with a tortilla buried in the 'soup'. I was sorely disappointed and have never actually seen Huevos done like that. The pastry basket is nice but unnecessary -- though they do toast all the pieces, which is different. Specials, which I believe they have only recently introduced, are hit or miss. My boyfriend ordered a frittata with what was described as seasonal veggies and heirloom tomatoes. It was a personal-size frittata, small and plain, and not worth $9. No sides, nothing. It also ended up having similar items to their normal frittata, but they were charging more because it was a "special".. I wasn't into it and it was that trip that made us rethink where we should go for breakfast. I haven't tried any of the griddle items yet, nor had lunch or dinner there.

Sripraphai - Absolutely well-known for their Thai, but I think the quality of your meal depends on what you order. I'm not sure if I'm just not familiar with Thai cuisine (which is probably the case), but I've certainly ordered some disappointments. I tend to lean vegetarian, so I've been trying their salads -- Papaya, Shredded Green Mango, Watercress. Generally, not a fan. The flavor combinations have been fantastic (much, MUCH better than any Thai place we've tried -- the flavors and spices are there) but it's the consistency of the dish that I have a problem with. Very soupy, and though that's probably traditional, I'm personally turned off by it. The boyfriend, however, has had great luck with anything duck-related, and their curry items have been a hit. I have enjoyed their seafood (C-17 Seafood Saute is a usual). Haven't tried anything as simple as their pad thai yet -- might be interesting to see how they do something so "basic." Their portions are a good size for the price and I often have leftovers with any rice dish.

La Hacienda - Decent food, didn't feel it was anything special. Huge portions on some of their items however - and very cheap for a sit-down spot. It was absolutely empty when we went in on a Friday evening to eat before heading into Manhattan.

Cuckoo's Nest - A surprising contender, but a much better burger than Donovan's, IMO. Someone commented on Yelp: "I fully respect their presentation of a meal. The fries come in little paper bags, the side salads seem like they should be set on a white tablecloth - not a bar! Attractive all around, the bartenders seem proud when they bring you a meal at the bar. I like that." It seems like they're hiding quality food under the guise of yet another Irish pub in the neighborhood -- the burgers are definitely top notch, and come to think of it, we love them so much I'm pretty sure that's all we've ordered. Good spot, I hope it sticks around.

Donato's - The house special pizza is a regular for us on Monday evenings when we're just too dang lazy to do much of anything/in denial that the week has started. Haven't tried anything else on the menu and haven't felt the need.

Oct 04, 2009
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Need help looking for affordable, local, sustainable fare in the city & easy recipe ideas!

Regarding recipes, consider adding Tastespotting.com to your bookmarks -- it's a community-driven site where people can link to recipes and food-related posts on other places around the web. It's my go-to for recipe ideas and you will always get a slew of options, many with quality photos.

Aug 17, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Guide to Woodside

I haven't tried Stop Inn yet, but my boyfriend went and was sorely, sorely disappointed. Ridiculously overcooked eggs, he said. I'm thinking that perhaps their other items are better, or someone in the kitchen was having an off morning.. but for a chef that specializes in breakfast, he would not return.

We like the Woodside Cafe and La Flor for breakfast thus far. I like Woodside's space too -- very neat and streamlined.

Aug 12, 2009
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Guide to Woodside

We were actually impressed with the food at Cuckoo's Nest -- I try to steer clear of pub-type food, 'cause it makes an instant impact on my hips, but we stop in every once in a while because it's so close. Their burgers are really fantastic, and I can't remember if they have a veggie or turkey burger on the menu, but whichever it is, I ordered it and thought it was SO good. (Excuse my memory, I try to order those two on several locations and I can't remember which was at Cuckoo's Nest). At any rate, my boyfriend and I enjoyed their burgers much more than Donovan's.

Aug 12, 2009
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Obika Mozzarella Bar...?

Just for anyone else interested, I would definitely go with their salad options and add mozzarella (the smoked is divine). I think the salads are the best options for your money, with all fresh ingredients. I have to say, I wouldn't waste your time going if you don't actually get mozzarella -- and specify that you don't want bread. There is a charge and it's really not worth it.

Aug 12, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Pleasing Everyone: Sushi-lovers & Sushi-despising Vegetarians

Ooo. That sounds right on the money. With all my digging online, that never came up. Very nice!

Aug 05, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Pleasing Everyone: Sushi-lovers & Sushi-despising Vegetarians

Anyone have an opinion on Yuka on the UES? I've heard they have decent sushi for pretty cheap..

A vegetarian commented on Yelp about sushi places and Yuka was mentioned as an option.

Aug 05, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Pleasing Everyone: Sushi-lovers & Sushi-despising Vegetarians

Oh, soup & edamame may be an option -- thank you for your responses.

Aug 05, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Pleasing Everyone: Sushi-lovers & Sushi-despising Vegetarians

Dinner for a group, the majority of whom will be fine with sushi but there is one guest who will not eat sushi at all. I'm ideally looking for a spot with mid-priced sushi ($8-15 for rolls) with a decent selection of other items (soups, dumplings would be fantastic, salads, pasta -- not sure how likely that is). He has a pretty "simple" taste, doesn't have to be fancy, but would not appreciate being "forced" to throw $11 down for a house salad because it's his only option.

Would prefer a location below 34th St. but will travel. We're not looking for anything outrageously priced (~$30/person for good food would be an ideal price), just a decent meal for people coming in from out of town for the evening.

Aug 05, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Need the best cupcakes and Carrot cake

Billy's new location in Tribeca has the best cupcakes by far, not grainy or dry, and the frosting isn't slopped on. Their carrot cake is really delicious and classic. We regularly order Sugar Sweet Sunshine for our office, and though I enjoy them, the frosting is just globbed on and always looks messy.

Jul 29, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Guide to Woodside

We're big breakfast people. Any suggestions in the area other than Woodside Cafe..?

Jun 02, 2009
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Guide to Woodside

Bliss..!! Cannot wait to get started. We knew looking around that we were going to be in luck -- with great food for a great price. Quite the fantastic selection, thank you for all the information!

May 29, 2009
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

Guide to Woodside

My chef-boyfriend and I just snagged a fantastic apartment at 61st and Woodside, and though we're only moving over from Sunnyside, we had many beloved favorites in our neighborhood that I'm nervous about "leaving behind". Any chance a Woodsider can provide a run-down of the best places in our new neighborhood..?

May 27, 2009
c.rogers in Outer Boroughs

American/$$ - Walking Distance of Central Park South

Out of the three, this seems to be what we're looking for. Just for kicks, however, any similar suggestions..?

Apr 07, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

American/$$ - Walking Distance of Central Park South

It's actually a bit much -- cuisine and price-wise. Their apps are fine, but if someone was tempted to order the rib eye, it'd be a different ballgame altogether. Location would fit the bill, however.

Apr 07, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

American/$$ - Walking Distance of Central Park South

Need a cost-efficient spot ("Ruby Tuesday" prices/$12-20 for entrees) with American cuisine -- burgers, fish, comfort food -- that's within walking distance/short train ride from Central Park South. Would like to make a reservation, as this is for a group of 13 on a weeknight. Clients are involved, so looking for a quality establishment for an early dinner but doesn't need a whole lot of bells and whistles. Open to any and all suggestions!

Apr 07, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Casual, cost-efficient for catching up.

Group of friends looking to do a casual dinner to catch up tomorrow (Monday) evening around 6:30/7. We live in Queens (Astoria) and Brooklyn (W'burg), hardly see each other, and are looking to meet in Manhattan with as little train transfers as possible. We're fine with doing Midtown, and have been recommended a couple spots over on 9th Ave. which can work but looking for other suggestions. Not incredibly limited to certain neighborhoods, but logistics will probably determine the final destination.

Looking for something on the cheap side -- no more than $20pp for decent food and a couple drinks. Drink specials would be well-received. Beers on tap would be great. Would like a quality spot, however, so we don't have a tragic night. Open to cuisine -- we have a Mexican enthusiast and a picky eater in the group. Could do anything from good burgers (though I'd love a well-made salad..) to sushi. They don't give one iota about the NY restaurant scene and may not be impressed with a hole in the wall, but would love to surprise them with something outside of their "bubble."

Mar 08, 2009
c.rogers in Manhattan

Holiday Cocktails for 60 - Sleek, laidback venue..

Design firm trying to pinpoint a venue in Manhattan (no more north than Midtown) to host 60 guests in December. Looking for heavy hors d'oeuvres & an open bar with top shelf liquor. We're a really laidback group that obviously enjoys a well-designed space, would love somewhere with either a private room that's not too uppity or a smaller venue that could be rented out for the evening.

We've done everything from top floor lounge overlooking the city with with hired caterers to renting out a corner bar in the EV.

Thoughts, recommendations, or a general starting point..?

Oct 27, 2008
c.rogers in Manhattan