by Alexis Korman - 110 Reviews - 7 List
While both Astoria and Long Island City draw visitors for excellent (not to mention affordable) ethnic eats and edgy bars, Sunnyside, Queens (located just 15 minutes from midtown on the 7 train), is often miscast as little more than a sleepy, tree-lined suburb. But with a host of cool bars, tasty restaurants and upscale beauty spots, things are looking sunny for this relaxed Queens nabe. Check out our favorite restaurants, bars and spas, from a romantic French bistro to a sophisticated spa and retro-chic butcher shop boasting brawny, apron-sporting Irishmen. (Photo: Doug Letterman on Flickr)
Updated: August 19, 2010
Potent frozen margaritas (by the pitcher) and filling South-of-the-Border favorites for less than $10 (like carne asada tacos and mole-smothered chicken) make this tiny, colorfully decorated 12-table eatery a local favorite--even though you may feel as though you're sitting on someone else's lap during your meal. Ideal for a cheap and cheerful brunch, you'll want to watch out for steep stairs when heading to el ba?o--a perilous journey after super-strong drinks.
Located on a bustling corner of Skillman Avenue, this sleek, brick-walled wine bar features friendly service, sidewalk seating and tasty small plates (like the rosemary-infused sirloin steak sandwich) along with cheese and charcuterie boards. Of course, crowds come for the vino and upscale atmosphere. More than 100 wines make the list, hailing from around the globe, with 50 options available by the glass or carafe and many selections for less than $10. Live jazz and bluegrass bands play on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Looking for a solid spot to watch the game in Sunnyside? This never-too-crowded, laid-back beer bar features tons of flat screen TVs (often showing a variety of games at once), affordable pub snacks such as wings and quesadillas, and of course, lots of the sudsy stuff. Frequent promotions (think scantily clad, somewhat creepy Heineken girls) and a lengthy happy hour (weekdays, 11am-7pm) ensure you'll get your buzz on even if you're adhering to a budget.
Affordable spa treatments (massages, wraps and facials) in an upscale environment make Pure a destination for ladies looking to, er, feel like a Queen in Queens. It's all about pampering, as customers enter the soothing space and are outfitted with a comfy robe and slippers--making the plush, pre-treatment relaxation room (offering tea, trashy magazines and dried fruit snacks) a treat in itself. Extras include a complimentary glass of Champagne following most services.
Real men wear aprons. At least, they do at this out-of-the-way gourmet find. A total gem in the neighborhood, this old-school-style butcher shop offers much more than meat--including attractive Irishmen serving up gourmet meats and down-home dishes from across the pond, like shepherd's pie and fish and chips. The secret bonus? Butcher's Block boasts a great array of imported sundries from the U.K. (like Walker's chips and Flake candy bars) along with a variety of international suds. Come at lunchtime for the best bargain around: meaty sandwiches for a mere $6.
This romantic, ivory-hued restaurant is perched on a prime corner of Bliss Street. Its main draw is its lovely outdoor garden--especially when summer months necessitate a break from the urban jungle. Perfect for a date night, the affordable but still sophisticated French-American fare (think mussels in white wine, frisee salad topped with duck confit and classic bistro dishes like coq au vin) will impress without breaking the bank, with most mains costing less than $20.
In my quest to find the perfect faux-glow, I stumbled upon this hidden find for spray tans in Sunnyside. It's located, somewhat ironically, next door to the Transylvania restaurant (which sports a portrait of ultra-pale Dracula in one corner), and the husband and wife team behind In-Bloom offers traditional tanning, along with the sprayed-on version, to glorious, attention-grabbing results. And at a fraction of the cost of many Manhattan salons. Perhaps even Dracula could suck it up and get a tan?