Meridian Cafe 47-25 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, Queens
Long Island City is flying under the radar as a destination of choice. With aspirations of becoming the next Battery Park City, the neighborhood is developing fastconstruction is under way for several high-rises on the waterfront. As further evidence of what's to come, walk down Vernon Boulevard, which is slowly filling the food-and-drink void. The newest addition to the strip, Meridian Cafe, has arrived just in time. Owned by three Italian brothers in their early twentiesFrankie, Bruno, and Michaelwith a penchant for giving out free shots and T-shirts that read, "I got some last night," the bar/restaurant/ lounge shares the guys' laid-back personalities. The atmosphere is similar to that of a house party. And it only gets better when cousin Vinny and paesans Jon-Jon and Chris are around to buy everyone drinks'ey, oh, they'll take care of you. Even if they're M.I.A., you'll get your money's worth since cocktails are mixed on the strong side. Whether your idea of a good time is to sit at the stainless-steel bar with a Long Island iced tea ($8) or at one of the cozy tables with the Tuscan chianti ($7) from the wine list, don't be surprised if you clock in some overtime on any given night. The decor (exposed brick, faux fireplace, and an array of funky lighting fixtures) and tasty fare (try the 10-ounce burger, $9) only add to the all-inclusive feel. But ultimately it's the three eager-to-please hosts who make Meridian a must visit for skeptics still doubting Long Island City's potential. Go get some tonight!