How to Explore Queens This Spring
Though we're currently being treated to a final wintry blast, spring is officially here. As the last piles of exhaust-blackened snow melt away, the city's biggest borough plays host to a number of food-related events. Here, we preview the coming season of eating and drinking in Queens.
March 27: Best of Astoria 2014, Strand Smokehouse We Heart Astoria, run by some of the borough's most devoted bloggers, hosts its Best of Astoria 2014 bash at the Strand Smokehouse. An award ceremony -- fueled by bourbon, beer, and all-you-can-eat BBQ -- will crown the neighborhood's greatest restaurants, bars, and businesses. 2013's list of favorites included paninoteca Il Bambino, Ditmars Avenue institution Taverna Kyclades, and Sweet Afton. Stop by to see if last year's victors hold on to their titles.
April 5 and May 4: LIC Flea / Astoria Flea, 46th Avenue and 5th Street, Long Island City Next month, LIC Flea & Food returns to its spot on 46th Avenue overlooking the East River. In 2013, this outdoor market featured vendors from nearby spots like Alobar Restaurant (New American) and Oconomi (Japanese) alongside fresh produce from New Jersey's J&L Farms and vintage clothing from Pin Up Queens. This year's lineup isn't settled yet, and the Flea is still open to new vendors. In fact, interest has been so high that it will expand, with a new flea headed to Astoria's Kaufman Studios backlot on May 4.
April 6: Sparrow Film Project, The Sparrow Tavern The Sparrow Tavern, Astoria's answer to the Cheers bar (but with better food and cocktails), sponsors an annual movie competition. Would-be auteurs sign up April 6 and must write, shoot, and edit a three-minute short within the following three weeks. Each year's contest has a theme; last year, every filmmaking team was assigned one of Vladimir Propp's 31 functions of storytelling around which to base their projects. The final results were screened at the Museum of the Moving Image, bringing a taste of the Oscars to the neighborhood.
April 19 through 27: Queens Beer Week Much has been made of the outer borough brewery revolution. With newcomers like Glendale's Finback Brewery and Maspeth's Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, plus old school beer gardens like Bohemian Hall, Queens is an easy place to find a good buzz. Queens Beer Week gives local spots the opportunity to host open houses, showcase their brews, and teach tasting and pairing courses. It all begins with a kick-off party at Astoria's SingleCut Beersmiths. Tickets are not required.
April 29: Queens Taste, Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, 135-20 39th Avenue, Flushing Sponsored by the Queens Economic Development Council and Fairway Market, this food and networking event held in Flushing is ideal for those looking to do business in the borough. Tickets are pricey at $100 a pop, but give you access to 50 vendors from restaurants hailing from Long Island City to Jamaica. Proceeds go toward local development, so it's good for the 'hood.
May 20: Taste of Sunnyside Sunnyside Shines, the neighborhood's business improvement district, will host Taste of Sunnyside, beneath the 7 train between 45th and 46th Streets. Tickets go on sale April 1, and vendors are to be determined; here's hoping the carnivore-friendly Salt & Fat, and Korean hotpot spot Natural Tofu will participate.
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