A luscious spice-rubbed rotisserie chicken from Pio Pio may be just the ticket.
Ann P. asks: I’m flying to California next week, driving myself from the Upper West Side to Kennedy Airport, where I’ll leave my car in a long-stay lot while I’m away. Here’s my question: I hate airline food and refuse to pay for that slop. Where can I get some carryout on the way that will make my seatmates jealous and fill the airplane with delicious smells?
Dear Ann: I applaud your sadism and can imagine the crestfallen looks on your fellow passengers’ faces as they get their dry turkey sandwiches, while you whip out, say, a bulging goat roti.
You don’t say which route you’re taking, but here are a number of possibilities along several possible paths.
If you’re taking the shortcut on Woodhaven Boulevard, the old standby is Pio Pio (6230 Woodhaven Boulevard, Queens, 718-458-0606), a long-running Peruvian café where a spice-rubbed chicken, fried yuca, and a creamy avocado salad make perfect airline eating.
If you’re taking the southern route via Atlantic Avenue or one of the other thoroughfares, hit Rockaway Boulevard and Annie’s Roti Shop (127-07 Rockaway Boulevard, Queens, 718-323-7101), where you can get a wrapped conch, chicken, or goat roti, or have it configured as a “buss-up shot,” with the flatbread on the side.
If you choose the standard LIE to the Van Wyck route, exit at Jamaica Boulevard and head into downtown Jamaica. There are several easy-access Salvadoran diners where you can get a mixed collection of stuffed pupusas. El OK Restaurante Salvadoreno (145-16 Jamaica Avenue, Queens, 718-526-7917), which is a much better restaurant than the name suggests, makes corn as well as the rarer rice pupusas, stuffed with cheese and loroco flowers, or various combinations of beans, cheese, and pork. The whole fried porgy is another good bet, and it tastes good at room temperature, I swear.
Finally, if you really want to stick it to your fellow travelers in the metallic bird, score a meal from Maima’s (106-47 Guy Brewer Boulevard, Queens, 718-206-3538), the city’s only Liberian restaurant, where you can get a dose of the mega-spicy shrimp pepper soup or match fufu with a variety of meat or fish stews, which you traditionally eat with your fingers. Imagine the looks on the faces of surrounding sufferers as you go up to your elbow in a meal of West African fufu.
The phenomenal shrimp pepper soup from Maima’s.