NFT New York Sunnyside / Woodside

Sunnyside / Woodside

Here's a little-known secret: Sunnyside and Woodside have it all. Cheap ethnic food? Check. Cozy neighborhood dives? A dime a dozen. Easy commute? Just a hop to Grand Central. Tree-lined streets? Aplenty. Gourmet coffee? Since 1968. Diverse residents? Melting pot central. Affordable rents? Yes... for now. The only thing the neighborhood is missing? The kind of it-ness that made rents skyrocket in Long Island City to the west, Astoria to the north, and Greenpoint to the south. It's a little slice of authenticity surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods that have all at some point been touted as The Next Best Thing. Good thing for Sunnyside and Woodside: They're not the next best anything - - they're just exceedingly livable and interesting areas that all kinds of people are happy to call home. So: Can you keep a secret?

Queens Boulevard bisects the neighborhood and is nearly impossible to avoid. It's nicknamed the "Boulevard of Death" for a reason: Cars drive on it like a highway, pedestrians dash across it as if they always have the right of way, and this combination is in fact more-than-occasionally fatal. Proceed with extreme caution, and if you're one of those foolhardy souls weaving in and out of traffic on a bicycle, the question on everyone's minds is: Are you brave, suicidal, or just plain crazy, and have you ever heard of a helmet?See more.

Sunnyside Gardens, the leafiest and most expensive part of the neighborhood, once played host to so many baby-toting ex-artists that it was dubbed "the maternity ward of Greenwich Village." The Gardens - - spread out across 55 acres - - were built in the 1920s as part of a movement to develop affordable urban housing with green spaces. Stroll under a canopy of trees along the numbered blocks from 46th St to 50th St between Skillman Avenue and 39th Avenue and keep your eyes open for little alleys - - you can meander between houses to get a peek at their verdant shared yards. At the heart of the Gardens, you'll find the three-acre Sunnyside Park, which boasts gardens, tennis courts, a pool and a playground - - all open only to dues-paying members. If you prefer your parks free and public, continue east into Woodside, where the recently resuscitated Doughboy Plaza includes a dog run, a track, a playground, and the famous Woodside Doughboy statue. Whatever you do, remember that Vincent Daniels Square appears green only on maps: It's really just a traffic triangle ringed with park benches, and the surrounding sidewalks are coated in guano all year round.

For more idyllic concrete park-sitting, walk south under the Sunnyside Arch to the always-bustling Greenpoint Avenue, where empanadas are sold from every other storefront and the succulent chicken attracts salivating meat-eaters from all over town. On an otherwise desolate stretch of the Avenue, you'll find the grand, gated entry to the picturesque Calvary Cemetery, where yesteryear's gentry marked their final resting spots with ornate gravestones boasting skyline views. For a day in the sun, you don't need to pay for that other park in the north: Grab a coffee and snag a picnic table across the street at the Thomas P Noonan Jr Playground. If you tire of handball, sprinklers, and people watching (never!), check out what's playing further up the avenue at the Thalia Spanish Theatre, home for over 30 years to the city's best bilingual performances.


Maggie Mae's, The Courtyard, and other Irish bars cluster around Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside. Experience the Emerald Isle in Woodside at Sean Og, Saints and Sinners, and all the other fresh-off-the-boat nightspots around 61st Street. Rest your liver Tuesdays at the gloriously grubby Center Cinemas, when first-run films cost $5.

Let your palate circle the globe: Cheap, fantastic Mexican at De Mole; authentic Korean (and plenty of meat, don't be fooled) at Natural Tofu; inventive Asian fusion (vegetable kofta, swoon) at Tangra Masala; buttery French pastries at La Marjolaine.

All of the essentials are at hand in Sunnyside/Woodside: supermarkets, banks, and whatever else that makes a neighborhood convenient. Then hit up Superior Market for its exceptional beer selection, Stray Vintage for something boutique-y, El-Shater for Middle Eastern victuals and the excellent Ottomanelli & Sons for your butcher needs.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
East Side Kids

By Jessica Feder-Birnbaum
Kids these days. So full of life. Sometimes you gotta put them in their place and sometimes you just gotta take them on the town. And what part? The East Side. From Kosher bakeries to high-falutin' libraries, the East Side has it all. Come. Join us on this kid-friendly journey.

(Irish) Pub Crawl

By Jayson Walker
Irish pubs needs Irish drinkers. And Irish drinkers need Irish drinks. Irish drinks need to be drunk. Drunk people need to be free. You follow? Jayson Walker elucidates.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Molly Riordan
Photo:  Courtesy of Quaint

'Quaint' is a subjective adjective, one signifying different properties based on personal experience. Doilies, picket fences, the Amish, an AOL account--each might be considered 'quaint' by different people. My jaded, stone-cold Brooklyn spirit predisposed to scoffing at attempted preciousness found in Quaint a disarmingly warm restaurant, living up to its name in ways I suspect it didn't intend. The food was fantastic: green gazpacho--complements of the chef!--is a refreshing kiss of seasonal sunshine on a rainy evening; the 'crispy, spicy' calamari is just that, with huge fully-connected tentacles that I oh-so-covet; and the chicken is, literally, the BEST chicken I've had in the city. Though the food and atmosphere are typical of any BoCoCa bistro, it's the unaffected simplicity that makes Quaint a Sunnyside stand-out. No artfully-distressed paint, no gimmicky mismatched chairs, no purposely-aloof-bordering-on-godawful service (in fact, it was almost too quick and attentive, but how dare I judge?). In short, a welcome reprieve from the Brooklyn restaurant scene that deposited my dining partner and I back on the Skillman Avenue satisfied and speculating on Queens rent prices. Thanks, Quaint, for a nice meal without 20% attitude included.

Posted By:  Jayson Walker
Photo:  Jayson Walker

Diminutive but mighty, the Woodside Irish Deli crams a warehouse’s selection of Gaelic goods: frozen, fresh, canned, and concocted, into its snug corner glass-and-placard valance. Even those never setting foot in Kerry are long for Ireland and its culinary comfort food (really!) after gazing upon the variety of marrowfat peas and canned beans and tomato (Heinz, Batchelor’s, AND Branston!). The sausage-stuffed deli case overflows with stacks upon stacks of Donnelly’s white, black, and blood pudding, and Kerrygold butter and dairy products. Raw goods like brown bread flour and Flahavan’s Oats share shelving with Jammie Dodgers, Boland’s Biscuits, and McVities (English, but oh well) cookies. The hot counter serves full meal favorites (all under $8) like bangers and mash, Irish stew, bacon and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, curry or garlic and cheese chips, as well as full Irish breakfasts and home sausage rolls served all day every day for the late riser. Irish lasses commandeer the Cadbury and county shield-clad register and three pubs are within eyeshot of the sandwich board. One-stop shopping?

Posted By:  Jayson Walker
Photo:  Jayson Walker

Since the thrift-as-couture movement has long-since matured from the penny stock depths of the ‘90s zeitgeist into a ‘00s blue-chip cultural juggernaut, the term ‘vintage’ (however mutually exclusive) is often successfully co-opted to hock overpriced sentiments not befitting of the term (been to Cheap Jack’s in this decade?). While it’s doubtful that there’s an expensive crap-for-crap’s-sake movement coming (possible, though I wouldn’t buy stock in it), it’s great to see a shop with a well-groomed collection of well-priced, truly vintage items: excellent milk glass for under $20, decent rock and soul vinyl, handsome period (and in some cases, collector) picture frames, not to mention a small but smart selection of jackets/shirts. Great for a quick birthday gift or an empty shelf-filler. Moreover, Stray Vintage doubles as a consignment shop for photographer postcards, aroma-therapy oils, or whatever the owners (Dan & Tara) find interesting, be it from designers, or other collectors, at a very reasonable mark-up. Really, you’d usually have to go to the East Village to lose your shirt on a mint-condition 8mm projector. Here, you’re saved the trip and the bare-chested embarrassment.

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Restaurants (34)
Nightlife (10)
Shopping (72)
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