Sure is weird having that early-morning daylight back again, isn’t it? Kind of makes you want to cram even more activity into your already-busy morning (knowing the darkness that lies ahead at the other end of the day). Well, folks, for that you’re going to need energy… which is why you’re hereby advised NOT to skip the most important meal of the day, and one of our personal favorites – breakfast!
GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY
69-25 Grand Avenue
Folks, when there’s a line forming at the counter at 5:00 am, that’s got to tell you something, right? Regular readers of these pages already know how fond we are of the considerable charms of the GLENDALE BAKE SHOP. Early weekday mornings, you just might find us sitting there with our Coconut Custard or Walnut Strip, accompanied, of course, by a terrific cup of coffee. But lately, we have fallen for a new taste treat here – their 2 Egg, Pepperoni, Monterey Jack Omelette on a Kaiser Roll. (And you know how much we love melted cheese at “BEST OF THE BEST”!) The tanginess of the pepperoni, the silkiness of the melted cheese, the fluffiness of the Kaiser Roll – what can we say, this is one of the truly scrumptious ways to get us going in the morning, and we’re pretty sure you’ll feel the same way.
Forest Hills/Rego Park/Glendale
89-05 Metropolitan Avenue
Right on the triangle that borders Forest Hills, Rego Park, and Glendale (Cooper Avenue and Metro, to be exact) sits one of the coziest (and cleanest!) places you’re going to find for your morning cup of java and more. While the danish and pastry courtesy of Astoria’s LA GULI are definitely quite promising, what really wins us over every time here are the bargain-priced Bagel Specials they’ve got in the mornings. Our favorite: the Ham, Egg, and Cheese on a Bagel – brought to you fresh in a basket – which costs you just $2.65 and includes a pretty sizable “medium” cup of coffee! No matter what ails us, that kind of bargain always puts a smile on our face. Most of the times we’ve been there, it’s been the lovely Michaela or Leahan who’ve been providing the efficient and friendly service. And if you’re lucky, they’ll be there when you stop in, too.
903 Seneca Avenue
If you’re thinking of RIDGEWOOD EATS as just a diner, then you’ve obviously never been inside. And if you’re thinking of it as merely a coffee shop, well then you just haven’t tried enough of their menu offerings, have you? Folks, what can we say, but this is where Ridgewood eats, and honestly, should they really head anywhere but? Service here is among the very best you’re going to find, and everything is oh-so-reasonably priced. Egg dishes, omelettes, pancakes, French Toast, even the more-than-we-could-handle “Lumberjack Special” (Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, Ham, Sausage) are all standouts, and among the many reasons owner John Contemto’s seen the place thrive these five years and still going strong. But our favorite thing about the place: the all-American country cottage accoutrements all around you (very soothing as you linger before heading off to work), and that RIDGEWOOD EATS logo on our coffee mug is definitely a nice touch, too!
60-06 Woodside Avenue
I’m sure we’ll get a lot of grief for this – but folks, this is the best Irish Breakfast we have ever had (especially the Black Pudding and the White Pudding!) Not only that, but the WOODSIDE CAFÉ is just so darn attractive. Remember the days when your favorite coffee shop looked clean and tidy, with an emphasis on the kind of fun and eye-catching design that made 50’s and 60’s era diners so popular? Well, in a neighborhood with not all that much light thanks to the elevated 7 train thundering overhead, owner Jimmy O’Sullivan’s created an airy oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle of a neighborhood constantly on the go. We’re even charmed by the aesthetic appeal of the very cups, dishes, etc. your food and drink are served in. What can we say, but please check this place out, you’ll be glad that you did.
IGLOO ICE CREAM CAFE
22-26 31st Street
The Panagiotopolous Family started in the ice cream business at this location (hence, the name), but at their patrons’ request began to offer a wider variety of menu items – burgers, sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, etc. And, folks, we are so very glad that they did! One of the brightest and most charming cafes you may ever encounter, pancakes and waffles are among the things they do the very best of here, as well as their challah bread French Toast. Fluffy, golden brown, buttery, syrupy – it just doesn’t get any better than this, people. We’re also big fans of their Breakfast Burrito or Breakfast Wrap (and those waffle-cut fries), especially for hot-to-trot Astorians on the go. To top it all off, the coffee is quite good here, too – lattes, cappuccinos, etc. – and always served with a smile. Eight years now and going strong definitely says a lot for the considerable appeal of this neighborhood favorite.
318 Graham Avenue
GARDEN GRILL is one of the top-notch diner/coffee shop experiences in our area. Not only do they offer a number of reasonably priced potato ’n’ egg breakfast combinations (with some truly noteworthy home fries!), but in our humble opinion, not too many do breakfast meats better – moist, not too dry, strips of thick bacon; and some of the juiciest, plumpest sausage around. But it’s really the service here that makes the place so very special. Stop in even just a few times, and that familiar face who’s always so attentive to refilling your coffee might even know your name by now. Hey, even if you’re just stopping by up front for a coffee and a cruller, we’ve no doubt you’ll be so pleased you’ll linger longer next time. Yes, father and son Chris and Gus Karasakalides sure do have a lot to be proud of here.
FAME DINER & RESTAURANT
69-67 Grand Avenue
There’s a distinct energy to FAME in the mornings, a “hustle and bustle” if you will, that lets you know that you are in one of the neighborhood’s premiere gathering places. Quick and reliable service from waitresses who know you by name at this point is the hallmark of this establishment, not to mention a great cup of coffee and a wide variety of egg dishes and omelettes. We’re also really fond of their Corned Beef Hash and their Irish Breakfast, as well. Your food always comes piping hot, which not everyone this popular is able to pull off. Best thing about FAME, though? It’s so reasonably priced, we’re sure you’ll be a regular before you know it.
64-66 Dry Harbor Road
Anthony Saieva’s been a Yankee hater all his life (all thirteen years of it, anyway), which is probably why during this long winter, he’s going to need to fortify himself with more than a few of the very distinct creation he concocted for mom Louise at MATSON’S DELI in Middle Village. The “Anthony Wrap” is a perfect blend of three eggs, pastrami, and pepper jack cheese – with just a dash of ketchup to take the edge off the pastrami – and is absolutely one of our favorite pick-me-ups in the morning. Top that off with one of the best cups of coffee you’re going to find anywhere, and that makes MATSON’S DELI just about the perfect place to pop in and grab something in the morning before you trundle out again for your long and busy day.
ADAM’S BAGEL & DELI
63-56 Woodhaven Boulevard
Whether you’re “Guy The Writer,” “Wally B.S.” or any of the cops, firefighters, doctors, lawyers, etc. who might stop in here, everybody who visits ADAM’S BAGEL & DELI gets called “Boss” – but with a tremendous sense of affection and respect. It’s a great place to come for quick and great service, and their bagels – proudly on display right before your eyes the moment you enter – are always fresh. The other thing, they really know how to melt butter here, and any toasted, buttered bagel – Salt, Onion, Everything – always puts a particularly sunny smile on our face. It should be pointed out that ADAM’S BAGEL & DELI is open 24 hours, and while some of their other breakfast offerings (like the Big Bite on a Roll!) are pretty great, so too are their heroes and paninis like “The God Father,” or their “Here’s The Beef.” Not only that, but it’s also the perfect place to pick up a newspaper while you’re waiting!
MIKE & MARIA’S DELI
62-04 68th Avenue
Regular readers of these pages know what big fans we are of MIKE & MARIA’S sandwiches, and breakfast-time is no different. Our two favorite things about the place in the morning – their rolls, and their expertise in melted cheese (a “BEST OF THE BEST” staple!) Whether it’s the M train you’re headed to, or maybe the Q-58 or the B-13, you’d do well to stop in here first and grab a Bacon, Egg and Cheese, or a Ham, Egg, and Cheese on a roll, because considering how little money you’re going to spend on it, you’re going to get a whole lot of satisfaction for it. Which is really how every day ought to begin, no?
Long Island City
NEW YORK DINER
49-09 Northern Boulevard
Remember when your favorite diner was shaped like a railroad car? You probably thought there weren’t any more of those around. Well, get yourself over to Northern Boulevard then, a stone’s throw from BEST BUY, and check this one out for yourself. Besides incredible ambience – booths on the left, counter on the right – you’ve got some of the best potato ‘n’ egg breakfast dishes in Queens here (and so reasonably priced!) as well as some fantastic pancakes and waffles that are sure to make you a regular. But our favorite thing about the place really is the way patrons are greeted upon arrival and welcomed as if they’ve just entered your home. Now, there’s something you don’t see too much of anymore. And you know what, it makes a difference!
THE BAGEL STORE
247 Bedford Avenue
Well, this is absolutely the largest bagel emporium we ever did see, what with its expansive seating area, and huge cathedral-style two story windows looking out onto Bedford and North 3rd. But more importantly, this is an establishment which prides itself on even bigger flavors. The bagels are top-notch, chewy, doughy, tasty, but it’s the spreads where they excel here: Pumpkin cream cheese, Cake Batter cream cheese, Cannoli cream cheese, in fact, more than you can even take in at first glance. And then there’s this unforgettable creation – their French Toast Bagel, which is best enjoyed with, yep, butter and syrup. Our favorite thing about the BAGEL STORE, though? The way the congenial woman at the cash register tells each and every patron, “Enjoy your bagel, have a nice day!” Hey, every little bit helps, right?
Got a favorite spot of your own you’d like to share with us? Give us a holler at BestOfTheBest@QueensLedger.com, and we’ll make sure to publish you in an upcoming edition!