Queens: A Roosevelt Avenue Street Food Tour

Tortas Nezas
May 16th, 2012
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I don’t get out to Queens much. In fact, besides going to the airports, I mostly like to avoid the borough as a whole. That said, I’ve been hearing great things about the great food there for years. Last year, the lore took me out to M Wells – twice. Last weekend, it took me to Roosevelt Avenue, where I grazed my way down thirty blocks with my fellow Midtown Lunch contributors, Donny (of Eat To Blog) and Siobhan (of Blondie & Brownie).
The trip wasn’t entirely for leisure, though. Siobhan and her blogging partner Alex are writing a street food cookbook and Donny and I will be providing some of the photography. So, you know, it’s research. Leading us through this unfamiliar territory was Jeff Orlick, aka JeffreyTastes, who runs regular tours of the area.
I hope to write a few posts about some of the specific places we visited, but who knows when I’ll have time for that, so let’s start with the highlights – after the jump.


We met up at Tortas Nezas, a truck on Roosevelt and 111th Street that specializes in those delicious football-shaped sandwiches I fell in love wi in Mexico City five years ago.
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One of the few explicitly Mexican places we visited (most are Ecuadorean), the menu lists a dozen tortas, each named after a different football team.
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I chose the Torta Toluqueñas with chorizo, salsicha, cheese, avocado and god knows what else. It was huge. I ate the smaller half and wondered how I was going to eat anything else for the rest of the night. Thankfully, someone suggested that I take the rest to go.
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The salsicha caught my attention – basically strips of hot dog (Jeff says he thinks they use chicken dogs) that are split and plumped on the griddle.
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Once Jeff got there, we started wandering down Roosevelt. There was at least one cart and often many more on every block. I’m glad I had a guide, because I’d have just gone to the first five, gotten full and headed home, thus missing the amazing snacks we ended up enjoying later.
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Presuming not everyone wants their photo taken, I didn’t shoot every place we went to. I enjoyed the hell out of the tamal I got from this lady, but assume the shopping cart she sold it from hadn’t been inspected by the DOH. She also sold Donny a cup of corn soup that reminded me of all the delicious food I had in Peru.
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When passing places he hadn’t been to yet, like this salchipapas stand manned by a pair of older ladies, Jeff made a point of introducing himself and explaining his tour.
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Another favorite from the walk was La Esquina del Sabor, where they make what I guess are huaraches from handmade masa. We spent bout half an hour there chatting and watching her at work. I hope to post a bit more about them specifically at some point.
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We shared a huge huarache filled with huitlacoche, cheese, spicy pickled veggies and a ton of lettuce.
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While we were there, Siobhan made a friend with a rather outgoing little girl who was out on Roosevelt that night.
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Just across the street from there, was a whole strip of trucks, tricked out with some small seating, tv screens playing telenovelas and the like. It was an impressive sight.
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By this point, I started wondering how much longer we were going to be out. I couldn’t imagine eating another thing and after walking thirty blocks, all I could think of was what a pain it was going to be to get home.
Then I saw this…
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These arepas, cheese-filled corn pastries, looked amazing. But I was SO full!
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We ended up splitting two varieties of them and I have to say, I’m craving them a week later.
The Arepa Lady.
The Arepa Lady is famous in these parts. She only works certain nights and closes up entirely during the cold months. She’s a worthy destination for anyone interested in good food and I’m not following her on twitter, where she may tempt me into another trip to Queens some time soon.

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