Boston Restaurant Blog -- September, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Last week, I was down in Queens and Brooklyn but only for a brief time, so I didn't get to try many restaurants, but I was able to get to two dining spots I had never been to before, as well as hitting an old classic at Coney Island.
On the way to Queens, we stopped in the pleasant Westchester County town of Mamaroneck for a quick lunch. Our destination was a little Mexican hole-in-the-wall called Veracruz. There wasn't much to the place, as it had a small kitchen area on the left that was also where folks picked up takeout, and a rather plain dining room to the right. Our food was a mixed bag, with everything being a bit too greasy for our tastes, but to be fair, some of the food was quite good. The chile relleno, for instance, did have a greasy batter but it was stuffed with deliciously mild cheese and came wrapped in two tortillas with tasty beans, rice, and cilantro placed between the tortillas and the pepper. And the beef tacos had a flavorful mix of lean meat, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a good dose of cilantro for good measure. Unfortunately, the spicy pork sandwich was simply too greasy and it was absolutely overloaded with cheese (once some of the cheese was taken off, it wasn't bad tasting, however). Service was a bit reserved but friendly enough, and the prices were very low. Greasiness aside, I mostly liked the food at Veracruz, though I'm not sure I'd put it near the top of my list of places to go near Route 95 in New York or Southwest Connecticut.
After spending part of the afternoon in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, we headed to the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, where three of us ended up wandering the boardwalk area and Surf Avenue. We ate little snacks along the way, including some of your typical beach food along the boardwalk as well as an outstanding hot dog at the original Nathan's near the old Astroland. I've been to this Nathan's before, and it is certainly a classic spot that is a must for anyone who loves hot dogs (and places that represent old New York).
After Coney Island it was back to Queens for the night, and the next day it was back to Boston. But before we headed back, we had breakfast at an old-school restaurant in Flushing called the Palace Diner. Overlooking a highway and set in a neighborhood of small houses and apartments, the Palace Diner had a New Jersey feel to it (or perhaps something out of a Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen song). It was huge, with a moderate-sized dining area to the left, a sprawling dining area to the right, a separate dining area at the end of the room to the right, and an area of counter seating in the middle of the place. There were some real old-fashioned touches to the diner, including booths with individual jukeboxes, a linoleum floor, and a fish tank near the entrance. Our breakfast was good, solid diner fare that included a pancake-style pastrami omelet filled with meat, bagels that were very nicely done (crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside), some tasty corned beef hash that was firm and clumpy, and about the best home fries I have had anywhere, with thinly-sliced potatoes and carmelized onions seasoned perfectly. Service was efficient and the prices were generally pretty reasonable. And there was a parking lot right out front. So basically there was much to like about the Palace Diner, enough so I could see myself trying the place for lunch or dinner sometime in the future.
My trip to the New York City area was indeed a brief one, but there were some good eats along the way (especially at Nathan's and the Palace Diner). Be on the lookout for another New York blog entry coming up soon, as I may be heading to Manhattan over the next couple of months (and surely hitting some new restaurants along the way).
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