A true melting pot, Astoria, Queens is mostly inhabited by Greeks but is heavily influenced by the cultures of Asians, South Americans, and Italians. Many immigrants of other ethnicities fill the traditional neighborhoods, originally attracted to the area for its low cost of living.

Most of the food is a reflection of this diversity, epitomizing cultural authenticity at a low price. But as the area slowly begins to gentrify, various coffee and dessert shops pop up, serving trendy foods and demonstrating the profusion of pop-culture.

I was able to eat from some of the places in this article when exploring Astoria with three of my friends over the summer. I'll save the others for my next trip back! 

1. Queens Comfort

Queens Comfort is famous for its original comfort food served in a homey setting. The walls are lined with plaid booths and shelves of knick knacks, collectibles, action figures, and comic books that you can purchase. The music overhead comes from an actual record player - a true rarity in most restaurants. 

Arguably, the most impressive thing about Queens Comfort is its innovative cuisine. Some out of the countless examples include: Pina Colada Buttermilk Pancakes, "The Pig Mac", Cap'n Crunch Crusted Chicken Sandwich, and Blueberry French Toast Balls. Every Sunday, a baker there makes a new incredible dessert; the Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookie Butter Donut shown above is an example!  

2. Gossip Coffee

Visiting Gossip Coffee is like walking into a retro 60's movie. Diagonal red and white tiles cover the bar and parts of the wall. Shelves display old cameras, antique gold clocks, and flower vases. Outside, the backyard is more modern, constructed from wooden planks, filled with flower pots, and shaded by a canopy of weaved paper.

Some of their specialties include cold-brew coffee and iced tea on tap, house donuts, and rice pudding. They are especially famous for their artisan donuts, examples of which are Nutella almond, Prosciutto Guinness, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Orange Creamsicle, and Keylime Pie. Their claim to fame on instagram was their mixing of two specialties to create the donut coffee seen above! 

3. Dawa's

Dawa's NYC serves authentic Himalayan and New American cuisine that changes often based on seasonal ingredients. The environment is beautifully simplistic, all white wood tables and large dangling light bulbs. It's a small, family-owned restaurant that strives to use locally farmed ingredients.

Dawa's is famous for their vegetable and chicken momo, a type of South Asian Dumpling, which they serve in a pool of piquant sauce. You'll also be able to have your fix of a French toast brunch here, or if you're feeling a little adventurous, an herb poached wild cod or Jerusalem artichoke soup. 

4.  Al Sham Sweets & Pastries

Al Sham Sweets & Pastries may not have memorable decor, but its Middle Eastern and Greek desserts are famous. It has a large selection of mixed baklavas, swiss rolls, barazee, jam filled cookies, kataifi pastries, and more.

The place is especially known for its Kanafeh, a cheese pastry soaked in a sugar-based syrup, typically found in regions of the former Ottoman Empire. If you're not willing to spend too much money but are looking for an authentic treat, swing by! 

5. La Guli Pastry Shop

La Guli Pastry Shop has been operating out of the same location since the day the doors opened in 1937, when the area was considered "the wilderness" of Queens. Built on family history and connections with locals, this place is a reliable choice for authentic Italian desserts. Their cannoli is considered one of the best in the five boroughs, and their impressive selection of specialty and custom cakes can be seen on display in the windows by a hungry passerby. 

6. Martha's Country Bakery

Martha's Country Bakery has five display cases full of pastries, all of which are topped with countless other treats. From whopping slices of cake to mini pecan tarts; from chocolate babka to red velvet cake pops; from impossibly large cookies to this gooey berry napoleon, the place has every French and American dessert one could ever need. 

7. Ovelia

Ovelia serves traditional seafood and lamb dishes in a casual Greek tavern. The space is very social and considered an all-encompassing restaurant, almost like a night-club, with minimalist white décor and a busy bar. Their menu includes special sections such as "Traditional Eats" with Mousakas and Pasticio and "Fun Fare" with buffalo-style fried kalamari. This restaurant stands out amongst the other Greek restaurants in the area for their diversification of taste and ambiance.  

So, if you find yourself visiting one of Queens's incredible museums or simply exploring the area, know that there is a plethora of authentic and creative food choices!