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Ridgewood

Where to Eat and Drink in Ridgewood, Queens

The offerings are super diverse

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Ridgewood

Across the Queens border just north of Bushwick lies Ridgewood. The rhomboid-shaped neighborhood at the end of the M line is roughly bounded by Flushing Avenue on the west, Metropolitan Avenue on the north, the LIRR tracks to the east, and Myrtle Avenue to the South.

Home to the Mespachtes Indians centuries ago, it was farmed by Dutch settlers in the colonial era — of which the Onderdonk House on Flushing Avenue is a remnant — and eventually taken over by English settlers. They named it Ridgewood for its climbing elevation and thick stands of linden, red cedar, and beech, now largely gone.

Throughout the 20th century it was, and still remains, one of Queens’ great working-class neighborhoods, home to Germans, Italians, Dominicans, former Yugoslavians, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, Romanians, and Poles, among others. This diversity persists, as a new generation of settlers, driven out of Williamsburg and Bushwick by high rents, crosses the border. Many have discovered that Ridgewood is a secret bastion of the most varied and reasonably priced eats and drinks in the city. Here are some favorites.

Note: Restaurants and listed based on geography, west to east. All photos by Robert Sietsema.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Tiny bakery Buttah is dwarfed by the massive St. Aloysius Church directly across the street. It specializes in cupcakes and muffins, some vegan and gluten-free. Cupcake triumphs include the red velvet, carrot, and Brooklyn blackout — a heap of chocolate cake crumbs with the frosting on the inside. For breakfast, Buttah makes a very credible corn muffin.

Guadalajara De Dia 2

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Guadalajara De Dia 2 is a grocery-turned-taqueria that offers some of the best Mexican food in Ridgewood at a single long table set down amid the dried chiles, stacks of tortillas, and imported candies and canned goods. On the mainly southern Mexican menu, standouts include eggs scrambled with cactus, a fiery chilate de pollo (chicken soup), the round Pueblan sandwiches called cemitas, and hand-patted huaraches with a choice of fillings.

Cachapas y Mas

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Venezuelan food has become commonplace in Bushwick, and now it’s available in Ridgewood. With a storefront open to the breezes in fine weather, Cachapas y Mas refers to a Caracas street crepe, but an equally large selection of patacones (rigid green-plantain sandwiches), tacuchos (Venezuelan burritos), and arepas (available plain and made into sandwiches) are also available at this fast-food spot convenient to the M train.

La Canoa

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There must be a half-dozen Ecuadorian restaurants in Ridgewood fanning north from the Myrtle-Wyckoff station. La Canoa is a solid choice, a barroom and dining room with a sprawling Andean menu. Specialties include full-meal soups such as caldo de pata (cow foot) and caldo de bola (with an enormous plantain dumpling), as well as giant feeds like bandera, which features shrimp ceviche, tripe stew, and goat fricassee, with rice and an entire sweet plantain.

Listo El Chimi

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The stretch of Myrtle that runs through Ridgewood possesses a wealth of Latin restaurants, including Dominican, Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Peruvian. With a modest amount of seating, Listo El Chimi specializes in the street food of the Dominican Republic, especially the chimi, a slaw-topped burger with multiple sauces that can be made with chicken, steak, or coarsely chopped beef. Mofongo balls, cuchifritos, juices, and yaroa (plantain poutine) also featured.

While in Kathmandu

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Decorated like a thatched hut, and possessing a back yard that needs a little work, While in Kathmandu is a Nepalese restaurant that seeks to popularize the cuisine. In aiming to do so, it concentrates partly on breakfasts, one of which features sel roti, a doughnut of sweetened rice served with a bowl of curry. Momos and spicy wings all figure in the scheme of things, as does a choila roti that might be described as a Nepalese taco.

Gottscheer Hall

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A vestige of the day when the immediate neighborhood was mainly German, this bar and auditorium founded in 1924 is decorated with photos of beauty queens who attained the title of Miss Gottscheer over the decades. Teutonic beers dominate the taps, and a small but good German menu is available, including bratwurst and krainerwurst, potato pancakes with applesauce, and giant hot pretzels served with mustard.

Topos Bookstore Cafe

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Occupying an improvised space in a corner storefront, Topos seems almost a throwback to the hippie era, with teetering stacks of used books and school desks. The coffee is bare bones, with a small roster of wonderfully plain drips and espresso-based beverages, offering nothing that looks like a coffee milkshake. If you’re hungry, there’s a small glass case of pastries. A great place to laptop in Ridgewood.

Rudy's Pastry Shop

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Founded in 1934 as a German konditerei, or cake shop, Rudy’s has been evolving ever since, with overlayerings of Italian, Romanian, and Dominican pastry, in addition to the core strudels, linzer cookies, and, especially, the signature Black Forest Cake filled with cherries and topped with whipped cream. The wood-clad dining room, outfitted with tables and booths, will transport you back to an earlier era.

A few years back, this old-time Sicilian neighborhood fixture moved up Forest Avenue to more luxurious digs, but the menu remained nearly the same. Classic dishes you shouldn’t miss include fried calamari, baked clams, tomatoes and anchovies (ask for it), meat ravioli, veal Milanese, and, of course, spaghetti and meat balls, with a very sprightly tomato sauce.

Julia's Beer and Wine Bar

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The elegant space that looks out to a sidewalk garden is plastered with art. It features wine list emphasizes New York State bottles from the Finger Lakes and the Hudson Valley — The food is quirky and playful, incorporating cured meats from nearby Morscher’s Pork Store. Included are a Ridgewood cheesesteak, croquet senorita, and smoked mushroom melt. Brunch served seven days.

Bosna Express

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Located just beneath the Forest Avenue M stop, Bosna Express is a very small café that concentrates on the bar food of Bosnia, which means cevapi (skinless beef-lamb sausages) and pljeskavica (a hubcap-size hamburger). Both come on a round bun with yogurt and ajvar, a Balkan red-pepper paste, along with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. You won’t walk away hungry after eating either.

Houdini Kitchen Laboratory

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Gazing enviously at Roberta’s, this modernist pizzeria in a former factory (the seating spills out onto a loading dock) is obscurely located in the extreme southeast corner of Ridgewood; most folks think it’s in Bushwick. Those pizzas are quite good, including some inspired combinations. As of late there are pasta specials, too, along with wines like Lambrusco by the glass, and yes, there’s espresso. Magician Harry Houdini is buried nearby.

Super Pollo

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It’s chill vibes and straightforward, affordable fare at the sit-down restaurant and bar that has recently expanded. It features outdoor porch seating and it’s good for groups, tucked on a side street tucked right into the neighborhood. Look for a menu of roasted chicken, empanadas, plantains, and rice and beans. There’s a full bar, too.

Super Pollo Facebook

Nowadays

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This sprawling outdoor space, covered with umbrella-ed picnic tables and scraggly trees, plus a few dirt hillocks that kids scamper up and down during the two-for-one happy hour, sits on the edge of a cemetery in an industrial corner of Ridgewood. The mixed drinks are relatively inexpensive, but beer and wine are the way to go. Food is provided by a trailer, which turns out decent hamburgers, summer squash sandwiches, toasted cheese, and, best of all, a bratwurst on a bun heaped with sauerkraut.

Burek's Pizza

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One assumes that the name of this place, which specializes in the flaky, round Balkan pies called bureks, was once a pizza parlor, but no pizzas are in evidence today. Rather, the entire output is bureks stuffed with ground meat, cheese, spinach, or spinach and cheese. The pizzeria-type seating is still in place (plus a couple of outdoor tables) in case you want to eat in, but most patrons dash in and dash out for these pies that each feed four (slices available).

Rosa's Pizza

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Bigger, more modern, and more comfortable than most pizzerias, Rosa’s is a Ridgewood favorite. It specializes in fashion-forward pizzas, including taco, chicken and bacon Dijon, and lasagna slices, as well as specifically Sicilian favorites that include a perfect upside-down pie, and another called sfincione, topped with onions and breadcrumbs and little else. Hot heros to baked clams to well-sauced pastas also available.

Craft Culture

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This newish spot is the well-lit place for a Mikkeller Breakfast Stout or a gose to drink with bar food like a Cubano with a side of fries. It’s a natural place for conversation with residents, with a small bar and picnic table seating.

Catania Bakery

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Named after a Sicilian city, Catania is one of the city’s most perfect Italian bakeries, offering Sicilian and Neapolitan pastries, many of which are associated with religious festivals in the old country, but are available here on a daily basis. Thrill to cassatina (sweet empanada filled with cannoli cream) and pasteira (a ricotta-filled pie scented with citrus peel), and all the usual Italian pastries and butter cookies.

European Coffee Bar Inc

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This amazing facsimile of an Italian coffee bar such as you might find along the Autostrada makes great espressos that totally put Starbucks to shame. The atmosphere is chill, the clientele mainly older immigrants, and the hosts welcoming. A handful of pastries are available, and this is a great place to sit, talk, and drink coffee without modern distractions.

Little Egypt

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This family-run restaurant in a grocery store offers Middle Eastern staples like hummus, grape leaves, and kebabs, but go for the koshari, the Egyptian rice, lentils, and macaroni with tomato and chile sauce.

Little Egypt

Gyro World

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Enjoying a very comfortable corner space a stone’s throw from the M tracks, Gyro World represents a Queens Greek mini-chain. The menu is simple, centered on pork gyros, stuffed in a thick toasted pita and garnished with plenty of thick tzatziki. You’ve never had a better gyro. For vegetarians, there’s warm haloumi cheese. Burgers, diverse souvlakis, and chicken platters also available, plus plenty of Greek snacks.

Antica Trattoria

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A charming restaurant with a selection of white, red, and rose wines stored in a deli case, the restaurant has been in business for more than 20 years. Most of the tables are filled with diners on dates, ordering plates like basiate con le sardi (with sardines, fennel, and pine nuts) or cavatelli with broccoli rabe and sausage.

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Buttah

Tiny bakery Buttah is dwarfed by the massive St. Aloysius Church directly across the street. It specializes in cupcakes and muffins, some vegan and gluten-free. Cupcake triumphs include the red velvet, carrot, and Brooklyn blackout — a heap of chocolate cake crumbs with the frosting on the inside. For breakfast, Buttah makes a very credible corn muffin.

Guadalajara De Dia 2

Guadalajara De Dia 2 is a grocery-turned-taqueria that offers some of the best Mexican food in Ridgewood at a single long table set down amid the dried chiles, stacks of tortillas, and imported candies and canned goods. On the mainly southern Mexican menu, standouts include eggs scrambled with cactus, a fiery chilate de pollo (chicken soup), the round Pueblan sandwiches called cemitas, and hand-patted huaraches with a choice of fillings.

Cachapas y Mas

Venezuelan food has become commonplace in Bushwick, and now it’s available in Ridgewood. With a storefront open to the breezes in fine weather, Cachapas y Mas refers to a Caracas street crepe, but an equally large selection of patacones (rigid green-plantain sandwiches), tacuchos (Venezuelan burritos), and arepas (available plain and made into sandwiches) are also available at this fast-food spot convenient to the M train.

La Canoa

There must be a half-dozen Ecuadorian restaurants in Ridgewood fanning north from the Myrtle-Wyckoff station. La Canoa is a solid choice, a barroom and dining room with a sprawling Andean menu. Specialties include full-meal soups such as caldo de pata (cow foot) and caldo de bola (with an enormous plantain dumpling), as well as giant feeds like bandera, which features shrimp ceviche, tripe stew, and goat fricassee, with rice and an entire sweet plantain.

Listo El Chimi

The stretch of Myrtle that runs through Ridgewood possesses a wealth of Latin restaurants, including Dominican, Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Peruvian. With a modest amount of seating, Listo El Chimi specializes in the street food of the Dominican Republic, especially the chimi, a slaw-topped burger with multiple sauces that can be made with chicken, steak, or coarsely chopped beef. Mofongo balls, cuchifritos, juices, and yaroa (plantain poutine) also featured.

While in Kathmandu

Decorated like a thatched hut, and possessing a back yard that needs a little work, While in Kathmandu is a Nepalese restaurant that seeks to popularize the cuisine. In aiming to do so, it concentrates partly on breakfasts, one of which features sel roti, a doughnut of sweetened rice served with a bowl of curry. Momos and spicy wings all figure in the scheme of things, as does a choila roti that might be described as a Nepalese taco.

Gottscheer Hall

A vestige of the day when the immediate neighborhood was mainly German, this bar and auditorium founded in 1924 is decorated with photos of beauty queens who attained the title of Miss Gottscheer over the decades. Teutonic beers dominate the taps, and a small but good German menu is available, including bratwurst and krainerwurst, potato pancakes with applesauce, and giant hot pretzels served with mustard.

Topos Bookstore Cafe

Occupying an improvised space in a corner storefront, Topos seems almost a throwback to the hippie era, with teetering stacks of used books and school desks. The coffee is bare bones, with a small roster of wonderfully plain drips and espresso-based beverages, offering nothing that looks like a coffee milkshake. If you’re hungry, there’s a small glass case of pastries. A great place to laptop in Ridgewood.

Rudy's Pastry Shop

Founded in 1934 as a German konditerei, or cake shop, Rudy’s has been evolving ever since, with overlayerings of Italian, Romanian, and Dominican pastry, in addition to the core strudels, linzer cookies, and, especially, the signature Black Forest Cake filled with cherries and topped with whipped cream. The wood-clad dining room, outfitted with tables and booths, will transport you back to an earlier era.

Joe's

A few years back, this old-time Sicilian neighborhood fixture moved up Forest Avenue to more luxurious digs, but the menu remained nearly the same. Classic dishes you shouldn’t miss include fried calamari, baked clams, tomatoes and anchovies (ask for it), meat ravioli, veal Milanese, and, of course, spaghetti and meat balls, with a very sprightly tomato sauce.

Julia's Beer and Wine Bar