by Nate McCarthy
Queens has long been home to New York City’s most exciting and diverse food scene.
Every April, for two separate weekends, a stretch of Woodside Avenue between 75th and 77th streets in Elmhurst, Queens, is shut down for a celebration of Songkran, or Thai New Year. It’s a great event for those looking to get out of Nyack and explore another culture. It’s a great opportunity to experience the intensely regional and complex cuisine of Thailand, often underrepresented in American Thai restaurants, in a vibrant and welcoming local community.
Hosted by the Royal Thai Consulate General of New York, the festival is a welcoming celebration of community, food, and culture. The storefronts that line Woodside Ave set up outdoor stalls selling Thai street food dishes and snacks, from spicy, funky papaya salads pounded in a mortar to tender skewers of pork grilled over coals to colorful, intricate sweets.
The northwestern portion of Queens is a quick car ride away from Nyack, or accessible via the 7 train from Grand Central (get off at the 74th St–Roosevelt Ave station).
While there is never a shortage of delicious Thai fare in the area that’s come to be known as “Little Bangkok,” for the festival, the storefronts that line Woodside Ave will each set up outdoor stalls, focusing on one or two Thai street food dishes or snacks, from spicy, funky papaya salads pounded in a mortar to tender skewers of pork grilled over coals to colorful, intricate sweets.
The festival also features live musical performances, traditional dancing, and art.
If you’re looking for sit down restaurant fare, visit one of the many neighborhood spots such as Khao Kang (for unapologetically spicy curries and other prepared dishes over rice), or Lamoon, for difficult to find northern Thai dishes like sai ua, an herbal sausage, or khao kan jin, rice mixed with minced pork and pork blood steamed in a banana leaf.
I like to end the night with a stop at the hip Pata Paplean bar for a cold Singha, or tom yum cocktail, or even a house made yaa dong, rice whiskey infused with herbs. There are plenty of non-alcoholic options, too, like a freshly squeezed sugarcane juice.
For more info visit: www.facebook.com/Royal-Thai-Consulate-General-NY
This event is free and open to the public. Woodside Ave, between 75th–77th Streets, Queens NY
by Nate McCarthy
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