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Eat and Drink

Long Island City restaurants: Best bets for brunch, barbecue, more

At the southwesternmost corner of Queens, Long Island City boasts proximity to midtown Manhattan, East River views and enough growth in recent years to see an influx of people – and the places they want to eat.

So hop on any number of trains and find an array of new favorite restaurants, from a French cafe to your new favorite brunch spot.

LIC Market: Brunch

LIC Market has arguably become Long Island City's
Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

LIC Market has arguably become Long Island City's "it" spot for brunch, manager John Creenan says, since opening its doors in July 2010. He explains how there is a continuous flow of customers from open to close, many of them regulars. "We see a lot of the same people here week after week."

Buttermilk pancakes (pictured) and the slow-roasted duck hash served with two fried eggs, diced potatoes, red onion, peppers, dried cherries and pine nuts are two of the most popular brunch menu items. Creenan describes LIC Market's brunch as casual with a fine dining touch -- dinner is a fine dining experience with a casual touch. In addition to food, LIC Market boasts a substantial natural wine selection and, on Wednesdays, offers 20 percent off bottles of wine. (21-52 44th Dr., 718-361-0013)

Hibino LIC: Japanese

Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

"This is fundamental Japanese food," says Nobu Shiozawa, a Hibino LIC partner. "That's what we are trying to introduce to the neighborhood."

Though it initially opened in Cobble Hill, in 2013, now LICers have easy access to fresh Japanese cuisine via Hibino's array of entrees -- Shiozawa recommends the salmon miso zuke, broiled miso-marinated salmon with seasonal vegetables (pictured) as well as the fresh-made tofu, served simply with ginger, scallions and a soy-dashi sauce -- and sushi. (10-70 Jackson Ave., 718-392-5190)

Baroness Bar + Kitchen: Burgers

Looking for a place where you can open
Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

Looking for a place where you can open up a bottle of Champagne with a sword? You're in luck. Make your way over to The Baroness, where you'll find some of the best burgers in the city. There a focus on quality and quantity, with 26 different burger options featuring beef (a brisket and short rib blend), chicken, turkey, vegetarian, ahi tuna and lamb. Try the Dixie, the house burger (pictured), with chef William Gauger's secret blend of 13 spices, a honey-molasses glaze and rosemary-garlic aioli on a potato roll. As Gauger says, "It's simple, plain, but so flavorful and delicious."

"We just wanted to make a cool neighborhood bar," says chef William Gauger, noting the cozy, nostalgic vibe, complete with a solid music selection and menus in record sleeves. And for those those interested in learning the French art of sabrage, you can take a 15-minute class before given any sharp objects; Champagne bottles start at $70. (4126 Crescent St., 718-784-5065)

Crescent Grill: Farm to table

Local food meets local art at Crescent Grill,
Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

Local food meets local art at Crescent Grill, a farm-to-table eatery with its own art gallery. The restaurant works with local breweries and about 20 different local farms to serve up high-quality brunch and dinner, plus a pub menu that includes beef tartare and roasted sunchokes.

Manager Kevin Braun recommends newcomers, "Order what you would usually order when you go out to dinner, and you're going to get an amazing version of that." Noteworthy menu items from executive chef Kenneth Corrow include apple-wood smoked Long Island duck breast served with orange bulgar wheat, house-made duck sausage, fresh bean salad and duck au jus (pictured); and grilled pork cheeks with sweet potato mash, heirloom carrots, blood oranges and arugula.

Free car service to and from Crescent is available throughout Long Island City and neighboring areas of Astoria and Sunnyside. (38-40 Crescent St., 718-729-4040)

John Brown Smokehouse: Barbecue

Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

"Full of awesomeness everywhere," is how owner Josh Bowen, originally from Kansas City, describes his restaurant. From barbecue to craft beer, artwork by Japanese graffiti artist Shiro to the spacious outdoor space in the back, awesome adequately sums up the vibe at John Brown Smokehouse.

"We use magic," Bowen said of how John Brown makes its burnt ends (pictured), the menu item that people flock from miles away to order at an establishment named after an abolitionist who led the attacks on pro-slavery residents in the days leading up to the Civil War.

The chalkboard menu features an "Eats Free" list including Barack Obama, Sully Sullenberger, Pope Francis and Rachel Ray. "This is my 'Cheers,'" Richard Christy, a Kansas native and John Brown regular says. A professional drummer and stand-up comedian, Christy says he and his wife, who live four blocks away, thought about moving to Westchester, but decided to stay in Long Island City to remain close to John Browns. (10-43 44th Dr., 347-617-1120)

Dutch Kills Centraal: Gastropub

Make some new friends at this neighborhood spot
Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

Make some new friends at this neighborhood spot by sitting at the bar or communal table and dig into favorites including Dutch Kills Centraal's namesake burger, served with sriracha lime-mayo on brioche, or the the beer-battered fish and chips. And besides serving American comfort food, owner Dominic Stiller, who grew up in Queens Village, notes, "we strive to have the freshest coldest craft beer." (Pictured are Bronx-based Gun Hill Brewing Company's Thunder Dog Stout, left, and IPA.)

Dinnertime gets quite busy, Stiller says, and you'll also find a weekend brunch menu, should you want to pair those suds with, say, an eggs Benedict. (38-40 29th St., 718-606-8651)

Café Henri: French

This classic French bistro may be small, but
Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

This classic French bistro may be small, but it is mighty. Serving up traditional French cafe-style food, look no further than Café Henri to satisfy that crepe craving. Or escargot hankering.

Diners can choose from a variety of traditional French menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner - ratatouille, croque madame and monsieu,r and sandwiches such as Le Merguez à la Moutarde Forte (pictured), which is spicy lamb sausage, roasted pepper and Dijon mustard served on toasted ciabatta. Or go all-out with coq au vin. (1010 50th Ave., 718-383-9315)

Casa Enrique: Mexican

Executive chef Cosme Aguilar, of Chiapas, Mexico, describes
Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

Executive chef Cosme Aguilar, of Chiapas, Mexico, describes Casa Enrique's food as "simple, clean and authentic." Aguilar came to the U.S. in 1998, first honing his craft at a French restaurant. (He, in fact, used to work at LIC's Cafe Henri; the two restaurants share owners.) In 2012, he and his brother, Luis, returned to their roots. Since then, Casa Enrique has seen return customers thanks to a diverse menu including fried oysters with chili mayo, braised lamb shank, and tostadas with scallops, potatoes and chorizo (pictured). (5-48 49th Ave., 347-448-6040)


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