When Action Bronson, Nas and LL Cool J aren’t busy performing at this weekend’s Meadows Music and Arts Festival, the musicians have a personal invitation to stop by the “FEASTival of Queens” food section.
“I’d like to have the opportunity to see Action Bronson and Nas and LL Cool J — all the Queens guys,” said Joe DiStefano, the food writer behind the site Chopsticks + Marrow who curated this year’s lineup of Queens-focused vendors. “Hopefully they’ll stop by. I have a feeling Action would. I love what he does, and we share twin passions for the borough and its food.”
DiStefano is a Queens guy himself — he was born in the borough, grew up on Long Island and has been a cheerleader of the borough’s diverse dining scene since moving back in 1998.
“That turned me into ‘The Guy Who Ate Queens’ — being here and exploring stuff,” said DiStefano, who lives in Rego Park. “This is all before Instagram, back in the days of Chowhound and stuff — before Instagram, before [Anthony] Bourdain, before [Andrew] Zimmern. I’d just walk around Roosevelt Avenue and try different places. And I continue to do that throughout Queens.”
Last year’s inaugural Meadows festival featured a special section of Queens vendors curated by DiStefano, in addition to a lineup from The Infatuation.
For this year, DiStefano’s included some familiar faces. Half of the eight vendors are returning, and include Arepa Lady (Colombian), La Esquina Del Camarón Mexicano (Mexican), Pata Paplean (Thai) and Tortas Neza (Mexican).
New to the FEASTival, which will be pay-as-you-go, are Dumpling Galaxy (Chinese), Sugar Club (Thai), Kurry Qulture (Indian) and JoJu (Vietnamese).
“If I had one day to show people around Queens, this is where I would take them,” said DiStefano, who regularly hosts food tours in the borough. “The opportunity to be able to showcase the best of the borough to the festival goers is really what I was striving for.”
DiStefano also wanted to include fun, festival-friendly fare. For instance, instead of its namesake tortas, Tortas Neza will be doing tacos.
“I would love for Tortas Neza to be making his gigantic tortas the size of your head, but you’re done after that,” he said.
The FEASTival joins a 40-vendor food lineup curated by The Infatuation. VIP ticket holders will also have the opportunity to try Queens Night Market favorite The Malaysian Project, which will be serving its signature egg-wrapped Ramly burgers.
DiStefano hopes that after the weekend, festivalgoers continue to explore Queens’ diverse culinary scene.
“If you’re in Flushing, you’re basically not going to get bad Chinese food. If you’re in Elmhurst, you’re not going to get bad Thai food,” he said. “If people really, really want the best of the best, they can find a guy like me and I’ll show you around. But you can go out and find all that on your own, too. It might take a little longer, but you’re still not going to have a bad meal.”
Pride of Queens
Here’s a look at the vendors included in this year’s “FEASTival of Queens” at the Meadows Music and Arts Festival, curated by Queens native Joe DiStefano. “These are all the places that are very near and dear to my heart and stomach,” the food writer said.
- Arepa Lady: “The crown jewel of Colombian street food in Queens,” DiStefano said of the Jackson Heights street food favorite.
- Dumpling Galaxy: DiStefano has been a fan of chef Helen You’s since her Flushing stall Tianjin Dumpling House.
- JoJu: The Vietnamese sandwich spot in Elmhurst does “really, really awesome banh mi,” DiStefano said.
- Kurry Qulture: The Astoria Indian restaurant will be doing two different kinds of pani poori at the festival.
- La Esquina Del Camarón Mexicano: The eatery serves Mexican ceviche from the back of a bodega in Jackson Heights.
- Pata Paplean: The Elmhurst bar does “Thai hawker-style noodle soups — really, really, super, super authentic stuff,” DiStefano said.
- Sugar Club: The Elmhurst “dessert cafe-slash-grocery store-slash-community center” will be serving its Thai desserts.
- Tortas Neza: The Corona tortas king will be churning out Mexican carnitas tacos.
IF YOU GO
The Meadows Music and Arts Festival is Sept. 15-17 at Citi Field | 2301-Roosevelt Ave., Flushing | tickets from $115 at themeadowsnyc.com