Dishes are all served Family Style at the Imperial Palace in Flushing

THE CHICKEN HOUSE, Kew Gardens Rd. & Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens NY

     The Chicken House can best be described as the equivalent of a take-out Chinese storefront, but for chicken.  Yes, only chicken.  And, when you do one thing, you better do it well.  Here, the Chicken Man who runs the Chicken House has accomplished his task. 

     He sells chicken, lemony marinated and fire grilled right in front of you at the window, in 1/4, half or whole chickens.  You can get a lunch meal of 1/4 chicken, 1/4 lb rice, salad & a large grilled pita to eat your chicken with or in, for around $6.00.  Its been that way for years.  Maybe it was a bit less when I first started going there back around 1991 or so when I was working just across the street.  The chicken was flavorful and tangy, crispy on the outside, and served with the most delicious spicy sauce made out of I don't know what.  The greek salad was the perfect accompaniement.  Now, 20+ years later, I don't work in Queens anymore and I don't get the opportunity to stop in for lunch BUT, recently I discovered that my husband uses that train stop on his way into Manhattan.  I just had to have that chicken again, after years of being deprived that smokey lemony taste, so I asked him to get the take out on the way home. 

     Well, I guess he didn't know and over ordered, because he came home with 2 or 3 whole chickens (there were many pieces), a bunch of salads, orders of rice and a bag of warm pitas. Enough for our family of 5 for at least 2 dinners.  For less than $40.00.  So, I'm sure you want the verdict now, right?  I can truthfully say, along with my husband and all three kids, that the chicken man has not lost his touch.  The chicken was still as smokey and tender as ever, and the hot sauce was HOT, which really turned the kids on.  The salad was fresh & tart, the pitas were still warm, even after the half hour ride home, and we made chicken fried rice with the leftover chicken and orders of rice!  How can you go wrong with that?

     The Chicken House is clean, the staff is friendly and the food is good, wholesome home grilling at a reasonable price.  You don't find that in a restaurant very often these days.  So, no it is not where you are going to go and sit down in style and be served.  But you sure will be satisfied after you eat.  Next time you headed for a picnic, or a day at the beach, skip the KFC and stop by The Chicken House.  You won't be disappointed. 

Jackson Hole Diner, Bell Blvd., Bayside Queens, Breakfast, Burgers, Chicken & Salads

...and fries and shakes and onion rings, and don't forget the blue plate specials!

    The Jackson Hole diner, a small chain of old-fashioned style diners, the word "diner" just does not fit the bill.  Jackson Hole Diner is an NYC diner chain that serves up a mighty fine breakfast and a tasty burgers at its vintage '50s digs. You know my favorite saying, do one thing and do it right:  "Jackson Hole Burgers New York - Home of the 7 oz Burgers
Jackson Hole Restaurants and Catering Services in New York City has been serving up delicious meals and catering to the needs of discerning consumers since 1972. High quality food, sparkling clean restaurants, personalized service and unsurpassed value. Come on in and join us for a memorable dining experience."  From their own website.  Don't forget the 7oz Bronco Chicken either.                                                                                                                      Jackson Hole stands out for its fresh-squeezed juice, a sensation rarely tasted in Queens diners.  It's better than most diners, but also more expensive. The diner's popularity can mean a loud wait on weekends.  Although the Bayside location is my personal favorite, I hear the Astoria location has been rated as the best breakfast in Queens.  And lets not forget the NYC locations.                                                                                                                       The staff moves quick, but with so many tables, it does get loud sometimes the wait is a little long.  So I go and eat an early lunch, or a late breakfast, because the food is always top notch for diner grub.  In fact, its not diner grub.  They have burgers, big ones.  And chicken sandwiches, also big ones, maybe a veggie burger too.  The toppings are unlimited, so your burger is as big as your appetite.  If you are going to spring for fries or onion rings (which are spectacular) be sure you have room to take them home.                                                                                                                     

If you are one of those who are just going in for a salad, they have that too.  But be careful, because the salads are huge too.  It is Jackson Hole after all.                                                                                                                                 The breakfast specials are similarly known to hit the spot and are a good value. The potatoes, french toast, and omelettes must receive special mention. Wash it all down with a chocolate shake. It's served with a metal cup holding enough excess for a refill.

Pio Pio, (Peruvian) Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights NY

A chicken dinner and sides at PioPio

    Lets start here: Pio Pio is not your local takeout joint, but a festive Peruvian restaurant worthy of a family occasion.   With two colorful levels, several dining areas, and a back patio, Pio Pio handles big weekend crowds of families with small kids, groups of friends, and young couples. Though the menu is simple -- just roast chicken, seafood, and sides -- the food is cooked perfectly, served promptly, and priced reasonably. And Pio Pio's green hot sauce is in a word, addictive. 
 
     The excellent rotisserie chicken is served as your main course, and sides served family style in a fun and lively atmosphere.  The service is quick, prices affordable, and the green sauce is HOT!

     There is limited parking, so go early and on weekdays, and be prepared because your only options are chicken and seafood.  (and how awful is that?)   Especially when the high tin ceilings, huge glass windows, and Incan murals set the tone for a Pio Pio experience. This is a place to come for a meal, not just a chicken, and the neighborhood knows it.  Stay away on Friday and Saturday  or you will find a line snaking out the door.

     Popularity, however, doesn't mean a long wait. The menu is simple and reasonable, moving the diners along quickly.  The chicken is marinated, juicy and tender, the jalea, a platter of fried seafood, just as good. A few combination meals pair chicken with sides, like the Matador Combo of  chicken, rice, beans, avocado salad, salchipapas, and tostones).

     But the chicken is the real star. It's in the restaurant's name, the sound a Peruvian chick chirps: pio, pio. The amazing house green sauce goes perfect with it. Just what's in the sauce is a secret, but I'll guess cumin, garlic, lime, and something that makes it a little creamy - mayonnaise? It's not an overwhelming heat, but a nice heat with a tart pucker.  Be prepared also, because everything comes family style, and that's important - especially if you are like me and don't like to share!  If that's the case, just savor those leftovers. The platters of food arrive five to ten minutes after you order, another benefit of a simple menu, and a blessing for families with small kids.

     Now, the sides:  the avocado salad is the best. Its lush slices of avocado rest on a bed of lettuce, onion, and tomatoes dressed with oil and vinegar. Salchipapas marries cut-up hot dogs with french fries -- a little odd, but very authentic and ideal for the kids. The ceviche is more hit-and-miss.

     If you have a designated driver, a pitcher of tasty sangria is a must. And you might finish with a flan and some fruit-flavored ice cream. You'll end up chirping "pio pio" with happiness.

 

NICK'S PIZZA

classic brick oven pie, with half meatballs (or sausage?)

     Why is this review of Nick's Pizza here, instead of under Italian Restaurants?  Well, because its fun, casual, and its just pizza.  And you know my theory: when you do one thing, do it right:

      So, Nicks Pizza, a neighborhood gem in Forest Hills.  It was a short walk from my office when I worked in Queens, and for someone who doesn't like to walk, it was worth it.  Nick's serves delicious bottom-toasted thin-crust pizza topped with quality fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, and basil. Add a couple of classic toppings and you can't go wrong.

     Its a small sit-down restaurant which has turned the average pizza in Queens, NY, and made it a culinary treat that's hard to beat anywhere. You will not be disappointed by a pizza lunch or dinner at Nick's. The price more than reasonable, the service is hospitable, and the tastes will unlock tastbuds you didn't know you have.  We can only warn you of a few caveats: no slices, cash only, and no parking.  So, whats new in Queens?

     At Nick's, you will not find thick crusty, cheesy oily pizza.  But you will enjoy fresh ingredients and fresh mozzarella & basil atop each pie.  Nick's staff has the time to serve you right. Head on over for the full treatment on a Saturday afternoon. Take a seat in one of the comfy diner booths and gaze at the historic photos of Forest Hills that cover the walls.

     Yes, you can in fact get a salad of delicious greens is the perfect way to start.  (why bother?)   Move on to a large pie with toppings—nothing fancy, but classic tastes like real meatballs sliced and whole garlic cloves slightly roasted. The pies come to the table on stainless steel trays fit for royalty.

        If you like alcohol, you can get beer or wine. If you prefer, sit back for an espresso, served with a perfect crema on top.  Nick's Pizza is the real deal and a must for all pizza lovers.  I miss it, and I'm going to have to get back there soon with the Hubby (who has never experienced this treasure). 

Donovan's Grill & Tavern, Bayside Queens (Pub Food)

     This neighborhood fave was recently remodeled but is still whole-family-friendly. As longtime patron Deirdre Tarrant puts it: "Crayons for the kids and booze for the adults...what could be better?"

     This is what Donovan's touts on their website: " The Quintessential Casual Dining Experience,
A New York institution since 1966. Located in beautiful downtown Bayside, Donovan’s is the ultimate setting for savoring the incredible variety of fresh seafood, as well as fine steaks, poultry and the best burger in New York...all exquisitely prepared to perfection."

      Time Out Magazine claims they wer 'Voted New York’s Best Burger' The eight-ounce patty, spills out of its roll, the sautéed onions are brown and slippery, and the burger makes everyone who comes in contact with it a sloppy mess too. This monster’s juice has run down so many chins that it’s earned the nickname 'The Five Napkin Burger',

     But their menus include: THEIR REGULAR MENU
BRUNCH
GLUTEN FREE MENU
SPECIALTY COFFEES
CATERING - SIT DOWN
CATERING - BUFFET
CATERING - COCKTAIL
CATERING - LUNCHEON
CATERING - BRUNCH BUFFET

Now, I've always wondered how one restaurant can do so many things, and do them well?  But Donovan's has a history, and I'm a sucker for history: 

What started in Woodside Queens now reaches across the borough into Bayside. Donovan’s Grill & Tavern is much more than a restaurant; we are a dining landmark with a fascinating history. It all began in 1966 when Joe Donovan’s invested his life savings in his dream of opening a tavern bearing his name. That dream became a reality in Woodside Queens, where Joe’s welcoming charm attracted a loyal following of local Irish immigrants, notable politicians and sports figures.

Soon, regulars affectionately dubbed the restaurant “House of Eats” for its exceptional burgers, steaks and plentiful trimmings. In 1978 Donovan’s of Bayside opened in the former Peter’s Back Street location, and soon became a neighborhood favorite by continuing to serve the finest food and drink in a setting where patrons felt both comfortable and pampered.

Today, Donovan’s is a favorite among locals, business people, shoppers and anyone else seeking a great meal, a beautiful location, and world-class service.

       I'm going over to Donovan's just to check out this world famous hamburger, and a little bit of the history.  Meanwhile, if you have been there or know anything about it, please let us know.