Stoop parties are definitely a thing here. Entire BBQs happen on and around building stoops, intense chess tournaments are fought and won, even marriage proposals take place on the stoops of Queens, and you’re likely to witness a few come springtime. If you’re not lucky enough to have a stoop of your own attached to your building, you better make friends with your neighbors or risk not having somewhere to hang during the warmer months.
With more outdoor drinking spaces per capita than any other borough, Queens bars and eateries make their patio spaces stretch until the first frost hits — meaning you can be drinking outside well into November and starting as early as March. This is mainly thanks to outdoor heaters and other creative solutions employed to keep customers warm, drunk, and outdoors. Queens also boasts the oldest biergarten in New York, so it’d help your cause to visit both “the old biergarten” (Bohemian Hall) and “the new biergarten” (Studio Square). Be prepared to have impassioned conversations with Queens residents about the pros and cons of each location.
Most Brooklyn residents have the misfortune of transferring from the L or the G in order to get anywhere in Manhattan. And if not, they’re looking at well over an hour of commute time from places like Bushwick. The dwellers of Jersey City and Hoboken bear the burden of the PATH, and if you call Staten Island home, you’re actually relying on a ferry to get you to where the action is. Luckily for people who live in Queens, we can ride the M, E, or R straight into the city, hitting 59th and Lex in less than 20 minutes, depending on where you’re leaving from. Occasionally, the 7 train stops running on the weekends — but if you actually want to leave Queens on Saturday or Sunday, you’ve got plenty of other subway options to choose from. Not many other boroughs can say that.
Queens residents are always thinking about their next meal, even in the wee hours of the morning. It’s not uncommon to walk down 30th Ave and see full entrees being served to diners at restaurants that stay open well past midnight or to pass by packed-out 24/7 eateries like Hahm Ji Bach in Flushing. If your idea of late-night food involves a 99-cent slice of pizza or a box of chicken nuggets, you’ve clearly never found yourself hungry in Queens at 2am.
Whether you’re finally about to experience this “Spa Castle” all the locals rave about, put away an entire Banana Royal at Jahn’s, or step up to the live octopus challenge at Sik Gaek Chun Ha, you’ll be surprised at how far you can travel without technically leaving your borough. However, you’ll consistently find not only are all of these experiences absolutely worth the trip but also worth the calories consumed and every dollar spent.
Even if you’re stopping in for “just a few things,” you’ll have a hard time walking out of the United Brothers Fruit Market without enough produce to hold you over for three weeks — because it’s just so damn affordable. How could you not try your hand at making your own hot, steaming bowl of authentic udon when Food Bazaar has pounds of the freshly made noodles on sale for a price cheap enough to justify experimenting with? Not to mention, these markets, and many more, stay open 24/7 for all your emergency shopping needs.
We’re not talking about dirty water dogs, or dry chicken on a stick doused in BBQ sauce. A walk down Roosevelt Ave will give you access to food trucks from just about every ethnicity, serving dishes that range from homemade Mexican carnitas to authentic chicken tikka masala. Residents of Queens have some pretty diehard thoughts about which food truck’s best, so before you offer your opinion, make sure you’re prepared to defend it.
The amount of things you’ll come home with after spending 20 bucks at a dollar store in Queens will astound you. You’ll also inevitably end up having a favorite dollar store, followed by a second go-to dollar store, in case the item you’re looking for isn’t in stock. Spending more than a buck on cleaning supplies, paper goods, greeting cards, gift wrap, and so on will become a thing of the past. The only reason you’ll ever set foot inside a drugstore again is to fill a prescription — and you’ll scoff at the coupons CVS spits out with your receipt.
Telling your neighbor or roomie your cute new boots came from a store called “High on Heels” won’t make you think twice, but when any non-Queens resident asks you’ll be inclined to tell them you got that studded blazer “in Queens” — not at a place called “Easy Pickin’s.” If your day of shopping starts with combing through the $10 sale rack at Diva, involves a trip to Baby Blue for a little black dress, hits a two-for-one sale at Glory Shoes, and ends with a splurge at Hanger, you’re doing it right.
This is especially true when your friends from other boroughs try to get you to come to something in their ‘hood. Everything you need is right here, open late, and priced just right. Sure, you could head to Williamsburg and meet up with your friends for craft cocktails — or just walk a few steps to Sweet Afton or Bourbon and Vine. That all-inclusive brunch deal in Hoboken sounds tempting, until you realize you can eat and drink to your heart’s content for just $12 at Dominie’s Hoek. Whatever you’re looking for, Queens does it better, for cheaper, open later than anywhere else.