Though its historic Greek population and sprawling Czech beer garden are its most famous features, this Queens neighborhood sports many fine qualities, including affordable housing
Astoria is best known by outsiders for its Greek population and its Czech-style Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. But this big, diverse neighborhood in northwestern Queens has much more to offer. Partly because the neighborhood is so vast, there’s no unifying architectural style — you’ll see large apartment buildings, shorter three- to four-story structures as well as single-family homes. The East River defines Astoria’s western and northern borders; its inland boundaries are 49th Street to the east and 36th Avenue and Northern Boulevard to the south. The N and Q trains make several stops in the neighborhood along 31st Street. Steinway Street and 31st Street are most frequently patrolled by cabs.
Astoria was originally settled by the Dutch in the early 1600s and held various ethnic identities over the years. Italians dominated the area in the mid-20th century, until Greeks settled here in the 1960s. Since then, more immigrants from the Middle East, Brazil and southeastern Europe have arrived. As rents skyrocketed throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, many recent college grads and young families noticed Astoria’s affordable housing, safe streets, great restaurants and straightforward commute to Manhattan. And they’ve made a home here, too.
Broadway and 30th Avenue, east of 31st Street, are pedestrian-friendly stretches lined with cafés; these blocks have a European feel. Astoria is notable for its combination of old and new, so you’ll find Greek and Italian restaurants where the menu hasn’t changed in decades alongside newly opened eateries that seem to hop on every culinary trend. The hipper side of Astoria is on display at Queens Kickshaw, which serves gussied-up grilled cheese sandwiches with artisanal coffee near the intersection of Broadway and Steinway Street. The grouping of Middle Eastern stores and restaurants on Steinway Street has earned it the nickname, “Little Egypt.” Ditmars Boulevard, a walkable area on the north side of Astoria, is the best place to get Greek food. Tavernas Kycledes serves old-school seafood dishes; at Agnanti, you can get mezes and a carafe of wine with views of Astoria Park.
Astoria Park is a riverside swath of greenery with a municipal swimming pool, track and biking trail. For a rainy-day activity, look to Kaufman Astoria Studios, a movie studio opened in 1920 — and still in operation today — that houses the Museum of the Moving Image. Expanded and reopened in 2011, the museum explores the history of television, film and video games, and frequently screens movies.