2018-02-28 / Restaurant of the Week


Double Header on Austin Street

Firstly, there’s no doubt that the diner is a New York institution. Secondly, there’s no doubt that Queens is the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the world. Austin Street pitches a double-header with the Forest Hills Diner, a classic New York affair, adjacent to El Pio Peruvian café, which offers up fantastic Peruvian snacks and entrées. Best of all, you don’t have to choose between the two, as they are both owned by the dynamic Benito Galvan, the “Energizer Bunny” of chefs and restaurant owners.

Benito works tirelessly at the grill, preparing dishes for his hungry clientele from the neighborhood, the police precinct next door, and beyond. The sunny yellow walls and tidy booths in this petite diner make any meal pleasant, and the phone rings nonstop with orders for take out and pick up.

Only in Queens can you get an order of ceviche and a meatloaf sandwich under the same roof. El Pio’s ceviche is an impressive plate brimming with the freshest shrimp, whitefish, calamari and huge mussels, all marinated in zesty citrus and cilantro. The platter is flanked with white and sweet potatoes and topped with lots of red onion for a great starter to share. Their empanadas are great too, filled with chicken, beef, or cheese, and they make a great hand-held snack to go.

That’s the beauty of the Forest Hills Diner, where you can start your day with a 3-egg omelet filled with feta cheese, tomato and spinach, Nova Scotia lox, or cheddar cheese, served with home fries or grits and toast. The griddle sizzles with bacon and pancakes, challah bread French toast and Belgian waffles topped with fruit, whipped cream, or maple syrup. Have a classic New York egg sandwich packed up to go on the subway with you or grab a muffin and fresh coffee to go.

Lunchtime offers a wide array of sandwiches, soup, salads and wraps all made to order, to stay or to go. The Godfather wrap is filled with roast beef, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, lettuce and tomato. Wrap your hands around hot, pressed panini sandwiches such as the Ham Vera Cruz filled with ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard. All wraps and panini are served with French fries for $9.95. The classic, open-faced Reuben sandwich, Monte Cristo, London broil, pastrami, roasted turkey, or chicken salad are piled onto your choice of bread. All these sandwiches go well with a cup or bowl of their house made soups or chili.

Visit for dinner where the flavorful ropa vieja is a meaty dish of stewed beef with onion and tomato served with fluffy yellow rice and black beans. Fried fish filet and Peruvian style rice and seafood make a nice meal. Diners nearby enjoyed two plates of seafood paella, loaded with fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and calamari with lots of saffron-scented rice. American-style entrées include roast turkey platter, broiled chicken, pork chops, top sirloin, and yes, meatloaf. There’s even a host of fresh fish and seafood dishes including fillet of sole stuffed with crabmeat ($17.95), salmon steak, and stuffed shrimp. All meat and seafood entrées are served with a choice of soup or salad, potato and vegetable. The Forest Hills Diner has nice Italian dishes too such as fettuccine carbonara, linguini with clam sauce, rigatoni primavera, and sautéed veal or chicken Marsala or piccata style with prosciutto, mushrooms and artichoke hearts.

The kids will love chicken fingers, grilled cheese and spaghetti with meatballs from their special menu, along with a thick, frosty, chocolate shake. Homemade desserts are tempting so take one home if you have no room left for a hunk of chocolate cake, apple or blueberry pie, cheesecake or peach melba.

The dynamic duo Forest Hills Diner and El Pio Peruvian café are what makes Queens so special. Stop in seven days a week. The Forest Hills Diner opens at 7am until 11pm and El Pio opens at 11am to 11pm for your dining pleasure. Eat in, take out or have it delivered to your home or office. Catering is available too. Thank you, Benito!

68-60 Austin Street
Forest Hills  718.997.7744


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