How to Explore Queens This Spring
Though we're currently being treated to a final wintry blast, spring is officially here. As the last piles of exhaust-blackened snow melt away, the city's biggest borough plays host to a number of food-related events. Here, we preview the coming season of eating and drinking in Queens.
March 27: Best of Astoria 2014, Strand Smokehouse
We Heart Astoria, run by some of the borough's most devoted bloggers, hosts its Best of Astoria 2014 bash at the Strand Smokehouse. An award ceremony -- fueled by bourbon, beer, and all-you-can-eat BBQ -- will crown the neighborhood's greatest restaurants, bars, and businesses. 2013's list of favorites included paninoteca Il Bambino, Ditmars Avenue institution Taverna Kyclades, and Sweet Afton. Stop by to see if last year's victors hold on to their titles.
April 5 and May 4: LIC Flea / Astoria Flea, 46th Avenue and 5th Street, Long Island City
Next month, LIC Flea & Food returns to its spot on 46th Avenue overlooking the East River. In 2013, this outdoor market featured vendors from nearby spots like Alobar Restaurant (New American) and Oconomi (Japanese) alongside fresh produce from New Jersey's J&L Farms and vintage clothing from Pin Up Queens. This year's lineup isn't settled yet, and the Flea is still open to new vendors. In fact, interest has been so high that it will expand, with a new flea headed to Astoria's Kaufman Studios backlot on May 4.
April 6: Sparrow Film Project, The Sparrow Tavern
The Sparrow Tavern, Astoria's answer to the Cheers bar (but with better food and cocktails), sponsors an annual movie competition. Would-be auteurs sign up April 6 and must write, shoot, and edit a three-minute short within the following three weeks. Each year's contest has a theme; last year, every filmmaking team was assigned one of Vladimir Propp's 31 functions of storytelling around which to base their projects. The final results were screened at the Museum of the Moving Image, bringing a taste of the Oscars to the neighborhood.