We chatted with an entrepreneurial Astoria-based couple about the inimitable charm of life in the neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for a new area to rent in or just want to spread your foodie wings, scroll down to be enlightened about all that Astoria has to offer.
What do you “do”?
Danielle: I’m an entrepreneur/designer. I started my business when I designed a backpack, and now I’m transitioning the company into an online marketplace of curated goods made by female-identifying/non-binary artists and creators. I have other jobs that pay the bills, but this company feeds my soul. I love being in New York City because this seems to be the case with everyone I meet. They might be working a job to make ends meet, but their career goals are something else!
Sean: I am a co-owner and coffee roaster at Unity Sourcing & Roasting. I’m also a musician, currently writing and performing with Dancer.
What are you passionate about?
D: I love art and bringing people together. NYC can be isolating, but in Queens I feel like I’m part of a community. I have my “me” time — my favorite thing to do is wake up in the morning, brew a cup of coffee, and ease into my day with some writing or reading. But the rest of my passions involve creating spaces where we all feel a part of something.
S: Music, craft beverages (coffee, beer, wine, cocktails), and food are my passions. I love to create and enjoy them and I feel very lucky that I am in a place where these passions are also the focus of my life and work.
How long have you been living Astoria, and why did you move here?
D: 4.5 years. I got a job in NYC after college. I was eager to leave San Francisco, so I said yes to the first opportunity I had. Serendipitously, two of my old friends from high school needed a third roommate. At the time I really wanted to move to Bushwick to be where the “starving artists” were, but they insisted that the apartment they found in Astoria was amazing and affordable. They were right — the apartment was bright and airy and our landlords were amazing. Every friend I had lived in Brooklyn or Manhattan, so I had a lonely 8 months until I finally started to explore and make friends in the area.
S: 3ish years. I never really considered living in Queens when I moved to NYC. I first lived in Brooklyn, but Danielle was in Astoria and we decided to move in together. Astoria has been incredible to and for me.
What do you love about living here?
D: Diversity. Queens is a literal melting pot of different cultures. The food here is insane. I have any food I could ever want within arms length and I still haven’t experienced it all. I love hearing different languages on every block and the community is so friendly. I feel like I actually live in a place that has it all: trendy cocktail bars, authentic Egyptian food, craft breweries, a beautiful park and waterfront, Irish pubs, karaoke bars, the list goes on. I see the influx of new residents but I don’t see the sense of community disappearing.
S: Its impossible to list all the things I love about Astoria. My love for this neighborhood grows every day. If I had to pinpoint one thing, it would be the food. Astoria is a cultural hub, and you can find authentic food from almost any part of the world here.
Do you have any favorite spots to eat and caffeinate in the neighborhood?
D: Little Morocco for the best falafel sandwich of life. Seriously. This place is as authentic as they come. Mombar for an Egyptian experience. For coffee, Astoria Coffee and Gossip Coffee are great!
S: Yes, Little Morocco for the falafel is my number one. I haven’t had much else off of their menu, but that falafel is the best. Queens Comfort is ideal for BYOB brunch — it’s a genuine party. I also love Flattopps, which was started by the same people as Queens Comfort, but they focus mostly on burgers. And for coffee I have to echo Danielle with Astoria Coffee. They buy really great coffee and the staff is passionate about putting out a great product.
How about your go-to watering holes?
D: I love The Bonnie for craft cocktails and their outdoor patio. The Ditty is great for groups since they have board games, movie nights, and boozy yoga Sundays! Albatross is flippin’ amazing. My favorite LGBTQ bar. Go there on Saturdays for Sutton Lee Seymour’s drag show. She is freaking phenomenal.
S: Besides burgers, Flattopps has a great cocktail and beer menu. They have dance parties almost every day, and they have XMEN the arcade game. Last time I went, $0.25 got you 99 lives. It was amazing! Singlecut is also great: it’s a brewery that is slightly out of the way, but they make some of the best beer in NYC. Albatross, which Danielle mentioned, is a wonderful dive. Their drag events are fun and inclusive. My honorable mention would be Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. It’s one of the best places to be on a really sunny day.
Important question: How’s the access to transportation?
D: Super accessible. We live off the NW Astoria Blvd subway stop. It’s about a 10 minute walk from our place which sucks in the winter, but I can just take a bus that picks up right outside of my apartment and be in Manhattan quickly.
S: Yeah, transit is really easy from our apartment. There are buses that take you all over Queens, including one that drops you right outside of Citi Field if you’re into that. It takes me about 40 minutes door to door to get to work in Gramercy. It’s pretty sweet.
What do you think makes the neighborhood unique?
D: It’s so diverse and lively. So many different people of different backgrounds exist together. One street will be all Middle Eastern restaurants, hookah bars, and mosques. Then you go an avenue down and it’s all Greek foodie joints, Russian bakeries, and taco trucks. We really have it all.
S: The people. People from all over the world, of different generations and communities, coexist here. People seem to know and look out for each other here which is super cool. It makes it feel like home. And again, the food.
Any advice for others looking to move to the area?
D: Everyone should live in Queens at least once in their New York City life…and Astoria is the perfect neighborhood to explore it all.
S: Don’t let the Queens “stigma” turn you away. Not sure why it exists, because Astoria is great. You just have to be willing to go out and explore it.
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All photos provided by subjects.