I went to a trip around Jackson Heights on Sunday. I will soon take an apartment and I am trying to decide which neighborhood to live in. What’s important to me is subway access to where I work, great ethnic food, low price, social accessibility, and maybe a place to park my car.
Jackson Heights was on my list of places where I might like to have an apartment. I am also considering Fort Greene (likely in the immediate future to take over my friend’s cheap month-to-month, young people, great accessibility to convenient subways), Greenpoint (cheaper, heavy Polish, close to williamsburg, some chill bars), Sunset Park (cheaper, heavy ethnicities including latin american and maybe others – need more research, close to red hook), and Astoria/Long Island City (diverse greek, Halal, and other ethnic restaurants, art scene, bars).
Checking the neighborhood out on wikipedia, I read that there is a wealth of ethnicities in the area:
The Hispanic American population consists of a various mix of Latinos from many Latin American countries, mainly Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay who followed the Cuban initial immigrants. There is also an older population of Europeans of multi-generational Italian, Jewish, Polish, and Irish descent that have remained in the area. The surging Asian American community includes immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Korea, and the Philippines. An additional surge is also coming from newly arriving Eastern European nations and the former Soviet Union countries.
I decided to go with my friend on a self guided tour of Jackson Heights, Queens. Driving through, I got really excited… So many great smells wafting into my car “Isn’t this great!!” I had 2 things in mind to do when we got there: 1. Eat at a few different places, tapas-like. 2. Get a new shirt because what I was wearing didn’t really match and I wanted to shed my sweatshirt anyway.
We walked mainly down Roosvelt Ave and went north and south when I saw spots I thought were cool. First we came upon a restaurant on Broadway (I believe) that I thought would be a quick in-and-out. It was a sit-down, but we split 4 delicious tacos with guac on it and 2 horchatas (Dene got melon and I got some sort of milky tea – we both liked our own better).
We had already walked in a couple of shops to buy shirts to no avail, then found a big store on Roosevelt with priced down clothes. Initially we found these velour shirts which were really comfy, but the circumference around the bottom was huge. Then Dene found these cool faux snake skin jackets. We figured that we should try to fit in to the rest of the neighborhood.
I couldnt help but keep thinking of the scene from National Lampoons European Vacation where they try to fit in with the locals by wearing some fashionable french clothing. It took a long time to be able to walk 5 minutes straight without laughing. For 7.99 each, they were a steal!
We found a bar where the bartender waited patiently by us while her 4 size too small dress showed her voluptious umm…. We tried to strike up conversation, but there was definitely a language barrier. In the bar there was a great live band – which I didnt even realize was live until I peered into an adjacent room and saw men with outrageous get-ups singing on stage. Do they do this every day?? What a great dinner party show.
We walked 25 minutes walking to a Columbian restaurant she suggested(on the way finding delicious $1 fatty beef tacos – YES@@!), then turned back on Junction Blvd(we were only half way there, forget it!), we headed back down Roosevelt Ave for some more. Right away, we came across at least 4 street vendors. These must have been the greatest street vendors I’ve ever encountered. They had so much variety in their offerings, I wish I was hungry for a meal at this point. Here is a snap shot of one of the vendors…
Yes that’s a whole pig there, also there’s oversized corn, chorizo, corn bread ballthings (which are new to me), tamales, and a lot more.
Walking through the main drag, I mainly found only Latin American establishments. There is supposed to be an Indian area, but I couldn’t find it. Being mid-20s and single, I need at least 1 bar where young people who speak english primarily hang out – I could not find it.
I realized that for me Jackson Heights is a great place to spend a day. The food is awesome and the stores are fun. The residential section is huge, there are a lot of families there. I decided it would be great if I were established with a core group of friends – we could take advantage of the facilities there without the need to grow our social network. Unfortunately, as I am now, I need to be able to gain a larger social network and I need a local scene of at least 1 bar to meet chicas.
Jackson Heights, we will meet again, but only as friends. Best friends?
UPDATE: After a few days, I delved deeper into my mind and the internet. Here are my latest thoughts and links.
Wikipedia Jackson Heights
Jackson Heights Beautification Group
List of Restaurants in Jackson Heights from JHBG
Ethnic Neighborhoods in NYC Listing
Great Brooklyn Real Estate Blog – Brownstoner.com