The Myth of the Trek to Queens: Let’s End Borough Othering

Today, in a relatively short, relatively unflattering review of M.Wells Steakhouse, food blog Immaculate Infatuation made no less than three references to the geographic remoteness of Queens. This included the question: “Why else would we venture out to Long Island City to eat a rib eye?” which I will do my best to help answer today.

As a proud Queens resident, I feel the need to point out that Long Island City, the site of M.Wells Steakhouse, is about a 5 minute subway ride from Manhattan on the 7 train. If this sounds like a trek to you, it’s probable you’ll be hailing a cab to get to somewhere three Avenues away sometime soon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Additionally, M.Wells Steakhouse is one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in New York City this year, with its construction and opening widely covered and reviewed, so it makes perfect sense that a lot of folks would be making the very short subway ride to Long Island City to eat a rib eye.

Most concerning, however, is the article’s rehashing of the old center-to-periphery relationship, with Manhattan at the heart of the map of food and culture in New York City and the outer boroughs as remote outposts. For example, the article presumes that none of its readers actually live in Queens, as it suggests that for anyone reading this piece, Long Island City would be an exhausting journey.

Food writing that “others” borough neighborhoods by locating them at the periphery of the food world in New York City fundamentally misunderstands the way people eat, what we care about, and how we support neighborhood businesses and our fellow resident business owners. It misunderstands pride of place, community, and the sheer joy of dropping into your favorite local joint or having a nice dinner out whether it’s in Canarsie, College Point, Parchester, the West Village or Long Island City.

If we see the New York City food world as having hundreds of thousands of centers, each one a neighborhood, or a block, or a cluster of restaurants on a given block, our geography gets a whole hell of a lot more interesting and rewarding.

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15 thoughts on “The Myth of the Trek to Queens: Let’s End Borough Othering

  1. I’m so OVER Queens-bashing. I think it was popular – and accepted – a decade ago. The realities of real estate and the interests of true foodies have helped changed the perception that visiting Queens was like a visit to the country. These days, when I come across this antiquated perception I immediately dismiss the person as a wanna-be. What I find most interesting is that typically these people aren’t even from Manhattan (or Brooklyn). Whatever – I was born here, I love it, if you think getting on a train for 15 minutes is beneath you then stay away, I don’t want to have to wait for a table.

  2. I will happily travel from North Bergen,NJ to eat good food in Flushing, Elmhurst, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, and so forth.

  3. I 100% agree with you. I’ve lived in Astoria for the past 3.5 years and always extol the great cuisine here and in LIC that reviewers rarely pay attention to. But that’s ok – I know it’s good! And I share my knowledge with any friends well are willing to listen.

  4. Pingback: LIVE FROM LIC: IT'S THE PLANET OF THE APES | LICtalk

  5. Pingback: Some Thoughts on the Changing City | tastoriaqueens

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