Eat your way around the world—all in Queens and for under $30. Right behind the New York Hall of Science in Corona (only a half-hour ride on the 7 train from Times Square or by car) is the Queens International Night Market, an outdoor bazaar with exotic offerings from more than 50 food vendors. After hours of sampling everything from arepas to Sichuan noodles to balut (fermented duck egg, a Filipino delicacy), food expert Jess Bender picked the tastiest dishes at these booths.
It’s a rarity to find good puffed rice around Manhattan, so the herbaceous jhal muri here with blink-and-you’ll-miss-them chili peppers, served in a newspaper cone—“just like it is back in the motherland” of Western India and Bangladesh, according to one of the owners—is an instant favorite. Bonus: The team behind Jhal NYC provides English lessons and job-placement assistance to Bengali immigrants.
Don’t expect the run-of-the-mill samosas you get with your Indian takeout at this regional Sudanese vendor. Owner Gladys Shahtou’s satisfying sambuska recipe—spiced ground beef mixed with onion, cilantro, and garlic and baked inside a flaky fried phyllo wrapper—has been passed down through generations of her family. Complement your savory pastry with a bowlful of the sweet-savory dakwa salad of chopped tomatoes and spring onions tossed in a spicy peanut butter sauce, or the fava bean–forward mash known as ful.
Aside from a handful of ceviche spots scattered across the five boroughs, authentic Chilean food is woefully underrepresented in NYC. This street food vendor is trying to amend that, though. While its Valpo hot dogs are the main draw (with toppings like avocado and salsa, how could they not be?), the biggest personal draw here is the chacarero sandwich, proudly adorned with a miniature Chilean flag. It is best described as a South American cheesesteak minus the cheese; the paper-thin beef practically melts in your mouth, while the smoked chili peppers, mixed with mayonnaise, makes the meat and string beans sing.
Take a bite of the Big Island and say aloha to Florvil King Valde’s sustainable Hawaiian stand. Though Valdes was born in the Philippines, he fell in love with the state’s cuisine after spending time working there. He’ll be shelling out various musubis both modern (loaded with panko-crusted chicken and kalua pork) and classic (Spam), along with tropical faves like coconut shrimp and sweet spring rolls stuffed with caramelized plantains.
No trip around the world would be complete without a sweet treat. The dessert-mongers behind this Taiwanese snack booth specialize in che lun bing, which literally translates to “car-wheel cake”: Two thick hotcakes are sandwiched together, from which fillings like matcha custard, red bean paste, and banana ooze out with every bite. The affordable price point makes it hard to say no to just one—while you can get a single cake for $3.50, buying three is a steal at just $10.
Queens International Night Market
New York Hall of Science
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona
Saturdays until August 18, then September 29–October 27