Going Beyond Montgoris

Whether you are new to St. John’s or returning for another year here, it is no surprise that at some point in time, Montgoris fare is going to get a little tired. And as tempting as a dinner in Manhattan might be, the $4.50 that it takes to get to and from that seven-mile stretch of cuisine heaven is almost enough for another dinner (or at least the tip). Luckily, there are plenty of eateries within walking distance of St. John’s University, each offering a little more variety than the standard cafeteria fare.

During a walk around the gates of St. John’s, you are sure to run into a few gyro stands, each one most likely serving a crowd of hungry students, at least around noon. These mobile stands can be a gateway to typical New York street food-greasy, salty, meaty and delicious. About as vegetarian-friendly as a Texas barbeque, the gyro is a sandwich composed of pita, lettuce, chopped spiced meat (usually lamb or chicken), and sauces. These stands also offer dishes like lamb and rice, so if you are craving something exotic, unhealthy and cheap, tracking down one of these little carts is the perfect way to spend your common hour.

If you are looking for a wider variety of Greek options and you’ve got a little more time on your hands, walk across to 176-19 Utopia Parkway and into Fame Diner. This St. John’s hot-spot is famous for the controversy over its food. While some die-hard fans argue that Fame dishes up some of the best eats this side of the East River, others are a little less complimentary. Whether you end up loving the food or hating it, Fame Diner is a place that every student here will probably end up eating a meal at at one point or another. Along with foreign fare, Fame serves some typical American classics, so picky eaters can always opt for a burger and fries.

If you continue down Union Turnpike you will soon find Acquista Trattoria (178-01 Union Turnpike), one of the best places to get Italian food in this area. Along with pizza, sandwiches and calzones, Acquista offers plenty of other full dishes, sides and desserts. The atmosphere inside the restaurant is charming, but Acquista also does take-out and delivery, so it is just as easy to eat on the run. The portions are large and the prices are broke-college-kid budget friendly.

Among the dozens of little Chinese restaurants scattered around campus, one stands out beyond the greasy, soy-sauce drenched masses. Green Lotus, located on 176-59 Union Turnpike, is a Chinese and Thai restaurant that serves up generous portions of Chinese take-out favorites, as well as some dishes that aren’t as typical. One dish that comes highly recommended is Green Lotus’ drunken noodle, a spicy, slightly sweet noodle dish usually found in Thai restaurants.

For great sushi, turn around and head the opposite direction towards 153-11 Union Turnpike. Kyoto Sushi, a restaurant that offers dozens of popular Japanese and Thai dishes as well as sushi and sashimi, is one of the best Asian Fusion places in Queens.

While Kyoto does deliver, the atmosphere inside the restaurant is worth leaving the dorm room for. The prices aren’t outrageous
for sushi, but they are not cheap either, so if you are on a tight budget you might need to save Kyoto for a celebratory dinner or a visit from the family.

If you are looking for dessert, there is always the Crepe N Tearia at 177-07 Union Turnpike. The only creperie within walking distance, this spot offers dozens of delicious fruit and chocolate-filled French treats. The atmosphere is a little cold so these dessert dishes are best taken on the go. The prices are not bad for the quality of the food, and if you are not in the mood for crepes, you could always stop in to try some bubble tea, a drink whose popularity is definitely deserved.