Citi Field restaurants: Best international food in Queens – NorthJersey.com

Now that the Mets are officially a wild-card team after the Braves’ 2-1 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night — clinching the National League East title — it’s time to prepare for this weekend’s best-of-three wild-card series at Citi Field.
The beauty of being the top-seeded wild-card team is playing on home turf. That’s an advantage on the field — but also, for food lovers, it’s an advantage off the field.
In Queens, one of the most ethnically diverse urban areas in the world, there’s no need to settle for peanuts and Cracker Jack. There are plenty of great eats near Citi Field for the adventurous foodie.
I’m a Chinese immigrant who grew up in Jackson Heights in the shadow of Shea Stadium, where my family still resides. As a foodie and baseball fan, I combine my love of both anytime I’m headed to a Mets game. Here are some of my favorite ethnic restaurants in Queens, along with some tips on parking and transportation.
Schedule:When will the Mets play? Game times announced for Wild Card series vs. Padres
My hometown is right on the 7 train line, an easy ride to Willets Point. When you exit the Roosevelt Avenue-74th Street station, you are practically in the United Nations. There are more than 100 languages spoken, and almost as many cuisines to choose among.If you arrive before noon, there’s usually free street parking past 37th Avenue. Do a little shopping and eating before getting on the elevated train to the game. Or head there for dinner after the game and avoid getting stuck in the stadium parking lot.
This is the granddaddy of all Indian restaurants in Jackson Heights. When it opened in 1980, taking over an American diner in an airstream trailer, it served both hamburgers and dosas. It has evolved into a A-list restaurant in a larger, swanky space. Loyal customers arrive from all corners of New York and New Jersey for classic North Indian and South Indian delicacies.
I grew up on Jackson Diner’s food when it was a hole in the wall, getting late-night takeout dinners there as a commuter college student. My favorites now and then include the Malai Kofta, a curried vegetarian dish with potato and cheese balls served with a creamy, rich sauce. Nowadays, I get the Baingan Bharta, roasted eggplant mash cooked with spices. Healthy and delicious.
The restaurant is owned by the next generation, who are just as friendly as ever. I noted to a server before a ballgame that I am an original customer from almost four decades ago, and he asked me to call beforehand the next time I go so they can make me something special.
Thanks to food critics over the decades, Jackson Diner now attracts a celebrity crowd, a must-visit for politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg. Hollywood favorites such as Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and John Leguizamo are also customers.
Go: 37-47 74th St.; 718-672-1232, jacksondiner.com.
If you’ve ever wanted to try Nepalese food, Mustang is the place. This unassuming restaurant is known for its momos — giant dumplings with meat or vegetable fillings. Broth comes sealed within the wrappers — juicy when you bite into them. The Chicken Thupka noodle soup is deliciously savory on a cold night. Nepalese cuisine is a combination of Chinese and Indian flavors. The prices will send you to a reverse sticker shock, as many of the dishes are under $10.
Go: 74-14 37th Ave.; 718-898-5088, mustangthakali.com.
A few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of 74th Street is a popular favorite with locals for Colombian food. Arepa Lady serves a variety of Latin specials, including several styles of the corn cake sandwich. There are steak- and cheese-filled arepas with homemade sauces. My favorite is always the empanadas, with beef, cheese or chicken. The passionfruit juice is outstanding. A meal will cost less than $10.  
Go: 77-17 37th Ave.; 917-745-1111.
Known as Asiatown, Flushing is home to some of the best Korean and Chinese restaurants in New York. It’s a short drive from the ballpark. Parking can be hard to find, but there are restaurants with ample parking. Or take the 7 train line to Flushing and walk around.
Shanghainese cuisine is a hard-to-find specialty. It’s known for its slightly sweet red braising technique and the famous Xiao Long Bao — soup dumplings. The star at Shanghai You is the dumpling. It serves traditional pork, but also crabmeat, squash with pork, and abalone and crab. The dumplings are juicy and squirt a bit of broth when you bite into them. Soup dumplings are a foodie favorite and popular in Shanghai, where my family hails from.
Go: 135-33 40th Road; 718-886-2286, shanghaiyougardennyc.com.
What a delight. Good food, good service, good prices in a beautiful setting. Tang serves authentic Korean cuisine in a contemporary space. Yes, you can get your traditional bulgogi, but there’s so much more if you want to dine like native Koreans. The Korean side of my family likes the beef head stew, while I found it to be too plain. The kalbi short ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender. SoonDuBu is a spicy tofu stew. Tonkatsu — fried pork cutlet — is always a favorite with young ones. The bibimbap is a meal in a bowl, with bulgogi beef, carrots, bean sprouts and spinach over white rice.
There is plenty of free parking on site. The staff is wonderfully courteous. As we celebrated my father’s birthday this month, they took great care to ensure he was well taken care of, and even looked after the young children and their spills.
Go: 196-50 Northern Blvd.; 718-279-7080, ny.tang24.com.
Happy exploring, and let’s go, Mets!
Mary Chao is a columnist who grew up in Queens and covers the Asian communities and real estate in North Jersey. Email [email protected]

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