Ali’s Kabab Cafe
2512 Steinway St, Astoria, NY 11103
Ali Kabab Cafe on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. This tiny storefront could be easily overlooked by a passer-by given the dozens of Middle Eastern restaurants and stores on that block. Don’t pass this one up.
Lately I’ve been taking more flights in and out of New York’s LaGuardia airport given that fact that I have been giving more and more of my airline business to Delta, who has a substantial presence at LGA in both the main and Marine Air Terminals. The side benefit of this is that LaGuardia is right next to the town of Astoria, which houses one of the largest Greek and Middle Eastern communities in the United States.
The main strip of Steinway Street, which used to be predominantly Greek 20 or 30 years ago is now more of an enclave of Lebanese, Palestinian and Egyptian stores and cafes. One such cafe that I had always wanted to visit but never really had the opportunity to eat at is Ali Kabab Cafe, a tiny, cramped but eclectic cafe that rightfully boasts some of the best Middle Eastern food in the New York metropolitan area.
I do have to warn you that if you eat at Ali’s, you are not just going there for the food, which in and of itself is creative and phenomenal and will not be like any Middle Eastern food you have ever eaten before.
You’re going there to be a guest of Ali Al-Sayed, who is a character that can only be described as an intellectual entertainer. If you strike up a conversation with Ali, you had better be prepared to listen, because this guy is a student of art, history and politics. If you have any interest at all in Egyptian and Middle Eastern culture, you’re in for even more of an experience. Just ask him questions about the stuff hung on his walls and you’re going to get an earful. He is the closest thing to a culinary ambassador that Egypt has in New York, or perhaps the United States.
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