Chow at Chao - Thai Restaurants in ElmhurstEspecially at lunchtime, when it's mainly patronized by locals, Chao Thai (85-03 Whitney Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-424-4999) gives the impression of a tiny Bangkok café. Thai music videos play on the TV screen, young Thai couples slurp noodle soup, and even the specials on the blackboard are chalked in Thai script. Fortunately, between the printed English menu and the fluent waitresses, you can make sure that your papaya salad will be sufficiently -- but not mind-blowingly -- spicy. If you dare, ask for your order "Thai hot," but have a glass of coconut juice or iced tea at the ready.
For a more expansive Thai menu in a less intimate setting -- a restaurant strip mall, consider Nusara (82-80 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY, 718-898-7996); try the "sun soaked pork strips." For curious take-home snacks (and a Thai video to watch while you nosh) on the former premises of a liquor store, there's Ally's Grocery (76-13 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-426-5006).
Steak It - Argentinean Restaurants in ElmhurstLa Fusta (80-32 Baxter Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-429-8222), Spanish for "the riding crop," is, ironically enough, the most laid-back neighborhood restaurant with its roots in Argentina. One of that meat-loving country's signature dishes is the parrillada, or mixed grill, which La Fusta serves as a towering heap of skirt steak, short ribs, blood sausage, tripe, and sweetbreads. The order for one person can feed two, or even three; should you take on that parrillada single-handed, it's good to know that just across the avenue at Elmhurst Hospital, a number of Argentinean-born doctors are on hand at any given time.
If you wander to Little Argentina, at the eastern edge of the neighborhood, consider La Esquina Criolla (94-67 Corona Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-699-5579) for a sausage sandwich or empanada (or a full, sit-down meal, too). Pasiones del Sur (94-63 Corona Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-271-8101) offers take-home snacks and gifts from Uruguay and Paraguay as well as Argentina.
Honest Eats - Indonesian Restaurants in ElmhurstThough it's enjoyed the longest run of the neighborhood's Indonesian restaurants, Upi Jaya (76-04 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-458-1807) doesn't put on airs. Although some of the dishes appear fearsomely spicy or even strange, think of it as a homey place for regular folks to enjoy Southeast Asian chow. The nasi rames combination plates include mixed vegetables or jackfruit, rice, and your choice of perhaps a dozen preparations of beef, chicken, or seafood. For an added helping of vegetables, consider a peppy order of fresh kale leaves cooked in coconut milk and spices.
Two more blue-collar Indonesian eateries sit nearly side-by-side, a short stroll away: Minangasli (86-10 Whitney Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-429-8207) and Mie Jakarta (86-20 Whitney Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-606-8025).
More Ethnic Eats in ElmhurstStill have an appetite? The kari laksa at Taste Good (82-18 45th Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-898-8001) rivals the noodle soups of Singapore and Penang. Next door, you can lose yourself in the aisles of the amazingly well-stocked Hong Kong Supermarket (82-02 45th Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-651-3838).
Vallecito Bakery (40-06 Benham St, Elmhurst, NY, 718-899-8242) serves fresh Mexican breads and pastries. Bahar (82-19 Queens Blvd, Elmhurst, NY, 718-426-5822) is renowned for Afghan cuisine. The proprietors of the Northern Chinese eatery Lao Bei Fang (86-08 Whitney Ave, Elmhurst, NY, 718-639-3996) hand-pull their noodles, and their hui xiang dumplings feature fennel.