A quick hour trip on the E train from Midtown Manhattan will take you to one of my favorite spots in Queens, the Ave. The Jamaica Center stop on the E train will provide you with an entirely different experience than the newly developed high rises of Long Island City and Astoria. Jamaica Avenue, home to the infamous Coli Block, Jamaica Arts Center and my personal favorite Margheritas, is an area to explore and preserve.
Margherita Pizza provides the best pizza in the city. period. An old school shop with 4 booths in the back and a long counter, the line is often out the door for a $3 slice. The steep price tag (especially in Jamaica, Queens) and the often long wait is worth it. Piping hot and oozing with cheese, you’re sure to burn the roof of your mouth with a slice because your tastebuds can’t wait. Stop here first before headed to the Coli Block.
The Coli Block is home to the Coliseum Mall which once was a Macy’s department store. The block hosts a Jamaican food spot along with several retail stores. The mall itself is a sneaker head’s dream with stores like Moe’s and GB’s. There are a lot of gems to be found in GB’s, especially non-Jordan heat. In addition to sneaker and streetwear stores, there is an abundance of jewelry vendors on the bottom floor, perfect if you’re looking for a grill. Be sure to hit the pretzel vendor by the exit on your way out.
Other places to check out on the ave are the Jamaica Farmer’s Market located in the Down to Earth Markets (there’s a great saxophone player there on Saturdays), Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and any of the shops you encounter along the way.
Arguably the best characteristic of Queens is the diversity. Jamaica Ave provides a worthy experience for anyone that hasn’t been past Western Queens. It’s important to preserve the essence of New York City and hopefully, the Ave stays true to it’s roots with out feeling the culture implications of gentrification.
Photos taken by Steve Vazquez of Queenscapes.