Remember the drive-in? Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC.

We’ve been going to the Queens Night Market for all six years it’s been around. But this year is like no other, thanks to the collision of Covid-19 restrictions, the market’s growing popularity and the enthusiasm New Yorkers are bringing to doing pretty much anything right now. The market currently requires timed-entry tickets that must be booked in advance for $5 per person (children under 12 are free). Tickets through July 3 are sold out, and the market runs through October. We’ll update this post as we learn more. The following are some tips to help you make the most of your visit. 

Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC
  • Go early. This was the first year we did the Queens Night Market … in the daytime. We got tickets for 4 p.m., hoping to beat the lines. It was still crowded, but an unexpected benefit was being able to see our food, more easily find vendors and each other. We always have young children with us and we felt way more relaxed about them roaming about this year. (Pro tip: Dress the kids in bright colors, easier to find.)
Oh, Bagel. Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC.
  • Try the places with no line. We made a beeline for the familiar — but so did everyone else. After growing weary, we decided serendipity might serve us best. And that’s how a Flushing bagel shop’s hot pot became our favorite find. Oh, Bagel’s market debut is with fish cakes, several types of mushrooms, kelp, broccoli and other vegetables soaked in broth; definitely ask for a dash of hot oil and cilantro on top. Bonus: Most of the items are just $1 per skewer.  About those lines, going in big groups can help you divide and conquer — and share bites of each other’s food.
Burmese Bites. Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC.
  • Change is inevitable. There’s no more tea leaf salad. Let us know if things change in subsequent weeks and Burmese Bites brings this back. The Burmese stall is always one of the longest lines at the market and opening night was no exception. But this year, there was no tea leaf salad so we tried the keema palata and noodle salad instead. We were initially sad, but then remembered we have tea leaf salad closer to home. As we told you in September, Yun Cafe & Asian Mart, right inside the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station.
Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC
  • Take the train. We did find parking on the street right across from the New York Hall of Science, but our friends circled the lot for several minutes before squeezing into a questionable spot.
Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC
  • Timed entry doesn’t seem that strict. We received a wristband when we arrived for our designated time (4 till 5:30), but overstayed till after 6 with no problems. 
Experience Palestine. Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC.
Treat Yourself Jerk. Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC.
  • Eat dessert first. Sam’s Fried Ice Cream greeted us upon entry. There was no line so we thought why not? The fried green tea ice cream is a pretty warm welcome.
Photo by Nitin Mukul for Epicenter-NYC

S. Mitra Kalita is a veteran journalist, media executive, prolific commentator and author of two books. In 2020 she launched Epicenter-NYC, a newsletter to help New Yorkers get through the pandemic. Mitra...

Nitin is a visual designer, gallery artist, and community arts activist. Past desk-oriented posts include: PBS, Digitas, K12, Inc., Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Sesame Workshop International....

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