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Where to eat near Citi Field before a Mets game

I firmly believe that baseball is the kind of sport you don’t need to know much about to enjoy it. Long before the Atlanta Braves were the 2021 World Series champions, my Georgia-born friends and I were shelling out $10 to watch them play the Mets at Citi Field in Queens. (Most of that time was spent chatting and occasionally watching the action.)

Mets games are a relatively affordable form of entertainment in New York, but that accessibility doesn’t always extend to the food sold at Citi Field. As much as I like to have plenty of beer and chicken tenders, some of the best and most rewarding meals are just one stop away on the #7 express line at the Junction Boulevard stop.

Beneath these well-worn subway tracks lies a world of hearty, reservation-free fare that you’ll miss unless you disembark and walk down Roosevelt Avenue. A real market – mostly made up of foods from the Latin diaspora – is full of options.

For about $12 — bring cash! – you can have four of the best tamales of your life from Tamales of Evelia at the northwest corner of Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. You can order the bright tamale salsa verde, with rich shredded chicken nestled in cooked masa, or the heartier adobo with spicy guajillo peppers and pork, among others. Or do what I did and ask for dealer’s choice. It is impossible to be wrong.

In another cart, I tried some of the crispiest, airiest cheese empanadas I’ve ever come across. They came out hot from the frying oil perfectly crispy with a piece of salty, melted cottage cheese inside. I only bought one and immediately regretted it. I could have eaten a thousand. My regrets to the chicken fillets.

When I returned last weekend, the woman selling these empanadas was nowhere to be found, but that’s the nature of Junction Boulevard: it always changes. So instead I grabbed a piping hot chicharrón quesadilla from Homemade taqueria at the corner of 40th Road and Junction, where you can watch the staff make tortillas in real time.

Further down Roosevelt Avenue, at the corner of 78th Street, you will find Birria Landia, which hopefully will never go away. There they serve the kind of birria de res you’ll find in Tijuana, Mexico. In 2019, the food truck announced an obsession, now shared by TikTok users and the street-food scene, with birria tacos soaked in consomé.

“The meat, a mix of brisket, shank and top round, is rich and seems to get softer the more you eat it, like a square of chocolate,” wrote Pete Wells in his two-star review of the truck, which now has a second location near the Lorimer stop on line L.

These businesses are part of a rich network of ambulantes, or street vendors, some of whom only started selling food after the pandemic began to compensate for lost work or housing. At the end of 2020, my colleagues Juan Arredondo and David Gonzalez published a moving interactive article about these vendors, many of whom are undocumented. They all have to contend with the limited number of permits available in the city, and unlicensed vendors can face crippling fines. Please take the time to read their stories – they share these experiences with thousands of others.

This stretch of Roosevelt Avenue is just as much a part of the fabric of New York as going to see the Mets play. There’s no reason we can’t appreciate and honor everyone. After all, it’s only one train stop away.

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  • Participants at Name A $700-per-person dinner series in Brooklyn has received a full refund, along with the promised multi-course meal, after American Express, a sponsor, announced chef Rene Redzepi had tested positive for Covid and would not would not be present, reports Florence Manufacturer.

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