New York City is a foodie's best friend- almost all of the world's ingredients and cuisine are accessible in this city. There are over 3,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone; offering dishes from around the globe: Italy and France to Egypt and India. NYC's main borough is an icon when it comes to fine dining and Brooklyn has gained a lot of fans for its innovative culinary undertakings. Queens, however, remains somewhat obscure. It wasn't until recently that certain neighborhoods in Queens caught people's attention. As evident in the viral video, "Shit New Yorkers Say", NYers picture the beer gardens in Astoria and Long Island City when they think of Queens. It has always been the more family oriented borough, where mainstream merchandising tends to be augmented. Frankly, dining out in this part of town isn't as exciting as going out in the city or Brooklyn. I think this is because people in the neighborhood are quite stubborn in the sense that they have their pizza place, their Chinese food place, their Thai place... People here are pretty much set to their usual but it doesn't mean that restaurateurs aren't trying- take El Patron for example.
El Patron is a Mexican restaurant in Flushing, Queens- a part of town further east from the hip LIC and Astoria (Flushing is also known as NYC's second China Town as the neighborhood's Main Street is dominated with small Chinese businesses). The eatery is located on a corner along Northern Boulevard. The building itself hasn't been much of a good draw- I've witnessed it change from various kinds of restaurants (prior to El Patron, it used to be a Japanese restaurant). But there's something about the the place now, it's busy because people actually eat there.
Like most restaurants in this part of Queens, there aren't a lot of people dining at El Patron during lunch time. But the vibe changes after work hours. The restaurant has a full bar that literally takes up an entire wall and El Patron's happy hour is a rare find in this area. From 4-7 P.M., guests can enjoy a refreshing decent size glass of margarita (flavors: strawberry, orange, mango, pomegranate, coconut, pineapple and more, frozen or on ice) or sangria for $3.00. In addition, beer prices are also slashed during happy hour. Guests can enjoy their happy hour cocktails while waiting for their food in their seats (unlike a few establishments I've been to where happy hour deals only apply to the bar area of the restaurants).
Nachos and salsa are given as the complimentary table appetizer. El Patron's menu is quite extensive- it has more than three pages of entrees to choose from (chicken, beef and seafood). I find myself ordering the same dish when I'm there- the Chicken Chimichangas, which is served with a side of yellow rice, guacamole, pico de gallo and refried black beans. Three reasons why I get it:
The portion- They give you three burrito size chimichangas and all of the side items I mentioned, that's a happy belly right there.
The price- $14.50 sounds about right to me for the amount of food I get.
Quality- I love the homemade-ness of it. It's a very rare thing to find in this part of Queens (unless you're in someone's home).
I also like that the restaurant embraces technology and social media. El Patron offers discounts through Yelp and their website. The only bad thing that I can think of about this place is the service- not that it's awful. The service is lacking, or rather, slacking. I've been there a handful of times and it really just comes down to who's the server. Regardless, I'll keep going back for their frozen margaritas.