Astoria Seafood is a very unique dining experience, mainly because it’s not technically a restaurant. It’s a fully operating fish market on a quiet off-the-beaten path (technically Long Island City) block which sells fish by the pound and presumably supplies many of the local restaurants. At the same time it also doubles as a bustling old-school B.Y.O.B. Greek/Seafood taverna which seems to be the biggest draw. In fact, it’s so busy that the line is out the door almost every night and they probably turn more tables over than any other restaurant in the area. Not bad for a no-frills, counter service fish market.
The ordering procedure takes a little getting used to; first you grab a plastic bag and walk around the market area choosing your whole fish, clams, calamari, crab’s legs or whatever else you want out of ice bins. Then you pick it up yourself and put it in your bag, and bring it to the register. Your items are individually weighed and priced, and you tell the cashier how you’d like everything prepared. You also pick sides, which are typical Greek sides; lemon potatoes, vegetables, grilled octopus, or whatever else they have available that day. Lastly you give your name to the waitress (if you can find her in the chaos) and you wait as your tray of fish goes down the line to the chef. This is a good time to crack open the beer or wine that you brought with you, because good things usually take some time.
After a while, and a few drinks, your name will be yelled and you’ll be seated. Your dishes will be brought out in the order they’re ready, and you can finally relax and enjoy some of the freshest seafood around. On late weekend nights there may be Greek music blasting (mixed in with some Jay-Z), people singing and dancing (including the employees), and dollars flying in the air. Generally everyone seems to be enjoying themselves far more than at the average restaurant. Something about the extremely casual and chaotic vibe, friendly yet hectic service, drinks flowing, and delicious food at fair prices gets people very excited, and with good reason.
37-10 33rd Street | Long Island City, NY 11101 | (718) 392-2680