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Sample everything the borough has to offer

By Alex Palmer

Queens’ vast dining options will be on full display next week at the annual Taste of Queens celebration. Taking place at Citi Field’s Caesars Club on Tuesday, May 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m, the event brings together almost 50 restaurants from across the borough, offering eats as diverse as Queens itself.

Taste of Queens has steadily grown since it was launched 11 years ago to become one of the biggest dining events in the borough. The organizers hope to draw more than 1,000 visitors this year to sample local fare and meet with Queens chefs and restaurateurs.

Besides the larger size, one of the things that will stand out for this year’s event is the variety of dining choices.

“In the past, it’s been almost 50 percent Italian restaurants — which are great, of course, but we have a much better array of restaurants this year,” said Rob MacKay, director of public relations, marketing and tourism for Queens Economic Development Corp., which organizes Taste of Queens. “We have Mexican, Peruvian, Colombian, Spanish, Argentinian, a steakhouse, French Cajun, Portuguese and a Romanian bakery.”

The exhibitors also reflect the varied geography of the borough. Among the establishments that will have tables at the event are Redwood Deli, of Forest Hills; Papazzio and Bourbon Street, from Bayside; Austin Steak & Ale House, from Kew Gardens; F. Ottomanelli’s, from Woodside; and Sac’s Place and Christos from Astoria.

The event will also include a special Rockaway section, with restaurants from the region severely affected by Hurricane Sandy receiving exhibit space at no charge.

“Unfortunately, some restaurants there were completely destroyed; some have come back, but aren’t ready to have a table this year, but we’re going to have a few restaurants as well as other Rockaway artisans and businesses,” said Mackay.

Taste of Queens is offering tributes to those damaged by Sandy and those who responded in a number of other ways. The event’s lead sponsor is grocery chain Fairway Market, which has one Queens store in Douglaston but had its Red Hook location wiped out by the hurricane.

“They worked out plans so that not one employee lost their job — they bused them around to different places to make sure they could still work,” said Mackay.

Additionally, the Queens Economic Development Corporation will also be honoring the United States Tennis Association, which organizes the US Open, for the aid it provided to those affected by Sandy. This included the provision of $300,000 worth of medicine, water, food and clothes to the Rockaways, as well as a donation of $100,000 to the Mayor’s Fund for Sandy relief.

Judges at the event will also be awarding a best entrée and best appetizer award selected from participating restaurants.

Mackay describes the event as an opportunity for Queens to show off its culinary chops — which are often overshadowed by the offerings of neighboring boroughs.

“People from Manhattan who are accustomed to museums and Broadway shows might not be as willing to travel deep into Queens for a meal,” said Mackay. “But we find that foodies are more willing to be adventurous — to take the 7 Train to Flushing to check out a hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant or something. Foodies like the authenticity of Queens.”

If you go

Taste of Queens

Tuesday, May 14, 6 – 9 pm

Citi Field’s Caesars Club

123-01 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing

Tickets available online at www.queensny.org/qedc/queenstaste/ or by calling 718-263-0546

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