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City Living: Chill out in Forest Hills

Forest Hills is a neighborhood with deep connections

Forest Hills is a neighborhood with deep connections to its past.

Situated in central Queens near lush vegetation as well as the urban bustle of Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills is the ideal mixture of old and new.

A collection of Tudor-style homes — part of the super-posh Forest Hills Gardens — surround Station Square, a plaza filled with restaurants and pedestrians. Elsewhere, decades-old neighborhood haunts share space with slick new restaurants.

But for all of the activity, Forest Hills still maintains the peaceful vibe its long-time residents cherish.

“This is a very quiet neighborhood,” said resident Paolo Chioni, 20. “Things don’t really change much here. Many of the family-owned shops in Forest Hills have been passed down several generations.”

In addition to its charming atmosphere, Forest Hills also has a rich tennis tradition. The West Side Tennis Club hosted the U.S. Open from 1915 until 1978, and the West Side Stadium saw some of the most important matches in the tournament’s history. The stadium also hosted a handful of incredible concerts, including unforgettable performance by The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross and Jimi Hendrix.

Although the tennis club is still running, the future of its stadium is uncertain.
“They are talking about tearing it down,” Chioni remarked. “I really hope that doesn’t happen. It’s an important part of our community.”

TO EAT:

You won’t go hungry in Forest Hills. Eats options include everything from Mexican and Asian fare to pizzerias and sweet shops.

5 Burro Café
72-05 Austin St., 718-544-2984
Modest prices meet high quality at this always-busy Tex-Mex joint. The sizzling fajitas, hefty chimichangas and gooey quesadillas are popular. There’s also a jukebox and full bar.

Dee’s Pizza
107-23 Metropolitan Ave.,
888-488-DEES (3337)
Dee’s is known for its brick-oven pizzas with unusual toppings — Cajun shrimp, teriyaki sauce and Dee’s ever-popular meat loaf, to name a few. Pasta dishes and grill entrees round out the menu.

MoCA
107-18 70th Road, 718-268-3333
This Asian bistro offers one of the more unusual ambiances in Forest Hills. The low-lit room is punctuated by bright neon lights — embedded in both the floor and table — giving the entire place a very high-tech appearance. The sushi’s good, too.

TO PARTY:

In Forest Hills, you can sip pints, find live music or dance till late.

Bartini’s
1 Station Square, 718-896-5445
This basement spot has the energy of a nightclub and the class of a piano bar. Collapse into the plush sofas when you can’t dance anymore — or after one too many martinis. There’s a DJ Thursdays through Saturdays.

The Irish Cottage
108-07 72nd Ave., 718-268-1329
This neighborhood institution has been around 50 years for good reason: The beer’s cold and the Irish-style pub grub’s good.

Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen
104-02 Metropolitan Ave., 718-261-2144
For a sophisticated evening, head to this Mediterranean-inspired gem. Pair one of 20 wines by the glass with a charcuterie and cheese plate, or nibbles from the small-plates menu. Great for a date night.

TO SHOP:

Shopping strips: Austin Street — which is the closest to the subway — is lined with on-trend clothing shops and restaurants; Metropolitan Avenue is a bit more secluded and is home to more family-owned and unique shops.

Cheese of the World
71-48 Austin St.,
718-263-1933
Cheese of the World is the haven for all things decadent: There are more than 300 different types of cheese for every taste and price range, as well as fresh-cut meats, chocolates, warm bread and gourmet condiments.

Collectors Den
102-21 Metropolitan Ave., 718-261-3019
Among the older shops on Forest Hills’ south side is a smattering of antique stores, the standout of which is the Collectors Den. It’s so unassuming that it’s easy to miss, but once inside, you’ll discover a wealth of books, furniture, lamps, art, silverware and clocks.

Aigner Chocolates
103-02 Metropolitan Ave., 718-544-1850
Family-owned since 1930, Aigner Chocolates prides itself on making all of its treats in-house. It offers a counter full of confections, including a nice selection of sugar-free snacks. Locals maintain it offers some of the best chocolate in Queens, if not the entire city.

TO SEE:

The highlight of Forest Hills is Forest Park, which, unlike Central Park, is not man-made or landscaped.

Forest Park
Situated on the outskirts of the neighborhood, this park is one of the least-disturbed green spaces in the city. It’s densely forested, full of wildlife and laced with small trails, but it also has recreation centers and a golf course.

Eddie’s Sweet Shop
105-29 Metropolitan Ave., 718-520-8514
Eddie’s, which opened in 1909, embodies 101 years of American history: The decor is totally retro, and some of the elderly patrons have been frequenting the sweet shop since they were plucky youngsters. The shop serves homemade ice cream flavors (both classic and seasonal) as well as classic toppings such as wet walnuts and real whipped cream and lots of fizzy soda at an old-timey counter.

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