Tag Archives: Jeff Orlick

Jackson Heights man offers ‘midnight’ food tours down Roosevelt Avenue

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Donny Tsang / Courtesy of Jeff Orlick

For the past three years, one Jackson Heights resident has been showing visitors how delicious his neighborhood is once the sun goes down.

Jeff Orlick has been offering, by appointment, tours down Roosevelt Avenue for people from near and far looking to get a taste of the “real New York.”

The tour, called the Midnight Street Crawl, is one of three tours Orlick gives throughout the year. It is offered Monday through Thursday and goes from 90th Street to 111th Street. A spot on the tour costs $59, and reservations are required.

When he first started the “midnight” crawls, he was able to go from midnight to the early morning, but now, because of a new job, he tends to start the tours around 8 or 9 p.m.

“We basically investigate the street nightlife through food,” Orlick said. “We try to engage a community through the food.”

On the “midnight” tours, Orlick takes groups of two or more participants to street food vendors offering Ecuadorian, Colombian, Mexican, Dominican and sometimes Peruvian cuisines.

Although the route and cultures stay the same during the tour, Orick said he sometimes changes the interaction a bit so the participants and vendors can speak and learn from each other. He tries to make the tour two to three hours long, hitting about eight to 10 vendors.

“It’s like a jazz show: there’s a script and there’s notes, but we definitely go on tangents and explore,” Orlick said. “People definitely like it, they like how real it is. People say it’s the real New York.”

Most of the people who take part in the “midnight” crawl tend to be tourists, with only 10 to 15 percent being New Yorkers, according to Orlick. Others who reserve spots are new members to the community who want to get an idea of their neighborhood.

“I just want them to have a real connection, this is what I want to do when I go visit a place. I just want to come in and have a real connection,” Orlick said. “For me, the best way to connect is through food. It’s a great way to communicate with each other.”

Along with the “midnight” crawl, Orlick also offers a “Tastes of the World” tour and a “Queens Fiesta Crawl.” Both of these events happen during the day and are based on reservations. These tours tend to change depending on where the participants are from, said Orlick.

On Nov. 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. Orlick will also be hosting the third annual Momo Crawl, where restaurants and street vendors who sell the steamed dumpling in the half-mile around the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station will be offering them for $1 each to people who have a 2014 momo map. To pick up a map, participants have to stop by the Jackson Heights Food Court, located at 73-07 37th Rd.

“In Jackson Heights, in Queens, people are proud of their cultures,” Orlick said.

For more information or to book a tour, visit www.vayable.com/users/tastes or www.iwantmorefood.com.


Annual Viva La Comida to highlight local flavor in Jackson Heights

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Mouths will water for a third year in a row as Viva La Comida takes to 82nd Street once again.

The Jackson Heights festival, which translates to “long live food” and is put on by the 82nd Street Partnership and local ‘food ambassador’ Jeff Orlick, will be held on Sept. 20 from 1 to 8 p.m. at the street’s intersection with Roosevelt Avenue.

It will feature the best in Queens food together with live music, art, dancing, family activities and much more.

Orlick, who leads food tours, handpicked the food trucks for the festival, which will also feature an art installation and a live demonstration by artist Adrian Bermeo.

The food trucks include The Arepa Lady, which recently opened a shop at 77-02AA Roosevelt Ave., Ricas Botanas, Coyote Dormilon, Mysttik Masaala, D’Angelo’s Sausage & Peppers, Mama’s Food,and Potala Fresh Momo.

Participating restaurants include Taqueria Coatzing, Golden City Chifa, Casa Rivera Carniceria, Limoncello, Tulcingo, Sabor Ecuatoriano Bakery, J&C Pastry Bakery and Kung Fu Tea.

There will be musical performances by Nova Safra Bateria, Jay Rodriguez Trio, CHIA’s Dance Party and Gerardo Contino y sus Habaneros.

For more information visit www.vivalacomida.com.


Gastronomy, culture on tour

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

In light of the mellowing of the weather and the driving instinct to dine outdoors, this week I decided to break convention and try an outdoor dining approach that samples not one, but up to 15 different restaurants. What better way to savor a kaleidoscope of tasty morsels than by following a neighborhood expert on a food crawl through the borough? Jeff Orlick has been hosting some of the most popular food tours in the city, from midnight food crawls to tours of Little India and a “Fiesta Crawl” leading from Jackson Heights to Corona. For my inaugural crawl, however, my friends and I chose the “Queens Taste of the World.”

When Orlick explained that mostly tourists and non-New Yorkers participate in his food tours, it took me a bit by surprise. Knowing that Queens is one of the most culturally diverse pockets in the world, it only stands to reason that the more you know, the more you realize just how much you don’t know.

The gift of Orlick’s extensive knowledge, experience and personal relationships offers a unique passport to a world that would otherwise be daunting. With just a satchel holding bottled water and plastic utensils, he nimbly weaves you through the streets of Jackson Heights. From tamales steamed in corn husks with queso and mole to savory kebabs, hand-wrapped dumplings and stewed lentils, the tour is a flavor explosion.

In just a few hours, we sampled cuisines, visited stores and explored the cultures of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Tibet, Italy, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. Around every corner, there was a smiling face eager to see Orlick and share their world with our tour.

Orlick crafted a tour that catered to our personal interests with close to 15 fascinating stops… dumpling shops tucked in the back of mobile phone dealerships, subterranean artifact stores below street level, hidden schools where immigrants learn the ins and outs of running a taxi cab and street vendors galore.

Orlick is extremely approachable and makes tours that, while structured, feel very natural and organic. Often other tours can seem over-produced or touristy, even plastic.  Orlick’s is an authentic, comfortable, natural and deliciously eye-opening exploration of the cultures, people and foods that make Queens one of the most exciting melting pots on Earth.

Public tours are scheduled in advance and private tours can be planned as well.  For rates and schedules, visit www.iwantmorefood.com or purchase tickets via vayable.com.