Tag Archives: Queens bars

Global lime shortage squeezes Queens bars, restaurants

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Sophia Rosenbaum


Brother, can you spare a lime?

Frequent customers at El Rey Del Taco truck may be confused when they open the Styrofoam container with their tacos to find a wedge of lemon, instead of lime, in their trays.

Limes are too expensive for the taco truck to afford right now, as a global lime shortage is affecting restaurants and bars throughout Queens. Most of the limes used in the U.S. come from Mexico, where heavy rains and an infectious tree disease affecting the lime crop have forced lime prices to quadruple over the past few months.

“Unfortunately, Mexico received some heavy rains that destroyed a large amount of the lime crop, so with limited supplies, we are seeing lime prices skyrocket,” said Lindsey Pope, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Agriculture.

At local supermarkets like Key Food and Trade Fair, three limes cost $3. Three months ago, customers could buy a dozen limes for the same price. In the past few months, prices for 10-pound cases of limes have gone from about $30 to about $120.

While the taco truck can get away with replacing limes with lemons, some businesses are not afforded that option.

“We do a lot of custom cocktails, so not using fresh juice just isn’t an option for us,” said Vincent Vee, the beer and event manager at Station House in Forest Hills.

Vee said it’s common for prices of fresh fruit to fluctuate, especially when natural disasters like droughts affect Mexico, but that this lime shortage has been especially long.

“[The prices are] staying up a little longer than normal this time,” he said. “We’re hoping they come down soon.”

Like other restaurants and bars, Station House is limiting its lime garnishes and ensuring that its employees use the limes in the most efficient way possible.

Limes are an integral part of many Mexican dishes. Fresh lime juice makes up a third of most traditional margarita recipes.

Mojave, a Mexican restaurant in Astoria, is trying to limit its use of limes to the bare minimum.

“We’re just trying to compensate,” said Maya Stephanov, a bartender at Mojave.

Stephanov said that limes are a staple at almost every bar in the city, as a slice of lime is often paired with vodka cranberries, gin and tonics and other specialty drinks.



Sweet Afton: ‘bar for all seasons’

| editorial1@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Sweet AftonP

Sweet Afton is “a bar for all seasons.” Serving classic draft beers, inventive house cocktails and renowned wines from all over the world, this pub has withstood the test of time. Much more than a local bar, Sweet Afton prides itself on a solid menu built on local ingredients: meats, cheeses, breads and their famously delicious pickles.

Located in the heart of Astoria, this eatery has a menu that presents characteristic pub food, created in a truly distinctive manner. Sweet Afton transforms mundane diner food into rich, savory dishes, including beer battered Brooklyn pickles and homemade chutney.

The menu includes burgers, salt and pepper ribs, mac & cheese, grilled cheese and their famous cheese platter. Sides include hand cut fries with malt vinegar, sliced pickles and seasonal side salad with bacon. Each dish is simple, creative comfort food. The burger is served on a country white bun, while the grilled Portobello burger is presented on a seven-grain roll with tomato jam. Among my favorites are the beer battered Brooklyn pickles and grilled cheese on a Pullman loaf. Don’t forget the mac and cheese, which is a gooey compilation of pasta, Irish cheddar, Muenster and gruyere.

The establishment believes “the soul of a bar is its patrons, and [we] welcome all that enjoy good company and friendly conversation to enjoy the warm vibe that is Sweet Afton.” Their mission statement is present throughout the bar, which is lined in deep wood and exposed brick, while the back garden and front windows grant a serene aesthetic ambiance for the warmer months. No reservations are necessary and the bar’s late hours give everyone a chance to grab a quick bite or spend some time drinking with friends or co-workers.

The drink menu at Sweet Afton is founded on specialty beer, classic cocktails and house variations. Everything from Chimay to Smuttynose IPA is available on draft, while cocktails include fresh lime margaritas, applejack Manhattans, and cucumber Collins. House variations present an inventive collection of unique “thirst-quenchers” including sweet tea, red lemonade, rye root beer, rum spearmint, dirty pickle martinis, gin basil and Afton fizz. Combining infused vodkas, sweet syrups, fresh herbs and exotic fruit, these cocktails are far beyond your average “happy hour pick-me-up.” If you prefer a glass of wine, try a glass of Beviam from Argentina, or Dresser Weinzierl hailing all the way from Austria. All of their infused liquors and preserves are made in house and with fresh fruit, something that separates this bar from its indigenous competition.

Local ingredients, a classic menu, inventive drinks and a warm atmosphere have made Sweet Afton a neighborhood favorite among locals and newcomers. Whether you enjoy their tangy fries, hearty sandwiches, daily happy hour or Sunday brunch, there is truly something for everyone at this local establishment.


Sweet Afton
30-09 34th Street
Astoria, NY 11103
Between 30th & 31st Avenues