My partner recently suggested that I try this amazing restaurant called “Mundo” in his neighborhood (we live in separate cities) of Astoria Queens, a borough of New York City. This is not uncommon – “c’mon let’s try my favorite restaurant” your friends say and you say “why not”, knowing full well that it will be ok but not truly amazing – divergent tastes, personal nostalgia etc. But you go and far too often you spend the evening in mild disappointment. So it goes.
Mundo Cafe and Restaurant is an exception. From the moment you arrive until the moment you simply force yourself to leave, everything just gets better and better. Seasoned restaurant goers will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that the inevitable letdown, which comes at some point during a night at far too many restaurants, simply never comes.Â
From Willie, a maitre d’s maitre d, who will not only show you your table but a little Italian-German charm to John, who very clearly knows his way around the kitchen despite his title of ‘executive’ chef. Believe me, he is hands-on; I saw him myself through the quaint little sidewalk kitchen window! But don’t worry, the restaurant need not depend on its human element to be a success.
The food at Mundo Astoria should always begin with their famous “Red Sonjas”, the most sumptuous red lentil patty you’ll ever have and then, simply keeps getting better and better. No, it’s true. This is not a restaurant which hooks you in with their appetizers to merely let you come crashing down moments later with the main course. It does get better and better until you reach the end and scrape the very bottom out of your nearly bottomless ‘heavenly’ flour-less chocolate souffle. And you thought there was nothing better than sex!
The rest of the menu is truly a ‘journey at the table’. Intercontinental cuisine is at your fingertips. From Ottoman dumplings and Turkish meatballs to portobello ravioli and even Atlantic salmon – it’s all good and there truly is something for everyone at Mundo. Whether you’re simply inhaling the enchanting aroma or eying up the meticulously curated monthly art exhibit, you will feel right at home. Cozied up tables and candle lit wine glasses punctuate the tiny space and make it ideal for a romantic dinner or a very special birthday. Get settled with a warm glass of gluhwein (German mulled wine) and chat up Willy to figure out your best option from a never-ending selection of tempting dishes. But, whatever you do, don’t skip the Argentinean beef empanadas because they are the original sin!
The best advice I can give you is to not eat all day. Save up a lot of room because multiple appetizers, an ample main course, a number of glasses of wine and a must-have dessert will all be coming your way! Mundo Astoria is a place where you will want to take everyone you care about because you know they will have a truly amazing time. Every night at Mundo cafe and restaurant is an opportunity to fall in love. Â Go on give it a try, you’re only regret will be that you don’t live in the neighborhood.Â
Michael Ernest Sweet is an educator, writer and journalist. A recipient of the 2009 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching in Canada he divides his time between Montreal and NYC.
Mundo Cafe and Restaurant (718) 777-2829
31-18 Broadway, Store E, Astoria, NY 11106
Atmosphere: Charming and quiet (with song after song from everyone’s hit list) but generously intimate (you’re seated Parisian style).
Recommended Â Dishes: Red Sonja, Argentinean Empanadas, Turkish Meatballs.
Wine List: Adequate and diverse. The house red is a nice compliment to the recommended dishes.
Price Range: Main course 12-20$
Hours: 5-10:30 and 3-10 on Sunday
Reservations: Recommended, why take the chance.
Credit Cards: They happily took Â my American Express but kindly requested the tip in cash!