Exploria Episode 1: Sanfords Restaurant
Astoria is up-and-coming: not just as an alternative to the already crowded food and bar scene of Manhattan, but as the definitive answer to the question, “Where to after Brooklyn?” It hasn’t yet become the kind of destination neighborhood, say, Park Slope has become, and that’s part of its charm. There is still something slightly undiscovered about it all – at least for now.
Join us for Exploria, a new series that essentially lets three local lushes take to the streets and find out what’s so special about this melting pot of western Queens we call home.
ANGELA: Since moving to Astoria almost a year ago, the place I have most frequented (besides the 24-hour Bel Aire Diner located conveniently across the street from my apartment, and does it really count if you’re blacked out?) is Sanfords Restaurant. The 75-year-old establishment is located at 30-13 Broadway, and the $14 pre-fix brunch menu features your choice of booze drink (1 free refill), coffee (1 free refill), and a wide variety of both breakfast and lunch items to choose from. Because of this, it seemed only right that it would act as the first official spot for the Exploria Series. So with my two faithful advisors in tow – Tilly & Colin – we headed out for an afternoon of some light debauchery.
As any good Astorian knows, Sanfords is the go to spot for those roll-out-of-bed-Sundays when you’re still a little drunk and wanting to shirk your responsibilities for the afternoon, so we knew there’d be a long wait. Keep in mind, the only time of day these dudes will not accept reservations is for their 10am-4pm brunch slot (which seems weird because it’s like, when else would you need to make a rezzie there). Nevertheless, our solution to the 35-40 minute wait was to grab boozy breakfast drinks next door at Broadway Station, a bar that’s desperately trying to steal customers from Sanfords with their $15 brunch/bottomless drink special. While the food kind of blows, the bloody marys were exquisite.
TILLY: The bar staff at Broadway Station weren’t very attentive, though. I feel like they know the only customers they get on a weekend are the Sanfords wait list so they take their sweet ass time getting you your check so you miss your name being called and resign to eating a shitty meal at their establishment. I see right through you, you poaching cockknobbers!
COLIN: It’s hard to follow the word “cockknobbers,” but insert gay joke here. So it does feel a bit like Sanfords has the market cornered on Brunch Places in Astoria That Make You Wait Outside Like a Common Manhattanite. And Broadway Station is like one of those little fish that swim alongside sharks eating the scraps they leave behind. Which I guess makes us krill. But determined krill. We were not going to end up at the Halal Chinese place down the street, having moo goo gai pan and grape soda for brunch. So we worked the system, and the system worked! Broadway Station is definitely no competition in any respect to Sanfords, but you can either dawdle outside of Chirping Chicken under the rapey gaze of the grill cook, or you can knock back a couple cloudy mimosas in a snoozy sports bar till it’s time to eat.
ANGELA: By the time we got seated at Sanfords, Colin and I were already two drinks deep each, while Tilly – the apparent non-lush of the group – had only drank one. Luckily, I decided to switch to screwdrivers once we started eating because with this GERD I can only handle 1-2 bloodies before my esophagus starts going all “Black Swan” on me. Oh, I say “lucky” because the bloodies at Sanfords were pretty fucking gnarly and straight from a mix.
TILLY: Now I feel like I need to defend my lush-iousness. We had a big night the night before, I may have still been drunk at brunch. I was drinking mimosas, the brunch drink of self-proclaimed fancy pants everywhere. You really can’t go wrong with that choice unless someone is using Sunny D instead of OranGINA (anyone else giggle like a 6-year-old when they see that bottle?)
COLIN: I’ll tell you the same thing I told my therapist: I can’t explain my drinking, I can barely remember it.
ANGELA: While the menu is chock full o’ deliciousness – the bistro burger, the french toast panini, the award-winning bbq pulled pork – I tried something new that day: crab cake eggs benedict The regular is super tasty, and I know Tilly is a fan of the florentine. The verdict? Amazeballs.
TILLY: I had the eggs florentine. As God is my witness I will eat eggs florentine in every establishment across this great city until the perfect plate is found. Like the Highlander: there can be only one. Well now that I am on a Highlander roll how good is this song?! Sidenote: the eggs florentine at Sanfords is pretty good. It doesn’t come on an english muffin unless you ask… and who does anything with hollandaise on wheat toast? BURN THE WITCH!
COLIN: I pulled an Ange and stretched at the table a lot got a Cobb salad. Every once in a while, I want to feel like I’m actually still doing this Paleo diet, and not just upping my fat intake without any other real modification. Summer’s coming, mama!
ANGELA: As the brunch went on, we all became increasingly drunker and I think the chatter turned into a conversation about young adult horror novels. I pulled the name “Christopher Pike” from the innards of my brain, and from there it’s all kind of a blur.
TILLY: That was a great convo. I could totally go for some R.L. Stine on my subway commute.
COLIN : I had easily hundreds of early-90s YA horror novels in my life as a kid. I think R.L. Stine set me up for disappointment when it came to high school boys. They always looked so dashing on the cover, and were always described as having “sandy hair” and wearing “madras shirts.” They drove Jeep Wranglers, they were emotionally available, they probably had forearms you could pitch a tent on. Other than the fact that they were occasionally ghosts, these guys were catch of the day, every day.
ANGELA: As with any good Sunday brunch, you start the day with the notion that you’re going to eat a good meal, have a drink or two, and then come home and “get shit done.” And, much like our fateful trip to the Film Center Cafe, I instead got home and passed the fuck out for three hours. Truly a sign of a successful meal.
TILLY: I’m jealous that both of you got to nap. I had to go into the city to drop off something for a friend and got talked into more drinking. Then I went to the supermarket… drunk… and $150 later – ugh.
COLIN: I guess that’s what a diabetic coma feels like. And if that’s the case, sign me up, Wilford Brimley! I slept like a dead man. This, of course, is par for the course with brunch, and the part when I usually ask myself, “Why did we do that? What a waste of a day,” but with company like this, I mostly just felt content. I also appreciated how little dancing there was in the presence of eggs (RIP Film Center Cafe, you sloppy bitch).
ANGELA: Even though they have a B health rating in their window, even though this guy hates them, and even though sometimes the line is kind of long, I love Sanfords and will continue to go here for brunch as much as my wallet allows (hint: not very frequently). The food is good, the service is great, and I like an excuse to get drunk on a Sunday as much as the next gal.
Astoria, NY, 11106
“Best bang-for-your-buck brunch in Astoria, and quite possibly the tastiest.”