HIDDEN GEM IN SOUTH JAMAICA: MAIMA’S LIBERIAN BISTRO & BAR

???????????????????????????????South Jamaica, located behind York College, is one of my least favorite places, dirty, garbage strewn vacant lots & abandoned houses, crappy low-class apartment buildings which replaced some of the homes, no grocery stores, dirty delis with little on the shelf, the area is like time forgot it.

Maima'sBut in the midst of the ugliness is a gem, Maima’s Liberian Bistro & Bar, located at 106-38 Guy Brewer Rd (718-206-3538). Specializing in African food, but not just any old African food, Liberian food, in fact it is the only Liberian restaurant in New York City and was featured on Food Networks show Bizarre Foods hosted by Andrew Zimmerman. Maima’s has been around for some time, but was located on the other side of the street further South, but I never really paid attention to it, till they moved about a year ago into their new spot and the outside and the inside caught my attention. It looks like something you would find in Williamsburg or West Village not South Jamaica. It is decorated nicely and has a cool kind of  African vibe to it.Maima's 2

Riding my bike, I stopped in to sample the food and what tasty food it was. Maima is the owner of the establishment and many of her family work there. She is character that makes you feel like you are eating at your grandmother’s place. She told me what the specials were, but since they all contained meat (I am a vegetarian), she told me she could make me some fish. I order the whole porgie and had it steamed (you can get it grilled or fried). The big whole fish came with cabbage and a big side of rice with some majorly hot sauce, majorly.

Steamed whole Porgy with cabbage/okra and rice.

Steamed whole Porgy with cabbage and rice.

The fish was seasoned perfectly and so moist and the cabbage was out of this world.  I wish I would have gotten one of their drinks such as the ginger beer, which I  hear is amazing and their desserts. Next time and there will be a next time. You get an amazing amount of food that is very reasonable. My total was only $15.

Maima

Maima

Maima’s Liberian Bistro is non-pretentious, but cozy with a cool African flair. Maima after serving my food took a seat at one of the tables and watched an African movie on the television, which I got caught up in.

While South Jamaica gets a bad wrap and deservedly so, I felt totally comfortable eating there and even left my bike outside in front of the large window unchained.

While a little off the beaten pack from the subway, about a fifteen minute walk from the E train at Jamaica Center, it is worth checking out, especially since there is no where else you can get Liberian food. The food is worth the trip. Service is no thrills, but very adequate and Maima makes you feel at home.

Maima’s is a definite gem in this land that time forgot.???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????You can check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/maimasbistro???????????????????????????????

THUG AUTO BODY SHOPS ON MERRICK BLVD STILL CONTINUE TO AFFECT QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUES

???????????????????????????????Community Board 12 knows this (hell they have monthly meetings a few blocks down from this), our local leaders know this, even our police are aware of this as when I spoke to Detective Mark Costa from the 103rd precinct the other day.

The big question is WHY is nothing being done about this major problem that is an eyesore, affects the quality of life, destroys sidewalks and are complete violations of the law. Detective Costa stated this is a major problem and looks terrible and said the issue is going to be addressed, but when. It has been going on for years.???????????????????????????????

As can be seen by photos I took on March 8th, cars are parked on sidewalks,  there are cars double parked and tripled parked on a busy Merrick Blvd where this is very dangerous as I almost saw a few car crashes while taking these photos.  Cars parked on the streets are smashed up and many without license plates. This is all completely illegal, yet NOTHING is being done about this. This is going on all along Merrick Blvd.???????????????????????????????

Again how long are you going to let bullshit continue in this fractured broken community?  And yes Ms. Reddick, Jamaica is the Wild Wild West where anything goes as evident by these photos.  I mean just how bad do thing have to get here in Jamaica before anyone does anything. We are dumping millions and millions of dollars in development projects in Jamaica ($225 million for the latest),  hell “The Shops At Station Plaza” still sit empty of retail. How about some clean up money and some major enforcement of all these serious violations.

 

SANGRIA TAPAS BAR & RESTAURANT – STILL A TOP GEM IN JAMAICA

When I first moved to Jamaica a short three years ago this month, the restaurant scene was pretty much non-existent, just fast food joints, shitty hole in the wall places, Crown Fried Chickens everywhere and a whole lot of assorted crap. I never would eat in Jamaica. At that time, there was no CityRib, no Rocoto Restaurant,  no Amina Thai, hell not even Applebee’s, not that I would go there.

But during my first summer while riding my bike, I came across a place on Sutphin Blvd and 95th St, a few blocks from the train station, not a really great area. This place looked so out-of-place and something that would be in Williamsburg or the West Village. The nice wooden French doors were opened, red velvet drapes hung inside and the place had a very nice casual yet stylish atmosphere. I went in and talked to the really nice owner, Joe, who gave me the rundown. This place was Sangria Tapas Bar & Restaurant and from my first time going there, I was hooked and knew I found an exquisite gem in this wasteland of Jamaica. sangria outside 3

I have been to Sangria many times. There food is amazing, the service impeccable and their homemade Sangria (Red, White & Tropical), made fresh when you order, is the best, tasty and potent. I would put Sangria against any place in Brooklyn or Manhattan and to this day,  Sangria is my favorite spot. They even have live jazz on Saturday nights featuring The Freddy Dugard Hit Squad, who are fantastic.sangria inside

Last night Delinda and I went there to eat and drink and after two and a half years, this place still blows us away. We started off with a special Sangria that they had, Blackberry, made with Blackberry Brandy. We order their delicious and very large Sangria Salad,  mix greens with apples,

Sangria Salad

Sangria Salad

roasted walnuts, feta cheese and basil vinaigrette. When I am there, I always make sure I get this. We then ordered the totally amazing Pimientos Rojos con Mariscos (imported red Spanish peppers stuffed with seafood and a most delicious sauce)

Imported red Spanish pepper with seafood

Imported red Spanish pepper with seafood

and the Calamares a la Parrilla (grilled calamari) drizzled with olive oil and garlic, unbelievable.

Grilled Calamari

Grilled Calamari

Make sure you get the complimentary olives and bread, which you will use to dip in both the calamari olive oil and the seafood sauce. Guarantee the plate will be wiped clean.

To end the meal, Delinda ordered a very good Cappuccino and we shared a delicious Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Sangria Tapas Bar and Restaurant located at 95-41 Sutphin Blvd, never ceases to amaze me. Totally the best.

STILL TIME TO CATCH JAMAICA FARMERS MARKET BEFORE WINTER

Every Friday and Saturday starting  in June from 8am to 4pm on my favorite block, 160th Street (between Jamaica Ave/90th Ave), you can purchase home grown fresh veggies and fruits at the Jamaica Farmers Market. But hurry,  time is running out, they close up shop November 23rd and will not reopen again till next June.

Jamaica Farmers Market from June thru November

Jamaica Farmers Market from June thru November

While you are there, stop inside the Jamaica Market Food Court and try the new pizza place, “Pizza Place Pasta” and taste fresh pizza with organic fresh Brooklyn veggies and take a look at the landmark building La Casina across the street while you are at it.

Tasty

Tasty

Former nightclub La Casina on 160th St, which opened in 1933 up for sale

Former nightclub La Casina on 160th St, which opened in 1933 up for sale

I think this small block would make a great place for some nice coffee house and some cafe’s, hell even a wine bar. THINK LEADERS! Not everything has to be GHETTO.

DOWNTOWN JAMAICA COMMUNITY GARDEN: ANOTHER GEM & A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK

I tend to travel a lot in my community of Jamaica on foot and bike (the best way to explore a community), but even though I have been here three years, I am always finding some little hidden gems (beside all the damn garbage).

Well to my surprise while walking my little boy Teddy??????????????????????????????? along 89th Avenue, I wanted to turn south on a small block, 148th Street, to get to 90th Ave to see if some illegal dumping,  which I reported recently,  in front of an empty lot was removed (it was) and I came across one of the many Green Thumb community gardens all over the five boroughs. Jamaica has 6 in the Jamaica area (but not sure if all are still active), but only one in the downtown Jamaica section, two  blocks away from Rufus King Park heading West. ???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????So on this small block of 148th Street between 89th Ave & 90th Ave sits the George Eagle Carr Community Garden. According to information from the NYC Parks website, this community garden was founded in the late ’80s. It now has 12 beds tended by 15 gardeners who grow okra, carrots, peppers, tomatoes and a variety of greens and other produce. There is also a peach tree and members here, as at other gardens, have a long-standing tradition of sharing food with local residents. Wednesdays in the garden are specifically reserved for senior citizens in the neighborhood. It is opened as follows:???????????????????????????????

I walked in an manning the garden were two very cool old school guys, Emmanuel “Sarge” Thomas, Sr (a Vietnam Vet) & Tony B (Griller extraordinaire and Grill Master of Uncle Tony’s Bar B Que, who does parties and events).

Sarge & Tony B

Sarge & Tony B

Of course being Jamaica, the day would not be complete without some kind of nonsense. In this case it was some young brother, no shirt and totally drugged out, with a mean scowl on his face. As I was talking to Sarge and Tony, he comes walking in and Sarge told the young brother that he could not come in without a shirt and had to put on the shirt he was carrying. He then proceeded to come over to the three of us, and ask me for a dollar which I replied “I am not going to give you a dollar” and his response, “Give me a quarter”, my response, “I am not going to give you nothing”. He then asked Sarge, who responded in the same way and told him to leave, which he did while mumbling something.  While Sarge is a really nice cool guy, this man was big, and  a Vietnam Vet, I would not want to fuck with  him.

And now a little side note. Some of these young lost, clueless brothers could learn a lesson from Sarge and Tony. Here are two old school brother brought up in the turbulent 60′s when there was no black president, no Oprah, no million dollar rap stars, but yet made it through to serve their country and then give back to their community.  They made no sorry ass excuses and they pulled up their boot straps and did what they had to while keeping their pride. Now these two are the equivalent of the “proud strong black man”,  not like some of these young knuckle head punks walking around today with their pants hanging off their ass, saying nigga this, nigga that, being disrespectful of women,  shooting other young brothers for some stupid ass  bullshit and probably not knowing who  Harriet Tubman was or Eli Whitney or Marcus Garvey. Some of these young brothers should hang out with guys like Sarge and Tony and learn how to be a man.

Anyway, it was very cool to find this community garden in my hood and to chat with two interesting guys, Sarge and Tony.Garbge & Teddy 10.12.13 029

By the way, if  you are planning a party or event and looking for some great barbecue, contact Tony B at 347-395-9468, 347-395-9673 or email him at tonylowbrown@gmail.com ???????????????????????????????

WHY WAIT TILL A BUILDING WITH A RICH HISTORY FALLS APART BEFORE SOMETHING IS DONE

You would think a building of significant historic proportions and built in 1908, would be respected by our community and political leaders.  This particular building  remained an important gathering place for the Republican Party throughout the 20th century well into the 1980s. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford have all given speeches here, and Ronald Reagan appeared here during primary season in 1976 and during the 1980 campaign.

So what exactly is this building which was allowed to deteriorate like so many other places, well, the Republican Club in Richmond Hills on Lefferts Boulevard between Hillside and Jamaica Avenues. It has not been maintained for decades, falling apart, windows boarded up or what windows are left are broken.Republican Club

Republican Club with Ronald Regan

Republican Club with Ronald Regan

 

But this landmark is now slated for rehabilitation will open as a catering hall (which I am sick of these places). I don’t understand why one would not maintain a building such as this over the years for a fraction of what it will cost to fix it up due to decades of neglect. Talk about wasting money. I don’t get it, but then I come from a rare and little seen point of view………………………..something called FUCKING COMMON SENSE.

I am sure that many of the immigrants here could give a shit about this historic building  and would probably like to see it turned into a 99 cent store or some shitty low class third world apartment complete with rusting balconies or some bullshit flea market, which happened to the Richmond Hills former RKO movie theatre.

WHAT THE FUCK!

WHAT THE FUCK!

Thankfully something is being done with the Republican Club, but why did you wait so damn fucking long.

You can read more this at: http://queens.brownstoner.com/2013/10/rundown-richmond-hill-landmark-heads-to-lpc-this-month/.

 

JAMAICA PHOTOS BLAST FROM THE PAST: THEN & NOW

I thought you might like to see what Jamaica looked like back in the days, the good old days, when Jamaica was King, clean,the place to be, to live and to play.

1. 169-06 Jamaica Avenue

THEN:

 Balbo's Italian-American Restaurant at at 169-06 Jamaica Avenue, advertises pizza, spaghetti and Schaefer beer in their front window. Next door is a bicycle shop. (Bellitte Bicycles)

1939
Balbo’s Italian-American Restaurant at at 169-06 Jamaica Avenue, advertises pizza, spaghetti and Schaefer beer in their front window. Next door is a bicycle shop. (Bellitte Bicycles)

NOW:

Vancant lot for years, but will soon be the site for a new retail that houses Planet Fitness Gym. Bellitte Bicycles still in business moved several feet east many years ago.

Vancant lot for years, but will soon be the site for a new retail space that will house Planet Fitness Gym. Bellitte Bicycles still in business moved several feet east many years ago.

2. NE Corner of Merrick Blvd & 89th Avenue

THEN:

1940 Victorian home at 88-25 166 Street. North east corner of Bergen and Shelton Avenues, now Merrick Blvd. and 89 Avenue. built by David H. Vail before 1895. Jamaica had many homes like this in its hey day.

1940
Victorian home at 88-25 166 Street. North east corner of Bergen and Shelton Avenues, now Merrick Blvd. and 89 Avenue. built by David H. Vail before 1895. Jamaica had many homes like this in its hey day, some still do exist.

NOW:

At least it is not some low class third world crappy apartment.

At least it is not some low class third world crappy apartment.

3. Jamaica Avenue & 164th Street

THEN:

1944 A busy street corner in Jamaica, Queens. Most of the pedestrians are women, two pushing prams. Store signs visible, including ones for Radin Shops and National Shoes. The street car and overhead train trestle share Jamaica Avenue with automobile traffic.

1944
A busy street corner in Jamaica, Queens. Most of the pedestrians are women, two pushing prams. Store signs visible, including ones for Radin Shops and National Shoes. The street car and overhead train trestle share Jamaica Avenue with automobile traffic.

NOW:

A far cry from the days of yesteryear.

A far cry from the days of yesteryear.

4. 162-03 Hillside Avenue

THEN:

1915 Jamaica High School.  162-03 Hillside Avenue. Exterior view from Northerly Side of Hillside Ave.

1915
Jamaica High School. 162-03 Hillside Avenue. Exterior view from Northerly Side of Hillside Ave.

NOW:

Some things don't change, thankfully.  Now Queens Satellite High School for Opportunity. At end of September 2013 was given landmark status.

Some things don’t change.
Now Queens Satellite High School for Opportunity. At end of September 2013 was given landmark status.

5. Jamaica Avenue and 165th St

THEN:

1944 Jamaica Avenue at 165th Street

1944
Jamaica Avenue at 165th Street

NOW:

Jamaica Avenue at 165th Street as it looks today.

Jamaica Avenue at 165th Street as it looks today.

6. 150-02 Jamaica Avenue

THEN:

1939 Savoy Theatre 152-04 Jamaica Avenue, demolished in the 70's.

1948
Savoy Theatre 152-04 Jamaica Avenue, demolished in the 70′s.

LATER:

The 70's When most large theatres turned to showing porn

The 70′s
When most large theatres turned to showing porn

NOW:

Jamaica Family Court, where the Savoy wants sat.

Jamaica Family Court, where the Savoy wants sat.

JAZZ BAND “THE FREDDY DUGARD HIT SQUAD” EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT AT SANGRIA’S TAPAS BAR & RESTAURANT

Sangria Tapas Bar & Restaurant 95-41 Sutphin Blvd

Sangria Tapas Bar & Restaurant
95-41 Sutphin Blvd

It had been awhile since I have been to my favorite restaurant, Sangria’s Tapas Bar & Restaurant located at 95-41 Sutphin Blvd, a couple of blocks south of the LIRR/AirTrain/Subway station. Their food is the best around, hands down. Last night I chowed down on the Sangria Salad (the very large mixed greens with apples, walnuts, feta cheese and basil vinigarette) and one of my favorites, the grilled calamari. If they ask if you want olives and bread, take both, especially the marinated olives with garlic and hot red pepper. For drinks I ordered their made on the spot White Sangria (they also have Red and Tropical), and probably the best and most potent Sangria all around.

Nice casual atmosphere, you would not even know you were in Jamaica

Nice casual atmosphere, you would not even know you were in Jamaica

In the past they would have live music (jazz) on some Saturdays and Wednesdays, but the times I was there, no band. But last night when I walked in a band was setting up and they told me since about two months ago, they have the jazz band, The Freddy Dugard Hit Squad,

Freddy Dugard on drums

Freddy Dugard on drums

playing every Saturday from 8pm to 11pm. Of course I stayed to hear them and so damn glad I did. This quartet, (consisting of Freddy Dugard on drums (kick-ass),  bass player Mark Bass, keyboards Keico Kato, and bad ass sax player Kazuki Kitamori )  not only plays traditional jazz but also kicks it up a notch with some R&B and funk. Last night some of the tunes they cranked out were the classic “Take Five”, The Delfonic’s “La La Means I love You”, Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage, “I Wanna Rock With You” and my favorite, Grover Washington’s classic “Mister Magic”. This band is tight and they can tear it up at times. ???????????????????????????????

I was very impressed, so impressed I got their business card and passed it on to the manager of the newly opened CityRib, which has recently started live music.

If you have not been to Sangria or it has been awhile, I suggest heading over there, especially on Saturday night to hear The Freddy Dugard Hit Squad.  The place was packed last night and people were waiting for tables.

The Freddy Dugard Hit Squad

The Freddy Dugard Hit Squad

I wish our totally do nothing and useless leaders would clean up that stretch of Sutphin Blvd and begin to revitalize and develop it. Hopefully with a 24 story hotel going in across the train station, that will be the start of much need development in that area. While I feel totally safe walking along their, even late at night, outsiders might not and this would prevent them from coming into this area. That is a shame because a place as good as Sangria’s should be packed every night. NOTE: Don’t you get it numbskull leaders, businesses thrive when you clean up an area and revitalize it as opposed to keeping it ghetto shit.

If our leaders and powers to be had any vision or initiative, they would develop, clean up and market the Jamaica area as a jazz destination in Queens. With Jamaica’s rich jazz history and some of the most iconic legends residing here (John Coltrane, Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne to name a few) there is no reason why Jamaica cannot be a destination spot for live jazz. I know of no other area in Queens where you can see live jazz (Sangria, CityRib, Smoke BBQ Pit in Springfield Gardens, where The Freddy Dugard Hit Squad plays every Thursday evening, The Proper Cafe in Cambria Heights and Southern Girls Soul Food in Laurelton). There should be jazz cafes/clubs all around the Downtown area. Talk about making Jamaica a destination spot and pumping money into the economy, it could be New York’s answer to New Orleans.  The former La Casina, now a landmark, which was built in the 1930′s and for a period of time was a jazz nightclub, is up for sale. This would be a good time to return it to its former state of live jazz.

Come on lazy ass do nothing non-visionary leaders, I have now given you ideas, now put them into motion.

In the meantime listen to the band tear up the classic Chick Corea “Spain”.

 

TAKE A HISTORICAL VIRTUAL TOUR OF JAMAICA – WE ARE NOT JUST KNOWN FOR GARBAGE

Orange New Header (with Streetscape)

Historic Jamaica’s Walking Tour!

 

Downtown Jamaica is filled with a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century.  Its beautiful building facades, detailed architecture, churches and cemeteries reflect the style and detail of a past era.  Our new virtual historic walking tour connects you to the beauty and grandeur of this era all from the comforts of your desk or mobile device.  

Tabernacle of Prayer (former Valencia Theater)
Site #6 on Virtual Tour

Visit http://jamaicacenter.org/explore/historic-tour from your desktop, laptop, mobile phone or tablet and you can immediately discover the historic sites of Downtown Jamaica.  

  

Jamaica’s history comes alive with photos and information about each site in an adaption of a brochure originally created by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.   The tour is accompanied by a numbered map so its easy to follow along.  

Click anywhere on the map to start the virtual tour.

If weather permits, why not connect the tour on your mobile device and take the tour while in the District! Better yet, why not not come out in person to see up close the sights.

 

Jamaica Center BID

90-50 Parsons Blvd.  Suite 402

Jamaica, NY  11432

718-JAMAICA (526-2422)

info@jamaicacenter.org

SMOKE BBQ PIT, TOP NOTCH FOOD IN JAMAICA (SPRINGFIELD GARDENS) – WORTH THE TRIP

129-21 Merrick  Blvd  (718) 341-6100

SMOKE at 129-21 Merrick Blvd
(718) 341-6100

Downtown Jamaica has the recently opened barbecue restaurant/bar CityRib, which is definitely worth going to, but much further in Jamaica (specifically Springfield Gardens) at 129–21 Merrick Blvd is another barbecue place which has been around for about 3 years and gives CityRib a major run for their money, Smoke BBQ Pit . Even though you need a car to get to it (no subways for miles, though you can take the dreaded Jamaica buses), it is well worth the visit, especially if you live in the Greater Jamaica Area. While not quite as fancy or “Manhattanish” as CityRib, Smoke BBQ is exactly that Smoking.

Smoke is more casual (but nice), with a dining area on one side and a bar area on the other (with a few tables as well). But one goes to a barbecue place for the food and the food here is fantastic. Myself, Delinda and her mom came by Monday to celebrate yours truly’s birthday. Both Delinda and her Mom had been here a few times before and just raved about it. Smoke inside 2

We started off with some drinks, Delinda had the tasty alcoholic strawberry lemonade and I opted for the potent spiked Ice Tea (drinkers rejoice). For eats Delinda’s mom had the jumbo fried shrimp with sides of collard greens and garlic mashed potatoes, Delinda went with the Wings and a side order of corn on the cob (which was delicious, tasty and crunchy, not mushy) and I ordered the Southern Catfish and a side of collard greens and baked beans. All entrees come with your choice of two sides and corn bread. The corn bread was okay, nothing to write home about, but the fried catfish was delicious, crunchy and not greasy at all. Smoke Collard GreensThe greens were some of the best greens I ever had (way better than CityRib) and the baked beans were just as good (again way better than CityRib). Being a southern barbecue place they of course had various waffles with choices of meat and fish.Smoke food

All their desserts are from Juniors and for my birthday, they surprised me with a huge slice of chocolate cake with two scoops of vanilla ice cream,  which was the bomb. Next time I go back though I want to try the Sweet Potato Pie, which I hear is amazing. Service was very good and it was great to see that the entire wait staff was people of color. Prices are very reasonable considering all the food you get. We all took doggie bags home.

Not as fancy as the upscale CityRib, but the food certainly does outdo CityRib, but don’t get me wrong, CityRib is very good, I just feel that Smoke cranks it up a few notches. On Thursdays, they have live jazz and I hear it gets packed.

If a subway was near, I would be there all the time. I would rather sit my bare ass on a bed of rusted nails than travel those low-class ghetto buses (Q5, Q85) that run along Merrick Blvd. Thankfully Delinda has a car, otherwise I would never go there.

So if you have not been to Smoke, I suggest giving it a try. Wish they would open a 2nd one in the downtown area. We could certainly use more choices here. You can check out their website at http://www.smokebbqpit.com/ordereze/Default.aspxSmoke Outside 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are some nice things in the Jamaica area. To bad that too many of the low-class savages have not an ounce of respect for the community and treat it like a garbage dump and cesspool and the so-called leaders, who have been elected to serve the community, who are pretty much useless and lack any type of vision are not worth pissing on if they caught on fire.  If both these elements were gone, could you imagine Jamaica.