A little Portuguese in Jamaica.


"Let's meet at the airport." Or, what are five words that almost never follow an invitation to dinner. But that's exactly what was employed when I made a date with friends recently. Friends who had a lengthy layover at JFK Airport on their way to Spain. Always one to welcome a mission, I set to doing my research. First, there were the questions: Without a ticket could I actually get into the airport? Does the airport actually offer anything better than McDonald's or Burger King?

Instead of tackling those challenging questions I decided to widen my search to a restaurant in walking distance to AirTrain and from there my two choices, Howard's Beach and Jamaica, Queens, made it all that much simpler. With just a little Yelping I settled on a Portuguese bar and restaurant just a few short blocks from the Jamaica transit hub.

I got there first and waited for my friends at a plain-wrapped bar in the food court close to AirTrain. The bar was playing generic top-40s music as I glanced around people watching. It's a unique situation to get to see best friends in a venue so site specific but I have to say, it was wonderful. With my directions in hand we rode the gigantically long escalator down to the street level and exited onto Suphin Boulevard.

The front half of A-Churrasqueira Restaurant & Bar is one long bar with several stools occupied with what can only be described as locals. In the back of the room were several tables set for dinner, or lunch, or, since it was 4pm we were calling it Linner. Just moments after sitting we were brought rolls, oilve oil and a small mixed salad on an oval plate. Then we got our menu's: double-sided plastic numbers that conveyed no real information other than the name of the entree. I put the menu aside. "Drinks?" I asked. Receiving the affirmative from both, we set to picking the much more important item of our meal: the wine. Once again lost and overwhelmed we flagged our hands up and asked for help. We described the white we were looking for, asking only for Portuguese wine and, after picking one we could get back to the matter at hand: catch up.

I ordered the branzino, Emily ordered the cod and Dave, ever the man, ordered a steak. The plates arrived, giant servings of fish, potatoes and vegetables. The salty skin of my branzino went perfect with the effervescent white wine. The tiny bones in the fish, well, those I could have done without. All in all a perfect restaurant to spend a few hours hanging out with friends. If it was closer I bet you I would even go back. Anyone got a layover?