22-47 31st Street, Astoria

I have to admit that I was a little bummed when Choo Choo’s closed its doors late last year. It’s not that I ate there all the time, but I did enjoy their flavorful rotisserie chicken and plentiful sides, and it was a solid option for cheap, basic eats in the Ditmars area of Astoria. I also get scared when an eatery closes because there is a pretty likely chance the space will turn evil, into yet another bank, tanning salon or jewelry store. But much to my delight, the new eatery Haddad’s is really tasty and just what we needed here. Haddad’s keeps the fast food setup of Choo Choo’s, but offers a variety vegeterian Lebanese favorites including crispy falafels, hummus accompanied with fiery pickled peppers and radishes, and slow-cooked mousaka, which is similar to the Greek version, but without the meat. We also tried non-veg dishes like the chicken shwarma sandwich and rice side dish, which contains a bit of chopped meat and a sweet cinnamon-esque flavor. Everything was fresh and packed with flavors and really enjoyable. The prices are reasonable, the staff is eager, and the space is clean with most of the preparation completed behind the open counter. All in all, I have decided that change is good and Haddad’s is an excellent addition to the Ditmars culinary landscape. We needed more bright, new cheap eats serving diverse cuisines here and I even have a feeling Spud and I will frequent Haddad’s more often than Choo Choo’s.