Like the few other eateries in Willets Point, the Queens neighborhood best-known for a symbiotic combination of unpaved, potholed streets and auto-repair companies, Master Express relies on an almost exclusively male blue-collar clientele.
Will it stay or will it go? House of Spices is the largest manufacturer and distributor of Indian food in the United States and the second-largest landowner in the "Iron Triangle" of Willets Point, Queens. Although the business has agreed to sell its four-acre plot to the city's Economic Development Corp., recent accounts in The New York Observer and Crain's New York Business suggest that House of Spices will remain where it is, at least while development (read: auto-repair-shop relocation) proceeds on the acreage closer to the new Mets stadium.
When House of Spices does sell its land to a developer — at a higher price than it could now, you'd think, based on improvements to the neighboring real estate — one possible new location would be in Hunts Point, in the Bronx, which House of Spices called home about two decades ago.
House of Spices 127-40 Willets Point Blvd., Willets Point, Queens 718-476-1577
Farmed or foraged? A long way from any produce market, these greens were hanging against a metal wall in the afternoon sun. Like the "storefront chicken farm" I ran across in Red Hook, no one was around to lay claim; for the time being, they're just another mystery.
On the tail end of the lunchtime rush at this blue-collar Peruvian eatery, the last lonely papa rellena didn't win me over, and the chicken noodle soup seemed skimpy. (Later, from my stool at the narrow counter near the display case, I saw that each murky yellow pint concealed a hardboiled egg.)