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$20 Dinner

Astoria’s Popular Takeout Spot FoodStruck Finally Reopens as a Sit-Down Restaurant

Ravi Thapa's new place has about 20 seats, excellent comfort food, and big plans for the future.

1:00 PM EDT on August 3, 2023

Chopped cheese sandwich from Astoria restaurant FoodStruck.
(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)|

A FoodStruck chopped cheese, $12.

Back in 2019, when long-time Astoria resident and hospitality vet Ravi Thapa first opened FoodStruck, the tiny takeout spot operated with the nostalgia-inducing pre-pandemic hours of midnight to 4:00 a.m.—and sometimes it didn't open until 2:00 a.m.!—catering to the community of restaurant and bar workers coming home from their shifts in the city.

Soon, Thapa and his then-partner Eric Dela Cruz gradually expanded their operation—non-night owls heard about their awesome chicken thighs and chopped cheese sandwiches and demanded equal access. It felt like something big was happening with FoodStruck... until COVID-19 shut it all down.  

FoodStruck's new storefront. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Thapa and, for a time, Dela Cruz tried to regroup and signed a lease on a space nearby with enough room to become an actual sit-down restaurant. "We thought we were going to open in August of 2020," Thapa told Hell Gate. "But the pandemic was so much bigger than anyone expected, and permits took forever."

Finally, after more than three years of bureaucratic and logistical nightmares, FoodStruck is slinging its sloppy delights once again, this time with more "regular" hours and seating for about 20 people on 38th Street, just off 31st Avenue. 

Inside FoodStruck. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

FoodStruck is still technically in soft-open mode, mostly because the new chef, Giovanni Beneduci, is traveling at the moment. For now, the core menu is being competently executed by Thapa and features all the old favorites from the late-night days.

Thapa's boneless fried chicken thighs, for example, are superb, all tender and juicy and sticky with a soy tamarind glaze, then topped with crispy garlic and spicy mayo. You can get the bird either stuffed into a sandwich or laid across a bed of chewy rice, and either way you will definitely be happy.  

Fried chicken thighs over rice, aka the "Big Will," $15. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

FoodStruck's first-rate chopped cheese is stripped down to its essence: just a mountain of seasoned ground beef, fried onions, and lots of melted cheddar, unencumbered by lettuce, tomato, or any sort of sauce, though you can (and should) get a little crock of ketchup on the side for a hit of acid. 

Other sandwiches include a grilled three-cheese beast, a double burger (which you can also get over rice), and—sleeper hit alert—the "pretty fungi," a deeply satisfying fried shiitake and oyster mushroom creation co-starring brown butter and blobs of burrata buried within a trio of sweet Hawaiian rolls. 

The Pretty Fungi sandwich, $12. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

A side of rosemary and garlic fries will still keep you within our $20 Dinner budget, as will a small order of FoodStruck's terrific poutine tater tots, crunchy potato nuggets and melty mozzarella drenched in brown gravy. 

Poutine tater tots, $8. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

It's a lot, but there's also a lot more to come. Thapa is already rolling out specials like last weekend's "peppered ribeye and tater tot pancake" sandwich, and a whole new brunch menu should be dropping soon, as well as slightly lighter fare like salads and cold noodles. In the fall, once chef Beneduci is fully ensconced in the new place, Thapa told us that they plan on serving an "upscale casual tasting menu" on select nights inside.  

The room is L-shaped, mostly windowless, and a little close; it probably feels cozy and slightly secret after dark, but on a pleasant evening you may want to sit outside. Thapa hopes to sell beer and wine soon, and get a full liquor license as quickly as possible after that. Until then, the Fever Tree ginger beer has a nice bite to it.

FoodStruck is located at 3093 38th Street, just north of 31st Avenue, and is currently open on Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., on Friday from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, on Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and on Sunday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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