interview: rich nieto of sweetleaf cafe

rich nieto of sweetleaf cafe is definitely obssessed with coffee, and the devotion shows at his very cute little cafe in long island city which he co-owns with his brother al “freddy” arundel.  since this spot opened two years ago, it has been a destination of sorts for anyone in queens not wanting to cross the east river to get some well-brewed coffee, with stumptown coffee no less.  rich grew up in flushing, and knows the ins and outs of queens, and so i was thrilled when he agreed to let us in on some of his favorite local spots.  now if i could just get myself up in the morning so i could try out his breakfast idea — it sounds amazing!  thanks so much rich.


for housewarming presents?

i collect wine so i like to bring something special (how special depends on how special the person is to me :-) ) from my cellar. i enjoy giving them a wine that is not available in wine stores anymore.


favorite date-night restaurant?

when you’re married with children anywhere but your house seems pretty romantic and special but i would say the strip house on east 12th street in manhattan. it has a romantic ambiance so i get to please my wife and my carnivorous needs at the same time. i like it when everybody wins!

with friends?

i love going to the wine bar domaine in long island city. on fridays the steve blanco trio plays amazing jazz music. they have fantastic wine, oysters and  meat and cheese platters. what else do you need?

for drinks?

hands down, dutch kills in lic! i love those guys. they are true craftsmen of the cocktail. i don’t need to see a menu i just say rum or tequila and they do the rest. sometimes i don’t like them too much  the next morning but that’s usually my fault.

most amazing dinner?

for financial reasons i only get to have it once a year but dinner with wine pairing at the london is out of this world! i enjoy it not only for the food but the fact that the staff is not snobby unlike some other high priced restaurants i’ve been too. don’t you just love being patronized for two hours and then given a $700 dinner bill!

for breakfast?

i’m colombian and we enjoy big breakfasts so i highly recommend natives on northern boulevard in jackson heights. be sure you go hungry and don’t make plans for lunch.

middle eastern?

i really enjoy delhi heights right off roosevelt avenue in jackson heights.

favorite neighborhood spot?

the creek, domaine and dutch kills.

best coffee?

i heard of this little place called sweetleaf (just kidding).  best coffee and espresso bars in nyc in no particular order: café grumpy, abraço and ninth street espresso.

for comfort food?

i enjoy eating spanish food for comfort food. my favorite restaurants are pio pio on northern boulevard. in jackson heights – great rotisserie chicken;  la pequena colombia on roosevelt avenue in jackson heights – very good carne asada (thin steak) rice and beans, and la cabaña on roosevelt in jackson heights – fantastic argentian steak, very reasonably priced.

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