One of my favorite bars in Queens, or honestly in New York City, was The Seneca. After a hiatus, they have returned as a general store with an emphasis on local and handmade goods.
Before the said hiatus, I had a lot of unique drinks at The Seneca including lemon-lavender beer and rumsicles—which are basically adult freezer pops—but I also had some of the best bar food I’ve had in the city. Their shoestring fries with house-made hot sauce and wings were my personal favorites and they also had a simple, yet delicious burger. With their return as a general store, The Seneca has brought back their affinity for good, well-made foods.
I’ve been here twice now to find something to munch on and maybe a good can of beer. Not much has changed about The Seneca’s interior, except they have set up a few stands and refrigerators to showcase their goods and have closed down the back half of the establishment for Covid-19 precautions. The two staff members at the counter were masked and there is plenty of space to distance from other customers.
Immediately when you walk in, there is a fridge of craft beers to your right and deeper into the store are a small selection of wines and liquors. Next to them are refrigerated foods made in their kitchen, including beef broth and oven-ready mac and cheese. Also on display are select produce and eggs from upstate, as well as other pantry items such as candy, jams and spreads, and a fun line of seasoning salts. If you’re hungry, The Seneca has a rotating menu of made-to-order sandwiches—and their delicious burger I mentioned—that you can ask for at the counter.
As exciting as it was to see locally made food and a wide selection of drinks, I had to exercise some self-control. The first visit, my partner and I purchased two beers (Oxbow Brewing Co. Paloma Daydream and Finback Fat Mango), a bulb of garlic, a jar of Danny’s Nut Butter, and a bottle of The Seneca’s house-made hot sauce. While checking out at the counter, I noticed they carried Brooklyn’s own Dank banana bread and decided I needed to try some. We additionally ended up with a cookie and an apple that one of the staff generously offered. The second time I went, I got a broccoli rabe and sausage sandwich and a six pack of Yuzu Highball Cider, a Shacksbury and Momofuku collab that I was excited about after seeing it on their Instagram.
Of the many great products that The Seneca carries, I would have to say the Danny’s cashew butter and Dank’s banana bread take the cake. (I am especially obsessed with the cashew butter and put it on my toast all the time.) I love seeing local business supporting other awesome local businesses and I will certainly be back for both of those items. Other honorable mentions from The Seneca include the Yuzu Highball Cider—which is not too sweet and offers a refreshing yuzu punch—and the broccoli rabe and sausage sandwich made from high quality ingredients. I’m someone who thinks the filling is what makes a sandwich, and I will say with confidence that both the broccoli rabe and the sausage were both very tasty, though I recommend adding some hot sauce to the sandwich for some extra heat.
Whether you’re looking to buy some local produce and pantry items or just want a delicious sandwich for lunch, The Seneca has something for you. Whoever is stocking the drinks knows what they’re doing—they used to be the bar after all—and if you need a recommendation, they have your back. While I didn’t have the burger either of my visits, you definitely need to try their namesake burger, which is made even better with a splash of their hot sauce. Of course, paired with a beer of your choice!
Visit The Seneca at 582 Seneca Ave., Ridgewood