www.qns.com I LIC COURIER I MARCH 2020 35
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
Little Chef, Little Cafe has
served up health-conscious
sweet and savory treats for
about four months right off
of Vernon Boulevard.
The cafe was the next step for Di-ana
Manalang, a self-taught chef with
more than 20 years of experience in
the hospitality business. Manalang ran
her own catering and meal prep busi-ness
(Little Chef, Little Kitchen), for
about two years, and said she wasn’t
in a rush to find brick and mortar for
a cafe. But when the space that
she’d been stalk-ing
for four years
became available, she
knew it was the right time to move in.
“Everything’s either on Vernon, or
on the center or on either side of
the street — there’s nothing right
in the middle here. So I thought it’d
just be nice to have a little coffee
shop,” Manalang said.
The bright, intimate cafe with
wooden accents is located at 5-43
48th Ave., only a three-minute walk
from the 7 train. Their daily menu
has all your classic cafe offerings
— breakfast empanadas, coffee,
smoothies, acai bowls, baked goods
and soups — but when it comes to
ingredients, Manalang likes to keep
it fun and seasonal.
And because the cafe doesn’t
have a full kitchen, Manalang
gets creative by using the oven
to bake her empanadas (they have
four variations that range from $3.50
to $4.50, including bacon, egg and
cheese and veggie).
“We gear a lot toward being able to
cheat a little bit without feeling guilty
and also be able to give your kids a
little sweet treat without it being an
overload of sugar,” Manalang said.
The cafe also offers ready-to-eat
prepared meals that change every day,
such as turkey bolognese with veggie
noodles and lemon rosemary chicken,
cauliflower mash and green beans.
Although Manalang isn’t a nutrition-ist,
she often consults with them and
does extensive research in order to
ingrain healthy options in her menus.
Most of their meals align with paleo
diets (which promotes eating mostly
lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables,
nuts and seeds), and Whole30 diets
(which is designed to remove inflam-matory
foods like legumes and artificial
“But it still tastes good,” Manalang
said. “It’s clean eating and prepara-tion.”
As a proud dog parent, Manalang
dedicated a wall for photos of the
neighborhood’s furry residents. They
even have a takeout window that’s
meant for fellow dog parents who
might be walking their pup and want
to grab a coffee while they’re at it.
Manalang wants to be a staple in
Long Island City, a neighborhood she
says is “big and small.” They’ve opened
their doors for different opportunities,
such as hosting birthday parties for
neighborhood kids as well as partner-ing
with Gantry Kids and Teens and
the Girl Scouts to promote cooking
“We do a lot to give back to the
community,” Manalang said. “If you
want to be part of the community, you
really have to be part of a community.
We can’t just pretend to be.”
Little Chef, Little Cafe is open Mon-day
through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7
p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, visit littlech-eflittlecafe.
com or email info@littlech-eflittlecafe.