Go Naked In Astoria
33-21 31st Ave., Astoria
Hours: Mon to Thurs 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. to Midnight, Sat 10 a.m. to Midnight, Sun 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Credit Cards: All major
There are few foods that epitomize American cuisine more than the hamburger. Though ethnically German - as are, fittingly, many Americans themselves - the hamburger is a staple of our cuisine. Whether it be barbecues celebrating our nation’s founding, or at America’s famous golden arches, hamburgers are a common food item, despite their reputation for not being healthy. But one chain of burger joints aims to combine healthy and organic food with edible Americana, in so much as an ostrich burger can be Americana.
Bareburger has six - soon to be eight - different restaurants across New York City, including two in Astoria. Its flagship location sits on 31st Avenue between 31st and Steinway Streets. Its corner location mixes the aura of a fast-food joint with that of a sit-down eatery. On the rustic wooden tables, bottles replace pitchers for pouring water.
My guest and I sat near the door. The restaurant may be small in size, but it is not crowded and uncomfortable. We only waited a few minutes for that table. Many of Bareburger’s customers come for takeout. We watched as local denizens left the store carrying bags to their Friday night parties.
We started with a plate of freshly cut fries and onion rings. We ordered four different sauces for them and sampled them; tangy curry ketchup, a spicy chipotle mayo, a peppercorn steak sauce that also had a spicy kick to it and the Bareburger special sauce - don’t ask what’s in it, they won’t tell you. The fries were cooked perfectly and were crunchy and not at all greasy. The onion rings were breaded in a flavorful breading. Unless you’re brave, you’ll probably want to slice the onion ring. Its sheer size makes it difficult to eat whole, and the amount of sauce - any of them are a treat - you’ll want to put on it increases the risk of dirtying your clothes. This is not a place for formalwear; it’s for clothing you’ll be willing to get dirty. Napkins are a necessity here.
For entrees, I ordered the Western Bacon Burger on a brioche bun, with Bison meat. That’s about how adventurous I was willing to get. While a simple beef buger is on the menu, there is a variety of options including turkey, veggie, and portabella mushroom and, at an additional cost, elk, bison, lamb or ostrich. Yes, even ostrich.
But the bison was tender and full of juicy flavor. It did not taste much different than regular beef except that it was far less greasy and the patty fell apart easier. For this burger, you wouldn’t feel stupid eating it with a fork and knife. The burger was topped with a tangy cole slaw, pepperjack, peppercorn steak sauce and a slice of crunchy applewood smoked bacon.
My guest had a Ruby Burger on a multi-grain bun. The Ruby Burger includes pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, tomato and Bareburger special sauce. More adventurous than I, my guest had it with elk meat. I sampled the elk, much juicier than venison, but with the same gamey flavor. The toppings gave the burger the essence of a lunchtime Panini.
Besides our options, Bareburger offers a wide selection of salads, so don’t feel unwelcomed if you don’t eat meat (try the veggie burger if you want the burger experience). Don’t forget to try the assorted pickles combo which includes spicy Sriracha-habanero crinkle-cut pickle chips, bread and butter pickle chips, and garlic dill pickle chips. Bareburger also offers sandwiches including a BLT and an egg sandwich.
Also, try one of Bareburger’s special drinks, including seven flavors of milkshakes and hand-crafted sodas, such as cola, root beer, ginger ale, sarsaparilla, orange and blueberry.
Don’t be afraid to take the leftovers home. Two days later, the burgers and even the French fries tasted just as they did at mealtime, even after a spin in the microwave.
Bareburger’s second Astoria location is in the Ditmars section at 23-01 31st St.