2017-07-26 / Restaurant of the Week

BAREBURGER

Bareburger is an American success story. It officially begins in 2009 with the opening of the first organic Bareburger restaurant at this very location in Astoria. Then it moves full speed ahead to include over 40 more restaurants in just eight years. In the meantime, Bareburger builds its reputation and expands its presence throughout New York, into other parts of the country, and soon worldwide. New Bareburger restaurants open in locations as far away as Tokyo and Dubai. Bareburger wins numerous awards, among them winner status in the James Beard Foundation's Blended Burger Project and the Nation's Restaurant News' Hot Concept Awards. Business Insider writes about them multiple times. So do we, and the Michelin Guide recommends them four years in a row. Such rapid success sounds incredible, as though magic is involved, or exceptional good luck, but this is just the abridged version of the story, condensed into one short paragraph and missing all the details that success requires. The full story actually takes us back to 2002, has more of a personality, and starts out something like this:

Some young, dauntless guys with entrepreneurial ambitions and big dreams open a kind of artsy bar/music space in Brooklyn. They name this place Sputnik and for the next seven years devote themselves to it entirely, working non-stop and training themselves in the demands of running a business. From a miniscule kitchen, they grill organic burgers that become all the rage, and one day they decide to take those burgers and run with them. They close up shop in Brooklyn, buy an old vacant bakery in Astoria, convert it into a small restaurant, and begin serving their own healthy versions of America's fast and comfort food favorites. The dishes they create are strictly organic. The meat comes from grass-fed animals that were humanely raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones, and the produce is free of chemicals. They forge relationships with local farmers and merchants, create jobs for other talented young men and women, and play a role in helping other businesses succeed.

Initially, the first Bareburger restaurant could seat only 40 people, though it was expanded and renovated in 2011. Today it has two dining rooms, each with tables and booths, two outdoor patios, one in front and one out back, a big, attractive, full-service bar, and a take-out, shake, and sundae counter. Its color scheme is composed of relaxing earth tones with a lot of exposed wood, and its atmosphere is casual yet sophisticated. Bear representations are part of the Bareburger theme. (Think of the homonym bare/bear.) You will notice a small bear statue by the receptionist stand as you are walking in, and there is a also a bear mural on the back patio wall. That back patio, by the way, can be reserved for private events.

The Bareburger menu, like the Bareburger concept, has evolved over time and includes chicken, falafel, salads, desserts, kids' meals and more. What has not changed is Bareburger's main attraction, the bare burger which comes from a sustainable food source that has no shadowy truths to hide. I think of the word “bare”as a metaphor for purity or transparency and, putting all their other achievements aside, I think these guys are really smart for having thought up such a clever name. You can order a burger today that is made from beef, elk, bison, duck (the Fire Quacker), or lamb (On the Lam), or you can have one of the vegetarian/ vegan burgers. You can even customize your own burger with your choice of patty, toppings, sauce and bun.

My friend and I, having come here on a Monday night (a good time to come), really wanted that nostalgic feeling you get from a hearty burger, a plate of fries, and a float or shake. Knowing it was all organic made us feel good about indulging, so between the two of us we had the Supreme Burger (beef, Colby, black forest bacon, onion rings, chopped fries, green leaf lettuce and special sauce, $11.95), the Impossible Burger, the very new and much touted veggie burger that tastes like meat (with caramelized onions, special sauce, green leaf lettuce and pickles, $13.95), a Kale Caesar ($4.95 ), Sweet Fries ($4.95), and a Vanilla Shake ($5.95), all really delicious and nourishing for both body and mind. I do not usually talk up side dishes, but I have to say that the Kale Caesar was the best Caesar salad I have ever had. The greens were young and tender and the dressing light on the garlic, exactly the way I wish everyone would make it. My friend, Steve, asked me to also mention that for the first time ever his burger, which he requested rare, came to him perfectly cooked. Obviously, we can both be difficult people to please, so kudos to the entire culinary team!

I feel like I would be leaving something important out if I made no mention of how impressed we both were with the young, congenial and enthusiastic group of professionals who run this Bareburger. The energy is very positive, and we felt it right away–which is a credit to Eric, the manager–and everyone we met seemed to enjoy their job. We would like to thank Alexa, the hostess, for greeting us with a smile, and Joseph, who tends the bar, for his friendliness and helpfulness. They both deserve to see their names in print..We were lucky to have JP as our server. He gave us excellent service, and we loved chatting with him. Most of all, I want to thank Anthony Roman, Marketing Coordinator, for taking the time to answer all the questions I sent him via email. Without them, this article would have been full of holes.

The first Bareburger restaurant ever to spring to life is located at 33-21 31st Avenue in Astoria. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The staff looks forward to welcoming you soon.

33-21 31st Avenue
Astoria  718.777.7011

(and over 40 other locations)
www.bareburger.com

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