5 Napkin Burger
35-01 36th Street
Astoria, NY 11106
Hours: Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – midnight
Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – midnight
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Astoria isn’t burger challenged. Actually, it’s quite burger rich with eclectic options on every street corner. From a simple California-style burger from Petey’s (30-17 30th Avenue) to a top grade Pat La Frieda burger from Sweet Afton (30-09 34th Street) to a fancy organic ostrich burger from BareBurger (33-21 31st Avenue), Astoria has almost anything and everything to satisfy even the most discerning burger hound.
The popularity and abundance of these burger joints has illustrated something important– Astorians love burgers and they appreciate quality. That’s why when the new 5 Napkin Burger (35-01 36th Street) opened in Astoria, people responded right away. And the hoopla is just beginning.
Astoria’ 5 Napkin location occupies the old Cup diner space on 36th Street and 35th Avenue, around the corner from the Studio Square Beer Garden (35-33 36th Street). Once you venture inside, a friendly, boisterous vibe envelops you. Nostalgic 50’s/60’s music pipes through the speakers and a sprinkling of comfortable vinyl booths line the perimeter. But the vibe is not all vintage – it’s coupled with modern design elements such as oversized chalkboards with free-form doodles, exposed light fixtures positioned next to steel meat hooks and an expansive bar, which serves as the focal point of the dining room. It all fits together to create a good mix of old and new things that co-exist in harmony.
Just like the atmosphere, the food juxtaposes old classics with new reinventions. There are the famous burgers of course such as the namesake 5 Napkin, made of fresh ground chuck, topped with caramelized onions, tangy gruyere cheese, rosemary aioli, on a soft white roll. For another equally interesting option, the Italian Turkey burger packs tons of personality and taste with tender turkey meat, topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, spicy tomato sauce and vinegar peppers. And for something more Astorian, I highly recommend their Lamb Kofta burger with a pungent lamb patty, embellished with classic Greek seasonings such as chopped tomato, cucumber and a creamy tahini sauce that resembles tzatziki.
Classic diner sides such as thin, salted fries and crispy onion rings are also memorable with the clear stand-out being the deep fried pickles wrapped in pastrami. Resting on a bed of sauerkraut and spicy mustard oil, it’s not only the uniqueness of this dish that knocked my socks off, the amalgamation of interesting flavors really make your taste buds sing.
Sealing the night with one of 5 Napkin’s sweet shakes is a smart move. Although you certainly won’t be hungry after your meal, you’ll want to indulge in a thick, creamy shake, which comes in seven fun flavors such as very vanilla, black & white malted, strawberry, s’mores (topped with burned marshmallows), peanut butter chocolate, caramel latte or pina colada.
The arrival of 5 Napkin Burger has caused a stir in Astoria’s burger scene. Not only has it excited hungry burger lovers into exploring this new gem, it’ll undoubtedly inspire other neighborhood competitors to step up their game. May they all prosper.