A burger that is not bare

Photos by Bradley Hawks

In June 2009 the very first Bareburger opened its doors on 31st Ave in Astoria, serving premium organic burgers under a ceiling of recycled tin barn siding. The establishment used sustainable ingredients and eco-friendly features including paperless ordering. The concept met a growing demand from environmentally conscious diners seeking high quality food in a casual atmosphere. Bareburger was enthusiastically embraced by the neighborhood.

Just four years later, a dozen new Bareburger locations have opened across New York City, with a total of four in Queens (two in Astoria, one in Bayside, and one in Forest Hills). After visiting each of the locations, it can be said that the Bareburger family has met and overcome the challenge of achieving consistent quality and harmonious atmospheres while maintaining the vibe of locally sourced, home grown sandwiches and sides. The menu has gradually evolved to meet the preferences of practically every kind of palate (and food allergy).

The star of the show remains the Bareburger supreme, a patty of Piedmontese beef under a blanket of Monterey Jack cheese, applewood smoked bacon, shredded lettuce, tomato and a slathering of special sauce. It’s all nestled between panko breaded onion rings and toasted brioche. The topping options include fourteen themed sandwiches — from a Maui-inspired combination of smoked mozzarella and grilled pineapple to a burger piled with smoked brisket, pepperjack cheese and fried pickles.

But you don’t eat beef, you say? Whether you choose one of their designed topping sets or build your own, the selection of meats now includes beef, turkey, quinoa veggie patty (vegan), black bean patty (vegan), mushroom burger (vegan), buttermilk fried chicken, panko chicken tenders, grilled or jerk chicken, wild boar, lamb, elk, bison, and ostrich. The bread, cheese, veggies, sauce and topping combinations are equally vibrant, resulting in hundreds of potential ‘burger’ combinations.

From the salad menu, a standout is the pickled beets and panko-crusted goat cheese with toasted walnuts drizzled with a sweet maple balsamic — though I recommend substituting it with the cinnamon pear-infused balsamic dressing.

An order of fries and rings (served with a myriad of dips) is essential for any table. Other tempting snacks include both fried pickle spears and thin-sliced pickled coins. Recently added are the sweet potato croquettes and a sampler of assorted house pickles.

Of course, everything tastes better washed down with an organic banana and chocolate shake served in a Bareburger glass. Someone at the table should try the Hot Honey milkshake (sweet and spicy) or the decadent Bananas Foster shake. (Bareburger, will you please bring back the pistachio milkshake?)

Service is impressively consistent and dependable with a staff who always seem enthusiastic to share their personal “secret combinations.” Papier mache masks and chandeliers made of vintage spoons and forks add a contemporary ease to the rustic dining rooms. And don’t forget to try the carrot cake French toast with fried banana walnut fritters on the weekends. The brunch menu is equally enticing.

(open for brunch, lunch, dinner)
71-49 Austin St, Forest Hills, 718-275-BARE
42-38 Bell Blvd, Bayside, 718-279-BARE
23-01 31st St, Astoria, 718-204-7167
33-21 31st Ave, Astoria, 718-777-7011


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