Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pachanga Patterson

Brunch: I sort of don't get it. In my world, eggs and pancakes are meant to be eaten before 10 am, and booze is not consumed until at least 6 pm. (OK, maybe 5 pm on a Friday.) So the idea of combining these things in a single meal around noon just never made sense to me. One Bloody Mary and I'm ready for a nap. (Not to worry, Astorians: Mark Killian and his Brunch Bunch cover this meal nicely.)

So when I found myself entertaining two hungry relatives  we'll call them the Jersey Girl and the Upper West Sider late on a Sunday morning, I faced a new challenge: where to get really good brunch just a few blocks from home. We chose Pachanga Patterson (a mouthful of a name I will hereafter refer to as P2).





P2 has a lot to recommend it: out-of-the-ordinary Mexican fare, local ingredients, and creepy Day of the Dead artwork, to name a few. When Dr. Science and I went there for dinner, we liked the ambiance a bit better than the food, but found it a nice addition to the stretch of restaurants (Bareburger, Il Bambino, Zenon Taverna, etc.) along 31st Ave.






Three, count 'em, three!





We started out with chips and three kinds of salsa. (Hey, when it comes to exciting dips, why stop at one?) All were excellent.






For my main course I got the gorditas, thick corn cakes topped with poached eggs. (These normally come with chorizo, but the chef is amenable to leaving the pork off the plate.) The cakes were on the dry side but the eggs were cooked the way I like 'em: runny but not overly so.

Gorditas (sin chorizo)

Dr. Science ordered the Veggie Jenga: fried eggs over beans, avocado, and mashed sweet potatoes, with a tostada buried underneath. It wasn't the tower of block-shaped food we had hoped for, but it tasted great.

Veggie Jenga

Scrambled.


The Jersey Girl played it safe with a plate of scrambled eggs, Mexican style, cooked with tomatoes and peppers and served with flour tortillas instead of toast. The Upper West Sider went rogue and ordered some sort of chicken dish (not pictured).





 ¡Endiabladamente buena!
All the dishes were pleasant enough, but dessert was the real winner of the meal. As we were all stuffed with brunchy goodness, we split the El Diablito. It's the
evil twin of the celebrated Torta del Piccolo Bambino Gesu Cristo served at Vesta, Pachanga Patterson's sister restaurant. Forgive me, Baby Jesus, but I liked the little devil's cake, with its dash of chili heat, even better.


Perhaps because the Jersey Girl is a minor, we skipped the alcoholic beverages and went instead for P2's excellent coffee.

On weekend mornings, you'll usually find me with the early crew at Sanford's, scarfing down my home fries before the hordes arrive. But the next time I need some salsa to ward off the Sunday afternoon blues, I'll know where to go.

Pachanga Patterson
33–17 31st Ave.

  Veg friendliness
 
Food quality

Vibe
 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bareburger

What better way to reanimate this blog than with a visit to neighborhood fave Bareburger? I'm happy to report that on a recent visit, this pioneer of the burgeoning Astoria burger scene is as tasty as ever.

Weirdly, I don't much care for their veggie burger. It can't hold a candle to, say, 5 Napkin's. No, the real draw here for the non-carnivore is the portabella sandwich. Normally, a big ol' slab of 'shroom on bread would not appeal, but Bareburger does something magical to theirs. It's marinated in balsamic vinegar, cooked to the perfect tender-chewiness, and topped with onions, roasted red peppers, and baby spinach. You can get it on brioche, but I always go for multigrain bread. It makes me feel less guilty about my favorite part of the sandwich: the Danish blue cheese. Granted, I'd probably eat a hubcap if you put gorgonzola on it, but half an ounce or so of moldy dairy goodness makes this sandwich something special. (Vegans: I think it would still hold up without the cheese, though I haven't been able to bring myself to try it.)

Dr. Science and I generally share the sandwich and one of the large salads, most of which are meat-free. The other veggie options, while not quite so virtuous, are also delicious: take, for example, the kick-ass fries, which come with three kinds of dipping sauce. (May I recommend the chipotle mayo?) And don't get me started on the thick-cut, perfectly crisp onion rings. Really, please don't.

Bareburger's beverage list is also good: Maine Root sodas and several great, reasonably priced beers on tap. And then there are the milkshakes. I suspect I could make a meal out of the peanut butter and chocolate one.

The 31st Ave. location is usually packed with 20something Astorians, families, and, yes, middle-aged couples. Service is consistently friendly and efficient.

I have to admit, I'm a little sad this place has turned into a chain (they've even got a branch in shudder Brooklyn). But I guess Astoria can't keep all the good stuff to itself.

Bareburger
33-21 31st Ave. (the one I go to, anyway)

Veg friendliness

Food quality

Vibe