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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Hamburger Tips from Forest Hills to the Bronx

A stealth burger lurks on the menu at Corfu Grill, where it goes by bifteki and comes with pita triangles and tzatziki. Whatever they call it, it’s really a hamburger, says janie. She declares it the best in Forest Hills–and a deal at $5.50 for the lunch special. If you ask, they’ll put it on a bun. The rest of the menu leans toward Greek specialties like moussaka, pastitsio, gyro, and souvlaki.

Another Forest Hills spot, Cobblestones, makes a solid hamburger–known here as a hamburger–that Afikoman ranks ahead of hound favorite Donovan’s in Woodside. For $8.95 it comes with two toppings (cheese, bacon, chili, vegetables, etc.) plus lettuce, tomato, onion, and fries. Cheddar and chili is an especially nice combo. Beyond burgers, this place dishes up better-than-average pub chow, says kid_aa.

In the Bronx, the Hilltop serves a huge, satisfying hamburger with house-made mashed potatoes and a soda, all for $4.95, marvels beke. Other winners: lasagna, fresh-squeezed lemonade, steak sandwiches on garlic toast, and moussaka (when they have it)–“no creepy white stuff on top, just scrumptious layers of eggplant, potatoes, and ground beef.” Breakfast fare is skippable.

Corfu Grill [Forest Hills]
70-17B Austin St., between 67th Dr. and 68th Ave.Forest Hills, Queens
718-263-6263
Map

Cobblestones Pub [Forest Hills]
117-18 Queens Blvd., between 77th and 78th Aves., Forest Hills, Queens
718-263-9754
Locater

Hilltop Restaurant [Bronx]
1306 Castle Hill Ave., near Westchester Ave., Bronx
718-409-0412
Locater

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Great Burger in the Bronx on Castle Hill
Good burger in/around Forest Hills?

Soulful Salt Cod at Kurio

When salt cod turns up as a special at Kurio, it’s worth a try. A recent dinner of Portuguese-style bacalhau was superb, reports Dave Feldman: funky, flavorful cod with huge hunks of sweet potato and just enough tomato to cut the sweetness and richness.

For the uninitiated, this low-key neighborhood gem is not a Portuguese restaurant, but serves an eclectic, often-changing menu with flavors from all over the map–the Mediterranean, Asia, Latin America. “Kurio is one of my favorite places to eat or drink on the East Side,” Dave writes, “not the least because of the quiet, relaxed vibe, the interesting folks in the neighborhood, the excellent drinks, and the wonderful family that runs it.”

Kurio [Upper East Side]
338 E. 92nd St., between 1st and 2nd Aves.
Manhattan, NY
212-828-1267
Locater

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Bacalau at Kurio on 92nd St. on Between 1/2nd Ave.

Shepherd’s Pie Meets Lobster

On Mondays, Union Square Cafe offers an upmarket take on shepherd’s pie: chunks of lobster, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and rich lobster sauce under a blanket of mashed potatoes. Unbeatable, says dkstar1.

Union Square Cafe [Union Square]
21 E. 16th St., between 5th Ave. and Union Square W., Manhattan
212-243-4020
Locater

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interesting lobster dish?

Surprising Fish Taco in Bellport, L.I

Unorthodox but scrumptious fish tacos are a don’t-miss order at Bellport’s newish Sugar Loaf Cafe, says Dave Feldman. Beautifully grilled mahi mahi with cabbage-carrot slaw, dressed with lively carrot-orange vinaigrette and cilantro-lime mayonnaise, is enfolded in soft flour tortillas. Tacos also come with beef, chicken, or shrimp.

It’s not your typical Mexican treatment, but this isn’t a Mexican restaurant. The rest of the menu offers sandwiches, burgers, wraps, soups, salads, and breakfast dishes with Brazilian and Mediterranean accents. Also: baked goods (including pao de queijo, the Brazilian cheese puffs) and a full lineup of espresso and other coffee drinks, brewed from Brazilian beans. “Everything in the cafe is such a joy,” effuses MN716.

For fall and winter, Sugar Loaf is open for breakfast and lunch daily plus early dinner (until 8) on Friday and Saturday.

Sugar Loaf Cafe [Suffolk County]
141 S. Country Rd., between Station Rd. and Woodruff St., Bellport, NY
631-286-5652
Map

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Fish Tacos in Bellport, Long Island

All-Star Contender at Michael Jordan’s

Hounds aren’t quite sold on Michael Jordan’s steaks, but their hamburger is a winner. It’s 12 ounces of well-seasoned ground sirloin, broiled to a nice crust, served on a lightly grilled bun with decent steak fries–pricey at $14.50 but excellent, reports ESNY.

Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse [Grand Central Terminal]
23 Vanderbilt Ave., in Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan
212-655-2300
Locater

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Review of the burger at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse

Hamburger Toppings with a Twist

The Twisted Burger plays it straight with the meat, turning out a solid, classic hamburger, says Quetzal. The twists are in the thirty-plus toppings. Two popular choices are the Vermonter (Vermont cheddar and grilled apple) and the Blue Pig (bacon and blue cheese). Some others: the Honolulu (fried pineapple and white American cheese), Secretariat (horseradish, cheese, sauteed onion), and the Break Up (raw onion and Limburger). Chicken sandwiches come with the same toppings. Hot dogs are also unique and good, done in a hollowed-out roll that almost completely encases the frank and fixings (a shorter and more conventional lineup of cheeses, chili, bacon, etc.).

In Hell’s Kitchen, restaurant and caterer Mitchel London has pared its cafe menu down to just two items, hence the new name: Burgers and Cupcakes. Cheeseburgers are spectacular, says Felixnot (they come with American, cheddar, Swiss, blue, pepper jack, or goat), but fries are even better–fresh cut, nicely salted, very crispy.

On the Upper West Side, Nice Matin remains a dependable spot for the satisfyingly messy bistro-style creation dubbed the Five Napkin Burger: 10 ounces of beef with sauteed onion, aioli, and compte cheese, says JoanN. Great fries, too.

The Twisted Burger [East Village]
430 E. 14th St., between 1st Ave. and Ave. A, Manhattan
877-989-4783
Locater

Burgers and Cupcakes [Clinton]
formerly Mitchel London Foods
458 9th Ave., between W. 35th and 36th Sts., Manhattan
212-643-1200
Locater

Nice Matin [Upper West Side]
201 W. 79th St., at Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan
212-873-6423
Locater

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Best UWS Burger?
Burgers and Cupcakes —Mitchel London’s new place
Best fries around?
Twisted Burger–Anyone tried it?

Super Fried Fish at Brooklyn’s Liman

The Turkish seafood house Liman is best known for simple, beautifully grilled fish, but its fried stuff also kills. If St. Peter’s Fish (more commonly, tilapia) is on the menu, get it–and ask for it deep-fried in garlic oil. Best dish in the house, swears mysaltandpepper.

Liman Restaurant [Sheepshead Bay]
2710 Emmons Ave., between E. 27th and 28th Sts., Brooklyn
718-769-3322
Locater

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Need help identifying a Turkish restaurant

Seared Fish That Cuts the Mustard

Nice quick takeout bite at gourmet grocer Agata & Valentina on the Upper East Side: head for the sushi case and look for seared tuna or salmon, advises Cheese Boy. They’re encrusted with cracked black peppercorns and lightly toasted fennel seeds. Each order comes with a killer mustard sauce–if you don’t see it, ask for it. Best time to go: lunch hour to around 3 p.m.

Agata & Valentina [Upper East Side]
1505 1st Ave., at 79th St., Manhattan
212-452-0690
Locater

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Mustard sauce?

Blue Crab Mondays at the Hideaway

For just a few more weeks, the Hideaway in Tribeca is serving blue crabs on Monday nights. Flown in the same morning from Maryland, they’re excellent, says lilhornet–three big ones for $19. They’ll be around through September, maybe a bit longer.

Beyond the seafood special, this year-old bar and restaurant has a short menu of sophisticated pub bites (e.g., smoked deviled eggs) and more substantial fare, like chile-marinated skirt steak and broiled shrimp with chorizo butter. GIS likes their burgers, crab cakes, and crispy free-range chicken, pan-seared then finished in the oven.

The Hideaway [Tribeca]
185 Duane St., between Greenwich and Hudson, Manhattan
212-334-5775
Locater

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The Hideaway- any info?
Blue Crab Night Mondays at The Hideaway

Florence’s: Flavors of Home, West African Style, in Harlem

Florence’s is a cozy joint that serves spicy, satisfying chow from Ghana and Ivory Coast. An Ivorian braised fish dish, attieke poisson braisse, is a knockout, according to our first report, from Peter Cherches. It’s a whole tilapia topped with onions, tomatoes and peppers, and served with starchy attieke (fermented cassava) and wonderful, incendiary chile sauce.

As with other West African cuisines, expect plenty of soups and stews, and dishes featuring peanut sauces, fermented grains, and fufu (starchy mashes of cassava, plantain, and the like). A thick, long-cooked Ivorian okra stew, gombo, is smoky, slightly spicy, and a tad funky from dried shrimp. Peanut soup with goat can be bland, though the meat is tasty and not at all gamy. Among the appetizers, a Ghanaian street snack called kelewele–cubes of ripe plantain fried with chile, ginger, and other spices–is addictively delicious.

Service is friendly and helpful, and the Ghanaian family that owns the place sets a warm, inviting mood. “It was like being a guest in their home,” Peter marvels. “I want to hang out there again. I want to try everything on the menu. I want to take all my friends.”

Florence’s Restaurant [Harlem]
2099 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (between W. 113th and 114th streets), Manhattan
212-531-0387
Map

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Florence’s: Fabulous West African in Harlem