Sometimes you walk into a restaurant and you think you know what it will be. It’s a burger place. It’ll look like a burger place.
But when I was invited to check out Barbacoa, the look of the place took me by surprise. It wasn’t that long ago that few kosher restaurants outside of the top tier really put forth the effort, time, thought and money into creating a genuine ambiance. Part of that might have been that patrons were more concerned with the food than they were with the environment in which they were eating, unless their goal was a truly high end experience.
These days, even middle tier kosher eateries will occasionally sport a real vibe where the diners can tell that attention was paid to the landscape of the dining room. Barbacoa is certainly one of these. The interior brick walls, branded pizza oven, sleek bar area, and prominent logo on the wall certainly makes a statement before you even grab hold of your menu. You get the impression that good food and good times are ahead of you.
While the appetizer section of the menu has a pretty eclectic feel, I’d suggest two of the Mexican options. The beef tacos can be ordered with either a soft or hard base. I opted for the crunchier choice and was treated to a freshly fried tortilla shell that provided a great texture while handling the brisket and pico de gallo admirably. The meat was savory and the acidity from the pico de gallo was a perfect complement.
But if I had to choose one appetizer, it would be the BBQ nachos. Again, the attention to detail of having the chips be freshly crisped was a great component. The barbeque flavor of the ample ground beef was perfect and balanced with the coolness of the guacamole and faux sour cream. The tomatoes and jalapenos also offset each other well as the sweet and spicy ends of the spectrum were both present on the plate.
Obviously, the main attraction are the 12 burgers on the menu. But only three of them are “Chef’s Selection Burgers” that come with more deluxe toppings and fries. The other nine come without fries, slightly fewer toppings, and a lower price tag ($19-28 versus $34-38). I love this idea because it allows you to order one of the more moderate options and potentially use the appetizer menu to choose your own sides, instead of committing to fries and a steeper price. This is great for those who might be fans of lighter meals and for whom the substantial size of the burgers might prove to be a hurdle.
If you’re looking for an interesting offering on the standard burger menu, try the lamb burger. Personally, I always enjoy a good lamb burger and this herbed patty is spiced really well and complemented by pickled red onions and the house dressing. You’ll get that distinct lamb taste with middle eastern spices and the pickled red onions are a particularly nice touch for acidity and color.
The eponymous Barbacoa Burger is also a great selection if you want to go with a more deluxe option. Their signature beef burger patty is topped with some hearty slices of pastrami, crispy fried onions, and tangy BBQ sauce. Unlike some similar burgers I’ve had at other places, these are substantial slices of pastrami and not a pile of shreds. The crispy onions provide a nice crunch that assists with the great mouthfeel found in the house burgers.
Getting back to that pizza oven that I mentioned, Barbacoa offers a few types of meat pizzas. Four of the five choices amount to three different types of beef or all three. I obviously went with the Three Meats Pizza. A combination of short rib, pastrami and brisket, this pizza also has mushrooms and a garlic aioli. Everything really works well together as you get an impressive combination of textures and flavors.
But if you’re looking for something a little bit spicier, check out the Buffalo Chicken Pizza. The carmelized onions and garlic aioli work really well and the chicken contrasts well with the impressive pizza crust used for all the pizzas.
I’m usually a stickler for the difference between a flat bread and a pizza; this is obviously more of a pizza. Whether it’s the actual dough, the real pizza oven, or both, the taste and texture of the dough comes out exactly like that of a regular pizza. Even the best meat pizzas around usually don’t have dough that tastes exactly like that of the dairy counterpart.
So, if you’re in need of a really good burger (or just a really good time), head over to Barbacoa. They’ve got enough options for your whole party and going will certainly make your night feel like more of a party.
Barbacoa Artisinal Burger House is located at 142 Spruce Street, Cedarhurst, NY 11516. Barbacoa is open Monday through Thursday, 5-10pm and Sunday 4-10pm, as well as Saturday beginning one hour after Shabbat until 12am. More info can be found at https://barbacoany.com/.
Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected]