Rarely do two burgers at Burke's Restaurant and Bar ever look the same. Not only do diners get to choose from four buns?including pretzel buns and english muffins?but they can also crown their burgers with more than 16 toppings, such as chipotle mayo and Irish bacon. Burgers, however, are just one of many options available at Burke's, whose remaining menu sports everything from chicken parm sliders to Irish chicken curry. Bartenders complement hearty feasts with myriad libations, from 19 draft beers to liquor-spiked milk shakes, which visitors can sip while watching games on 14 flat-screen TVs and two widescreen projectors.
Route 100 Wine Bar & Grill’s high-quality ingredients and generous portions have earned the bistro accolades in the New York Times, which praises the eclectic cuisine as “creative" and "carefully presented.” Italian pasta dishes and sauces dominate the menu, but chefs sneak in Asian flourishes such as ponzu sauce and wasabi-mashed potatoes. Polished hardwood floors reflect wall-mounted wine racks loaded with hundreds of international vintages and the occasional neglected genie bottle.
Wielding knives and sword-like skewers, the servers at Texas de Brazil seem prepared for impromptu duels. However, they only brandish the blades to replenish dinner plates, slicing meat from their spears at the behest of each table. The cuts of steak, lamb, and brazilian sausage are all slow roasted over an open flame in traditional churrascaria fashion—a technique that stems from the campfire meals of Brazilian gauchos, and one that fed the family behind Texas de Brazil during their life in Porto Alegre. In an effort to bring the South American style to the States, they established their first restaurant in Texas, thereby merging down-home charm with Brazilian spice.
Today, Texas de Brazil has expanded to several award-winning locations across the country. Despite the lofty ceilings and chandeliers that characterize their venues, the staff remains rooted in ranchers' habits. They conscientiously grill and season their meat, bake brazilian cheese bread in-house, and pass classic cocktails and loaner saddles over the bar for cowboys who consider chairs unnatural. To complement savory bites, guests can browse more than 50 gourmet sides at the salad bar—a compendium of soups, vegetables, and appetizers such as imported cheeses. They can also ask the resident wine specialist for recommendations on suitable pairings from the cellar.
Star chef and restaurateur Peter Xaviar Kelly opened his first restaurant, Xaviar’s in Garrison, when he was 23. Since then he has battled Bobby Flay, cooked at the James Beard House, introduced Anthony Bourdain to the Hudson Valley's bounty, and opened more restaurants. At his latest, Xaviars X2O on the Hudson, the Zagat-rated menu mixes Asian embellishments with Italian and Spanish touches and traditional French techniques. Thai barbecue, for example, spices the grilled portuguese octopus appetizer, and a brown-sugar-cayenne crust plays off the béarnaise sauce that tops aged-and-grilled cowboy rib eye steaks. In the Dylan Lounge, chefs slice sushi rolls into edible artworks such as jalapeño hamachi with pumpkin-seed oil.
An active turn-of-the-century Victorian pier hosts Xaviars' dining room on the Hudson. Vaulted 25-foot ceilings take support from three walls of glass that grant sweeping views of the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridges, pepper dinners with sunsets over the Palisades, and allow guests to keep eyes out for approaching giants. Inside, dark-wood furniture, mod lighting, and stark white tablecloths set an elegant stage for edible performances.
A lot of restaurants discourage special orders, but the chefs at Riverdale Diner have been welcoming them for the past 40 years. The made-to-order eatery operates what it terms an "open door policy", encouraging customers to add and subtract ingredients as they please and to ask for their favorite dishes, even if they don't see them on the menu. Finding something that falls into that last category may prove challenging, as the already expansive bill of fare seems to cover nearly every culinary category imaginable. Baby back ribs? Check. Romanian steak? Check. Mofongo? Check. All the usual diner favorites are there too, from giant one-pound burgers to breakfast that's served all day. Of course, there may come a day when only a carving board roast turkey dinner and laffy taffy-flavored martini will do. Or maybe a broccoli and ricotta brick-oven pizza, paired with a giant goblet filled halfway with strawberry daiquiri and the rest of the way with pina colada. So Riverdale Diner made sure to cover those fronts too. A final stop at the dessert case offers up an impossible choice between sweets—from fried cheesecake to linzer tarts, hot pecan pie to Jello—and there's even a selection of diet-friendly desserts for those who are watching their weight or being watched through binoculars by a personal trainer in the parking lot.
The chefs at Paradise Biryani Pointe prepare a sprawling menu of Indian cuisine that showcases authentic flavors drawn from Hyderabadi and Mughlai traditions. Chefs kick off meals with succulent appetizers that range from peppers coated in chickpea flour to fried cauliflower florets coated in sauces to boneless fish fried with curry leaves. Soft slabs of naan—with or without garlic and onions—mitigate the intense, spicy flavors of chicken or goat vindaloo’s tender chunks of curry-laced meats and potatoes. Desserts round up sweet teeth with qubani ka meetha’s dried apricots, dates, and rose petals or gulab jamun’s traditional milk dumplings served in sugar syrup. In addition to chai and mango lassis, Paradise Biryani Pointe also offers beer and wine, perfect for sipping alongside the restaurant's ample lunch buffet.