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Bosnian Burgers

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Bob Martinez Mar 18, 2003 12:21 PM

Well, it's springtime in New York and I'm getting ready for my first visit of the year to Bosna-Express in Ridgewood. I first heard about the place on these boards about 2 years ago and the poster kindly included a review by Robert Sietsema of the Village Voice. What a great tip! (A link to the original review is posted below).

The place is tiny but there is a single table that can seat 4 people. There are also a few seats outside. I've always had the same thing - the pljeskavica. Since I can't even attempt to pronounce this, I always order it by its gringo name - the burger, aka the Bosnian burger. You can order it with raw onions, salad, cucumber and yogurt and sour cream dressing but I take a minimal approach and get it with diced raw onions and the all purpose Bosnian red sauce (Ajvar) which is not particularly spicy but has reasonable flavor.

The burgers, made of a mixture of ground beef and lamb, are large but somewhat thin. Since they're strongly flavored this actually is a good thing. Served in the Bosnian analog of pita bread, they're actually more like sausage patties than burgers and you'll definitely be full after you eat one.

Each time I show up they seem slightly surprised that an outsider took the trouble to seek them out but at the same time they're proud of the food. The hairy guy behind the counter in the tank top t-shirt looks at me, grins, and says "You like the Bosnian burger - eh? It's good - yes?"

Well, yes, it really is good. It's not quite a hamburger, but a close relation. It's a great change of pace and I think you'll be hooked. I'm craving one now. The review below is totally accurate in all respects but one. Referring to the burger, Sietsema says "It's so big, I've never been able to finish one without assistance." Not a problem for me.

Bosna-Express is located at 791 Fairview Avenue in Ridgewood. Hours are 10AM - 8PM Monday through Friday and 11AM to 5PM on Saturday. Sadly, they are closed Sunday.

They are about 1/2 block from the Forest Aven M train stop and about a 10 minute drive from the Cypress Hills St. exit on the Highway of Death (aka the Interboro).

Link: http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/01...

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  1. l
    lucia Mar 19, 2003 07:13 AM

    Great post, and I love Sietsema's review. I want to eat that burger . . .

    1. c
      Canchito (J. DiStefano) Mar 22, 2003 04:39 PM

      Rogue and I trekked to Bosna Express today to savor the much-ballyhooed Bosnian Burger. After a drive past the cemetery we arrived in the heart of Midwood and snagged a parking spot right in front of the joint. Bosna Express is barely large enough to turn around in. Eastern European pop blared through the radio as a fiftyish looking gal chowed down on a cevapi (sausage) sandwich.

      We ordered up two pljeskavica with everything. The gargantuan disk of meat slathered with sweetish home-made yogurt and topped with chopped onions, and a salad of tomatoes, red and green peppers and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper sandwiched between a toasted round of traditional pita bread proved to be almost too much for me. At $6 it was well worth it.
      Unfortunately we did not have the appetite to try anything else. Though we did have some pickled peppers which the kid behind the counter said were "very hot."
      Not to our teflon palates though they were good to munch on between bites of the burger.

      As we sat on a bench in the nearby plaza enjoying what the restaurant's card proudly proclaimed in ornate blue script as "Real Taste of The Mediterranean" a fleet of Q58 buses pulled up one after another. And I knew that sometime soon I'd board the Bosna Express for a second helping.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Canchito (J. DiStefano)
        e
        Eric Eto Mar 23, 2003 02:47 AM

        Just so you don't confuse the readers, Bosna Express is in Ridgewood, Queens (not Midwood, Brooklyn). By the way, the Q58 bus is a goldmine for good ethnic food as I posted awhile back.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. re: Eric Eto
          c
          Canchito (J. DiStefano) Mar 23, 2003 03:40 PM

          Eric,

          D'oh ...thanks for the heads-up!

      2. s
        Sue Apr 16, 2003 01:55 PM

        If You go to Istra Club in Astoria or Rudar Club in Astoria or Cevabpcidiznica Sarajevo (I forget how to spell it and I speak the language, lol) in Astoria you can also get these Cevapi. One Sandwich always has sufficed for me.

        The ones in Istra Club and Rudar Club are ESPECIALLY good. It is an inexpensive restaurant. (don't forget to try the fuzi, gnocci, bakala, and palacinke)

        My family actually makes these on the barbecue. If you go to Astoria, ask for "Cevapi" meat (Chevapi). Go to some butcher on Broadway. Most of them already have them prepared, waiting to be cooked. Buy the Ajvar (comes in mild medium or hot) at that same butcher store. Adriatic brand.

        Enjoy!

        1. s
          Sue Apr 16, 2003 01:55 PM

          If You go to Istra Club in Astoria or Rudar Club in Astoria or Cevabpcidiznica Sarajevo (I forget how to spell it and I speak the language, lol) in Astoria you can also get these Cevapi. One Sandwich always has sufficed for me.

          The ones in Istra Club and Rudar Club are ESPECIALLY good. It is an inexpensive restaurant. (don't forget to try the fuzi, gnocci, bakala, and palacinke)

          My family actually makes these on the barbecue. If you go to Astoria, ask for "Cevapi" meat (Chevapi). Go to some butcher on Broadway. Most of them already have them prepared, waiting to be cooked. Buy the Ajvar (comes in mild medium or hot) at that same butcher store. Adriatic brand.

          Enjoy!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sue
            b
            Bob Martinez Apr 16, 2003 02:49 PM

            I've been to Cevabpcidiznica Sarajevo but I never noticed the burgers. I've had the sausages a number of times and they are very good. Do they have the burgers as well?

            1. re: Sue
              The Chowhound Team Apr 23, 2003 12:28 PM

              we're having trouble locating Istra Club for this week's issue of ChowNews. Could this be it?

              Istria Sport Club
              28-09 Astoria Blvd.
              Astoria, NY 11102
              Tel. 718-728-3181

              thanks!

              Link: http://chowhound.safeshopper.com/23/c...

            2. Bob Martinez Jul 14, 2009 08:03 AM

              This is an old thread but unlike some others, the information is still good.

              It's not exactly a burger ... it's more of a thin nicely spiced sausage patty of lamb and beef. The sausage disk is about 8 inches across and is cooked on a gas fired grill. There are satisfying spurts of flame as the grease from the lamb hits the open flame.

              It's served on a puffy Bosnian pita that's been nicely warmed. It can be ordered with a yogurt based sauce but I prefer it with diced onions and Ajvar, the red sauce of Marshall Tito.

              At first glance the finished product looks like a personal pizza but it's much better than that. The spicing is the same as the Bosnian cevapi sausage links and doesn't need much doctoring. I put on the barest sprinkling of salt and if I'm feeling frisky I add some red pepper flakes.

              The burger at Bosna Express relies on it's spicing and the blend of beef and lamb rather than sheer size. It's only about 8 oz. It would never replace a regular burger but it's a wonderful change of pace. When Pat LaFrieda starts making these they'll go for $30. In the meantime you can buy one for $8.00 in Queens.

              Slideshow: http://www.flickr.com/photos/64756738...

              4 Replies
              1. re: Bob Martinez
                EJC Jul 14, 2009 09:41 AM

                I haven't been to Bosna in years, but I really should get back out to Ridgewood.

                I seem to remember once reading that they opened an outpost in LIC - did I make that up?

                1. re: EJC
                  Polecat Jul 14, 2009 09:50 AM

                  "I seem to remember once reading that they opened an outpost in LIC - did I make that up?"

                  They did, and you didn't. A google or chowhound search should bear that out. My most recent trip to Bosna Express was about a year or so ago. I do case management/social work, and anytime I' m anywhere near Ridgewood, I think Pljeskavica. Based on my most recent trip, the "burger" is as good and satisfying as ever. One time, I took my father, and the nice guy behind the counter gave us free cevapi. They're great, bursting with flavor and goodness. This may be a dive, but it holds a firm place in my heart. I get a good feeling every time I go.
                  P.

                  1. re: EJC
                    Bob Martinez Jul 14, 2009 09:53 AM

                    It was there at one time - I'm not sure if it's still open. Google doesn't seem to have any current information.

                    The great thing about the Ridgewood location is that it's still just as good as when I first posted about it in 2003.

                    1. re: EJC
                      z
                      zemilideias Nov 19, 2009 05:51 PM

                      yeah, it's on 12th street on the LIC/Astoria border; near LIC High School. Proably
                      about 31st Ave corner. Near the big mosque.

                  2. NYJewboy Jul 14, 2009 10:09 AM

                    I'm going to try to get some detailed directions and try this place. Sounds like my kind of thing. However I am lost in this part of Queens. Anyone have an easy way to get there by car?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: NYJewboy
                      Bob Martinez Jul 14, 2009 10:25 AM

                      The way I go is to take Eastern Parkway out to Bushwick. Then make a right and get on the Interboro parkway (aka the Jackie Robinson) Get off about a mile later at Cypress Hills St. and take it north to Myrtle. From that point on take local streets over to Fairview Ave.

                      If you from the other direction on the Interboro Cypress Hills St. would still be your exit.

                      1. re: NYJewboy
                        Polecat Jul 14, 2009 10:45 AM

                        Bear in mind that this place is a crawlspace, with one table. I recommend going on a nice, clear, sunny day, which would allow you to sit on a bench under the nearby elevated train, stare at the adjoining dive bar and the Montenegro Social Club (if it's still there) and watch the world go by. Nothing beats it.
                        P.

                      2. a
                        Anicca Jul 14, 2009 12:10 PM

                        I am a great fan of pljeskavici, and agree that Bosna Express is a particularly good place to sample them. I am happy to report as well that they are readily available in my hood -- Astoria -- owing to the rapidly burgeoning balkan population here.

                        The best in Astoria, I think, are:

                        1. Djerdan, 31st. Ave and 34th street; I go at least once a week for the pljeskavica or cevapi; the stuffed cabbages are awesome, too.

                        2. Sarajevo, 34th Ave and 38th street, mentioned elsewhere

                        3. Ukus, 30th ave and 41st street (appx); great kebabs, too

                        4. Pasha, newish -- 30th ave and 31st under the El

                        You can eat for under $10 at all of these.

                        I have not been to the Istra or other sports clubs locally. I must try them!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Anicca
                          b
                          burton Jul 14, 2009 12:38 PM

                          I notice you left off Stari Most (42nd St near 30th Ave) from your list of Balkan options in Astoria. That may well be my favorite of the bunch. (I've tried most of those on your list.) Any particular reason for the omission?

                          1. re: burton
                            a
                            Anicca Jul 15, 2009 07:25 AM

                            Thanx, burton. I forgot about Stari Most, and actually have not been there. I will make it a point to try it soon.

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