Saturday, March 27, 2010

Donovan's Pub

There is a banner hanging outside of this pub proclaiming that it has the #1 Rated Hamburger in NY. Of course, even if it didn't advertise the supremacy of their burgers, I would have gone in. It looks mysterious and castle-like from the outside, and the interior is dark and cozy. Jose and I were led to a booth in a private corner, close to the fireplace, but separate from the rest of the diners. I guess we looked like we wanted a romantic dinner. We were looking for burgers, not romance, but it was a nice thought. We decided to snack on wings as a starter, this being a bar and all. And a pint of Guinness to wash them down. The wings came out quickly, extremely hot, very crispy, and the meat inside was steaming and tender. The only light source was the flickering candle on our table, so the following pictures are quite dark.
The wings were not tossed in sauce, as buffalo wings often are. Instead, they were freshly fried, and sent out in a basket with two sauces: sweet and sour, and blue cheese. I like my wings to be spicy. But the wings themselves were meaty and delicious. If the worst thing in my life is that I had to dip my crispy fried wings in some sweet and sour sauce, then I really can't complain.

Then the burgers. We each got one, Jose went for the cheeseburger, I opted for a plain burger. The platters were set before us, a nice pile of fried potato wedges, the burger, and the bun. I do like a little something on my burgers, so I asked the waiter if I could have some lettuce and tomato. He apologized, saying that due to a recent change, lettuce and tomato were $1.25 extra. I still wanted them, extra charge or not, and a few seconds later he handed me a small plate with some iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato. After topping the burger, I took this picture.

The burger, a thick patty, nicely charred on the outside, pink on the inside, was beefy and juicy.
I would have liked an onion, but it was too late to ask. The fries were crisp and hot, and quite addictive. It was fine, it was tasty, it was a good hamburger. Good, not great. I am not a burger purist, I like my toppings, so maybe I should have ordered the bacon cheeseburger. But it was not the best hamburger I've ever had. I liked Donovan's. I loved the atmosphere, the neighborhood feel, the crackling fire, the service; it's an old school pub, and it was bustling. But I was expecting greatness (with exclamation points!) the best burger in New York! Anything less is disappointing. Of the burgers sampled on Roosevelt Avenue so far, I would rate it #2. To see #1, click here.

Donovan's Pub
57-24 Roosevelt Ave


  1. I never bothered with the wings at Donovan's, but I guess I should. They do look big and meaty.

    I haven't been back to Donovan's in a while, but they were always my favorite burger and miles ahead of the burger I had at Horgan's. You have to ask them for fried onions with the burger when you order.

    From someone who's lived at both Roosevelt/74th and Sunnyside, and walked everywhere in between, I say that I like what you're doing, but there's still a long way to go.


  2. Thanks Pretender, I know, I have a long, long way to go! I should have definitely gotten fried onions, since I love them so much. It's not that I didn't like the burger, I think I was just expecting too much. Any fave places between Sunnyside and JH you'd like to recommend?

  3. Hey Sara,
    You need to get the fried onions at Donovan's next time you go and you also need to get a bacon cheeseburger. That's the way to do it at Donovan's. If it's not cooked medium rare, you're also in trouble. And make sure the fries get cooked well done because otherwise they're just soggy steak fries.

  4. Sara,
    Well you already went to El Sitio, Jollibee and UFC, so that's three off the list.

    How close under the 7 are you looking exactly? Like how many blocks off the main track is too far?

    Tacqueria Coatzingo 7605 Roosevelt Avenue definitely get stuff off the specials, but their tacos are really good too, I like the al pastor and the tripa.

    Speaking of tacos, my favorite cart is the Sabor Mexicano right outside the subway station. I really like the oreja, and all the quesadillas are pretty big.

    More famous places include the arepas lady (on roosevelt at night around 78th St) and Sripraphai 6413 39th Avenue dunno if that's out of range.

    Mangal Kabob 4620 Queens Boulevard makes a terrific home bread to go with their fresh kabobs, and also has off-the-menu specials every night.

    Of the Filipino places, I'm partial to Renee's Kitchenette 6914 Roosevelt Avenue because it's just a little bit different as it focuses on a specific region.

    In general I find food along the 7 train to be divided into main ethnic regions, with a couple different places thrown in here and there. Starting from the 40s, there's a heavier Turkish area, followed by Romanian in the Skillman/50s area, then Irish in the 60s, Filipino in the late 60s, Indian in the mid 70s, then as you approach the 80s, you head into the Ecuadorian then Colombian areas. So one thing I did was figure out the type of cuisine I wanted, then walk the corresponding area looking for the place most packed with local expats.


  5. Thanks so much Pretender! I'm trying to stay directly under the train, so QB and Roosevelt, but I do tend to wander off a little bit, it's hard not to. I did Mangal already in January, but I do need to go back. I also did Coatzingo a while back, a delivery, but I will do another post there once I get to Jackson Heights. I'm holding off on Filipino until I have a large group together so I can try as much as possible!
    Thank you so much for your advice, I love it, and thanks for reading! I'm going to check out your blog right now.

  6. Sara,

    My blog is not a real food blog, so dunno if there's anything there to get your interest. I was actually walking along the 7 over the weekend and remembered two places you definitely need to try as well.

    Himalayan Yak and Zabb Thai

    Also, I might be moving back to the heart of the 7 train soon, so maybe I can join you sometime in the exploration.


  7. That would be great! Zabb Thai and Himalayan Yak are both coming up soon, and I am looking forward to them both.