A Hamburger Today
Hangover Helper: Burek at Djerdan in Astoria, Queens
After an evening of too much London gin, Scotch whisky, and French bubbly, I start yearning for the comforts of home. That home, culinarily speaking, is Eastern Europe, a region rich in hearty flavors and nourishing foods, none the least of which are burek, flaky hand pies with savory fillings.
You could spend months of hungover mornings sampling the burek offerings of Queens, which hail from Turkey, the Balkans, and beyond, but Djerdan's should be on your short list. Their traditional Bosnian burek are made with yufka, a flatbread of Turkish extraction layered like phyllo but with more satisfying heft. Your choice of fillings—meat and potato, spinach and farmer's cheese, or farmer's cheese alone—are pleasantly direct, unmarred by dalliances that would overwhelm the crackly crisp pastry.
Djerdan's burkek can be ordered by the slice, in long sticks, or in spiral rolls, all for about $5 each and all hefty enough to conquer the strongest appetites. Slices and rolls offer a higher ratio of filling to crust, but sticks have an unmatched crispy exterior (check that air bubble!).
No matter what form you get, be sure to ask for the garlic yogurt sauce or the cucumber yogurt salad, bolstered with sour cream. Sure, it's a salad in only the loosest sense of the word, with slivers of cucumber swimming in dairy, but best not to worry about such trifles.
If you have any Eastern European in you, eating at Djerdan is like a cozy visit home. The charm of dining alongside chatty Bosnians in tracksuits to the tune of Eurovision techno is hard to beat. Sure, you can find these excellent burek at their other branches on the Lower East Side, in Midtown West, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, but I can't guarantee the tracksuits.