South Eastern Avenue is the eye of a hurricane this week.
At Five Guys Burgers and Fries (10271 S. Eastern Ave.), the lines have been long. People can’t get enough burgers, or so it seems.
President Obama is a fan of this Virginia-based chain, which is planning three more locations in the Valley. In 25 years, the company has grown to more than 800 locations nationally. The basic burger is $5, with more than a dozen toppings to choose from (though bacon and cheese will cost you extra).
If you like your burger “juicy and well-done” (a neat trick), this is the place for you. As for me, the main menu item is just another random version of a well-trodden institution, and, since you asked, I prefer my burger medium-rare. I would come back for the Cajun-spiced fries, though.
Farther up the street, the popular-and glam Brazilian chef Carla Pellegrino, late of Rao’s, has opened Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina (10740 S. Eastern Ave., 454-0104).
The name is meant to tell us the restaurant has a Brazil-Italy connection, but for now, the bi-culturalism is on hold; the menu is only Italian for the moment. Pellegrino is cooking with gas: terrific linguine al ragu, good and hearty pasta e fagioli soup made with Borlotti beans, and naturally, polpette, the meatballs that made Rao’s famous.
The restaurant is decorated with lingerie hanging from the ceiling, like the laundry that hangs out apartment windows in Naples, and the room is painted in soft pastels. Pellegrino says she’ll offer dishes from Brazil at a weekend brunch, after things settle down.
Julie Anne Hession, who had a gourmet specialty foods store on this same stretch of Eastern Avenue, has turned her energy to making granola full time. You can buy her terrific products, including Tropical Bliss, Berry Yummy PB & J, Sweet Citrus (the one that started it all) and seven other flavors, at Whole Foods Markets and at JulieAnnes.com.
Finally, we’re back to burgers—what else? Burger-lust overcame me and I hit Slidin’ Thru HQ, the “brick and mortar” location of the popular food truck that recently landed at Paradise Poker Club at 955 Grier Drive near Paradise Road. This array of little burgers costs $3 for one, $5 for two and $7 for three. My favorite was the Captain’s Order, a slider stocked with Roma tomato, arugula, crisp bacon, feta cheese, sautéed onions and a balsamic vinegar reduction, but the mystery burger, which will be different every day you visit, was pretty awesome as well. I guess I’m just burger-mad myself.