What It Is:
Like its burger, the lyrically named Sweet Afton oozes both tradition (it’s an Irish style pub, after all) and progress, much like the neighborhood of Astoria where this gastropub and its part-owner, Ruairi Curtin, dwell. The progress part: In the year since it opened, Sweet Afton has quickly materialized into an unpretentious bar and restaurant dedicated to the quintessential locavore. The beef in the burger is from LaFrieda, while the Dirty Pickle Martini is their signature cocktail and also their number one seller, its unique flavor derived from McClure’s Pickles, a family-run production based out of a Brooklyn basement. Each batch of pickles comes with its own unique spicing, the result of which is a deliciously inconsistent drink. If pickle brine sounds less than palatable, try the Red Lemonade, made from citrus vodka, simple syrup, lemon and cranberry. The subsequent sugar kick, Curtin insists, “will wire you to the moon.” Of course they also have Kelso Nut Brown Lager on their beer list, so if you go there for the burger tonight, you’re can get extra Eat Drink Local bonus points for trying the third ingredient of the day, local brown ales and lagers.
Why We Love It:
It’s the quality of ingredients that refines Sweet Afton’s no-frills burger, as well as their mac and cheese topped with a molten crust of Irish Cheddar, Muenster and Gruyere, and their increasingly popular beer-battered fried pickles: More than 20 gallons sold each week! Owner Ruairi Curtin stocks his kitchen with regional cheeses from Murray’s on the Lower East Side and the finest meats from the West Village’s renowned beef purveyor, Pat LaFrieda. Sweet Afton’s high standards transcend the plates alone, distinguishing the creative cocktails, some of which are concocted from citrus and tealeaf-infused vodkas made on-premise. Also on tap is a rotating selection of carefully chosen local brews, so throw back one (or two, or three) from the current kegs, including Kelso’s of Brooklyn or a Red Wagon IPA from Fire Island.
Where to Find It:
Curtin opened Sweet Afton in Astoria because he craved a local bar around the corner from his home — a place to hang his hat. Stop in and hang yours at 30-09 34th Street, between 30th and 31st Avenues in Astoria; 718.777.2570.