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Gothamist hit the transportation trifecta while stepping onto the platform from the 7 Train at the 61st Street –Woodside stop. While the subway left the station, a train passed below and a plane passed above. Given that the Subway platform is smack under a LaGuardia arrival flight path, and high above the LIRR tracks, this timing dependant sensation is rivaled only by the horizontal superfecta in Elizabeth New Jersey where the seaport, train tracks, I-95 Interstate and Newark runways run parallel. Actually the low flying planes were a recurring theme as we wound our way around the area north of the 7 line. Around each corner was a new angle and perspective, as planes landed every minute or so with the backdrop changing from residential blocks to light industrial and manufacturing.

Although it is not populated with the restaurant riches of some of its neighbors further down the 7 line, there were some great finds, some known entities and a few gems in the rough. While walking up to Donavan’s (5724 Roosevelt Avenue, 718-429-9339) we began to suspect that the reputation they enjoy for great Burgers might just be hype, mostly due to the giant banner on the outside proclaiming it indeed the home of the Best Burger in New York. Once inside, an environment that is more charming than imagined seems to invite good times and allayed our fears of disaster. Despite the fact that the burger ($6.95) was only very good, and not really worth traveling for, we will go back to grab some beers and a proper dinner one day.

Down on the industrial blocks of the neighborhood, we discovered a couple of places that were taking advantage of the zoning rules and regulations to build nice businesses. Lourdess (58-02 37th Avenue, 718-606-9061), a two-year old Filipino restaurant and supper club that bills itself as having “Exotic Filipino Cuisine” moved to the hood so that they could get a formal cabaret license for dancing not available in the residential area by Roosevelt Avenue. Upon arrival, friends LaLa and Des, Filipinas both, pronounced the room authentically Filipino; personally, it took us back to Bar Mitzvah season in the 80’s due to the rows of tables and a small parquet dance floor. While it was slow the evening of our visit, no dancing or music, we would likely return on a busy night for the potentially fun atmosphere and the delicious food which included Pork Belly with Liver Sauce ($6.99), Bulalo ($7.99), and Chicken Adobo ($6.99).

Just down the road, Sapori D’Ischia (55-15 37th Avenue, 718-446-1500) has utilized the warehouse space they are located in to run a trattoria, a small market and a wholesale Italian food importing business. If the food at the restaurant is as good as the housemade Sausages we picked up during our visit, you will be very pleased with their pastas, pizzas and Secondi selections. Just be prepared to comply with the house rules, such as no substitutions and no cheese served with seafood pastas.

Our obsession with the overhead planes dragged us further off course and we ended up on Broadway, close to the 65th Street stop for the R/V/G. Good thing we strayed, because we came across Spicy Mina (64-23 Broadway, 718-205-2340), the current location of the institution known as Mina. Nearly a celebrity in the world of Chowhound, Mina opened here in 2005, and this incarnation seems to draw both further attention and stir more controversy than her previous locations. We like it, but do your own research on this one, tons of information out there and some very heated opinions.

While waiting for some takeout food from Spicy Mina, we took a stroll and stumbled upon a very odd Halal meat market. Deshi Bazar (64-02 35th Avenue, 718-803-3777) was quite the bizarrely set-up business. Set in the basement below a convenience store, a lone butcher operates with 3 ice chests, a meat saw and a walk-in refrigerator ready to custom fabricate whatever religiously approved meat you want. Gothamist chose some Goat and had it cut up, and then took it to the convenience store to have it rung up.

Back up by Roosevelt Avenue, a wonderful family run Ecuadorian restaurant, appropriately named Braulio’s & Familia (39-08 63rd Street, 718-899-3267), served us a heaping bowl of Fish Ceviche ($8.50) and a tasty fried Empanada with Chicken ($2.00). Ecuadorian empanadas, made with corn dough and deep-fried are much different from the Argentinean style flour dough empanadas we have been generally exposed to in NYC. Gothamist will return soon to try out some of the more entrée-ish dishes.

All in all a fine first foray for this column onto the 7 Train, we look forward to more Filipino food and Thai mainstay Sripraphai at the 69th Street stop in the near future.