Lobster guacamole at Lucharitos.

Lobster guacamole at Lucharitos. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Time was, a lot of us spent our days along Route 110, but since the start of the pandemic, this most populous work corridor on Long Island has largely emptied out. The exodus has also thinned the crowds at the area’s restaurants, making it easier to score a table at one of these worthy establishments:

Bijou (400 Broadhollow Rd., Melville) opened at the end of 2021, the newest of three Anthony Scotto restaurants in Melville. It’s a plush, congenial space that sprawls over bar, lounge, dining room and hedge-sheltered patio. The menu has been revamped by chef Cesar Aguilar, formerly of Restaurant X in Port Washington, who took over the kitchen in May. He’s kept the original high-end East-meets-West theme, but leans harder into Japan. Cases in point: The starters “A5 of the sea,” four luxuriant tidbits of otoro (fatty tuna) garnished with caviar and truffled soy, or truffled pork-chive gyoza floating in a bone-marrow broth. There’s lots of sushi, four Wagyu steaks, a Kurobuta pork chop, roast duck breast with umeboshi (plum) relish and mango-foie gras dumplings, and miso black cod, here served with baby bok choy. More info: 631-755-5777, bijou110.com

Lucharitos (872 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville) was another 2021 opening, the westernmost location of Marc LaMaina’s rollicking taqueria-tequila bar chain. The menu is very similar to the Greenport original with such starters as fried "Mexican ribs," lobster guacamole and bacon-cream cheese jalapeño poppers. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas and bowls feature fillings that range from traditional (carne asada beef, pork carnitas, adobo chicken) to creative (pulled barbecued pork, grilled local duck, coconut shrimp). At 80 seats (plus more outside), the dining room is an exuberant blend of tile work — herringboned turquoise subway tiles on the wall, graphic black and white on the bar — plus a tropical mural and, of course, paintings and prints of luchadores, the extravagantly outfitted Mexican wrestlers who are the chain’s namesake. More info: 631-421-2317, lucharitos.com

Masalah Grill (195 Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station) might look like a nondescript Indian takeout spot but, since 2015, this eatery across from Walt Whitman Shops has been a standard-bearer for South Asian cuisine on Long island. Aromatic rice biryanis come studded with fall-off-the-bone chicken. Tender hunks of bone-in goat arrive bobbing in creamy korma, a complex curry of coconut milk, cashews and almonds. Fragrant vegetables — spinach, eggplant, cauliflower — are a wonderful complement to the meat-centric menu. If you can, take a seat in the small but comfortable dining room, the better to appreciate the food fresh from the kitchen. Last year, Ghana and Mohammad Taqi bought the restaurant from Farzana Sohail and also  added some Western items to the menu (chicken-tikka pizza, cheeseburger). More info: 631-271-1700, ggsmasalahgrill.com

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