Friday, September 30, 2005

Best Burgers in NYC

"Not that good hamburgers can't be found in NYC, but it's just not a hamburger town."
-Jason Kottke

The K-man is wrong (hey, it happens occasionally).

Not only are there great burgers in NYC, this is a burger town. While Chicago is a hot dog town, and Cleveland/Detroit/Milwuakee are bratwurst/sausage towns, this is definitely a burger type of burgh. (That's the dichotomy: Burgers or Dogs).

Because there are so many great restaurants in this city, you don't think of it as a burger town -- but it is. Its also a great steak town, as well as a great Italian / French / Chinese / Sushi / nouvelle / wings / BBQ / Kosher town.  But between Dogs and Burgers, its a Burger town. 

Nuff said.

Here's my list of best Burgers in NYC:

Corner Bistro (My personal favorite)
331 W. Fourth St. (Jane St.)
Manhattan, NY

Peter Luger Steak House (They use the tail of the porterhouse -- outstanding beef)
178 Broadway (Driggs Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY

burger joint at Le Parker Meridien (ask the concierge -- its hidden in the back)
119 W. 56th St. (bet. 6th & 7th Aves.)
Manhattan, NY

J.G. Melon (excellent!)
1291 Third Ave. (74th St.)
Manhattan, NY

Spotted Pig (also excellent -- but no decor and tight quarters)
314 W. 11th St. (Greenwich St.)
Manhattan, NY

McHales Burgers (cheap and huge)
750 Eighth Ave. (46th St.)
Manhattan, NY

Island Burgers (This is a subgroup's favorite  -- but be aware: no fries)
766 Ninth Ave. (bet. 51st & 52nd Sts.)
Manhattan, NY

Prime Grill (high end restaurant, with very good - and reasonably priced -- Burgers)
60 E. 49th St. (bet. Madison & Park Aves.)
Manhattan, NY

Rare Bar & Grill (try the frickle!)
303 Lexington Ave. (37th St.)
Manhattan, NY

Last, I've never been to the new spinout from Luger's -- Ben & Jack's -- but given Lugers great burgers, its gotta be good!

Ben & Jack's Steakhouse 
219 E. 44th St. (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves.)
Manhattan, NY 10017

Since Ben & Jack's is around the corner from my office (Chrysler Building), I'll check it out soon and report back.

But of this entire list, nothing beats the Corner Bistro . . .


UPDATE: September 30, 2005 7:56am
I've kept chains off of the list, hence, no Jackson Hole, Better Burger or Hamburger Heaven; But if I  missed any seriously great burgers, do let me know  and I'll check 'em out, and if found worthy, add them to the list.

Anyone who steers me to a terrific burger joint  I've never been to -- as good as the average on the above list -- gets a free meal there (on me).


UPDATE: October 14, 2005 1:16pm
Some have pointed to GoodBurger as a possible addition to the list. I had lunch at the aptly named GoodBurger today:

The Good:  Flame grilled, nice flavor, juicy.

The Bad: Smallish Burger left me somewhat hungry, the burger itself was undercooked (Rare was on the tartare side), and the french fries were non-descript

Bottom line:  A good, not great burger.



See also:

20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die

Posted at 06:45 AM in Food and Drink | Permalink


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Love the beer at corner bistro!!!

best burger in the city -- you'll be lucky if you get a seat...

Posted by: danny | Sep 30, 2005 1:15:53 PM

I second the nomination of Corner Bistro as the best burger in the city. But maybe I'm biased -- the place is literally 50 yards from my building, so its name is quite apropos.

Posted by: West 12th Street Guy | Sep 30, 2005 1:17:21 PM

OK, I apologize for the vagueness of the following; in person, I could find this place, no problem, but it's been 10 years, and I can't even name the street for certain. But:

I think it's on Broadway between Waverly & 8th, near Shakespeare & Co. (other side of the street). It's got a diner vibe, and may even have a walk-up window on the street. Probably has a name for a name - Joe's or Shirley's or something.

My evidence, of course, is that I recall this place 10 years later. I saw some blues with a buddy from high school, and we wanted a bite before we headed home. Sucker that he was, he got a Quarter Pounder, but I knew I could do better. Bacon bleu burger, maybe 8 bucks, thick & juicy. That rich, fatty flavor in the meat. Man.

Also, there's a Greek place around 77th and Madison that has a similar, great burger, with good crumbled bleu on top.

If I hadn't just eaten lunch,. I'd be off to Tessaro's, the best burgers in Pittsburgh (a burger town, since kielbasa isn't part of the dichotomy).

Posted by: JRoth | Sep 30, 2005 3:15:19 PM

The Bouley Bakery on West Broadway and Duane Street is without question the greatest burger I have ever eaten...Tues to Sat 6-10.30 No Reservations...I look forward to my free meal...

Posted by: chalkie Davies | Sep 30, 2005 3:28:25 PM

J Roth: I think what you are referring to used to be called Silver Spurs -- they've been converted (at least the onbe onb 44th street) into a "Bullys."

The menu has a variety of salads, pastas, etc., but under Burgers, they title the page Silver Spurs and use the old logo.

Posted by: Barry Ritholtz | Oct 1, 2005 8:21:17 AM

The burgers at Veselka, the 24 hour Ukranian diner at Second Avenue and 9th Street in the East Village, are unheralded but superb.

Excellent char-grilled large patty of beef with Amy's Bread sesame bun. And Veselka has some of the best bacon in town, so fans of bacon burgers get an extra treat.

Posted by: Dan Levy | Oct 6, 2005 11:13:24 AM

I think OP means Cozy Soup n Burger.

Posted by: ramstone | Oct 13, 2005 9:02:45 PM

A couple of other suggestions, tried and true by DS himself:

Molly's Pub & Restaurant, Shebeen
287 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-3361
(212) 545-9464 (Fax)
Cross Street: Between 22nd Street and 23rd Street
Directions: 6 at 23rd St

12th Street Bar & Grill
1123 Eighth Ave. at 12th Street
Brooklyn, NY
(F to Seventh Ave.) (718) 965-9526

Posted by: ds | Oct 13, 2005 10:10:56 PM

Roth does mean Cozy Soup and Burger. It has good burgers. And good soup. It's usually packed full, the waiter is brusque, but the burgers are all a burger should be.

Broadway and Astor Place.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 13, 2005 10:18:00 PM

Paul's Palace, in the East Village; corner of St. Marks and 2nd Ave. Excellent burger.

Posted by: Dan Dickinson | Oct 13, 2005 11:10:57 PM

I don't know how you could have left off the Shake Shack, my vote for the best burger in the city right now.

McHales is sadly closing.

Agree on most of the other choices and definitely agree on the fact that NY is a burger town.

Posted by: whatisee | Oct 14, 2005 12:55:53 AM

New York a hamburger town? Um no, no it isn't. Kottke's right. New York's a Deli town. L.A.'s a Burger town and a burrito town.

Posted by: Enin Owt | Oct 14, 2005 1:51:32 AM

Shake Shack, seconded. Though I'm totally in agreement that the Corner Bistro is the best in town.

Posted by: enrevanche | Oct 14, 2005 2:08:17 AM

I suppose it depends on your definition of a good burger. I've eaten the burgers at most of the places on your list and have been underwhelmed... New York burgers tend to be way too thick and often undercooked to the point of being raw in the center. Also it is rare to find them cooked over a flame grill (preferably fueled by mesquite) as god intended. That said, I'm always up for new burger experiences and am always on the lookout for that perfect combination of meat and bread that recalls the great Texas burgers of my youth.

Posted by: raul | Oct 14, 2005 7:20:22 AM

Island Burgers rocks.

Was in NYC from the UK in Feb and made a trip to Ninth street specially, get there early for lunch, it's not that big!

Posted by: Ben | Oct 14, 2005 7:33:35 AM

What about Paul's Place ?
St Marks Place ?
Best in lower manhattan

Posted by: Griff | Oct 14, 2005 9:10:50 AM

Schnack Schnack Schnack Schnack Schnack.

It's in Brooklyn, at Columbia and Union. I read about it last year, visited with my girlfriend, and have continued going back ever since.

Tiny burgers, cheaper than Pop Burger in Manhattan, classier than White Castle. So freakin worth it, I kid you not.

There's a second location at the Brooklyn Lyceum at 4th Avenue and President, but I don't recommend that one.

I guarantee you will enjoy the food.

Posted by: ryan | Oct 14, 2005 12:55:36 PM

I always maintained that Fanelli's on Mercer St had a superior burger to the Corner Bistro. A perfectly cooked medium-rare burger there would send out a geyser of juice on your first bite--and they had better fries. I'm sure things have changed is the 10 years since I've had a burger there, but maybe someone can back me. Williamsburg has 4 outstanding burgers: Lugar's, Relish (sublime fries), Diner (real fries), and the newcomer: Sweetwater tavern (on a buttered english muffin). All better than the C.B.--get over it!

Posted by: david | Oct 14, 2005 1:56:10 PM

Paul's! How did you leave out PAUL's?! Burgers the size of a brontosaurus heart that are so juicy you could eat them with a straw!

Posted by: Fenton | Oct 14, 2005 2:04:53 PM

Heights Cafe -- 84 Montague St., corner of Hicks -- in Brooklyn Heights, while totally under or off the radar, makes one of my favorite burgers. Though, for what it's worth, I find Corner Bistro pretty eh.

Posted by: winnie | Oct 18, 2005 7:14:45 AM

Yet another vote for Paul's Palace. I've been going there every since the place opened in... carry the two... 1988? Is that when it opened? Back when it was just Paul on the grill and Robin waiting tables...

When was the last time you had a really good burger? No I mean a really good burger.

Posted by: Glenn Hauman | Oct 19, 2005 3:13:42 PM

My favorite burgers in New York are at Café Loup (13th Street West of Sixth Avenue). All the burgers here are lovingly made by hand, unlike the frozen ones elsewhere in town. Also check out the Broome St. Bar at Broome and West Broadway, for a Seventies flashback. They serve their burgers in a pita. Best value in Soho!

Posted by: Monica Gagnier | Oct 26, 2005 1:24:45 PM

Well some of this depends on how you like your burger done. That being said I truly think that JG Melon is overrated. Jackson Hole which is just down the street (here on second avenue) is absolutely better.

I am not saying Jackson Hole is the best either just saying J.G. while good isn't really even the best on 2nd avenue.


Posted by: Pete | Nov 2, 2005 6:11:14 PM

A friend from Arizona likened the burgers at Shake Shack to those of In-and-Out Burger.

Posted by: L'Emmerdeur | Nov 3, 2005 2:02:16 PM

for good vegetarian food visit the candle cafe at 3rd and 75th or it's upscale cousin at 79th just east of lex

Posted by: jjj | Nov 10, 2005 12:02:12 PM

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