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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Nebraskas Steak House down on Stone St. There's nothing on tap. The bottles are expensive. The bartenders are hot. The burger is excellent. I'd say in the top five in the city. And it's about the only thing half affordable on the menu.

Posted by: T-Bird | Nov 10, 2005 5:34:32 PM

New York's definitely a burger town, given how many locations are mentioned to find the best burger...
I'll throw in another one, which I'd always prefer to Corner Bistro (yes, I said it):
[b]Big Nick's Burger and Pizza Joint[/b]
2175 Broadway, betw. 76th and 77th St, 24hrs
They have big, juicy, deliciously flame broiled paddies; also, what I believe to be the biggest burger in town, called the Sumo burger (1 pound of meat). Also, the atmosphere inside is NY at its realest. ;-)

Posted by: sammysoul | Nov 12, 2005 12:14:52 PM

love the list.... but where is chumleys, pj clarke's, and the old town bar and grill?

Posted by: robert | Nov 17, 2005 12:44:12 AM

Old Town !

fun place

I used to live around the corner from there -- great bar -- it was in the opening of the old Letterman show

I recall the burgers were good (the fries were great) -- but I haven't had 'em in years

Have to go back and revisit them

Posted by: Barry Ritholtz | Nov 17, 2005 8:18:21 AM

I think Kottke may be right for the most part. When I am in New York I usually order anything other than a burger.

However, while it may not be the best city for burgers in general, New york still has the BEST burger overall.

It is not a traditional hamburger, but the most incredible burger creation is at Bistro Moderne (west 44th).

Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short Ribs, Foie Gras and Black Truffles Served on a Parmesan Bun with Pommes Frites"

Better than anything in Los Angeles.

Posted by: Tony Rennert | Jan 30, 2006 11:11:49 AM

One of my favorites is/was Westville. They are somewhere in the W.Village, but they used to have a location on E.14th Street, just around the corner from me. In a cruel irony of fate, Westville closed the E 14th store and a vegetarian restaurant opened in its place. Why do they call it vegetarian when nearly every entree is made from soy, which isn't a vegetable and barely even qualifies as a food?

Posted by: Gary Johnson | Feb 1, 2006 4:20:48 PM

Don't forget about Burger Heaven!

Posted by: Dan Weber | Feb 3, 2006 9:37:12 PM

Don't forget about Burger Heaven!

Posted by: Dan Weber | Feb 3, 2006 9:37:14 PM

Boston, not New York, is the burger town.
Why? Flame grilled is the rule! In New York it's the exception. The result: New York is peppered with mediocre burger joints like Jackson Hole.

Posted by: Sal | Feb 15, 2006 5:37:46 PM

> Its also a great steak town, as well as a great
> Italian / French / Chinese / Sushi / nouvelle / wings / BBQ / Kosher town.

I always thought it was a great Pizza town!

Posted by: Wallace | Feb 23, 2006 11:35:49 AM

Have you tried Donovan's in Queens?
They were voted #1 out of 100 Burgers by Tiime out NY a couple years ago. It is definitely worth checking out.

Posted by: MW | Mar 20, 2006 5:25:38 PM

As an ex-resident, I'd say the pizza and the Caribbean foods are the best, the other categories you mentioned are all pretty good with some definite caveats.

Except Chinese food. The Chinese food in NYC is god-awful. Don't get me started. There's a few places in Chinatown that are OK but even the well-regarded Chinese food in NYC is basically slop aimed at people who don't know any better, and yes that does include places with a Chinese clientel. Having also lived in China and California, I think I have some perspective on this.

Posted by: Jeff | Mar 22, 2006 3:06:02 AM

Lucky Burger corner of 5th st and A...Tiny shack...stand up and have a cheap backyard style burger...and you can get one at 4 am (maybe 5 on the weekends)

Posted by: Dan | Mar 27, 2006 8:05:48 PM

I hate to say it, but the Corner Bistro has gone steadily downhill over the past 3 years. I used to swear by it, but now they are bland and often cooked incorrectly. Even my die hard friends who have eaten there for years agree.

Posted by: Scott | Mar 28, 2006 2:15:08 PM

Blue Smoke on 27th between Lex and Park is known for its barbeque, but its burgers are far better than Corner Bistro. (I like some tase to go with juciness).

Posted by: Dennis | Apr 1, 2006 10:49:55 AM

Agreed that the bistro burger is the best. But for something a little different, try the bison burger at the Westside Brewing Co on Amsterdam and 76th. (comes served on an english muffin)

Posted by: Mike | Apr 10, 2006 5:14:13 PM

Need to back up the nom for Cafe Fanelli. The onion roll w/ the perfectly cooked burger makes it as good as it gets. Been weening myself off Corner Bistro the past few years after some disappointed. Also, can't leave Shake Shack off this during Spring/Summer season!

Posted by: Brian | Apr 22, 2006 9:14:44 PM

Sorry but Shake Shack in Madison Square Park deserves to be in the Top 5... I think it got slighted here b/c it is not located indoors or open year round.

There was a line of over 80-90 people waiting for a burger when this place after this placed opened up in March.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 27, 2006 11:53:22 AM

Joe, is there a taste of publicity in yr advice?

Posted by: Amateur | Apr 27, 2006 4:43:51 PM

OK, it's time to tamp down the myth of the shake shack burger. Long lines are simply a sign of the lemming effect. Lemming like lines. But it says nothing about the actual product; cf. Connecticut Muffin.

The SS Burger is decidedly average.

Posted by: Ramstone | May 4, 2006 4:49:51 PM

Dude, c'mon. Paul's. I mean ... a burger should not have some kind of funky roll. It should be a HAMBURGER ROLL. No weird sauce, or any of that. A burger is greasy with gooey cheese and is that perfectly medium rare plus.

Paul's. Say it with me ... Paul's.

Posted by: Brian | May 30, 2006 11:40:01 PM

Any reviews of Ben & Jack's burger yet?

Posted by: Phill | Jun 12, 2006 7:02:35 PM

P.J Clarke's should definitely get a mention. Not only are the burgers great but the french fries are better than mickey d's......and the shake shack is worth a try, the east coast version of in-and-out

Posted by: nick | Jun 24, 2006 7:27:41 AM

Let me join the chorus for Paul's.
I assume it's not on your list because you've never been there.
Go immediately or be square.
Shack is good too.
I've never tried the Corner Bistro despite walking by a zillion times.
I will go soon.

Posted by: Bill | Jul 5, 2006 5:53:28 PM

The most exceptionally delicious burger in NYC is at Wollensky's Grill, located on the 49th Street side of the famous restaurant. Try it. You'll love it.

Posted by: Mary | Jul 20, 2006 10:03:49 AM

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