Burgers are a subject of great debate no matter where you go in the world, so I’ll give you a quick rundown of the joints that get my votes for the best burgers in New York City here. As with Part One of the NYCC Food Guide posted farther below, this list is of places I have actually eaten at and can recommend. But unlike the list below, these restaurants are not all near the Javits Center. If you want a good burger in New York, you have to be willing to travel a bit.
The one place I think you should try and make it to for what, in my opinion, are the best burgers in New York City is FATTY CRAB on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Fatty Crab is on Broadway between 76th and 77th St., a quick cab ride up from the con center, or take the 1,2, or 3 trains to 72nd St. and walk up a few blocks. Don’t let the look of the place fool you… Yes, Fatty Crab is an Asian fusion restaurant, but chef Zak Pelaccio has added his Asian influences to the burgers here and they are out of this world! The patties are a mix of beef and pork, with a little lard tossed in for good measure, then combined with a secret blend of spices that give these burger a kick unlike anything else in the city. And it’s that uniqueness that gets them my vote for best in NYC. You can make reservations at opentable.com, but if you’re just going for the sliders, I recommend just walking in and sitting at the bar. And while you’re there, don’t miss their Chupacabra cocktail, made with watermelon juice and chili infused liquors! http://fattycrab.com
While we’re talking Upper West Side here, I guess I should bring up SHAKE SHACK next. Many of you who follow the NYC comic or food scenes on Twitter or Facebook probably already know of Shake Shack. The “East Coast In-N-Out Burger”, as some call it. There are now four locations in NYC, the most popular being in Madison Square Park, and if it’s a nice night, I highly recommend you go there. However, I find that the UWS location, right behind the Museum of Natural History on the corner of 77th and Columbus Ave, has much shorter lines and the burgers are just as good. Each location actually has a food item unique to that shop, and you can find a list of all the Shake Shacks here: http://shakeshacknyc.com. The Midtown location will be closet to the con, but I have not eaten at that one yet. And they also have options for vegetarians. (I can’t believe I just said that in a post about burgers!)
You can’t mention the NYC burger scene without mentioning the CORNER BISTRO. A Manhattan institution, I think the Corner Bistro sits atop more “Best of” lists than any other burger joint in history. No nonsense burgers, good beers and a great atmosphere. Located down in the West Village on West 4th and Jane, if you want the quintessential New York burger experience, this is really the place to go. http://cornerbistrony.com
Another old school New York bar that makes a killer burger is the OLD TOWN TAVERN on East 18th St. One of the oldest bars in NYC, the folks here do up an amazing chili cheeseburger! A really fun place to hang out, grab a great, albeit messy, burger and a few pints, and soak in some New York history. http://www.oldtownbar.com
One of the better newer burgers I have had of late was at RARE in the Affinia Hotel on Lexington and 37th on the East Side. They do these steakhouse burgers made from beef ground from actual different cuts of steak that really kick ass! I had Rare’s Ribeye which was absolutely fabulous in its texture and taste. Avengers editor Tom Brevoort let me try his T-Bone Burger, which was equally delectable. Yeah, the burgers are pricey at $21 a pop, but I think their worth the cash. http://www.rarebarandgrill.com
A block down from Rare, on Lexington between 38th and 39th is BLACK SHACK. We eat here a lot as it’s right down the street from the Marvel offices, and I’ve always liked it well enough for the most part, but a few weeks back I had their Western Burger and it knocked my socks off! I usually don’t like BBQ sauce on my burgers, but their house-made blend was the perfect mix of sweet and savory and took the eating experience to another level, especially when combined with the crunch of the crispy onions! http://blackshackburger.com
Another place that get lots of hype but which varies greatly in my experience depending on when you go and what the crowd is like is THE BURGER JOINT in the Parker-Meridian Hotel on 56th St. between 6th and 7th Aves. You walk into the lobby of the hotel, look for the neon burger sign, go behind a red curtain and there you’ll find an old wood-walled burger joint they picked up and moved into the hotel. There are no reservations, it gets crowded and they are cash only. But the burgers are pretty tasty, I will give them that. I find it’s better if you avoid the lunch and dinner rushes and go later, especially as they’re open till midnight. Then you get the burgers and fries at their freshest and can enjoy eating in the classic environment they strive to set up. http://www.parkermeridien.com/eat4.php
My last recommendation on this list s going to be BLT BURGER on 6th Ave., between 11th and 12th Sts. I go for two things: their lamb burger and their shakes. The lamb burger is as succulent as they come and they do a vanilla milkshake with caramel and… Maker’s Mark!! ‘Nuff said, right? http://www.bltburger.com/
Two other places that have been getting all kinds of acclaim for their burgers recently are MINETTA TAVERN, which offers a Black Label Kobe beef burger for $26 that I hear is worth every penny, and LITTLE OWL, whose cheeseburger is supposed to be exceptional. I just haven’t made it to either of these joints yet so can’t give them my personal seal of approval yet.
And as always, I’d love to hear what places you guys recommend, so please post away in the comments section.
Next up: New York Classics…