Best cheap burgers

Sink your teeth into our top five underrated patties.

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  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Petey's Burger

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Shake Shack

  • Photograph: Nick Solares

    R.U.B. BBQ

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Burger Garage

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Whitmans

Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

Petey's Burger

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Petey’s Burger

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This pristine counter spot serves a burger that you'd expect to find at a California drive-in: Enclosed in waxed paper, the sandwich is overstuffed with iceberg lettuce, vibrantly colored tomatoes, thin slivers of raw onion and melted American cheese. There's also a special sauce akin to Thousand Island dressing that drips all over it. Biting into it elicits an audible squelch and a rush of beefy flavor—you'll want extra napkins for this one. • Single $4.49, double $5.99.

  1. 30-17 30th Ave, (at 31st St)
More info

Shake Shack

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Danny Meyer's wildly popular Madison Square Park permanent food kiosk is mobbed with hour-long lines during the summer; in chilly weather, heat lamps provide the warmth for you to get your burger fix. The iconic ShackBurger tops specially blended beef patties with melted American cheese, leafy lettuce, thick-cut tomato and a proprietary ShackSauce. • Single $4.55, double $7.10.

  1. Madison Square Park, 23rd St, (at Madison Ave)
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R.U.B. BBQ

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Pit master Scott Smith grinds his own beef before smashing it into a skillet, crafting a thin, salty patty, which he places on a buttery bun. Kosher dill pickles, sauteed onions and American cheese balance the meat's steaklike minerality, while remoulade sauce adds an unexpected kick. It's possibly the finest hamburger in the city at any price; that it's available in limited quantities, and only on Mondays from 6 to 9pm, makes it more special. • $7.50.

  1. 208 W 23rd St, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves)
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The Burger Garage

  • Price band: 1/4

This LIC counter joint pays homage to roadside dining with improved fast-food burgers, meticulously built with plump Black Angus patties, fresh toppings (lettuce, pickles, tomato, etc.) and a decadently buttered, toasted Martin's potato roll to replace the usual flimsy bun. In a borough where the LaFrieda takeover has yet to reach critical mass, the star-butcher blend here—a four-ounce mix of chuck, brisket and short rib—is a legitimate draw. But it's the classic preparation (flattop-griddled, draped in junky yellow American cheese) that takes the sandwich to the finish line. No wonder Hamburger America filmmaker George Motz has given Burger Garage the nod as one of his favorite NYC newcomers. • $4.70 and up.

  1. 25-36 Jackson Ave, (between Thompson Ave and 44th Dr)
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Whitmans

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

We fantasize about the satisfying squelch of chomping into a Juicy Lucy—a Minneapolis burger variant cooked with cheese inside the patty rather than on top. If you can't hop a Delta flight to track down the original article, find a locavore spin on the regional specialty at Whitmans. The handsome one-hander boasts prime ingredients, like a proprietary Pat LaFrieda rib blend, a Martin's potato roll and crunchy McClure's pickles, along with an added Southern twang: a gooey pocket of pimento cheese bubbling away in the medium-rare center. • $10.

  1. 406 E 9th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
More info


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