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The best cheap burgers

Sink your teeth into our top affordable patties

Photograph: Alex Strada
Whitmans

The Burger Garage

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.

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Long Island City

Corner Bistro

Critics' pick

This dimly-lit lounge’s fat, broiled beef burgers, hooded in American cheese and crispy bacon ($9.75), are legendary and New Yorkers are known to wait in line for one. Though it make take a while to get your hands on the patties, dirt cheap drafts like McSorley’s Ale ($3) and Stella Artois ($4.25), and a heaping plate of shoestring fries ($2.75) should help pass the time.

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West Village

Hamilton's

On a cramped West Village corner sits this ode to 1940s New York, a white-walled luncheonette where cloth-capped soda jerks dole out milkshakes, lime rickeys and phosphates alongside greasy-good double-decker burgers ($7.50) and crispy salt-and-pepper fries ($3). The retro-style minidiner also serves a slew of hearty meat-and-potato platters so you can gorge on turkey and gravy, corned beef and cabbage, or fish and chips for dinner under $12. Generously scooped sundaes ($8) are decked out with Georgia peaches, caramel and bananas, splitting  easily among a small group of friends—and their wallet.

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West Village

Petey’s Burger

Critics' pick

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.

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Astoria

Shake Shack

Critics' pick

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 $4.95, double $7.65.

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Flatiron

Whitmans

Critics' pick

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. • $11.

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East Village

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