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The best burgers in NYC

From classic cheeseburgers and smashed stacks to unconventional favorites, these are the best burgers in NYC

Peter Luger burger
Photograph: Courtesy Peter Luger
By Bao Ong, Emma Orlow and Time Out contributors |

Like debates over where you can find the best bagels and pizza in NYC; picking the best burger is just as difficult. But someone has to do the hard work, and we take our patties very seriously, so prepare yourselves for our bucket list of burgers you can start eating your way through. We've got late-night diners, BBQ restaurants and NYC steakhouses all on the list with creations spanning from simple and cheeseless to towering with toppings (even one of the best veggie burgers made the cut). Take a gander at our selection of the best burgers in NYC and see if your favorites made the list.

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Best burgers in New York

The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Restaurants, French

Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

Yes, it’s really 33 bucks, and yes, it’s cheeseless. But it's still our favorite, what with nine succulent ounces of prime-grade, dry-aged rib eye, skirt steak and brisket from carne king Pat LaFrieda to distract you. If that’s not enough, the caramelized-to-a-melt onions and seeded Balthazar brioche should seal the deal. 

The cheeseburger at JG Melon
Photograph: Michael Rudin
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Cheeseburger at J.G. Melon

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

It’s an oldie but def a goody: The corner tavern has been flipping some of the best burgers in town since 1972. Griddled diner-style on a flattop, the eight-ounce, medium-rare beaut is served open-faced with melted American cheese on a lightly toasted bun with the classic fixings.

Battle of the Burger 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Cinzia Reale-Castello
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Cheeseburger at Burger Joint

icon-location-pin Midtown West

This tiny, hidden spot in the posh Parker Meridien is a perfectly re-created burger emporium circa 1972, down to vinyl booths and iconic ingredients, such as Heinz ketchup and Arnold’s buns. The burgers are not only juicy with the perfect degree of char, but they're one of the most afforable options in the city. 

Emmy Burger Emily Pizza
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Rachael F.
Restaurants, Pizza

The Emmy Burger at Emily Pizza

icon-location-pin Clinton Hill

Though it’s a stellar pizza joint, the best thing on the menu may just be the burger. Made with a dry-aged beef patty on a pretzel bun with caramelized onions, cheddar and a heavenly concoction called Emmy sauce, this burger deserves all the hype, and then some. 

Photograph: Noah Fecks

Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors - Time Out Market

icon-location-pin DUMBO

If there’s such a thing as a celebrity butcher, Pat LaFrieda, whose name is on more great menus than Benedict and his eggs, is it. From the vaunted Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern to the Shake Shack patties, the local purveyor rules the country as the undisputed king of meat. Chefs, butchers and customers alike get their red-meat fix with a mouth-watering array of premium prime cuts. At our Dumbo market, the Brooklyn native will be serving his own signature selections of meat featured in perfectly cooked burgers.

Restaurants, American

Cheeseburger at Au Cheval

icon-location-pin Chinatown

Au Cheval’s burger is often cited as the best burger in the country, so it’s no surprise the long lines have followed this Chicago favorite to New York since opening in March 2019. Another thing hasn’t changed: the cheeseburger (two patties for a single and three in a double) is still as decadent as ever. All the accoutrements, from a runny egg and thick-cut bacon to the stiff cocktails and crispy potato hash, are necessary to fully experience this “it” burger.

21 Burger at 21 Club
Photograph: Courtesy ‘21’ Club
Restaurants, American

‘21’ Burger at 21 Club

icon-location-pin Midtown West

The 21 Club may seem a little stuffy with a dress code requiring men wear jackets or the dated decor of miniature planes and sports memorabilia hanging from the ceiling but it's sure worth going for the ‘21’ Burger: A massive, perfectly-cooked patty is served in a fluffy brioche bun with pickled relish and fries.

Superiority Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Emily Andrews
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Superiority Burger at Superiority Burger

icon-location-pin East Village

In a white-tiled slip of an East Village eatery, former James Beard Award-winning Del Posto pastry great Brooks Headley has created a home for the best veggie burger in the city. The nut-and-grain-laden patty packs a punch of umami flavor only hightened by the toppers of muenster cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato and pickles. 

Emmy Squared
Photograph: Courtesy/Yelp/Jeff L.
Restaurants, Pizza

Le Big Matt at Emmy Squared

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

Matt and Emily Hyland managed to follow up their Emmy Burger with another noteworthy creation, this time at their Detroit-style pizza spot in Williamsburg. Le Big Matt takes a double-stack of Pat Lafrieda beef patties and tops it with American cheese, greens and pickles. It gives you those nostalgic fast food-vibes, but classed-up (especially with the side serving of waffle fries).

Shake Shack
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Double ShackBurger at Shake Shack

icon-location-pin Flatiron

Debuting as a Madison Square Park hot-dog cart in 2004, Shake Shack has evolved into an internation burger powerhouse. Thin patties of a proprietary Pat LaFrieda blend (brisket, chuck and short rib) are shellacked with tangy ShackSauce and American cheese before getting nestled in a griddled potato bun for a classed-up classic.

Peter Luger
Photograph: Courtesy Peter Luger
Restaurants, Steakhouse

Luger Burger at Peter Luger

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

A steakhouse landmark, Peter Luger knows as thing or two about beef. So it's no surprise that they make a killer burger, stacking over 1/2-pound of beef on a bun. While you can add American cheese or a thick slice of bacon, we're perfectly happy with keeping it simple, especiall when it tastes so good. 

The Classic at Donovan's Pub
Photograph: Michael Rudin
Restaurants, Hamburgers

The Classic Cheeseburger at Donovan’s Pub

icon-location-pin Woodside

Classic is right. Both this Irish-accented corner bar and its burger have been Queens fixtures since 1966, and the sandwich is as refreshingly no-fuss as the rest of the wood-paneled joint. The charbroiled half-pounder is humbly topped with lettuce and tomato. All that's missing is a pint of Guinness. 

4 Charles Prime Rib
Photograph: Courtesy/Yelp/Ken S.
Restaurants, Steakhouse

American Cheeseburger at 4 Charles Prime Rib

icon-location-pin West Village

The NYC-counterpart to the Chicago's famous Au Cheval, 4 Charles Prime Rib offers a near replica of the widely acclaimed burger without a trip to the Windy City. The griddle-smashed patties are crowned with plastic-wrap American cheese and the option to stack on a fried egg or slabs of maple-glazed bacon.

Union Square Cafe Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Liz Clayman
Restaurants, American

USC Burger at Union Square Cafe

icon-location-pin Gramercy

While Union Square Cafe has gone through a reboot, luckily their burger has not. A juicy blend of shortrib and brisket is cooked to a perfect medium-rare and covered in cheddar and bacon. With a balance of smoke, tang and, well, beefiness, this burger is clear choice for your next power lunch.

Upland Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mike H.
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Upland Cheeseburger at Upland

icon-location-pin Flatiron

In true West Coast fashion, this burger from Justin Smillie's California-inspired restaurant brings a breathe of freshness unlike any other burger on this list. Topped with peppadew peppers, avocado and American cheese, the burger gets accented with tang from the peppers and richness from the avocados. It's only on the lunch menu, so eat more midday burgers.

Pig Beach
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Restaurants, Barbecue

The Double Briggie from Pig Beach

icon-location-pin Gowanus

There is rarely a wrong time to add pork to a burger as demonstrated by the many bacon-topped beauties on this list. BBQ giant Pig Beach takes it one step further by adding a pile of pulled pork to the white American cheese-topped patties. It's a delicious case of the meat sweats waiting to happen.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tereza S.
Bars, Cocktail bars

The L.I. Burger at The Long Island Bar

icon-location-pin Cobble Hill

At this Cobble Hill bar, you'll come for the drinks and stay for the burger (or maybe it's the other way around). Either way, just be sure to order this two-patty stack coated in housemade American cheese and fancy sauce, the high-society cousin of special sauce.

P.J. Clarke's Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/P.J. Clarke's
Restaurants, American

The Cadillac Burger at PJ Clarke’s

icon-location-pin Midtown East

This 120-year-old celebrated saloon is still consistenly cranking out honest and juicy hamburgers. As it's name implies, The "Cadillac" will satify your taste for greasy cheeseburgers and luxury all at the same time. Capped with double smoked country bacon, onion and American cheese, it's a New York classic we're still behind.

Happiest Burger at Happiest Hour
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lorelei D.
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Happiest Burger from The Happiest Hour

icon-location-pin West Village

While we don't have an In-N-Out on the East Coast, we do have the Happiest Hour to satisfy our animal-style cravings. This double-patty creation has the classic toppers, plus confit onions and a Russian dressing-style special sauce for an elavated version of fast-food bliss.

5 Napkin Burger
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Original 5 Napkin Burger at 5 Napkin Burger

icon-location-pin Astoria

Gooey Gruyère imported from Switzerland and slow-cooked, caramelized onions blanket this namesake ten-ounce heavyweight, whose soft roll is slathered in rosemary aioli. With all the comfort and warmth of a piping hot bowl of French onion soup, this hulking number requires both hands to devour and a few (or five) napkins.

NoMad Bar Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Patrick Michael Chin
Bars, Hotel bars

Dry-Aged Beef Burger at The NoMad Bar

icon-location-pin Flatiron

Let's be real, after a couple of fancy cocktails, you're going to need something to soak up the booze. Luckily, just like everything else coming out of The NoMad Bar, their burger is pure bliss. The magic comes from a blend of dry-aged beef chuck with suet and bone marrow for peak beef flavor and richness.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sara L.
Restaurants, Israeli

Folded Cheeseburger in a Pita at Miznon

icon-location-pin Chelsea

What is an Israeli pita shop doing on this list? Well, in addition to the Middle Eastern classics, Miznon offers up their version of a cheeseburger, cleany wrapped up in a pita (perfect for fellow messy burger eaters). The addition of tahini will blow your mind as the burger condiment you never knew you needed. 

db Bistro Moderne Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/db Bistro Moderne
Restaurants, French

The Original DB Burger at db Bistro Moderne

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Leave it to Daniel Boulud to create a comically decadent burger. We're talking about this monster comprised of ground sirloin stuffed with red-wine-braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle shavings. The funniest part is that, while over-the-top, all these fancy French trimmings blend together flawlessly.

Photo: Courtesy Yelp/Wojcieck P.
Bars, Sports Bars

The 1887 Burger at Teddy’s

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

A nod to the bar's openning year, the 1887 burger is mouthwatering test to your arteries. A 10-ounce patty is not only wrapped in bacon, but also stuffed with cheddar for a porky spin on the classic Juicy Lucy. Finished off with BBQ-glazed red onions and garlic aioli, this mammoth of a burger has our name on it. 

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Julie M.

The Prime Meats Burger at Prime Meats

icon-location-pin Carroll Gardens

There's only a five-ounce patty on this vision of a burger, but it's still a flavor powerhouse. That is due to the attention to detail for each component, including fermented pickles and a homemade sesame seed bun. You have the option of adding cheese or bacon, so build your own adventure.

Bistro Burger and Fries at Corner Bistro
Photograph: Melissa Sinclair
Restaurants, Hamburgers

The Bistro Burger at Corner Bistro

icon-location-pin West Village

New Yorkers have been sinking their teeth into this half-pound favorite for nearly five decades, and its popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down. New England sirloin, chuck and top round are patted into a hefty puck, broiled and hooded in American cheese, sliced tomato, iceberg lettuce and tangles of deep-fried bacon. $12.75.

The Loyal
Photograph: Courtesy The Loyal
Restaurants, American

Piedmontese Burger at The Loyal

icon-location-pin West Village

Instead of the standard limp slice of tomato on most burgers, the star of this opus is a 22-step plum tomato. What does that mean? Well, nobody really knows, but the result is a sweet pillow of concentrated tomato flavor to take this comté-coated burger to the next level.

Fedora Burger ($10) - smoked cheddar, crispy potatoes, cucumbers
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Fedora Burger at Bar Sardine

icon-location-pin West Village

When we're looking for a burger, we're looking for the perfect harmony of flavors and textures to blend together and sing. That's just what the Fedora burger does, balancing the savory notes of the patty with smoked cheddar and BBQ mayo for smokey and sweet highlights. Add the shoestring fries nestled under the bun and you've got yourself a symphony.

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