New York City may be home to the World’s Best Restaurant, but amidst all the fancy tasting menus and gourmet, fine-dining restaurants, let’s not forget the little things that make New York City great. The best burgers, for one. And while great burgers (or veggie burgers) can be found at top-notch establishments for upwards of $30, spending your entire food budget on a single burger is totally unnecessary when there are so many great cheap burgers throughout the boroughs!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best cheap eats in NYC
Best cheap burgers in NYC
Danny Meyer's wildly popular burger-flipping empire 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 from Pat LaFreida with melted American cheese, leafy lettuce, thick-cut tomato and a proprietary ShackSauce. $5.55.
New York City’s answer to the East Coast’s lack of In-N-Out burger, these fast-food–style patties come topped with your choice of lettuce, tomato, diced or grilled onion, mushrooms, pickles and jalapeño, all on the house. Served on a warm, buttered potato roll, these burgers prove beefy competition to their West Coast rivals. Single $6, double $9, triple $11.
Simultaneously understated but over-the-top in what a burger should be—juicy patty made of freshly ground Nebraska-sourced beef-shoulder clod, capped with crisp toppings (iceberg lettuce, beefsteak tomato) on a soft bun—this hidden burger joint inside Le Parker Meridien Hotel serves up one of the best bargain burgers in Manhattan, to be topped with cheese and bacon if you’re feeling truly indulgent. $8.96.
This dimly-lit lounge’s fat, broiled beef burgers, hooded in American cheese and crispy bacon, 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 and a heaping plate of shoestring fries should help pass the time while you wait for the main attraction. $10.75.
For the creative burger lover, this DIY-friendly mini-chain allows you to create your own monstrous sandwich, with choice of grass-fed, pasture-raised patties (options include classic beef and more oddball stuff like bison, elk and ostrich), capped with dozens of cooked and raw vegetables and house-made sauces that make each creation completely unique. $10.99.
This diner inside Gotham West Market serves up a simple, truly tasty hamburger that’s difficult to put down—so hold off on those chili queso fries until after you devour the beef patty topped with cheddar, house sauce, lettuce, tomato and dill pickles. Not too greasy but just indulgent enough, this burger hits the spot when you’re craving some elevated fast food. $8.04.
One of New York’s most famous hamburgers is barely a burger at all: Del Posto alum Brooks Headley’s creation is a veggie patty built from fruit and veggie pulp that’s spiced with just enough of a kick to leave you wanting to order a second round before you’ve even finished your first. You won't miss the beef for one second. $6.
We fantasize about the satisfaction of chomping into a Juicy Lucy—a Minneapolis burger variant cooked with cheese inside the patty rather than on top. 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 a gooey pocket of pimento cheese bubbling away in the medium-rare center. $12.
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. $5.25.
A blurs between restaurant and bar, The Commodore in Williamsburg offers some of the city’s best cheap bar eats, served in a seedy venue where folks come to bend an elbow. This beaut has all the components of a stellar burger: Pat LaFreida patty, Martin's potato roll, American cheese and vinegar-showered shredded lettuce. Throw a little paper umbrella on top and you're set. $7.
Step out of Brooklyn and into the Midwest, where this monster of a Juicy Lucy burger oozes heaps of American cheese. Available until 2 a.m. on weekends, you’ll want to chase down this just-greasy-enough, spicy-mayo–slathered eight-ounce beef burger with a pint and a side of fried cheese curds, of course. $10.