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Although the chrome-plated diner only opened in 2013, Harlem Shake, with its devoted local following and classic retro vibe, feels like the kind of neighborhood joint that has been around forever. But though it’s a relative newcomer to the scene, the restaurant is already an institution for smashed burgers, made with a technique that defies convention to produce a burger with a crust char-grilled to the max yet retaining the juiciness of a thicker patty.
The restaurant's standard bearer, the Harlem classic burger with cheese ($6.95), features two loosely packed Pat LaFrieda patties atop a buttered and toasted Martin's potato roll with sweet pickles, onions and iceberg lettuce. It's a perfect rendition of a smashed burger with the thin patties boasting a well-developed, nearly caramelized crust. The Hot Mess ($8.50), goes a step further, topping double patties with pickled hot cherry-pepper-bacon relish and a smoky chipotle mayo. It's a turbo-charged combination that hits every taste bud with a powerfully tangy, spicy bite. Diners can choose from an enviable list of toppings to further customize their orders with anything from jerk sauce to pork rinds.
The restaurant's gluttonous glee extends well beyond burgers. The Sonoran Dog ($5.50) pairs a deep-fried bacon-wrapped hot dog with the same addictive sauce that’s on the Hot Mess—and it's one of the best things on the menu. French fries ($3.25) get special attention, too, with the spuds fried in old-school beef tallow. The ultra-savory spears of jerk fries ($3.95) are topped with an aromatic spice blend that’s sure to delight chili heads with its slow-burning heat. Cool it with one of the restaurant's classic shakes made with organic Blue Marble ice cream. A fitting end to the meal is the signature Harlem Shake ($4.50 small, $6.25 large), with red velvet cake crumbs nestled in a thick, custardy shake.
BY: TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER OMAR TUNGEKAR