The cat’s out of the bag for Marc Forgione’s off-menu burger: Every day, the Tribeca steakhouse tweets out the day’s availability of burgers—sometimes 10, a dozen if the team’s feeling generous. (It’s first come, first served and only available at the bar.) You’ll understand what all the fuss is about when you nab one, with a melt-upon-contact beef blend loaded on a house-made bun with beer cheese and caramelized onions.
The mostly humble niche eateries—whether it’s ChikaLicious Puddin’ or the dueling mac-and-cheese emporiums—have got haute company. With Bar Boulud, the formidable Daniel Boulud tackles meatier French fare like terrines, bistro standards (coq au vin, blood sausage) and a Francophilic burger crowned with pork-belly confit and raclette.
The menu at this chain's flagship centers on an intensely juicy burger, a custom mixture from Pat LaFrieda served on a soft, simple bun. Other offerings include hot dogs, chicken wings, onion rings, milkshakes and crispy veggie fries. The no-frills space offers refuge to local workers and tourists alike, with a bar area resembling an old-school pub lined with local paintings.
This East Village hole-in-the-wall serves fine budget burgers, griddled to order by a grease-splattered cook. The house-special Iron Horse burger—two patties with grilled onion and strong horseradish cheddar—is a delicious, sinus-clearing concoction. It goes awfully well with a side of extra-crispy onion rings and a thick chocolate shake, blended behind the bar by the waiter (who is also the bartender and host).
Michelin-starred chef Joe Isidori (Chalk Point Kitchen, Las Vegas's DJT) grills hefty sandwiches, like a chorizo burger with pico de gallo and a blue-cheese–topped steak au poivre, at this low-key patty joint.
The Rock’s proximity to Madison Square Garden isn’t the only reason to visit this bar: There’s a sizable selection of tap and bottled beers and enough TVs to keep you abreast of the action. Elbowroom is plentiful most nights (unless the Knicks or Rangers are hosting a team worth watching), and the burger is no-frills and respectable.
This cheery hole-in-the-wall is the Bruce Springsteen of burger stops—a no-fuss nod to the greasy-spoon glory days of roadside diners. The Flat Top burger—griddle-pressed à la In-N-Out—is swaddled in a squishy Martin’s potato roll with gooey American cheese, lettuce, tomato, chopped onion, pickles and mayo-based special sauce. Split-and-seared beef franks get a zippy lift from tangy kraut; shoestring fries are salty and crisp; and thick milk shakes are hand-spun.
Celebutoque Bobby Flay (Gato, Mesa Grill) is behind this regional American chain, with a location inside New York’s Roosevelt Field shopping mall. Here, diners can choose their burger base—certified Angus beef, ground turkey or whole chicken breast—and toppings, with options like Philly-style provolone and grilled onions, or a West Coast-repping version with avocado relish and watercress. Make it “crunchified” with crispy potato chips on top.
The third project from restaurant savant Ken Friedman and Anglo chef April Bloomfield offers the most opulently fatty food in New York—served in medieval portions in a raucous rock-and-roll setting. Here, as at the Spotted Pig, the burger is the most frugal main course—which only partly explains its popularity. A puck of lamb, gorgeously charred and deftly spiced, is a delectable handful, layered with feta and cumin mayo inside a pliant bun. The thick golden “chips” served with it are fried three times, until they’re crunchy on the outside and like mashed potatoes within.
New York City chefs are caught in a comfort-food holding pattern—what’s a restaurant these days without a porkcentric menu, fried-chicken specials and classic cocktails? In this era of culinary regression, unassuming Brindle Room offers something audacious: well-executed international fare that’s mature and refined without being stuffy. The team has compiled an equally disciplined menu, featuring a list of “spreads," small plates and entrees that include a burger boasting pedigreed meat (dry-aged and deckle trimming).
Restaurateur John McDonald and chef Josh Capon, the pair behind Lure Fishbar, shift their focus from surf to turf at this gastropub. Capon's signature burger is on the menu here—a combination of a ground beef patty topped with American cheese, caramelized onions and bacon jam. There's also a simpler "Classic" cheeseburger, crowned with American cheese and pickles. Regardless of the toppings, it's Capon’s proprietary LaFrieda beef blend that stands out; the patties are fattened with marbled flat-iron steak mixed in with chuck and short rib.
Kitsch and chichi mingle at this tiny, hidden spot in the posh Parker Meridien. It’s a perfectly re-created burger emporium circa 1972, down to the “wood” paneling, vinyl booths and iconic ingredients, such as Heinz ketchup and Arnold’s buns. The burgers are picture-perfect, too—juicy and flavorful with the perfect degree of char. Get “the works,” with tomato, lettuce, pickle, mayo and red onion. The fries are only fair, but milk shakes are thick and good.
This 1900s-inspired den churns out American fare (tomato-cheddar pie, brick chicken), with dry-aged burgers dominating the food menu, from traditional hamburgers and cheeseburgers to a house creation loaded with bacon-onion jam, aged cheddar and arugula on toasted brioche.
British chef Jason Atherton focuses on no-fuss tavern fare done well at the Clocktower, his handsome, mahogany-trimmed partnership with Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr inside the New York Edition Hotel. There’s no toad-in-the-hole Anglicism on the menu (only imported Dover sole and upmarket fish-and-chips tip to the chef’s English heritage), but there’s a beautifully seasoned, ruby-centered skirt steak with triple-cooked chips and a gravy boat of thick béarnaise ($33), and a duteously funky dry-aged burger, laden with salty bacon, melted cheddar and Churchill sauce ($24).
Locals will find the beloved Bistro Burger (broiled beef, cheese and bacon on a sesame-seed bun) at the Long Island City outpost of the West Village institution, along with 12 draft beers (Bud Light). The decor also takes its cues from the flagship location: The laid-back 75-seat tavern features a mahogany wood bar and booths, antique brass chandeliers and a pressed-tin ceiling.
This relaxed midtown spot hosts a variety of events (pre-theater prix fixes, social hours) and serves elevated American fare, like Maryland crab cakes with roasted-corn salsa, macaroni and cheese with garlic-kale cream and a truffle burger with baby arugula and crispy leeks.
The Budweisers are cold and the burgers are big—a whopping ten ounces—at this Hell’s Kitchen hang. Get that beefy patty tricked out California-style with guacamole and ranch dressing; basted with hickory barbecue sauce and topped with bacon; or covered in buffalo sauce and crumbled blue cheese.
Located in a tricked-out 1920s dining car that was once home to a greasy spoon, Diner has earned iconic status as the pioneer of Williamsburg’s restaurant scene. Locals steam up the windows in the winter and cram the patios during the summer for stylish, seasonal dishes. Even the burger is elegant: A plump patty of short rib, chuck and round is seared on the grill and crowned with mild Vermont white cheddar, red onion and bread-and-butter pickles.
Continue your search for the perfect pint at this uptown Irish pub. Beer-battered chicken fingers join more classic fish-and-chips and a slew of burgers (one's topped with a fried egg and Irish bacon; another, with smoky BBQ sauce and onion rings), which you can munch in a small, tranquil garden. Take your bottled Bud with you and check out live music on Sunday nights.
Woodside, Queens, bustles on, but this worn Irish pub stays the same. Well-lubricated old-timers line the front bar, while the wood-paneled dining room—made all the more classic with stained-glass adornment—recalls an honest age of prechain family dining. Irish-American pub fare like steak, roast beef and shepherd’s pie dominate the menu, but it’s the renowned burger that justifies the trek: loosely formed from freshly ground New York strip, broiled to a perfect char and simply decorated with lettuce and tomato—cheese and raw onion optional. In a city lousy with buzzworthy patties, this simple warhorse is still among the best.
Settle in at a checker–table-clothed two-top for a pint (or two) and dependable bar bites at this Upper East Side bar, which takes its name from the flag of Northern Ireland. The food menu traipses between across-the-pond classics like cottage pie and fish ’n’ chips and stateside favorites like cheeseburgers hooded with bacon-bourbon jam.
Copious amounts of Scotch, whiskey and bourbon are the poisons of note at this woodsy, two-floor watering hole—though a frosty mug of beer is an ideal match for Dram’s solid griddle-cooked double cheeseburger. Settle in at the 33-foot bar or bring your brew to a spacious booth. Attractions like pool, darts and shuffleboard, favored by the postcollegiate crowd, stand to give the bocce courts at nearby Union Hall a run for its money.
The follow-up from the team behind Tribeca sensation Locanda Verde attracts a cross section of the downtown social scene. Right from the get-go the restaurant lived up to its preopening hype, bringing real heat to Soho as Balthazar and Blue Ribbon did in the '90s. The Dutch seems destined to join the ranks of those neighborhood classics. Like the diverse crowd, the food—from virtuoso Andrew Carmellini—is eclectic: His rollicking menu reflects our increasingly free-form eating habits with loving homages to Chinatown, the barrio, Little Italy and all-American comforts like a midday double cheeseburger with secret sauce.
Matthew Roff opened this burger joint connected to his Crown Heights bar, Franklin Park. Until 11pm, diners can order from a menu that includes grilled seven-ounce burgers like the Dutch Boy (cheddar, mushrooms, caramelized onions); after the restaurant closes, bargoers can continue to order the full menu at the bar.
This jazzed-up corner pub turns out casual crowd-pleasers like burgers (dry-aged steak, Atlantic salmon), oysters and fruit-flavored martinis (sour cherry, mango).
The heat of the wood-fired oven at Clinton Hill's Emily welcomes you into the cozy dining space, indicative of the charred crusts and inventive toppings to come. Though it’s a pizza joint, however, much has been said of Emily’s burger. Believe the hype and get one: Made with grass-fed, dry-aged beef, Emmy sauce, caramelized onion and Grafton cheddar served on a Tom Cat pretzel bun, it’s worth ordering even if you’re also having pizza.
The red-and-white–tiled burger chain—born in Arlington, VA, in 1986—opened its first NYC branch in College Point, Queens in 2007 and has since expanded with 20-plus locations throughout the five boroughs, earning a cult following with its brown-bagged fries, bottomless shell-on peanuts and local-beef burgers.
At the upscale burger chainlet, offbeat offerings like sushi, fish tacos and French onion soup bolster the menu, which also includes the signature ten-ounce patty topped with caramelized onions, Gruyère cheese and rosemary aioli.
The grassy, spacious outdoor area of this bumping Williamsburg hangout is an apt setting for a cold Bud and a house burger, finished with pickled onions, American cheese and special sauce. Once you’ve had your fill, you can challenge your bargoing buds to a match of outdoor Ping-Pong.
You won’t find a breakdown of farm-bred meat sources on the menu at this burger joint. No organic purveyors or artisanal condiments either. Instead, you’ll find dripping, dutifully sloppy burgers flipped off the flattop—the kind that fuels family road trips along Route 66.
Post up at the restored 1870s bar at this Williamsburg gastropub for a four-buck mug of Bud and the bar’s destination-worthy eight-ounce burger, a short rib and brisket blend layered with white cheddar and pickled jalapeño mayo on a sesame-seeded bun.
Picture Don Draper on vacation: rum cocktail in hand, wind blowing through that meticulous coif. While you may never have Jon Hamm’s cut-from-glass jawline (sorry), you can make like a Sterling Cooper adman at leisure in this retro-kitted tiki lounge, from Tijuana Picnic partners Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns. The bi-level bar is crammed with mid-20th-century curios—a ’60s pop soundtrack; mod, half-moon booths; waitresses in Chuck Taylors—but it’s the customizable cocktails, breezy vibe and hulking Happiest Burger that win over the crowd.
Formerly parked in tucked-away Mill Basin, Brooklyn, this serious burger truck quickly achieved a cult status among patty aficionados that propelled it onward and upward to easier-to-access Williamsburg. Ground beef purist Andrew Zurica now slings his improbably juicy single-, double- and triple-stacked burgers from behind the Pfizer Building. Get 'em hot with free raw or grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles and jalapenos.
Family-style dining is encouraged at this Hudson Square spot, where Prune vet Ned Baldwin and Marco’s alum Adam Baumgart serve unfussy, crowd-pleasing dishes that range from the familiar (a char-grilled double cheeseburger) to the unexpected (grilled beef tongue with scallions and sumac).
Through the red-painted facade of this Theater District watering hole, find a quartet of Pat LaFrieda beef burgers: the Irish Pub Burger made with cheddar and applewood-smoked bacon; the Diablo with pepper jack and sautéed jalapeños; the Sunrise with a fried egg and Irish bacon; and a DIY burger, which you can trick out with toppings like mozzarella, avocado and buffalo onions.
Jeepney, the honky-tonk sequel to Maharlika, serves Filipino plates fueled by lowbrow nostalgia, reminiscent of the street eats and dive bars of urban life in the East Asian archipelago. The kitchen's standout Chori Burger comes shellacked in banana ketchup and Maggi aioli, and topped with chorizo-esque longganisa.
After work, you’ll find off-the-clock Wall Streeters and hard hats comfortably sharing the bar. Join them to nibble grilled cheeseburgers and crispy fried clams while catching up on the game, broadcast on five televisions. (In the morning, it’s happy hour in reverse: Jeremy’s 8 to 10am “eye opener” is just the ticket for day traders seeking liquid assets. The deal offers 32-ounce Styrofoam buckets of beer for just $5.)
The signature offering is a burger that invites comparisons to the revered Corner Bistro’s. Melon’s is pricier, at $11.25 for the very basic model, but it’s arguably just as tasty. Served austerely with a few slices of red onion and pickle, these handfuls must be eaten quickly, before the juice soaks through the bottom of the bun. Several of the genial bartenders, hosts and servers (in genteel ties and sweater vests) have been greeting patrons by their first names since the pub opened in 1972.
This Bay Ridge mainstay is popular for its 60-cent boneless wings every Monday and Wednesday and its Tuesday burger deal, where you can buy one build-your-own, char-grilled burger (toppings include chipotle mayo, fried onions and chili) and get one half off.
For three decades Keith McNally’s New York restaurants have defined effortless cool, generating the sort of overnight buzz—and long-running exclusivity—institutions are made of. His hot spots have become pop culture touchstones—delivering intangible pleasures that go far beyond food. That’s not to say there aren’t gastro pleasures to be had: The restaurant’s Black Label Burger, with caramelized onions and a mountain of pommes frites, is a modern-day New York legend.
Although a slew of Luger copycats have prospered in the last several years, none have captured the elusive charm of this stucco walled, beer-hall style eatery, with well-worn wooden floors and tables, and waiters in waist coats and bow ties. Excess is the thing, be it the reasonably health- conscious tomato salad (thick slices of tomato and onion with an odd addition of steak sauce), the famous porterhouse for two, 44 ounces of sliced prime beef, or the decent apple strudel, which comes with a bowl full of schlag (whipped cream). Go for it all—it’s a singular New York experience that’s worth having.
Irish pubs are a dime a dozen, but very few possess a history as star-studded as this one. The family-owned saloon, among the city’s oldest, has been at its present location since 1936 and appeared on classic NYC shows like Seinfeld and Law & Order. Sidle up to the oak bar for a few shots chased with a cold pint; if you get lonesome, slip into one of the two old-school telephone booths and drunk-dial.
The Astoria fast-food spot takes its "double cheese" to Long Island City. Find the original's menu of single, double and triple burgers, plus fries and milk shakes. New to this location: healthier alternatives including turkey burgers and sweet-potato fries.
Owned by Ireland natives John Mahon and Ken McCoy, the spot dishes out Celtic staples like shepherd's pie, bangers and mash and fish-and-chips, along with requisite pub grub such as buffalo wings and burgers. The wood-laden watering hole is decked out with antique mirrors, stained glass and waist-high swinging doors.
The celebrated saloon is long in the tooth (132 years old), but a modern-day face-lift (augmented menu, nightly specials) revitalized the old boy. The bar up front attracts the after-work pinstriped crowd, while the dining room pulls in a slightly older, blazer-wearing set. The hamburger is still honest and juicy; go ahead, customize it with cheese, bacon, chili or béarnaise sauce.
An Upper East Side staple since 1976, this taproom and grill offers four varieties of burgers: a hamburger, a cheeseburger, a turkey burger and a house special with ham and melted American cheese.
This high-ceilinged, light-filled restaurant is a pleasant place for a calming cup of brew. In addition to the dozens of greens, reds, blacks and yerba matés, Roebling Tea Room offers cocktails and a full menu, so come during the day if you want to spread out on one of the couches with their excellent burger and fries before the dinner-and-drinks crowd rolls in.
Perusing the chicken-scratch scrawl on the chalkboard at Rose’s, you’ll feel like you’re being punked. The “menu” is a 15-items-or-less spread (well if 15 items or less counts as a spread) of bar snacks (nuts, pickles), barely four main courses and a $14 vegetable plate that warrants a Saturday Night Live “Really!?!” rant. But a survey of the humble dining room confirms that everyone’s ordering Feinberg’s burger ($14, add cheese for a buck extra) and for good reason—it’s a thing of unfussed beauty: juicy, grass-fed beef kissed with wood-fired funk between a spare, toasted sesame-seed bun.
At Salvation Burger inside the Pod 51 Hotel—the patty analogue to chef April Bloomfield and partner Ken Friedman’s midtown Mexican canteen Salvation Taco—the Michelin-starred toque serves a worthy counterpart to the Spotted Pig’s starring dish, the Rocky Balboa to its Apollo Creed. It might not better its opponent outright, but boy, what a fight. The strapping house burger clocks in at $25 (sans fries, mind you—you’ll have to pay an extra seven bucks for those), but you’ll forget about the markup once you get your fangs around an eight-ounce puck of sublimely tender, downright steaky beef, butchered and dry-aged in-house and fired over wood.
Perennial burger powerhouse Shake Shack continues to be one of the most sought-after pit stops in the city for its nostalgic beef patties, crinkle fries and frozen custard. Thankfully, the usually long queue moves fairly fast.