Burgers are some of New York’s most beloved and democratic eats, rivaling fellow crowd-pleasing comforts like pizza and bagels. So when it came time to vote for the best burgers in NYC, it was only natural that we left the judging up to you burger-loving New Yorkers. From top-rate cheap burgers to old-school classics and upmarket riffs, these are your 69 Battle of the Burger contenders, presented by Budweiser.
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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).
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.
Venue says: “Join us during Restaurant Week every day for lunch January 22-February 9!”
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).
The Commodore in Williamsburg, with its old arcade games and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, offers the city’s best cheap-ass bar eats, served in a seedy venue where folks come to get blotto. The short menu reads like a classic collection of beer-soaking comforts: Fried chicken is extra-crisp, with peppery skin and tender brined flesh, and the burger is dutifully messy, with blankets of melted cheese, chopped raw onions and shredded lettuce.
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.
Eats on Lex
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like Michael Jordan in his prime, It chef Danny Bowien—who rocketed to culinary superstardom for his revelatory Szechuan at Mission Chinese Food—up and switched disciplines. Bowien’s got more talent for Mexican than MJ had for baseball, however: his green-chile burger features a short rib–focused blend from Pat LaFrieda, a mix of serrano and Anaheim peppers, white onions and feta cheese.
For the white-collared wayfarers wandering the streets north of Madison Square Park, NoMad is a depressingly apt name. Sure, the neighborhood has seen a much-welcome rise in upstanding restaurants, but finding an any-day gastropub that doesn’t reek of postgrad brewskies is harder to come by. Who better to fill the void than Daniel Humm, Will Guidara and Leo Robitschek, the James Beard Award–winning trio behind neighborhood stunners Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad, who expanded the latter to include this elegant saloon inside the NoMad Hotel.
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.
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.
The menu is as classic American as anything owner Ralph Lauren has ever put down a runway, with a premium placed on comfort over luxury—a towering burger loaded with cheddar and crispy bacon, pan-seared Dover sole spritzed with Meyer lemon and a pounded veal chop, festooned with fennel and arugula.
Former Top Chef contender Dale Talde launched his own dive bar, Pork Slope, not far from his hot Pan-Asian eatery, Talde. The project, opened with his partners in the first restaurant, was designed as a trashy homage to Patrick Swayze’s schlocky classic Road House, complete with a pool table, a PBR sign and taxidermied boars’ heads. The menu, a survey of bar-food classics, includes crisp, golden tater tots and better-than-average wispy, sweet onion strings, along with ribs, chili, fried chicken and wings. There’s also a too-faithful replica of a McDonald’s cheeseburger, right down to the thin-smashed patty.
Reynard is the new cool kid on the block without ever trying to be, a Balthazar for Brooklyn, urbane and ambitious, mature and low-key. Its kitchen serves casual breakfast and lunch to a drop-in crowd, including a terrifically earthy grass-fed burger (served at the bar between 3–6pm). The menu, which changes often—sometimes daily—becomes much more serious at night. There’s no fanfare at any time to the spare list of dishes, no trendy buzzwords, and barely any descriptions at all. Reynard's thoughtful food, portioned to satisfy and priced to move, mostly speaks for itself.
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.
This cultish Denver-based chain delivers its signature smashed specimens at its first New York City location, in Fort Greene. Here, fresh, all-Angus beef patties are flattened and seared on the grill—a technique prized by patty aficionados for producing a crunchy crust—and then stuffed into butter-toasted buns. Pair your smashed sammie with toppings like applewood-smoked bacon, fried eggs or thin crispy onions, and sides including fries spruced up with olive oil, rosemary and garlic.
Game-day imbibers want a pleasant, courteous, spill-proof night out—and Social provides three spacious floors’ worth. Candlelit chandeliers illuminate exposed-brick walls but don’t compete with big-screen TVs on the first floor. (A hint at the place’s loftier aspirations lies in quotations from Aerosmith and Emma Lazarus on the front wall.) Go for their killer happy hour and score the signature burger along with budget-friendly specials like $4 Budweiser and Bud Light.
Blame talented toque April Bloomfield for the inevitable wait at this still-hopping West Village gastropub—a pioneer in the kind of meaty go-big-or-go-home grub that’s proliferated since the spot’s 2004 opening. The Pig still serves one of New York City’s best burgers, a rare patty heaped with intense Roquefort cheese and served with a tower of rosemary- and garlic-kissed shoestring fries.
Brothers Martin and Mark Whelan have the luck of the Irish: After success with St. Andrews and Maggie’s Place, they scored 16,000 square feet for their beer theme park, Stout. You can sample 142 beers (such as Bud Light on draft) and devour oysters or a range of burgers, including a hot-sauce–dipped “Angry Burger” and a jerk-pork number with grilled-pineapple salsa.
Along with 17 high-definition flat-screen TVs and 15 draft beers (Budweiser, Bud Light), the rowdy uptown sports bar also offers behemoth stuffed burgers filled with a variety of options, from bacon and blue cheese to a three-cheese “Monster” packed with American, Swiss and cheddar.
There’s a certain ilk of New York bars that, at first glance, are decidedly ordinary—they offer nothing special in terms of drinks, decor or anything else. Somehow, though, these unassuming spots transcend any one of a number of stereotypes and provide pub crawlers with a terrific bar experience. No place fits the bill better than TriBeCa Tavern. While the decor leaves a little to be desired, it’s actually quite homey: Ample tables provide plenty of seating space, but the real prize is up front, where a cozy enclave provides patrons with a view of bustling West Broadway while they kick back with a cold one and a hot burger.
A champion of umami—that hard-to-place savory "fifth taste" found in everything from Parmesan to mushrooms—Adam Fleischman spotlights the funky flavor-bomb in sixteen burgers, including the beer-cheese–and-lardon-topped Manly Burger and an NYC-exclusive five-spice duck burger with peach-apple chutney. The meat comes coarse-ground and medium-rare—no substitutions allowed—on Portuguese-style buns branded with the signature "U" logo.
California cuisine has always been a curious thing. It’s local but globally inflected, lean but filling, as driven by its ingredients as by the chef seasoning them. The vague concept is more an aura than anything else—for a homegrown likeness, see the farm-to-table Brooklyn-eatery stereotype—and that Golden State glow radiates throughout Upland, a glossy tribute to chef Justin Smillie’s hometown nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. Blistered shishito peppers, shellfish-crammed cioppino and a lunchtime burger with peppadew peppers and avocado tout to Smillie's Cali bona fides.
Since 2008, expansion-minded chef Michael White has focused his restaurants in the upper echelons of soulful Italian cooking—see Marea, Ai Fiori and Costata for proof. But the multi-Michelin-starred toque is going full-blown French with this 186-seat dining room, named after a landlocked region in southeastern France and decorated with illuminated banquettes, arched doorways and vaulted ceilings hung with chandeliers. White and Marea chef Jared Gadbaw collaborated on the menu, divided into sections such as Le Potager (seasonal produce) and Les Grillades (meats and fish). Under the latter, find the aged White Label Burger with fontina cheese and tomato jam.
The owners of Royale and Cafecito are behind Williamsburg's latest whiskey-focused tavern, decorated with lace curtains, black-and-white patterned wallpaper and antique mirrors. The Royale's beloved burger (all-Angus beef patty on a sesame-seed bun) made its way across the bridge, along with a menu of hearty pub grub, like fried chicken wings and beef hot dogs.
When it comes to the menu, fried chicken is king, served as a dinner platter, in a sandwich or on a stick, but the burger—offered single or double with a coating of pimento cheese—is nothing to sneeze at. Comfort-food classics like corn bread, cheddar-cheese grits and tater tots round out the offerings. Natural light floods the minimally adorned space, which gets a boost of Deep South hospitality courtesy of communal tables and original Hatch Show Print pieces.