Time Out New York readers are a pretty savvy crew, so when it came time to hand-pick the top 21 burgers in all of Gotham, we left it up to our clued-in following. And what we got surprised us—sprinkled in with tried-and-true classics like Donovan's and J.G. Melon are neighborhood joints like Bay Ridge's Kettle Black and Astoria's Twist & Smash'd. Take a gander at our readers' 20 best burgers and see if your choice made the list.
RECOMMENDED: All of NYC's best burgers
The top burgers in New York
This German-inspired eatery broils its ten-ounce prime-beef patty before piling it high with bacon, fried onions and your choice of cheese (American, cheddar, Swiss, gouda). Pillow-like pretzel buns direct from Deutschland and sweet and spicy mustards whipped up in-house make it worth the ferry ride. $7.50.
Queens locals go gaga for this grill-fired number. The sports bar turns out plenty of signature griddle-smashed burgers (chicken with chipotle mayo, veggie with mango salsa), but it’s the Angus beef with cheddar that really charms New Yorkers, encased in a crisp-edged bun branded with the restaurant logo. Single $5.50, double $9.50.
The inspiration for this West Village tavern may be British, but its burger is all-American: Chef Justin Furr hand-rolls his Ames, Iowa–imported Angus brisket, adds a dash of salt and pepper and lets the burger sizzle on an open grill. A complement to the tangy, mature Murray’s Cheese Shop cheddar, he sandwiches the beef with red-wine-vinegar-pickled beet root, baby gem lettuce and an over-easy egg balanced between house-made poppyseed brioche. Whew! $18.
First flambéed in Maker’s Mark bourbon, this half-pound grade-A patty is layered with cheddar and crowned with apple-smoked bacon. A Brick City Baking Company white bun bookends the boozy burger after it’s sprinkled with sweet, caramelized shallots. $15.
Just under eight ounces and freshly ground with secret-recipe mix-ins, the dry-aged round at this Upper East Side bar and grill cooks in a cast-iron skillet until crispy on the outside. A toasted soft bun just barely contains the meat, which is smothered in a heap of caramelized onions and deliciously melty American cheese. $15.
According to chef Michael Manhertz, it’s the most sought-after burger at the checkered-tablecloth chain—and for good reason: The flattop-grilled patty is pressed in a clamshell griddle for a crisp outer crust and pink, juicy center. Five halved sour pickles topple above American cheese, market lettuce, sliced tomato and a four-inch sesame-seed Bimbo bun. $8.95.
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, set beneath the rattling 7-train tracks. The charbroiled half-pounder is built with ground New York strip and humbly topped with lettuce and tomato, and cheese, bacon and onion options. A pint of Guinness to accompany your meal? A no-brainer. $10.95.
It’s no secret that Dale Talde (see above left) has a food-world love affair with swine—the place is called Pork Slope—but the beef at this rollicking Brooklyn canteen gives the pig a run for its money. The Top Chef alum drapes griddle-charred black Angus with good ol’ American cheese in a squishy Martin’s potato bun; crisp, chopped onions and sliced pickles add a delightfully contrasting texture. $11.
People lost it when Danny Meyer’s globe-spanning burger empire traded its crinkle-cut fries for hand-cut russet frites. Thankfully, that likely scared Meyer from ever messing with his beloved burger recipe, a fan favorite and critics’ darling since its debut at a Madison Square Park hot-dog cart in 2004. The thin patties look fast-food–esque, but its proprietary Pat LaFrieda blend (brisket, chuck and short rib)—shellacked in mayo-based ShackSauce and American cheese in a griddled potato bun—classes things up. Don’t change a thing, Danny. $7.35.
A butter-toasted sesame-seed bun supports this double-decker of grass-fed chuck, grilled in grease at this woodsy watering hole. Once the American cheese has melted, sliced tomato and chopped onions are layered on top, followed by a shower of shredded lettuce and squirts of yellow mustard and mayo. $12.
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After an earlier incarnation on W. 77th Street closed due to condo construction, Vai Restaurant is back on the Upper West Side, continuing its eight-year tenure serving contemporary Mediterranean food to carb-eschewing yuppies. Owner/Chef Vincent Chirico of “Knife Fight” fame got his bona fides working in the kitchens of Jean-Georges Restaurant, Aquavit, Daniel and Union Pacific. The intimate new space is clean and unadorned, with 14 tables and a half-dozen bar stools around the semi-circle bar. It’s planted on a brick wall mid-restaurant, with a large mirror reflecting fishbowl sconces on chains, featuring flickering votives. The food is similarly solid and unfussy, if a bit on the higher end, with many off-menu, seasonal additions available. During a recent visit, we enjoyed the featured cocktails, the Blackberry Paloma ($14) blending tequila, grapefruit and blackberry, and the simple Elijah’s Maple Sour ($15), a mix of Elijah Craig Bourbon and Hudson Valley Maple syrup. The hostess brought an amuse-bouche of savory eggplant mousseline and soft bread to dip it in. Chirico is known for his crudo, so we sampled a layered Hamachi-Yellowfin Tuna Duo ($17) with two generous lobes of yellowfin over a tartare of pink tuna and fresh avocado. A tang of ginger and cilantro enlivened the whole affair. We paired this with the charred octopus ($16.5) a tender tentacle of grilled ‘pus over roasted fingerling potatoes and a bright green jalapeno pesto, with slivers of dry-roasted garli
Venue says: “Join us for Happy Hour Sun-Fri 2pm-4pm and 9pm-close. Glass of sparkling wine and 3 complimentary oysters and $8 beers, wine and cocktails.”