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.
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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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Salvatoria Kitchen and Bar
For a taste of authentic Salvadoran cuisine in Astoria, look no further than Salvatoria Kitchen and Bar. Pupusas are the thing to order here, whether you go for chicharron (pork), revuelta (cheese, refried beans and pork) or queso con jalapeno ($3). They’re served with a vinegary coleslaw and spicy tomato salsa, per tradition. The menu offers much more than pupusas, though. Start with a fresh ceviche with seafood, clams and shrimp ($19) or salchipapas, a popular Latin American street food of sliced hot dogs and fries ($8). For your main course, try the grilled shrimp with rice and salad ($19), a seafood combination with creole sauce ($32) or steak topped with two sunny side-up eggs and served with fries ($17). Wash it all down with a Central American beer ($6) or glass of sangria ($8), and save room for an empanada dusted with powdered sugar ($3).
Venue says: “Salvatoria Kitchen and Bar is the only Salvadorian restaurant in Astoria. A must-try is our classic Pupusas that have variety fillings.”