Burger culture is taken surprisingly seriously in New York and countless best burger lists deliberate over who grills up the city’s finest bartime delicacy. Some of the most celebrated and historic burger establishments like the Corner Bistro in West Greenwich Village have become staples in New York guidebooks, but a number of new hip places have recently emerged in one of the world’s most competitive burger scenes. Whether you want to keep things classic with beef, bacon or cheese or go for something more exotic like free-range ostrich or bison, New York has burgers for every taste.
From the classic Americana memorabilia of the Trailer Park, the reclaimed and rustic handmade furniture of Bareburger to the long counter and chrome bar stools of Diner in Brooklyn, the design and ambience of the establishments themselves play an intergral part in the overall burger exerience. There’s literally thousands of places to buy a burger in New York, but here are six of the best to satisfy your deepest red meat cravings.
BURGER JOINT – Manhattan
Located inside the foyer of the sleek Thompson Central Park Hotel on the southern edge of Central Park, this is no ordinary burger joint. Before the place even opens at 11.am, a line of customers starts to gather down a dimly lit corridor, where only a simple neon hamburger sign indicates what lies beyond. On the other side of some velvet curtains is a windowless room, where posters of Sex in the City and the Sopranos adorn graffiti-strewn walls above leatherette booths and beaten-up wooden tables, where you can enjoy the uncomplicated menu of burgers , fries and milkshakes.
The Burger Joint receives a mixed bag of customers including families, tourists, business people and celebrities, many who have added their autographs to the walls. Andrew Wright from West Oxfordshire in England, a regular visitor to the Big Apple on business is a confirmed Burger Joint aficionado. “I’ve been coming here since it first opened in 2002 and even though it’s more like a storeroom than a restaurant, I love the décor,” he says. “Butchers grind the meat fresh on site everyday and the ratio of fat to lean is what makes them taste unbelievably good.”
119 West 56th St / MANHATTAN
BAREBURGER – Upper East Side
At Bareburger in the Upper East Side (the planet-aware mini chain also has several other city locations from Broadway and Brooklyn, to Chelsea and the Lower East Side ), the focus is on custom-building your own all-natural organic burger. Firstly, decide on the meat for your 6oz patty, then choose your bun, veggies, cheese, bacon and sauce. Lastly pick a drink, perhaps a cola made with organic evaporated cane juice, an organic peanut butter milk shake or a refreshing draft beer made by the Brooklyn Brewery.
“What sets us apart is that all our meats are sourced as locally as possible, from humanely raised free-range animals that are allowed to eat the types of food they would naturally eat in the wild like organic barley, snow peas and alfalfa,” says Bareburger executive Debra Jans. “Another thing that makes us different is our range of exotic meats such as ostrich, bison, wild boar and elk. Ostrich is a particularly good meat being high in protein and low in cholesterol. At the end of the day, we are still about burgers and fries but a much healthier version than most.”
1681 1stAvenue /UPPER EAST SIDE
TRAILER PARK LOUNGE & GRILL – Chelsea
Voted one of the top-5 “Kitschiest Restaurants in America” by the Food Network, the Trailer Park in the neighbourhood of Chelsea is the creative genius of Andy Spiro, who along with co-owner Tom McKay spent years collecting vast amounts of vintage Americana memorabilia like bowling alley accoutrements, an old petrol pump, neon signs, a juke box, Elvis paraphernalia and even the side of full-sized trailer, all on display within the Trailer Park’s 1,800 square-foot space.
Drink in the one-of-a kind atmosphere from the 22-seater bar which dispenses ice cold beer and margarita pitchers, and from the kitchen comes hearty comforting fare like mama used to make, including hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers and the gut-busting “Mother-in-Law’s Revenge Burger” topped with cheese, chilli, jalapeños and sour cream served with green leaf lettuce, tomato, pickles plus your choice of tater tots or sweet potato fries. A favourite hangout of Madonna, Debbie Harry and Ethan Hawke, the Trailer Park is open for business 7 days a week, from 12 noon until 3.am. Don’t miss it.
271 W.23rd Street / CHELSEA
DINER – Brooklyn
Situated a stone’s throw from the Williamsburg Bridge and the trendy dockside neighbourhood of the same name is a Brooklyn dining institution – the Broadway Diner, that all the locals know as simply ‘Diner’. Lurking behind the weathered door of the restored 1927 railway carriage is a warm and inviting interior featuring colourful and intricate tile flooring, and a long bar counter with a row of cool retro chrome swivel barstools running alongside. The liberal use of mirrors and cosy booth seating with classic diner condiments such as napkin holders, sauce bottles and salt and pepper shakers complete the picture.
The diner is one of those quintessential icons of Americana, an oasis of comfort and an instantly recognisable look that has featured in many films, and Brooklyn’s Diner is a classic example. Diner serves a selection of staple dishes and daily specials, which the waiters and waitresses recite while writing down the details on napkins in front of you. The refreshingly simple burger consists of a good quality bun, slice of cheddar and freshly-ground perfectly cooked grass-fed beef.
85 Broadway / BROOKLYN
SHAKE SHACK – Manhattan
Shake Shack puts a modern-day spin on the culinary traditions of the classic American burger stand and brings all the best parts of fine dining to burgers – quality ingredients, designer locations and a seriously impressive menu. Shake Shack was born from a simple hot dog stand in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, that was such a success it evolved into a permanent food kiosk in 2004.
Shake Shack is part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, one of the most lauded restaurant groups in US history and has now been developed into a franchise, with several branches in New York City, across the east coast of the US, Istanbul, Dubai and London. Their motto is ‘Stand for Something Good’ and they mean it – using all-natural ingredients, renewable energy and decking out each restaurant with recycled materials. At the flagship Shake Shack in Madison Square Park the queue builds quickly, especially when the weather is nice, so be prepared to wait for up to an hour for the experience of eating one of their burgers in the park’s carefree ambience.
23rd Street and Madison Ave (mellom 23rd St og 24th St) MANHATTAN
CORNER BISTRO – West Greenwich Village
Ask any New Yorker about his or her favourite burger joint and the modest looking Corner Bistro in West Greenwich Village is almost guaranteed to be among the replies. This grandaddy of Big Apple burger joints has occupied the same pub / tavern site for the best part of a century and is pretty much unchanged since then. Seating is usually hard to come by and the place is usually abuzz with hungry burger aficionados.
The choices available from the old-fashioned menu board include the famous Bistro Burger (an 8oz burger with American cheese and crispy bacon), the Chilli Burger (a cheeseburger topped off with homemade chilli), the Cheeseburger (an 8oz burger with American cheese) and finally the Hamburger (an 8oz burger served on a sesame seed bun). The juicy burgers which arrive on paper plates and come accompanied with crispy fries, are sizeable affairs, so think twice if you are not super hungry or split it with a partner or friend. There may be better burgers in the Big Apple but none more famous. It is well worth taking the Metro to 8th Avenue and then navigating your way through the angled streets to visit this West Greenwich Village classic for a taste of burger history.
331 West 4th Street, (på hjørnet av Jane & West 4th Street) GREENWICH VILLAGE www.cornerbistrony.com