It’s been over a decade since Burger Joint first opened up in Le Parker Meridien hotel on 57th Street. By now it’s considered one of the mainstays of New York City’s burger scene, but the hidden spot still delivers, in part for its famous burgers but also for the juxtaposition between the divey 1970s interior and the posh monumentality of the marble Parker Meridien lobby. There’s nothing that reveals Burger Joint’s existence, tucked behind thick floor to ceiling velvet curtains, except for a neon burger sign (and the long lines) to denote what lies beyond.
Once inside, you’ll be confronted with the scent of burgers, brownies and milkshakes wafting over from the open kitchen. Besides pitchers of Sam Adams beer, the aforementioned are the only items on the menu. Know what you want in advance, or you’ll be yelled at and sent to the back of the line. If you freeze, just ask for “The Works” which puts everything on your burger: lettuce, tomato, onion, sliced pickles, mustard, ketchup, and mayo. The “666 Package” gets you a burger, fries and soda for $15.61 (exactly). Two butchers on staff spend most of their time just making burgers for the never-ending crowds, cooking it to that perfect texture. After you order, prepare to battle for a seat.
Because of its popularity, a visit to Burger Joint always shows a cross section of the New York City population, plus the inevitable tourists. As Le Parker Meridien President Steven Pipes said in an interview with Eater, “What’s great about our clientele is that you can’t describe it. It crosses all social, economic, geographical possibilities.”
Visually, the interior features vinyl booths, 1970s-era wood veneer paneling with sports and movie posters taped haphazardly, and no shortage of graffiti scribbles on the wall. In some ways, anachronism seems to be the theme throughout the hotel: a gothic style bar contrasts with the neoclassical lobby, a Sex and the City poster hangs alongside Rocky and a Damien Hirst artwork dialogues with Roman arches. Fun fact: the lobby is actually a public atrium, part of 6 ½ Avenue, open until midnight every day. Follow 6 ½ Avenue to cross mid-block within buildings between 51st Street and 57th Street–it’s even marked by street signs.
Once inside, you’ll be confronted with your grumbling stomach as the scent of burgers, brownies and milkshakes wafts over from the open kitchen. Besides pitchers of beer, the aforementioned are the only items on the menu. Know what you want in advance, or you’ll be yelled at and sent to the back of the line. If you freeze, just ask for “The Works” which puts everything on your burger. Expect a line, but it moves quickly. Also prepare to battle for a seat.
Visually, the interior features vinyl booths, 1970s-era wood veneer paneling with sports and movie posters taped haphazardly, and no shortage of graffiti. It’s as if some mid-century burger joint was preserved and the hotel was built around it, but it actually opened only in 1999.
Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien, 118 W. 57th St. (212) 245-5000
Hours: S-Thurs 11am-11:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-Midnight
Subway: N/Q/R/W to 57th St. and 7th Ave., or F to 57th st.
All photos by Michelle Young.