The “Manly Burger.” Image courtesy Umami Burger
For many years, New York City has boasted some of the best burgers around, and today is the time to celebrate. With that said, it’s often difficult to sort out where the best burgers are in New York City, especially considering different personal preferences and the increasingly diverse options out there.
While some New Yorkers just want a straightforward hamburger with lettuce and tomato, others prefer to expand their horizons and try the rising number of unusual fusion burgers in New York City. And yet, some opt for the in-between, perhaps seeking a variety of options within traditional Western flavors. Still others value drinks, sides, and the atmosphere of a burger joint as much as they care about the actual burger. Fortunately, New York City has no shortage of burger eateries with room for everyone’s preferences.
In the hopes of clearly laying out your best burger options, we created a list of New York City’s “burger superlatives” in different categories, including the best, overrated, non-traditional, and much more. We’re starting in Manhattan but will get to the other boroughs soon!
Best Traditional Burger: Joe Junior
Called New York City’s best burger by New York Eater, we have to agree that the best traditional burger goes to Joe Junior. A Joe Junior burger is no-frills, yet bursts with unexpected flavor, especially when topped with warm, melted cheese. Made with a fresh, well-cooked chunk of beef and your typical white bun, the burger’s perfectly grilled texture combined with the overwhelming juiciness that arrives with the first bite will leave you returning for another.
Moreover, the atmosphere of Joe Junior, a cozy diner with stools and a long Formica counter, adds loads to the overall eating experience and pairs well with the burger’s classic simplicity.
Joe Junior is located at 167 3rd Avenue.
Best Non-Traditional Burger: Umami Burger
The “Manly Burger.” Image courtesy Umami Burger
Burgers haven’t quite escaped the wave of upscale fusion cuisine in New York CIty, which is not necessarily a bad thing. This is best shown by the flavorful, unconventional burgers served at Umami Burger. “Umami” means “deliciousness,” and it’s certainly an accurate name despite the non-traditional nature of its burgers.
Boasting “chef-driven” burgers, this hip eatery offers everything from the “Umami” (Parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, and Umami house ketchup) to the “Manly” (Chicken breast patty, house beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami ketchup, and mustard spread) and the “Royale Burger” (braised short rib, truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze).
If you’re not a beef person, they may have the “Ahi Tuna Burger” at your location or “Sam’s Crispy Chicken Burger.”
To add even more flavor to your meal, try an unusual side dish like maple bacon fries or caramelized brussel sprouts
Complete with Umami’s signature Portuguese-style buns, these burgers are the kind you take your time with, chewing slowly and taking in every savory bite and flavorful layer. You’ll taste everything from soy sauce to miso paste and bonito flakes, or more traditional Western flavors like cured ham, cheese, and mushrooms.
Umami has locations in Williamsburg, Hudson, Brookfield Place, and Greenwich Village.
Best East Village Burger: Paul’s Da Burger Joint
If you find yourself craving a burger in the East Village, do try Paul’s Da Burger Joint, a family-run burger joint and self-described 50s eatery. Established in 1989 during the peak of lively East Village rock clubs, the joint continues its tradition of providing counter service, checkered tablecloths, and vintage decor. Known by regulars as “their home away from home” because of its welcoming, cozy atmosphere, you can often find customers casually chatting with cooks while drinking a cold beer and devouring giant burgers.
On that note, let’s get on to what matters: the actual burgers at Paul’s. Paul’s offers a large array of traditional burgers of high-quality, from their famous, straightforward beef burger to their “Soul Burger,” a bacon cheeseburger with ham and fried onions. They also offer a range of toppings to go with all burgers, from jalapenos to bacon.
Paul’s house specialities are the Eastsider Burger (a bacon cheeseburger with ham, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions) and the Saint Marks Burger (a cheeseburger topped with mushrooms and fried onions). Buy a shake, egg cream, or soda float on the side, strike up a convo with a friendly cook, and you’re good to go.
Paul’s Da Burger Joint is located at 131 2nd Avenue.
Best West Village Burger: The Corner Bistro
Image courtesy The Corner Bistro
If you need a burger fix in the West Village, The Corner Bistro is a must-visit. As the last of the bohemian bars in West Greenwich Village, this casual eatery has served customers since 1961, thankfully maintaining its classic, friendly atmosphere and tasty burgers.
The Corner Bistro’s most famous burger is, unsurprisingly, called the Bistro Burger, which is deliciously juicy and topped with cheese and crispy bacon. The burger made the list of America’s top 40 burgers in 2013. There’s also the chili burger, which comes with homemade chili, and of course, a classic cheeseburger and hamburger. While the menu is somewhat limited compared to other burger joints, the juiciness of the meat here is always worth it, especially with a beer.
Corner Bistro is located at 331 West 4th Street (West Village) and also at 47-18 Vernon Blvd (Long Island City).
Best Upper West Side Burger: Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint II
Moving into Upper Manhattan, be sure to check out Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint to satisfy your burger craving. Though the joint serves a variety of pizzas and a range of salads, sandwiches, and Italian meals, their burgers are standouts and deserve special attention. With nearly 40 burger options, it can be difficult to decide what to order here. If you want to keep it simple, try a Burger Club (beef burger with bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. served with onion rings and garnish) or the American cheeseburger. For fancier desires, there’s the Blueburger With Blue Cheese Sauce, Burger Florentine, Mediterranean Burger, and so much more.
Part pizzeria and part diner, the original location on Broadway opened in 1962 and closed in 2013, but this satellite remains.
Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint II is located at 70 W 71st St.
Best Midtown Burger: Burger Heaven
As New York City continues to evolve, Burger Heaven has remained a constant, comforting presence for over 70 years. Since 1943, under four generations of family ownership, it has expanded to three locations in Manhattan. To this day, it continues to use only the finest quality beef, ground fresh daily.
What sets Burger Heaven apart is the amount of care put into each burger and a staunch commitment to using only the best ingredients. Their “Burger Heaven Burger” comes with a special house sauce, and they also serve fresh turkey burgers, chili burgers, veggie ones, and your classic beef burger.
While some of their options are on the pricey side, it’s hard to call yourself a burger affecionado without trying out Burger Heaven (can’t you tell by the name?)
Burger Heaven has locations at 20 East 49th street, 9 East 53rd street, and 62nd and Lexington.
Best Vegan Burger: Blossom du Jour
The Skyscraper Burger. Photograph by Bryan Graves. Image Courtesy of Blossom Du Jour
Though you may groan at the thought of eating anything other than a burger made with real meat, we promise that the vegan burger at Blossom Du Jour will not disappoint. In fact, it tastes so real that you might not be able to tell the difference between this and a real burger.
Along with the Burger Bowl, Blossom Du Jour offers three different burger options: the Skyscraper (housemade bean pattie, mushroom bacon, v-cheese, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, pickles, special sauce), the Quinoa Burger (housemade quinoa, kale, bean & sweet potato pattie, caramelized onions, lettuce, lemon-rosemary sauce), and the Beet Burger (housemade beet pattie, lettuce, horseradish v-mayo, tomato, gluten free pullman bread).
Since Blossom Du Jour emerged as a response to the need for “alternative fast food” options, it’s not surprising that they have some of the most real-tasting, vegan burgers around. Opened in 2010, the restaurant serves 100% vegan food with the goal of making minimal impact on the environment and animals, while still serving delicious, nutritious, and fun meals.
Whether or not you’re vegan or vegetarian, we highly recommend swapping this vegan option out for a real burger when you’re in the mood. You’ll be eating a delicious burger that tastes real, with the added, guilt-free bonus of supporting animals and the environment.
Blossom Du Jour has locations in Chelsea, Midtown West, the Upper West Side, and Columbus Circle.
Best Hidden Burger: Burger Joint at The Parker New York
If you’re looking for a burger joint, why not scope out a secret one? For this, check out the hidden Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien Hotel. 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.
But one inside, you’ll be immersed in the scents of burgers and milkshakes and introduced to a certain hecticness that compels you to figure out what to order fast. Fortunately, Burger Joint’s menu is pretty straightforward and their burgers are worth it, especially when eaten in its unique, cozy environment—it’s almost like some mid-century burger joint was preserved and the hotel was built around it, even though opened only in 1999. Nicely lit with walls covered in vintage posters and written names and messages from previous customers, burgers taste even better in this atmosphere.
Read our previous piece about Burger Joint here.
Burger Joint is located at Le Parker Meridien Hotel at 119 West 56th Street.
Bonus: The Brindle Room in Alphabet City
We couldn’t have complete burger guide without including The Brindle Room in Alphabet City, which made the list of the top 40 burgers in America a few years ago. As a gastropub serving traditional American comfort food in small, shareable portions, The Brindle Room is certainly on the upscale side.
Though they serve much more than burgers, the burgers are certainly special ones, including the Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger for lunch or dinner. The distinguished use of deckle fat from dry, aged beef trimmings in the burger mix allows you to taste the difference.
The Brindle Room is located at 277 East 10th Street.