The cuisine in New York City is diverse and delicious, beyond just the famous tall buildings and lively neighborhoods. Over time, the city’s food markets have also evolved – from small mobile stands to large indoor complexes. The history of these markets can be traced back to the street food culture that has been around since the 1800s. Back then, people could purchase simple foods from street vendors who pushed carts around the city.
Today, the city has a wide range of street food options that cater to diverse tastes. Popular food stalls selling hot dogs, pretzels, and halal dishes offer convenient lunch options for busy urbanites. These food trucks showcase the diverse cultures and cuisines of New York City and its inhabitants.
New York City is famous for its burgers, which residents and tourists love. There are many great burger options to choose from thanks to the city’s unique culinary scene, catering to all tastes and preferences. From authentic American diners to upscale burger restaurants, New York City is a paradise for burger lovers. This article explores the delicious burger offerings in the city.
This article explores the top burger joints in New York City that showcase the best in both classic and modern burger cuisine. For a delicious journey, it’ll look at some of the most iconic diners, grills, and innovative burger joints.
The Classic NYC Burger Experience
Hamburgers became popular in the United States around a century ago, although some Americans can’t remember a time without them. Nowadays, most burger restaurants don’t use fresh meat anymore. However, a few burger restaurants from that time continued to serve fresh meat daily and originally. The history of hamburgers is quite interesting.
Cultural Significance of the New York City Hamburger
The hamburger’s history can be traced back to 13th-century Mongolia during a time of conflict between the Mongols and Tatars. The Tatars preferred consuming raw mutton, which they carried under their saddles as they rode throughout the day. Upon reaching their destination, they would chop up the raw and warm mutton, possibly adding spices, before consuming it.
Ship workers and ports along the Baltic Sea first enjoyed the dish. It eventually made its way westward to Scandinavia before finally arriving in Germany and being introduced as frikadellen. While raw mutton was originally used, this was later replaced with chopped cooked beef.
In the mid-19th century, German migrants waiting for their ships would consume frikadellen as an affordable and flavorful meal. Upon departing from Hamburg for the United States, these migrants also brought their familiarity with the dish.
The frikadellen came to the United States; it was likely unfamiliar to most people who were not German. Therefore, its name had to be changed to ‘steak in the style of Hamburg’ or ‘Hamburg steak’ for better understanding.
Iconic Burger Establishments in New York City
Today, hamburgers are an indispensable part of American culture. There is no shortage of burger restaurants in New York City that offer a wide range of flavors and styles. From classic diners to upscale eateries, there is something for everyone. Here are some must-try burger establishments:
- JG Melon – JG Melon has been a cash-only burger joint in business since 1972. It has been frequented by socialites, stars, locals, visitors, politicians, and artists, all coming for one of the best burgers in NYC. The burgers are made-to-order, and the patty is thick, juicy, and delicious. The classic burger at JG Melon is served simply with pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions on the side. Ketchup and mustard are already provided on the table. There’s no fancy sauce or special bun, just a traditional burger. JG Melon doesn’t need to impress customers with trendy food. Its burgers have stood the test of time and are here to stay.
- Minetta Tavern – You can try a delicious burger at Minetta Tavern, one of the favorite spots in NYC. The tavern was first opened in 1937 under the name Minetta Brook. Famous writers like Ernest Hemingway, E. E. Cummings, and Ezra Pound visited this place frequently, and now their pictures adorn the tavern’s walls, dark wood paneling, and warm red accents. According to popular opinion, Minetta Tavern has two burgers on its menu; the Black Label Burger is the one to try. It is a simple burger with a prime dry-aged beef patty that melts in your mouth, caramelized onions, and a bun and comes with delicious fries on the side. The Black Label Burger is more expensive, but each bite is worth it.
- White Mana Diner – A burger spot in Jersey City has been around since 1946 and has a unique appearance resembling a spaceship near highway overpasses. It was originally a minor attraction at the 1936 World’s Fair in Queens. Currently, it serves classic sliders with cheese and pickles. You can eat two or three of them at the curved Formica counter, which is smaller. Although it used to be open 24/7, it now operates from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- The Long Island Bar – Joel Tompkins and Toby Cecchini restored and re-opened the Long Island Bar in 2013. Since 1951, the bar has been a staple of the neighborhood and features a stunning mid-century aesthetic. Their menu includes a dry-aged patty burger topped with pickles, cheese, fancy sauce, and fries. If you’re not very hungry, the single-patty burger will suffice, but if you’re quite famished, you can order the double-patty Long Island burger.
- Raoul’s – Raoul’s is a well-known restaurant in the neighborhood and has been serving high-end food like steak, foie gras, and fine wine since 1975. Initially, their famous burger au poivre was only available at the bar, and only a limited quantity was made daily. However, now it’s included in their brunch menu and comes with Saint-André cheese and pommes frites. This is a significant development for fans of the burger.
Nothing beats freshly grilled burgers that have been prepared with love and care. New York City has several iconic burger joints serving mouth-watering burgers using the finest ingredients. Whether it’s a classic diner or an upscale restaurant, New York City offers something for everyone when it comes to burgers.
Gourmet Burger Innovations
Apart from classic burgers, New York City has several innovative burger spots offering creative flavors and combinations. These restaurants are changing how people view burgers by using unique ingredients and techniques to create something special. Here are some of the most inventive burger places in NYC:
Black Iron Burger
Black Iron Burger (BIB) opened in 2008 in the East Village but was sold after five years. In 2013, a group of Spanish entrepreneurs and chefs purchased the restaurant, excited to try something new in the city. Spaniards decided to change the restaurant’s focus to the meat quality by using all-natural, steroid & hormone-free meats for their burgers. They intentionally aimed to create the best burger in New York City through deliberate skill and precision.
BIB serves one of the best burgers in NYC that is perfect for health-conscious customers. The restaurant aims to eliminate the guilt of consuming meat from unethically raised animals. Despite its focus on healthy ingredients, the burger retains its appeal as a casual food. BIB is a high-quality eatery that offers quality food and maintains a welcoming, local neighborhood vibe.
Cheval is located halfway down an alley in Lower Manhattan. Although it may not look impressive, it offers delicious entrees and a sophisticated atmosphere. This location is related to the original Au Cheval diner in Chicago, which has been open for over a decade.
The burger has gained national fame and is now considered one of the top burgers in New York City. It consists of double patties and sharp cheddar and offers the choice to include bacon and an egg. The bacon is thick and substantial, while the egg adds an extra dimension to the burger with a runny burst on the first bite.
In 2014, a husband and wife duo, Matt and Emily Hyland, established Emily. The small business has become a beloved spot in New York City known for its great food. Although renowned for their pizza, their Emmy burger is also a crowd favorite. The burger features dry-aged beef on a pretzel bun with cheddar, caramelized onions, and a signature sauce. They serve a double version of the burger at their West Village location.
7th St Burger
In recent years, “smash” style burgers have become increasingly popular, though it is unclear who first came up with the idea. The style is often associated with west coast burger joints like In-N-Out. However, some people now argue that New York City’s 7th St. Burger serves the best smash burger.
To achieve its signature flavor, the store smashes the patty as soon as it’s placed on the grill. This creates a crispy, caramelized taste across as much of the patty as possible, starkly contrasting the thick and meaty patties used by many other restaurants.
The menu has four items: a cheeseburger, a double cheeseburger, an impossible burger, and fries. Every burger is served with grilled onions, pickles, cheese, and their signature sauce. The burgers are so good that there’s often a line, but it usually moves quickly since there’s no indoor seating.
Hidden Gems and Local Favorites
New York City is a massive city with endless food options. Some delicious burger spots may not have the most polished exterior, but they offer great burgers and a unique atmosphere. Here are some of the hidden gems and local favorites in NYC:
Just two doors down from a mosque, this restaurant with chandeliers occupies a busy corner that is a diner serving a more standard menu. Despite being a diner-style establishment, this restaurant also serves Afghan kebab platters in addition to Bangladeshi and Indian dishes, pizza, and fantastic hamburgers. A platter of chicken marinated in yogurt, beef kofta, pulao rice, Afghan bread, salad, and several sauces is featured here.
Pera Ždera (Peter Eater)
The restaurant in Glendale serves Balkan bar food and specializes in grilled meats and pastries. It is said to be related to a restaurant in Subotica, Serbia. Their menu includes cevapi, a skinless sausage, and pljeskavica, a burger-like dish with optional kaymak, ajvar, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce toppings. Burger enthusiasts should consider giving it a try.
Anthony Bourdain praised Midtown’s Burger Joint as one of his favorite NYC burger spots and a hidden gem inside the Parker New York hotel. The small establishment serves straightforward burgers, milkshakes, and brownies, with beer and wine on the menu. However, it’s advised to be prepared before ordering to avoid being sent to the back of the long line.
Brooklyn Ice House
Even though Brooklyn Ice House’s menu may seem dark and unattractive, its burger, which comes with American cheese, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes, is exceptional bar food. Grab a High Life and a seat in the backyard during nice weather to have the perfect afternoon of drinking in the daylight.
Burger Specialties and Variations
No matter how you order your burgers, the classic dish has countless variations. Whether it’s a single patty or a double-stacked monster, many restaurants have embraced their specialty burger creations. From vegan options to cheeseburger wraps and everything in between, here’s an overview of some of the most popular establishments offering specialty burgers:
If you’re searching for a vegetarian or vegan burger joint in the East Village, check out Superiority Burger! They are open Wednesday through Sunday and offer a vegetarian menu with many vegan options. Popular menu items include the Superiority Burger and the MegaMouth, but they also provide the Sloppy Dave and the New Creation. Quench your thirst with an Arnold Palmer and end your meal on a sweet note with some gelato.
The Long Island Bar
Emma and Buddy Sullivan are the current owners of The Long Island Bar, previously owned by Emma’s father, Ramon Montero. The restaurant has been popular in Brooklyn since it opened in 1951.
Diners can enjoy two types of burgers, LI Burger and Single Patty Burger, for lunch and dinner. LI Burger has two dry-aged beef patties, cheese, pickles, fancy sauce, and fries, while Single Patty Burger has one dry-aged beef patty with all the toppings. If you want an alcoholic drink, try the Paloma, made with Blanco tequila, grapefruit soda, and lime.
The cuisine at Upland is based on California-style seasonal cooking. This means that the menu changes based on what local ingredients are available. The restaurant has a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere, with wooden tables, chairs, and checkerboard linens. Upland is open daily for lunch and dinner and is close to the Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park.
Upland Cheeseburger has a grass-fed beef patty with avocado, peppadew peppers, and American cheese. Bear in mind that the burger is exclusively offered during lunch hours. If you’re looking for a sweet treat that will energize you, try the Affogato. It’s a mix of espresso and vanilla ice cream to satisfy your craving.
Golden Diner is a fusion-style Asian restaurant near Chinatown’s Manhattan Bridge. It serves classic diner dishes and is open for dinner from Tuesday to Thursday, with extended hours on Friday through Sunday. It’s a great place to check out for a fun dining experience if you’re in New York.
The Golden Cheeseburger on the menu is made with a beef patty containing mushroom gochujang sauce and BBQ pickles. Although it’s not a burger, the Chicken Katsu Club is also popular. To complete your meal, try the vegan nachos or the Korean Fried Chicken wings.
Burger Challenges and Records
New York City’s burger scene isn’t only about the food but also the experience. Burger challenges have become increasingly popular, with restaurants offering oversized burgers at competitive prices.
Mark’s Burger Slider Record Challenge
The Mark’s Burger Slider Record Challenge is considered one of the most rewarding NYC food challenges, especially if you have a hankering for sliders and can eat a considerable number of them. You might want to check it out.
The food challenge involves eating as many sliders as possible in one sitting. If you can consume enough to earn a spot on their wall of fame, you will receive a free meal and be immortalized on their wall. It’s a great option for those seeking food challenges in NYC.
Clinton Hall is known for having one of the best food challenges in NYC. The challenge includes a burger with three beef patties, two large buns, onion rings, three slices of American cheese, bacon, and a half-platter of fries. To complete the challenge, you must also finish a pint of beer.
If you’re brave enough to try, the Clinton Hall Burger Challenge is an NYC food challenge worth tackling. It costs $35, and you’ll get a free meal if you finish the whole thing.
The Ainsworth in NYC offers a cool food challenge that involves eating a huge burger and sides within 45 minutes. Despite its difficulty, the challenge offers a free meal, a t-shirt, and a cash prize of $500. You’ll need to eat three Mac and Cheeseburgers, a large serving of fries, and a signature pickle to win the challenge.
Health-Conscious Burger Options
With the number of burger spots in NYC, there are plenty of options for those looking to still indulge but with healthier ingredients. Whether it’s plant-based burgers or grass-fed beef patties, health-conscious customers can find a variety of delicious and nutritious burgers that won’t disappoint their taste buds.
Lekka is a plant-based burger restaurant in Tribeca, named after the South African word for “delicious.” Chef Amanda Cohen and Andrea Kerzner run it. The burgers are made daily using whole ingredients, giving them a unique texture.
Lekka Burger offers a vegan menu consisting of five types of vegetables, some grains, and spices. Their menu comprises the Peri Peri Burger, served with peri peri sauce and vegan mayo, the Masala Burger, and Guacamole Burger. In addition, they have side dishes like broccolini Caesar, oat milk soft serve, and milkshakes.
Bareburger offers organic burgers suitable for those who are conscious of their diet. These burgers are made with lean, antibiotic-free, grass-fed, and hormone-free proteins such as beef, elk, bison, and turkey. They also offer plant-based proteins like the Impossible Burger and dairy-free alternatives. With options like sprouted grain buns and collard wraps, you don’t have to give up on burgers while following your new diet plans.
When you visit NYC, try one of the many delicious burgers. However, for an authentic NYC food experience, don’t settle for a regular cheeseburger with lettuce and onion. Instead, explore the many unique and surprising burger options available, such as those offered by Umami Burger, where you can satisfy your hunger and desire for something creative.
Umami Burger includes shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, crispy parmesan, and ketchup with Umami flavor. Additionally, you can order a burger made with duck fat and topped with apple and peach compote or a burger topped with beer cheddar cheese.
Jerrell’s BETR BRGR
In NYC, many vegan restaurants serve veggie burgers, leading to tough competition. However, Jerrell’s sets itself apart by offering deliciously oily smash burgers and helping them until late hours. Jerrell’s BETR BRGR is a unique burger place where you have to order at the window. Although indoor seating is unavailable, you can find ample outdoor seating nearby to relish your burger.
Jerrell’s burgers are made with Impossible Meat, making them taste almost the same as real meat. You can also order an oat milkshake and the OG BETR BRGR with vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, and a special sauce you like.
Burger Influencers and Experts
If you want to explore NYC’s burger scene, many people can help you find the best spots. From food bloggers and Instagram influencers to professional chefs and restaurant critics, here are some of the city’s most influential burger experts:
Eddie Huang is a restaurateur, chef, author, actor, and former lawyer who has been featured on the popular Netflix show Street Food Asia. He is the owner of Baohaus, a Taiwanese-American restaurant. Huang has made it his mission to bring Taiwanese food into mainstream culture, and he often shares his knowledge about burgers on social media.
Sean Evans is an American YouTuber and TV presenter known for hosting Hot Ones, a web series in which he interviews celebrities while they eat increasingly spicy chicken wings. In the same format, Evans runs the show Burger Shack and interviews burger experts worldwide to get their opinion on burgers in different cities.
Katie Lee is an American chef, food critic, cookbook author, and television food critic featured on shows such as The Kitchen and Food Network Star. Lee has written several cookbooks, including The Comfort Table, in which she features recipes for burgers with unique flavors like blue cheese-fig jam or pimento cheese.
Adam Richman is an American television personality, actor, and food enthusiast who has made a name for himself with his series Man v. Food and Man Finds Food. He has also written several books about food, including Man v. Food Nation, where he tours the United States to find its best burgers.
If you’re looking to explore New York City’s burger scene, these influencers should be your go-to for advice on where to find the best burgers. From classic American-style burgers to plant-based options, there are endless burger possibilities in NYC that will satisfy everyone’s cravings.
Planning Your Burger Journey in NYC
Exploring New York City’s burger scene is a great way to enjoy delicious food and create memories with friends and family. To make the most of your burger journey, here are some tips to help you navigate the city’s abundant burger offerings:
- Create a list of potential restaurants. Before you start your burger exploration, research the different options available. Look up burger spots in your area and add them to a list so you know which ones to visit.
- Map out locations. Once you have your list of restaurants, map out their locations so you can easily find each one on the day of your burger crawl. This will make it easier for you to navigate the city and avoid getting lost.
- Have a plan. Decide in advance which burgers you want to try and how long you’re willing to wait in line for each restaurant. This will help ensure that your burger crawl goes smoothly and that you don’t end up missing out on any of the delicious offerings available.
- Bring enough money. Burgers can be expensive, so bring enough money to cover all the burgers on your list. Remember that some restaurants may also require a minimum purchase amount before accepting debit or credit cards.
- Take lots of pictures. The best way to remember your burger journey is by taking many photos! Not only will it look great on social media, but it will also help you remember all the delicious burgers you tried.
- Enjoy! Remember to have fun and enjoy your burger journey in NYC. It’s an amazing experience you won’t want to forget, so take the time to savor every bite and appreciate the flavors of each burger.
With New York City’s wide selection of burgers, finding something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds is easy. Whether you’re looking for a classic American-style burger or something more adventurous, many options are available. NYC has something for everyone, from upscale eateries with creative toppings to budget-friendly fast food joints and health-conscious restaurants. So don’t wait any longer and start planning your burger journey today!
New York City is the ultimate destination for burger lovers, offering many options, including classic and creative burgers. From upscale restaurants to fast-food joints and vegan spots, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. So if you’re a burger lover looking for the best places to enjoy some delicious patties, don’t wait any longer and start planning your ultimate journey to find the best burgers in NYC today.