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Burger recos please (NOT shake shack)

Im a new SF/Cali/LA transplant to NYC and Im lookin for a great burger, super casual.

I tried Shake Shack thru recos/research on here chowhound and to be honest was very disappointed. It was decent at best: bun was mediocre, cheese was bleh, fries were awful generic crinkly things. The good thing about it was it had a similar style and taste to an In-N-Out burger (with a thicker patty), but oh no In-N-Out fresh cut fries :(

Anyone have good burger recos similar from what im used to in SF? 21st amendment, Mo's burger, Metro cafe, heck, even the Burgermeister chain.

Also, fries are pretty important: must be super fresh, cut to order if possible.

Thx :)

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  1. DuMont Burger in W'burg is my favorite. Molly's does a great bacon cheeseburger on 22nd & 3rd.

    Both are really low-key places not sure on the fries at either place because I always opt for the onion rings.

    1. blue 9 burger is a west coast style burger, it's over on 3rd ave downtown.

      people also really like Five Guys, but I;m not sold on it

      2 Replies
      1. re: ginsbera

        Blue 9 is very similar to In'n'Out in terms of a "special sauce" they put on the burgers. However, they use really cheap buns, iceberg lettuce, and watery tomatoes.

        1. re: ginsbera

          IMHO Blue 9 = Eww. It used to be niceer, but last time I went it was filthy

        2. As a California transplant I recommend, and swear by, the burger at Blue Smoke on E. 27th between Park/Lexington. Easily one of the best I've had anywhere. It is, of course, brought to you by the folks that own Shake Shack, only it's larger, cooked to preference and accompanied by fresher toppings and condiments.

          My other favorite is Burger Joint, 116 W. 56th, in the rear of Le Parker Meridian.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Hurner

            FYI - Blue Smoke is on 27th btwn Park and Lex.

            1. re: Hurner

              Second what Hurner wrote. Burger Joint is one of my faves, as is the Blue Smoke burger -- which is a bigger, better shack burger.

              1. re: apple342

                Third Blue Smoke. Peter Luger makes a damn good burger, too.


            2. spotted pig, corner bistro, molly's pub are three places i like. san francisco's own bunrabs like burger joint in the parker meridien. the original p.j. clarke's on 3rd avenue and 55th (?) also works for me.

              spotted pig might remind you a little of zuni: quality burger topped with roquefort cheese and the fries are shoestrings! corner bistro and molly's are neighborhood joints with tons of character. burger joint is the insider thing that everyone knows about. p.j. clarke's, the original, is an icon.

              1. Westville, Westville East, Veselka, and the Little Giant all have amazing burgers not yet mentioned. LG is probably the least casual of the bunch, but it's exceedingly laid-back at lunchtime.

                1. The fries have always been good at Paul's on Second Ave. The burgers are large, juicy and generally delicious but could use a bit of salt (which you can add yourself using the unlimited pickles).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jakew8

                    second the fries. Steak fries tho

                    1. re: jakew8

                      I have been a long time Paul's fan -- I have no problem with a burger that turns its bun into a gloppy mess. But I had a very mediocre burger from them a few weeks ago. It was probably somewhat overcooked for my liking, and the meat didn't have a good taste. Overcooked? Low quality meat? Not seasoned properly? I don't know. Anyway, they will get another chance or two because they have been great in the past.

                      Their fries don't do much for me. Steak fries like that always seem like pommes frites that didn't get their second cooking. I don't think they would qualify as super fresh / made to order. But then, I love those crispy shake shack fries so maybe my opinion shouldn't count.

                      ps. 12th St Ale house during happy hour is a great place to get a $3 call drink /beer and some delivery.

                    2. I'm not sure where you are living (though I did see a post about your subletting in Harlem), but one of my favorite burgers right now is at Ottomanelli at 94th (93rd?) and Lex. Excellent burger, and great waffle fries. The burger is $5.95, fries extra. I'm not able to compare to any of your SF places, but if it's convenient to you, I'd give it a try. Other posters also like J.G. Melon, but, these days, I think Ottomanelli is better.

                      1. Lately I've been really really really LOVING the burgers from Stand on 13th and University. The meat is juicy and tasty, the buns are good, and even the cheese on the cheese burgers seems to taste better than at other places. I always have it delivered, and my fries are usually a little soggy when they get to me, but I'd bet good money that at the resto they're fantastic. I want one now, I've made myself hungry!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ballulah

                          I've only been there once, but really liked the burger too. And, of course, the toasted marshmallow shake is wonderful.

                          1. re: ballulah

                            The fries are great at Stand when you eat them at the restaurant. (They are better than the burgers, IMO.)

                            1. re: jakew8

                              Have you tried the onion rings? They looked awfully good.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                I went there for the first time last month and I was really impressed. Their Mushroom Beef Burger was done just right, and so were the onion rings. I just wish they gave more of the onion rings.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  the onion rings are sooo great at Stand. I had them both times I was there. the burger was literally raw the second time i went.

                                2. re: jakew8

                                  The toasted marshmellow shake may be the best dessert in the city.

                              2. You will never believe it, but Lure Fishbar downtown has the best burger I have ever had. It is like the In-And-Out burger, but better if that can be. It is mostly a seafood restaurant, so it is a little strange that they have such an amazing burger.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: theaman

                                  It is quite good but filled with lots of toppings, including an onion ring on top. The brioche roll is a little overkill, I think. A bit too soft for such a giant burger with lettuce, tomato, secret sauce, pickles, cheese, etc.

                                2. I'd like to add, that before Stand my favorite burger in the Flatiron to Union Square to Gramercy area was the one from Angelo & Maxie's on Park and 19th. Not a restaurant I'd really want to seek out, but the burger was better than decent, very respectable. The fries, eh, not so much.

                                  I'm not sure why everyone goes so nuts over the sadness on a soggy plate that is the Corner Bistro burger. It's a pretty piss poor burger, and the fries are even worse. I mean, it really hits the spot when it's late and you're drunk and hungry, but a burger that you must experience? Not really. Maybe for the atmosphere/experience of it, but not for the burger itself.

                                  1. Not mentioned so far
                                    Stoned Crow (duh) - Washinton place east of 6th ave.
                                    Honorable mention - Fanelli's on Prince and Mercer (not amazing but very good)

                                    1. I like the chain Goodburger. They don't make anything fancy, but they are very tasty burgers, fresh veggies, heated bun - excellent fries, and they'll cook to your preferred doneness. If your looking for super causual, great burger, and inexpensive - Goodburger is the best in the city.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: dlevine1781

                                        agreed on Goodburger - also a very good option.

                                      2. It never gets talked about here but Rare Bar and Grill does a fantastic burger. Oh and their fries are amazing. You can get a fry basket with waffle fries, sweet potato, and their shoestring which are the only ones I don't care for. They have truffle fries also. Their onion rings are amazing. Make sure you try the maple dip with the sweet potatoes it is absolutely heavenly.

                                        Oh yeah and Burger Joint sucks in my opinion- the best thing they have is their brownie lol.

                                        1. i'm shocked no one's mentioned Royale on Ave C - truly excellent burgers, fries and onion rings. and no lines to deal with. i'll pick Royale over shake shack, burger joint et al any day.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: sandf2007

                                            I 100% agree with you. The burger at Royale is #2 on my list. I love it and the outdoor garden is a nice touch.

                                          2. If you are a fan of In-N-Out Burger and good fries are important, you will probably like Five Guys Burgers n Fries, a small chain from D.C that has recently entered the city. There is one in midtown, between 5th and 6th on 55th I believe. Some of the burgersnobs will probably crow but its a hot, juicy burger prepared with all your chosen toppings and the fries are hand cut and quite good. The burger lacks that chargrilled pub taste but its good for a chain place.

                                            1. Okay so there you have it. People have now recommended pretty much every burger-serving establishment in the city, from take-out counters to steakhouses. Another reiteration of each of the 50 past "best burger" threads...

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: jakew8

                                                Not so, no one has mentioned Island Burger on 9th Ave and 52nd. That's also an amazing burger...but no fries, apparently the kitchen is too small for a deep fryer.

                                                1. re: ballulah

                                                  I've always been meh on their burgers. I've found them a bit dry for their size. The chicken sandwich is good. Tho I know there will be people who disagree with this.

                                                2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                  I think you might be right, Bob. I know exactly what you mean.

                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                    Great point! I'd hope that in a city/borough the size of Manhattan, we'd have lots of decent, if not great, burger options.

                                                  2. i've tried a burger and fries at shake shack, stand, five guys, burger joint, island burger (no fries sold here), good burger, molly's, new york burger co, soho park, and blue 9. i tried fries but no burger at blue smoke and westville. never tried in-n-out so not sure i can be all that helpful but the burgers at each of these places seem a bit variable. my favorites, i guess, are burger joint, five guys (2 patties), shake shack and maybe island burger. ny burger isn't all that bad . molly's was horrible. as far as the fries you've described are concerned, the ones at five guys are really good along with maybe stand (and onion rings) although not sure if stand;s are fresh cut. try ny burger co's fries. blue 9 use to be my favorite 5 yrs ago but, when i returned this past year, it was horrible. maybe it was a bad day.

                                                    1. the Redhead on 13th and 1st.

                                                      1. Not exactly what you are looking for but peter luger has the best burger I ever had (lunch only) and it is not expensive...

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: tpigeon

                                                          The burger is a fairly new addition, not that that matters I'm sure it's great. Try the chopped steak next time, it's just about as cheap and my Grandfather was eating it there every week in the 1940s when he worked on Kent Ave.

                                                          1. re: 2slices

                                                            I think I have been eating the burgers for over 10 years. Are you sure it is new? Or is it new relative to the restaurant itself.

                                                        2. Here's my list. . .not in any particular order (necessarily)
                                                          PJ Clarkes (e50s location)
                                                          JG Mellon (ues)
                                                          Shake Shack (YES. Shake Shack)
                                                          Corner Bistro (w willage)
                                                          5 guys (any location)
                                                          goodburger (any location)
                                                          burger joint (at the parker meridien hotel - e50s)
                                                          zeitzeff (e village)
                                                          burger shoppe (financial)
                                                          rare (any location. . .they make a great spicy chicken burger too)

                                                          1. I'll put a word in for Island Burgers and Shakes on 9th. I go there often, and find that they do an excellent job of using good quality meat, and cooking it perfectly to order. I do miss not having fries, though.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: corgette

                                                              Walker's Pub/Restaurant (in Tribeca). Burger done Medium-Rare with Fries is worth the trip from anywhere. It's also a great place to go to on a rainy day (big windows in front) . What a "feel good" place!!!