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Help me find "burger bliss" in New York!

I'll be visiting New York next week and one thing I'm looking forward to eating is a good burger. Although there is In N Out all over where I'm from, there are no good pub/white napkin burgers, which I prefer over the fast food style.

I've done a ton of research in the "best burgers" threads and looked through A Hamburger Today, and so far it looks like Molly's, Blue Smoke, Minetta Tavern (the regular burger, because the Black Label is too pricey for me) or Five Napkin Burger might have what I'm looking for, but I'm having a hard time picking one of them.

Here is my perfect burger criteria:

-patty between 7-10 oz.
-patty at least .75" thick
-crumbly meat texture
-crunchy exterior crust

Which of my choices do you think would make me the happiest? Also, if Minetta is the best bet, can a solo diner drop in to eat at the bar?

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  1. Several suggestions:
    -DBGB has excellent options
    -Minetta If you go - go early, yes you can go alone and dine at the bar or a table
    -Five Napkin is a good choice, not my personal favorite
    -Lure does a In and Out Style burger you may enjoy to compare
    -Corner Bistro just for the nostalgia

    1. my fav is jg melon...they're crispy on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside. the fries are a perfect match. it's def a pubby place.

      3 Replies
      1. re: smokeandapancake

        I read on A Hamburger Today that Melon's has underseasoned meat and poor quality buns. Do you find that this isn't the case? I definitely don't want an undersalted burger (which is a beef I have with the upscale burger chain The Counter) and I don't really care for grocery store type fluff buns.

        J.G. Melon review at AHT (scroll down about 1/4 of the way):


        1. re: Humbucker

          my favorite burger...never dissapointed.

          1. re: smokeandapancake

            Have you tried the one at Ottomanelli? I really think that if you like the J.G. Melon burger, you'll like their burger even more.

      2. I haven't tried the burger at Blue Smoke but all the others are great choices.

        The Black Label at Minetta is actually worth the $26 IMO. It's made from 40-day dry aged rib-eye and has caramelized onion on top served with fries. A spot at the bar usually opens up fairly easily.

        The best burger and deal in NY is probably at Peter Lugar's in Brooklyn. The burger is $8 and made from their porterhouse trimmings. Only served at lunch.

        The piggie at DBGB is very good but I think is $18. 8oz patty with pulled pork on top.

        Shack Shack and the Burger Joint are contenders. Along the lines of In-N-Out but taken to the next level... more gourmetish.

        I've always liked the burger at the restaurant above the cash registers in the Fairway super market on B'Way & 74th but it's not a destination place like all the others.

        1 Reply
        1. re: paul8292

          I'll definitely head to Shake Shack because I've heard so much about it, but I should clarify that I'm actually not crazy about In N Out/fast food style burgers.

          Luger's isn't an option because I probably won't be leaving Manhattan.

          Are DBGB's burgers really 8 oz.? The DBGB site says their burgers are 6 oz., which is smaller than my ideal.

        2. Based on your criteria and not what I think makes a good burger, Mollys fits your taste perfectly. Meets all the above criteria, best onion rings in the city (ask for them well done), true pub atmosphere and a perfect pint of Guinness.

          6 Replies
          1. re: princeofpork

            Agreed, its as if the OP was describing Molly's burger

              1. re: meatme

                Looks like Molly's will be my destination then! I'll be sure to report back what I thought.

                1. re: Humbucker

                  Oh, and I should add that I like pub-style burgers, but they need not be accompanied by an actual pub or pub atmosphere.

                  1. re: Humbucker

                    Molly's is the real deal. The burgers can be a tad dry, otherwise, this is exactly what you're looking for, in atmosphere and burger.

                    Waterfron Ale House, Walkers, and possibly Spitzers, and Lillies are some contenders nobody has mentioned yet.

                  2. re: Humbucker

                    Molly's will do you well. A big meaty burger with a good char on it. They have HP Sauce and malt vinegar for the fires or onion rings.

            1. JG's is not under seasoned, high fat ratio, but cooked very well. I like PJ clarks. its a cleaner burger, but not as juice. bloody bulls at JG's is a good novelty. I think you would be disappointed with burger joint.

              1. I can't imagine why it doesn't get mentioned on this board, but I really like BLT Burger. The burgers are just what you are describing, though the one thing missing from your requirements is FLAVOR . This is what I like best about BLT. The most flavorful ground beef I have ever had. I always order the classic burger with cheddar and double meat, though the single burger is not small. The onion rings are also excellent.

                1. Had the awesome burger today at the Spotted Pig. Pure burger Nirvana! Came with shoestring fries with rosemary and garlic and the burger was topped with Roguefort cheese. No reservations and it is extremely popular, so we went exploring the new High Line rail turned into a linear park nearby while waiting for our table. My favourite day in Manhattan!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Cup cake

                    One thing about the Spotted Pig burger that put it out of the running for me is that it is a grilled burger. From the pictures I saw, it looked like it didn't have a very developed crust, since grilling doesn't have the same amount of surface contact that griddle cooking does.

                    1. re: Humbucker

                      I second the Spotted Pig. It does actually have a really nice crust on it, one of the best things about it.

                      Of the places you've mentioned, the only one I know is Blue Smoke. It's an interesting burger, they sort of glaze it with their proprietary BBQ sauce. Same owner as Shake Shack, and you're absolutely right it you're trying to do something pubby/white napkin, Shake Shack doesn't fit the bill. On the other hand, you really should consider Spotted Pig. Another under-the-radar contender might be The Stoned Crow near Washington Square Park. At some point, one of the famed chefs of Corner Bistro went there and revamped their burger operation. Good luck!

                      1. re: Mandymac

                        Not sure why you think Blue Smoke glazes their burger with BBQ because they most definitely do not. The Blue Smoke burger is nearly identical to shake shack in grind, taste, salty crust, etc but has a bigger thicker patty.

                        1. re: Mandymac

                          yeah, there's no glaze, it's a straight up burger, and I agree it's similar to Shake Shack meat only in the thicker patty, full bun, style the OP is looking for. there's a slight char which might be what you meant by glaze.

                          there's also bbq condiments on the side of the table, which you can add yourself.

                          for the record, blue smoke has at times put out one of the best burgers in the city, but it's been a letdown for some of us lately. i'd still suggest this over shake shack in this case.

                          1. re: Mandymac

                            What I believe that they do at Blue Smoke is to put the "magic dust" or whatever they call it on the burgers. Just ask for it without.

                            1. re: carfreeinla

                              Unless that's a new practice, I've never seen any glazing or extra spicing on their burger. I've done takeout a few times, which meant handling it in brighter light, taking it out of the tin, etc. and it was really just a standard burger.

                              Blue Smoke can be odd like that though. I don't doubt that someone was served a burger with their magic dust on it at some point.

                      2. I would put in a word for the cheeseburger at Keen's Chop House. It is a steakhouse atmosphere, but the cheeseburger is pretty awesome. Anyone reading this have any thoughts on Keen's cheeseburger?

                        1. you should for sure go to shake shack. also bills bar and burger in meatpacking is great too. corner bistro is good as well.