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Best Pub/Low rent Burger

I find the best burgers are the ones from Pubs-- perhaps it's also that I like good value for my food. I'm a simpleton and prefer my burger with quality meat (not mixed with shortribs, etc.) and seasoned just with salt and pepper.

I recall Ship of Fools on the UES having a solid burger. These days I like Hurleys, just had a good one at Blind Pig (a tad small for my tastes), wasn't crazy about Molly's and definitely disappointed at Corner Bistro (their meat quality was subpar). Can't stand JG Melon for the service. Also need to give a shout out to Reservoir for their inexpensive yummy wings (6.50 for 10 and 8.50 for 20!) and a solid burger.

What pub burger do you like? The closer to EV the better :-)

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  1. Have you tried the Ear Inn?

    1. My favourite burger in NYC wasn't at a pub, but from Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien hotel (find it behind the red curtain to the side of the reception desk). They've also recently opened a second outlet at 33 west 8th street.

      Simple burger - meat, cheese, tomato, pickle, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, mayo. Tasty as!

      1. PJ Clarkes for me.

        Also the short rib spring rolls are pretty awesome.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lexismore

          PJ Clarkes is a good burger but found I had to order 2 to satiate my needs!

          1. re: rottyguy

            I know what you mean about the size of the burger at Clarke's. Old Town might pop up on this thread too - be warned, their burger is the same size. Good but small.

            I second the Walker's rec. below. I'll also add the Waterfront Ale House.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            Fortunately, I work near walkers so have had them a few times and agree, it's a good burger. Will need to give Ear Inn a shot as I've heard it's quite solid as well.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              I'll echo the Walker's and Waterfront Ale House.
              (I have had some unexplainable clunkers at Walker's though)

              I find it's often the less celebrated pubs the put out some good burgers. I've had some luck at The Watering Hole (formerly Tracey J's). Does Brinkley's or Spitzer's count as pubs?

              Meat quality on some of the more beloved pub burgers is pretty iffy, so based on the OP's take on Corner Bistro, I wouldn't think they'd be too impressed with Ear Inn, or PJ's.

              1. re: sugartoof

                Funny, I was wholly unimpressed by the meat quality/flavor Corner Bistro, Ear Inn (and Molly's for that matter), but found PJs to be great both times I had it.

                1. re: lexismore

                  The grease and outer char of the PJ's probably helps the flavor, which is enough for some people.

                  I'm strictly speaking of the original location. I think Lincoln Center is a notch better.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    The LCPJ is a sanitized theme park, with a different menu, larger kitchen, bigger burgers, fries, and a touristy ambience. Many people will think it a huge improvement on the original.

                    1. re: knucklesandwich

                      Right, but the bigger burger vs. a more fast food, carnival burger. Different styles.

                2. re: sugartoof

                  Just had the Ear Inn Burger tonight and agree the meat quality wasn't fantastic but something kinda worked for me there.

                  1) It was a nice size burger (8oz)
                  2) No frills (tomato & onion), salted, probably peppered
                  3) Had to have been flamed grilled as it was well charred on the outside
                  4) Pretty Juicy
                  5) While I prefer a Martin's Roll, the bread wasn't overly bready and did well with the meat
                  6) The side salad was a nice touch (but I should have asked for a different dressing).
                  7) $9.50

                  Still behind Hurleys, Walkers, and Blind Pig but above Molly's and Corner Bistro.

                  Had the meat quality been a bit better (ahem, Ottomanelli's) this could have been one worth traveling for...

                  Will need to try the Watering Hole next as it's not to far from me.

                  1. re: rottyguy

                    I can see how that's exactly the appeal for those that appreciate the Ear Inn burger. It's very classic, no thrills. It does have that char taste, which is a saving grace for the meat. To me it's too generic and close to a diner burger, in a cooler room.

                    With Waterfront, you can expect something attempting to be a little more high end.

              2. I've eaten burgers at pretty much all the so called best burger locations. Form my experience Walkers stands out.

                1 Reply
                1. re: porkpa

                  Hurleys in midtown is on par with Walkers IMO.

                2. Haven't tried any of these but they're on my pub burger todo list based on recommendations here and elsewhere:

                  BV's Burger




                  Kinsale Tavern
                  Finnegan's Wake

                  Please report back if you try any of these.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Humbucker

                    The chef from Brinkley's moved to another place on the upper east side.

                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      Do you know where the chef moved to?

                    2. re: Humbucker

                      Just tried BV's today. Not bad, not great. Meat somewhat under-seasoned, but a lot of it with plenty of cheese. For the price, though (~$7 + tax), certainly worth a try.

                        1. re: princeofpork3

                          I've had royale c a few times now but don't think its deserving of its high status. Perhaps it was the greasiness. Was just ok for me.

                          1. re: rottyguy

                            Same here. Also I think it falls into the too small category the OP mentioned.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              Its only 6 bucks compared to many of these burgers costing 2x that of more.

                              1. re: princeofpork3

                                If you're really hungry you can order 2 and still come out ahead. :-)

                                1. re: princeofpork3

                                  It's $7.50.
                                  Without fries.

                                  A burger with fries is 11.75

                                  It's in a bar but I'm not sure it qualifies as the style the OP wants. Meat and bun are fast food like. Better off at Schnippers or Bare Burger.

                            1. re: City Kid

                              I have to agree. Hit this awesome butcher for some fresh ground beef and sizzle it up yourself (served on a martin's roll!). Hits the spot everytime!

                              1. re: rottyguy

                                Or eat in at Ottomanelli, which is what I do...also my all-time favorite super-crispy waffle fries.

                                1. re: City Kid

                                  Didn't realize you could eat there!

                                  1. re: rottyguy

                                    The Ottomanelli at Lexington & 93rd!

                                    1. re: City Kid

                                      Agreeing re: Ottomanelli at Lexington & 93rd. And the burger is an especially good value for the lunch special.

                                      1. re: Elisa515

                                        The burger at Ottomanelli was one of the worse burgers I've had in NYC. It was quite densely packed, giving it a sausage-ish texture.

                                        1. re: Humbucker

                                          Your experience was completely different from any I've had in several visits to Ottomanelli.

                                          1. re: Elisa515

                                            Yea, it's not an amazing burger, but it's pretty good. I could be wrong, but I think they use a fair amount of garlic in the meat.

                            2. I used to love McHales on 46th and 8th, but they closed a few years back. However, a new place with the same name and a decent-looking burger has opened at 8th and 51st - I don't know if it's the same owner/burger or not, but I would love to hear about it if anyone has given it a shot. http://mchalespub.com/

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: biondanonima

                                  I remember McHales. Back when smoking was legal in pubs and boy was it smokey in there :-).

                                2. There's a few great burgers in the EV: Korzo Haus, Black Market, Whitman's, Brindle Room [this is a bit more chi-chi, admittedly, but it's excellent]. l know that all of these are not exactly pubs or pub burgers, but they're damn good.

                                  23 Replies
                                  1. re: howdini

                                    Wasn't crazy about the Brindle Room. Black Iron had a decent burger, and there was the burger shop (across from bua) on st marks that has recently closed (they got hit pretty hard during Sandy and had to throw out all of their meats unfortunately).

                                    How's Bad Burger on Ave A? walk by there all the time but have never stopped in. Always went to Tompkins Bagel instead (best damn bagel in town IMO)

                                    1. re: rottyguy

                                      l've only been to BAD once, and had eggs, which were tremendously meh, and came out with way undercooked bacon [about which the waiter was very gracious and accommodating, bringing me out another order], so l can't speak to the quality of the burgers; l'll give it a shot for that soon.

                                      Have you tried Black Market, next to Niagara? Good, beefy burgers with a really nice crust [tho borderline over-seasoned]; definitely worth a visit.

                                      1. re: howdini

                                        circling back on this.. Went to Niagra a coupla months back with several friends. We all had the burger and the consensus was that it was just ok.

                                        1. re: rottyguy

                                          So it goes! Have you tried BAD yet? l still haven't. l thought Whitman's was pretty good; what do you think of their burger?

                                          1. re: howdini

                                            Haven't gotten to either yet.

                                            Top for me so far:

                                            1) Buy Ottomanelli Ground Beef and make it at home :-)
                                            2) Hurleys
                                            3) Walkers
                                            4) Blind Pig, Reservoir, PJ Clark, Black Iron

                                            1. re: rottyguy

                                              Hmm...looks like l've gotta try Hurley's and Walker's. Oh, and what about Burger and Barrel? They haven't come up on this thread, and they make a pretty good one...

                                              1. re: howdini

                                                Burger and Barrel is excellent. Get the Bash Burger

                                            2. re: rottyguy

                                              Also, what do you think would be your top 3? Looks like you dig Walkers and Hurley's the most out all the ones on this thread? My 17yo son is a burger fanatic; l'm asking purely in his interest, dontchaknow...

                                          2. re: rottyguy

                                            Have you tried Korzo and Whitman's? Korzo has the added benefit of having excellent imported beers and, most importantly, fried haluszky, which are absolutely delicious and addictive; l think they're the world's greatest bar snack.

                                            1. re: howdini

                                              Don't you find the Korzo is closer in connection to the Piroshki family than it is the burger family?

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                l know what you mean, but l'd say it's more in the burger family, because of the way the meat itself is prepared: just seasoned ground beef, not mushed up. When l take a bite, it screams "hamburger!"

                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                  I only been to the Korzo mothership in Brooklyn which has a much more extensive menu than the Manhattan branch. In Brooklyn you can get the burger on a roll or deep fried surrounded by langos.

                                                  Here's the roll version -

                                                  I actually prefer it to the langos version althougyh I like that too. The OP may want to see if buns are available at the Manhattan branch.

                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                    The bun version looks nice.

                                                    Every time I've visited the Alphabet City location the thing falls apart. The meat crumbles, so you lose the burger effect, and the fried dough wrapper gets mushy, and every time I just realize I'm eating a sloppy Piroshki with a fork.

                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                      The bun version in Brooklyn was served with fried onions on top. They were good but they made the burger a little hard to handle. The top of the bun kept wanting to slide off to the side. When I have it again I'd ask for those onions on the side.

                                                      In restaurant school they should have a Burger Engineering course. Chefs would be taught not to serve really juicy burgers on flimsy rolls which will fall apart midway through the meal.

                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                        Huh! l've been there three or four times, and never had that happen. l like the langos, though not as much as a potato roll, maybe.

                                                        1. re: howdini

                                                          It happened at the Brooklyn branch. The fried onions (sauteed actually, not deep fried) were a bit slippery and holding the top part of the bun in place was a bit tricky. It tended to move around. The burger itself was great.

                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                            Oh, sorry: l was responding to sugartoof. But l totally agree: l think Korzo does that "big burger" style pretty well. l've only been to the one in the EV; Steven, who put the menu together, served us [my teenage son and me] the first couple of times, sitting down to chat with us as it was early and slow. Super nice guy, and he assured us that if we ordered medium rare, it would come out medium rare. He wasn't lying: the burgers were cooked perfectly. Great selection of obscure imported beers, too.

                                                          2. re: howdini

                                                            Dough is just a little too doughey, and the patty is packed too loose to hold. Then there's the drippy cheese.

                                                            Plus a Piroshki should be about $10 cheaper.

                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                              l don't think l ever got one with cheese, and the times l've been there the dough has been nice and crispy on the inside, and did get soggy at the bottom, but only after a while. Understandable, too, as it's a big, juicy burger, dripping directly down into an enclosed bun. Just gotta eat it quicker, l guess!

                                                              1. re: howdini

                                                                All the beef burgers there come with either a cheese or Kraut now.

                                                                They also stuff tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles in some which might add moisture.

                                                                Of course, you could order it without...

                                                                1. re: howdini

                                                                  I didn't know there was a Korzo in Manhattan, I went to the one in Brooklyn. I had the Korzo Burger with came with Edam cheese, bacon and german mustard. They had some other varieties of burgers too.
                                                                  My dough was nice and crispy and overall it was excellent. I had a side of something that reminded my of my mother's shell pasta with Pot Cheese.
                                                                  Here's a link to some photos of Korzo Burgers, for those that haven't seen one.

                                                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                    The next time l go, l might follow sugartoof's suggestion, and just order it plain on langos.

                                                2. Went to Rattle N Hum recently since they supposedly grind their own ottomanelli beef. It was rather disappointing like the meat had been frozen for awhile (though we kept our o-ground beef for a coupla weeks before frying it up).

                                                  Looking to try Waterfront next!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: rottyguy

                                                    Beer is great at Rattle N Hum , food not so much. I usually eat at La Vie En Szechuan or K Town before or after. Waterfront is definitely a step up from there.

                                                  2. Just got back from llunch at the waterfront ale. Solid burger here (special mention to a very good whole pickel!). 1.5 gripes.

                                                    1- While the patty was good sized, the brioche bun detracted (prolly cuz it was a little dry)
                                                    .5 - Wish it would have been char grilled

                                                    Thanks guys! Watering Hole is next!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: rottyguy

                                                      Sometimes they char grill it, and it definitely improves it. The bun also fluctuates between a denser and dryer brioche bun suitable for burgers, and a lighter more egg challah like bun. I prefer it dryer (but not stale) and charred.

                                                      1. re: rottyguy

                                                        They changed their bun about 2 years ago. The old one was even worst. You have to try Mollys on 22 and 3rd

                                                      2. reporting back on Watering Hole. Man, I really wanted to like this burger. 10oz for $10, chargrilled on a toasted bun. Great fries. Cool patrons (sat and talked sports with a guy for 30min). But alas, the meat was tasteless. arrgghhh

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: rottyguy

                                                          Are you confining your search to Manhattan? lf not, maybe Peter Luger at lunch? The Commodore has a good burger, and excellent fried chicken.

                                                          1. re: howdini

                                                            I don't get out of the city much but thanks for the heads up. Will put Commodore in my backpocket...

                                                            1. re: rottyguy

                                                              Honestly, if you're' going to the Commodore I wouldn't bother with a burger. They do a standard fast food style burger that's indistinguishable from hundreds of others around the city. Instead, have the excellent chicken sandwich. Have the hot sauce on the side since they can ladle it on if left to their own devices.

                                                        2. The Blarney Stone on 3rd bet 44/45. It's a low rent pub w/ a good juicy burger w/ all the sides and fries for $7 or so.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: GoodGravy

                                                            ^mckennas 8ve/w14st has a $6 burger that hits the spot. its not bad at all.

                                                            for better pub burgers i like hurleys, petes waterfront ale house and walkers.

                                                            lastly, for a twist, the crooked knife has good slider burgers (has that silly slider trend passed yet? lol!).

                                                          2. Went and bought 4lbs of ottomanellis ground beef last weekend. There is 1lb left. Delicious!

                                                            1. Piper's Kilt, dude! Broadway around 204th.

                                                              1. Riverwalk Sports Bar, not a "pub" as such but a...joint(?). It's on Roosevelt Island which qualifies as Manhattan and their burger is top notch, good meat, broiled as you want it with fries, $10.95. Not a great selection of beers, but I'm there for the burger, not the beer.