Four burgers in five days pretty much screams meat sweats even if brisket isn’t part of the equation. But sometimes you gotta take advantage of your burger surroundings and so here ya go – 4 epic burgers meals in the city that never sleeps. Unless you happen to eat four burgers in five days of course.
the spot: Minetta Tavern 113 MacDougal Street New York NY 10012
the eats: Black Label Burger
the bucks: $33 (!!!)
the full nelson: Just hear me out on this . . .
Yes this blog is named Bang for your Burger Buck. Yes, it really began with a search for burgers that got game for usually no more than $10 a pop. But there have been times where I have taken on a burger in the teens, and have been blown away to the point where a $16 burger has made for a more satisfying meal than a $25 steak. It’s not just about how much you spend but what you are getting for your dollar and I would be remiss not to tip my cap to higher priced experiences that too serve up Bang for your Burger Buck. But still a $33 burger screams excess. It screams billionaire, yacht club, room service and perhaps even yours truly jumping the shark?? Well just hang on for a minute because the Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern is worth every penny, if you can spare to spend it. First off you can split this thing – it is a hefty 8oz of wonderful charred beef made of dry aged steak trimmings whose prime parts are served at Minetta starting around $150(for two). And then there is what you don’t see. No cheese. No bacon. No foie gras. No truffle. Because you don’t need them. Decadent and expensive as they are, they would only serve as a distraction to this impeccable beef. Beyond a bun fit for a king you will only see some caramelized onion, soaking up the jus from the bottom half of this burger behemoth. I could tell you that it comes with fries but the spuds are an afterthought once you sink your teeth into this fine hamburger. For good measure I ordered a steak frites that was priced competitively at $37. The Black Label burger blew the steak away. It wasn’t even close. Some of you will no doubt never spend so much on a hamburger and I cannot argue the principle behind that. However, if you love burgers and are curious to experience a burger that eliminates the notion of cheese entirely – something almost unheard at any burger price point, well you need to step up to the Black Label at Minneta Tavern. In fact, you can’t afford not to.
the spot: Quality (M)Eats 19 Greenwich Ave New York NY 10014
the eats: Patty Melt
the bucks: $15
the full nelson: So you really need to have a thing for grilled cheese . . .
Much like a man, a good Patty Melt is hard to find. But if you happen to be in NYC when I’m in town, feel free to scratch both off your list. Quality Eats is just a great NYC restaurant: truly fine food at anytime of day, be it brunch, lunch or dinner. A full bar sits in the wings. However, blitzed or not, that arrival of a hefty NYC bill is indeed inevitable, a sobering reminder that eating well in New York does carry a premium. Bang for your Buck can be a relative term in some parts of Manhattan. But do keep in mind that what you see above you is no optical illusion: this patty melt is a true triple decker of griddled beef and grilled cheese sandwiches. The meal is gargantuan and unless you happen to be of the eating contest type, for the love of your waistline find a friend and share this patty melt. If anything, do it so you can have this wonderful nueske bacon course with a jalapeño jelly and peanut butter as a starter. Ok, well now it looks like you just compromised on the whole waistline thing. Hey, I tried. PS if you love grilled cheese, you are gonna be very happy with this here Patty Melt.
the spot: The Brindle Room 1277 E. 10th street New York NY 10009
the eats: Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger
the bucks: $17
the full nelson: a tribute to a fine food writer you in burger form
The late Josh Ozersky spoke both passionately and poetically on why the burger at the Brindle Room was the best burger in New York City. His words sparked me to try this hamburger despite a $17 price tag and the exclusion of a house made bun. The beauty of this burger is that it is in essence a bold declaration on what New York City believes a burger should be: top quality beef, cooked like a steak and adorned with simple but complimentary accoutrements like classic American cheese and caramelized onion. Somehow towing the line between a familiar American Diner and steakhouse burger served at the bar, the keen burger connoisseur is reminded that “sauce” is for fast food and West Coast burgers, bacon is a distraction and we all survived on burgers pre the brioche bun era. I don’t share the same zeal that Mr. Ozersky had for this burger but respect his strong opinion for essentially a simple hamburger that asks for a few more bucks in the beef department. Like a muscle car from the 1970’s, it is all about what’s under the hood. And believe me if you are looking for some serious horsepower in the NYC burger patty department, look no further. The wings ain’t nothing to sneeze at either.
the spot: Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer multiple locations, tested in Midtown 136 W. 55th street New York NY 10019
the eats: Bison Burger
the bucks: $18
the full nelson: So you’re craving Italian, Wild Game and Burgers all at the same time . . .
Like it sounds, Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer is indeed one timely restaurant concept but don’t mistake it for soulless. Craft burgers and craft beer are signs that our food revolution is growing en masse with the business side of the restaurant industry and this means diners are winning. This might not be the old school NYC burger experience you would find at Corner Bistro but you will definitely sate your burger fix. Starting at $15 for a standard beef cheeseburger, I was easily swayed to add a few more bucks and go for the Bison Burger at $18. I almost forgot there was cheese on this burger until the pic above reminded me that fresh mozzarella was in play here. The whole flavor profile here is Italian through and through, starting with the fresh mozz and peaking with a garlicky zip of pesto mayo. Two things happened when I took this burger down: first was the realization that I need to pony up for more buffalo burgers because if you like ’em medium rare to rare – the distinct wild game taste of buffalo just outshines grass fed beef. Second, the next steakhouse I go to is going to be an Italian one because good lord did the toppings on this burger just work and accentuate a medium rare burger experience. Garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil just light it up on all things red meat especially when cooked closer to rare- carpaccio anyone? At $18 I certainly broke my burger bank but also satisfied my steak fix too. And $18 for steak fix is a down right steal.
So what did this NYC burger binge cost me? Minus tax, tip and more than a few drinks: $83. That averages out to about $21 a burger with Minetta Tavern really just launching the burger average price. Not cheap by any stretch but not asingle one of these burgers disappointed on taste or size. Each one could have served as your red meat fix for a week, if not the month. Like New York City rolls, I went hard and fast. In retrospect, my next burger binge might be a marathon fueled on pennies, but to cross off two burger icons means money well spent. If I had to pick just one? The Black Label at Minetta Tavern. It is a burger that screams no compromise in scope and price. Looks like I’m already down $33 on my next NYC trip. Ah New York, you do bring the best out of me. You certainly bring the best out of burgers – that is for sure.