The 25 Best Burgers in NYC

From classics to new, quintessentially New York patties.

Old John’s Diner
Old John’s Diner | Photo by Marconi Jose Gonzalez
Old John’s Diner | Photo by Marconi Jose Gonzalez

No matter what you’re craving, chances are, New York City’s got it. But even in our vast landscape of things to eat, burgers are special. They go hand in hand with our beloved bar scene, and there are few things more quintessentially New York than heading to your neighborhood watering hole and saddling up to the counter with a burger and a beer.

That’s what makes burgers an undeniable New York staple, and they’ve become the standout dish not only at pubs and bars, but at steakhouses and Brooklyn pizzerias alike. From a fancy dry-aged number; fast food-inspired sliders; and, of course, award winners, the variety in where and how they’re served is as diverse as the city itself. Here are the 25 best burgers in NYC to get you fired up for the summer.

Jolene
Jolene | Photo by Eric Medsker

Jolene

NoHo

Cheeseburger
Anyone who's been to a Gabe Stulman eatery knows the restaurateur does a solid burger (the popular menu item from former Bar Sardine is now even available at Fairfax)—and the cheeseburger at his newest spot, Jolene, is worthy of the same adulation. Located in NoHo and inspired by both Dolly Parton and Parisian cafes, the cheeseburger comes with American cheese, pickled fresnos, crispy shallots, and tomato jam on a sesame seed bun, and will have you singing like Dolly after the first bite.

Available for Reservations
Old John's Diner
Old John’s Diner | Photo by Marconi Jose Gonzalez

Old John's Diner

Upper West Side

Old John’s Burger
The return of Old John’s Diner is a 2021 comeback we’re welcoming with open arms. After operating for more than 70 years and closing during the pandemic, the diner relaunches this week with a new redesign and chef Grayson Schmitz (Jean-Georges, Fiamma, BKLYN Larder) overseeing the menu of classic American comfort fare. Their signature Old John’s Burger comes with an 8 oz patty of dry-aged New York strip and chuck along with cheddar cheese and raw onion on a sesame seed bun. And for a super throwback meal, enjoy it with a classic egg cream (that contains no egg or cream, because hello modern times).

Contento
Contento | Photo by Robin & Sue Photography

Contento

East Harlem

Contento Burger
In addition to South American-inspired fare from chef Oscar Lorenzzi (Nice Matin, Waverly Inn, Five Napkin Burger), the partners behind newly opened Contento champion advocacy for the disability community, with sommelier Yannick Benjamin also a co-founder of Wheeling Forward. On top of the restaurant’s strong social justice foundation and expansive wine program highlighting makers of marginalized communities, Lorenzzi’s menu offers a decadent burger. Inspired by steak au poivre, it’s cooked a la plancha with two smashed patties that are topped with white American cheese, brandy caramelized onions, and green peppercorn aioli on a brioche bun.

Available for Reservations
Burgie’s
Burgie’s by Roberta's | Photo by Erik Kantar

Burgie’s by Roberta's

East Williamsburg

Double Burgie
The team behind the Bushwick pizza institution, Roberta’s, launched their burger spot, Burgie’s by Roberta’s, during the pandemic. The concept pays homage to America’s classic burger joints, and here, they grind their own special patty blend daily to serve it alongside fresh cut fries. The straightforward menu features “Burgers and Fries ‘N Everything Nice''—and since you’re already in the building, we recommend going big with the Double Burgie. It includes two patties on a potato roll with American cheese, onions, pickles, and thousand island dressing—and be sure to grab some cool merch before you go.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Smashed
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Smashed

Lower East Side

Classic Smashed
Since opening in March, Smashed has been one of NYC’s most exciting additions to the local burger scene. The Lower East Side spot specializes in—you guessed right—smashed burgers, and offers thin griddled patties as flavorful as the crispy edge in your fave regular burger. Selections include vegan options or noteworthy items like The Big Schmacc, but our favorite is the classic with American cheese, griddled onions, pickles, and Smash Sauce on Martin's Potato Roll.

Lucali Burger
Located right by the canal in Gowanus, this local American cafe specializes in coffee, breakfast items like avocado toast, and a hefty list of sandwiches both hot and cold. Since last year, Bond Street Cafe’s menu has also included a special burger made in collaboration with famed Brooklyn pizzeria, Lucali. The Lucali Burger’s double patties are made with a blend of brisket and short rib from local butcher Paisanos and is served with melted American cheese, onions, pickles, mustard, and ketchup between a seeded roll.

Corner Bistro

West Village

Bistro Burger
If you're looking for the quintessential NYC dive bar burger, this is it. While other burgers in the city may be topped with truffles and gold leaves, the standard Bistro Burger at Corner Bistro remains one of the most beloved in the city, because eight ounces of beef with American and crispy bacon on a paper plate can make even the worst New York days tolerable.

Classic Cheeseburger
Donovan’s is the quintessential Queens Irish pub—it’s been in Woodside since 1966 and boasts random antiques, stained glass, and plenty of neighborhood regulars. While you can always grab a cheap on-tap beer and enjoy the laid-back local company, the main draw here is the enormous burger, made with a half-pound chuck and a New York strip-blend patty broiled to medium rare and served alongside thick-cut steak fries.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Emily
Emily | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Emily

Clinton Hill

Emmy Burger
You can easily go to Emily, order one of their famed pizzas and leave without a second thought. But unlike the largely ignored, soggy meatball Parm at your childhood pizzeria, the burger at Emily isn't a throwaway menu addition—it's what makes it a destination. In fact, the best course of action here is to order your pizza as a side to your burger (don't worry, you'll make room). The Emmy Burger is made with a dry-aged Fleisher’s patty that comes dripping in rich Grafton Cheddar, sweet caramelized onions, and buffalo-esque Emmy Sauce served atop a Tom Cat pretzel bun. But there’s limited availability, so get your order in early.

Available for Reservations

Golden Diner

Two Bridges

Golden Cheeseburger
At this spot from chef Sam Yoo (Torrisi Italian Specialties, Momofuku Ko), nostalgic diner classics with an Asian twist and renditions inspired by its Chinatown neighborhood are served up in a picturesque location below the Manhattan Bridge. Yoo’s talents made Golden Diner a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2020 for Best New Restaurant, and in addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the eatery’s signature Golden Cheeseburger—and its mushroom gochujang sauce—is a must-try.

Available for Reservations

The Happiest Hour

Greenwich Village

The Happiest Burger
This downtown destination from industry veterans Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns has been open since 2015, and in addition to offering classic and signature craft cocktails, The Happiest Burger on their food menu of American comfort classics is also a big attraction. At The Happiest Hour, two grass-fed beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, confit onions, and special sauce is a great bite to go with your drinks, or is it the other way around?

Available for Reservations
J.G. Melon
J.G. Melon | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

J.G. Melon

Upper East Side

Cheeseburger
The bare-bones cheeseburger made famous at the J.G. Melon on the Upper East Side is a NYC classic that’s been praised by some of the city's toughest burger critics—high school students and middle-aged men in business suits—since the early '70s. The components here are simple: a griddled, hearty beef blend with American inside a slightly-toasted, soft, potato bun. It's the perfect bar burger—best enjoyed with a side of cottage fries.
How to order: Call 212-744-0585

The L.I. Burger
The 70-year old corner bar that’s still standing post COVID boasts charming vintage interiors, well-made takes on cocktail classics, and a killer double-patty burger. The dry-aged beef is laced with American cheese and served with pickles, fries and “fancy sauce.” It’s the perfect late-night bar snack guaranteed to reduce your risk of a crushing hangover the next day by at least half.

Lure Fishbar
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Bash Burger
The burger that launched a thousand ships—this classic seafood spot has an award-winning burger that chef Josh Capon took to Burger Bash glory many many times over. Topped with his signature bacon jam, and laced with American cheese and pickles between a potato bun, the fast food inspired burger is a longtime favorite for a reason.

Available for Reservations

Minetta Tavern

West Village

Black Label Burger
Minetta Tavern's Black Label Burger has quite the reputation—largely because of its $36 price tag, but also because it's just a truly decadent burger: a blend of prime dry-aged beef cuts, cooked until there's a nice, light crust on top, then dressed with caramelized onions on a custom brioche bun. No cheese—but there’s plenty of flavor from the smoky burger patty alone. Sure, this isn't a once-a-week burger (sincere apologies if you are eating these nightly and I've just made false assumptions about your finances), but on special burger occasions when your standard double patty with American just won't do, this is the one to go for.

Available for Reservations

Pastis

Meatpacking District

Cheeseburger à l’Américaine
With help from restaurateur Stephen Starr (Upland, Buddakan), owner Keith McNally did the near-impossible in 2019 by resurrecting a long-shuttered restaurant on a Meatpacking block of impossibly pricey real estate. Most anyone who’s eaten at the revived Pastis in the last year will likely tell you that the cheeseburger is the sleeper hit on the swanky French menu known previously for items like steak frites. Reminiscent of In-N-Out’s mustard-brushed patties, the double cheeseburger is served on a sesame seed bun with the eatery's famed French fries.

Available for Reservations
Peter Luger Steak House
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Peter Luger

Williamsburg

Luger-Burger
Peter Luger might be one of NYC’s top destinations for a great steak, but their Luger-Burger is worthy of a visit on its own. Coming in at over half a pound of medium-rare USDA Prime dry-aged beef on a fluffy sesame bun with raw onion, add cheese and also go for the famous thick-cut bacon (which comes on the side since it’s too large to balance on the patty). Purists will insist you skip the cheese, but it really doesn't obscure the flavor of the meat, which is perfectly tender and just the right color of pink on the inside.
How to order: Call 718-387-7400

Burger Au Poivre
Located in the heart of SoHo, the legendary burger at this 46-year-old French bistro used to only be available onsite at the bar. But early on in the pandemic last year, Raoul’s began selling their brisket-heavy patty topped with rich, triple-cream Saint-André cheese, and luxurious Cognac and cream-laden Au Poivre sauce inside a squishy challah bun, online. And while it’s great news that the special burger kits (limited availability) are available for shipping nationwide, there’s nothing better than pulling up a bar stool to enjoy it BC-style.

Available for Reservations

Hook Burger
Seeing a burger on a menu at a lobster roll spot is kind of like seeing a platter of seared scallops on a 24-hour diner menu. But don’t let that thinking steer you away here. Red Hook Lobster Pound griddles and butters its buns on both sides, meaning along with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a “special sauce,” the thick, dry-aged short rib, chuck, and brisket blend patty gets an extra-toasted accompaniment.

Available for Reservations

Dry Aged Cheeseburger
Hometown Bar-B-Que proprietor and pitmaster Billy Durney is the man behind this charming haunt in South Brooklyn. The meat expert sources a mixture of dry-aged strip and chuck to form the hefty patty (inspired by the steakhouse burger at Peter Luger’s) that maintains a high-fat ratio. The patties are griddled to a perfect bloody pink and served atop a toasted bun with American cheese, raw onions, a pickle, and wedge-style fries.

Available for Reservations

Ruby’s Café

Multiple locations

The Bronte
It's a tough choice between the Classic Cheeseburger and the Bronte at Ruby’s, a popular Aussie cafe. The Classic is a beautifully messy burger dripping in cheese and sauce, but the Bronte offers two things you won't find anywhere else. For one, it's served on panini-style bread, which can be a confusing prospect (won't the burger just slip right out of the bread? How can that be as satisfying as a squishy potato bun?). Somehow, it completely holds together, and the texture is just as enjoyable as a standard burger bun. The other key thing here is the sweet chili oil, which, when blended with the cheese, mayo, and meat, makes for a burger that's at once sweet and savory.

Shake Shack

Multiple locations

ShackBurger
There’s a reason both tourists and locals continue to line up for unreasonably long periods of time for a ShackBurger; not only is it cheap (by NYC standards, $6.19 for a single patty and $8.99 for a double is indeed a bargain), but it's also all about this simple fast-food burger that, unlike a certain West Coast chain (that we're doing just fine without, thank you!), has a quality of meat that exceeds fast-food expectations, while still maintaining all the necessary grease and melted cheese.

Two8Two Burger

Cobble Hill

Billy Burger
At first glance, Two8Two Burger looks like an unassuming sports bar. But locals know that it’s one of the best spots in the area for a truly exceptional burger. Using beef that’s ground fresh daily from nearby butcher, Paisanos, the ultra-juicy patties come in a variety of combinations including the Billy (cheeseburger topped with grilled onions and Two8Two sauce); and the Half and Half, which features a patty made with half beef and half ground bacon. For non-meat eaters, you can also get any burger made with a Beyond Meat patty, and there’s a housemade veggie burger option as well.

Upland
Upland | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Upland

Kips Bay

Cheeseburger
Stephen Starr and Justin Smilie’s Cal-Italian restaurant has been a favorite since opening in 2014. While handmade pastas and pizzas are the main event here, don’t sleep on the cheeseburger, served during lunch only. The grass-fed beef double patty is topped with oozy American cheese, peppadew peppers, and avocado and garnished with a toothpick bearing a micro-sized California state flag (gotta nod to the avo).  

Available for Reservations

Whitmans

Multiple locations

Juicy Luicy
Minnesota's state cheeseburger has a loving home in the East Village, Hudson Yards, and SoHo with Whitmans. The chuck and short rib blend featured in the Juicy Lucy comes stuffed with an almost overwhelming amount of pimento cheese (cut it open if you're looking for the safest, least shirt-damaging route in) plus caramelized onions and special sauce on a sesame bun. While we may not be very thankful for hockey, we should all be indebted to Minnesota for a burger that oozes this much goodness.

Lucy Meilus is a contributor for Thrillist.
Kelly Dobkin is the Editorial Director of Local at Thrillist. She's eaten way too many burgers in New York.
Tae Yoon was born and raised in Queens, and is the Editor of Thrillist New York.
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