The 17 Best Burgers in NYC for Takeout and Delivery
Still plenty of patties to enjoy during COVID.
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 (which at the moment, is sadly hurting). There are few things more quintessentially New York than heading to your neighborhood bar, and saddling up to the counter with a burger and a beer (along the lines of Corner Bistro, Donovan’s Pub, Raoul’s, et al.).
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.
And even during these COVID times, the burgers that are available for takeout and delivery in the city include prime choices. Each of the 17 burgers below stands out for a unique reason, making them New York City’s best.
Located in Gowanus right by the canal, this local American cafe specializes in coffee, breakfast items like avocado toast, and a hefty list of sandwiches both hot and cold. Remaining open during COVID, Bond Street Cafe has continued to offer its regular menu for takeout and delivery, in addition to adding 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.
How to order: Via website
Chef Josh Capon first gained recognition for his burger-making prowess at sibling restaurant Lure Fishbar, eventually joining the Burger Bash competition circuit at NYCWFF/SOBEWFF and earning top prize year after year. The Bash Burger, as it became named after that string of competitive wins, is the star item on the menu at Burger and Barrel. The signature caramelized onion and bacon jam is what sets it apart from others, combined with pickles, onions and secret sauce and an undeniably juicy patty laced with melted American cheese.
How to order: Via website or Caviar, Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats
If you're looking for the quintessential New York 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 New York, because eight ounces of beef with American and crispy bacon on a paper plate can make even the worst New York days tolerable. While the original location is closed during COVID, you can order pickup at their Hell’s Kitchen location.
How to order: Call 212-582-2188
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.
How to order: Via Seamless
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). Since Emily's inception, chef Matt Hyland has diligently toyed with his perfect dry-aged burger, phasing different butchers in and out as well as different preparations. Today, 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.
How to order: Via Caviar, Uber Eats
This nouveau diner from a Momofuku alum located underneath the Manhattan Bridge offers classic New York diner dishes with Asian flavors. Matzoh ball soup with Chinese celery and a Thai Cobb salad are just some of the modern versions of old-school throwbacks to try along with the Golden Cheeseburger. Topped with a mushroom gochujang aioli, the cheeseburger features a charred six-ounce, medium rare beef patty, pickles from The Pickle Guys, lettuce, and tomato all served on a classic Martin’s potato bun.
How to order: Via website, Seamless
The bare-bones cheeseburger made famous at the J.G. Melon on the Upper East Side is a New York 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
Black Label Burger
Minetta Tavern's Black Label Burger has quite the reputation -- largely because of its $33 price tag, but also because it's just a truly decadent burger: an eight-ounce blend of Pat LaFrieda 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.
How to order: Via website or Caviar
Cheeseburger à l’Américaine
With help from restaurateur Stephen Starr (Upland, Buddakan), owner Keith McNally (recent COVID survivor btw) did the near-impossible in 2019 by resurrecting a long-shuttered restaurant on a block of impossibly pricey real estate. Most anyone who ate at the recently 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 served on a sesame seed bun with Pastis’ famed French fries is one of the best new NYC burgers to emerge in recent years.
How to order: Via Caviar, Doordash
If you're looking for a great steak, then you know to go to Peter Luger. But if you haven’t stopped by for a burger at lunch, then you haven’t truly experienced it. The Luger-Burger is over half a pound of medium-rare (don’t you dare order anything else) USDA Prime dry-aged beef on a fluffy sesame bun with raw onion. Add cheese and the famous thick-cut bacon, which will come on the side of the burger, since it’s literally too large to balance on top of it. 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: The COVID era has made it a lot easier to order from Peter Luger with delivery and payments by credit card offered for the first time in their 133-year history. Order via Caviar.
The burger at this 45-year old French bistro located in the heart of Soho used to only be available at the bar. But now they’re selling the 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 the great news is, the special burger kits (limited availability) are available for shipping nationwide.
How to order: Via Goldbelly
Seeing a burger on a menu at a lobster roll place 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 the thick, dry-aged short rib, chuck, and brisket blend patty gets and an extra-toasted accompaniment.
How to order: Call 718-858-7650 (ext. 1) or via Caviar
Dry Aged Cheeseburger
Hometown BBQ proprietor and pitmaster Billy Durney is the man behind this ten-month-old haunt that in pre-COVID times was one of the tougher tables to snag in all of 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 wedge-style fries. Luckily, the local favorite opened takeout and delivery during the pandemic so it’s now easier than ever to get yourself a taste.
How to order: Via Toast
It's a tough choice between the Classic Cheeseburger and the Bronte at this 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.
How to order: East Village via website, Murray Hill via website, SoHo via website
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 New York standards, $5.99 for a single patty and $8.79 for a double is indeed cheap), but it's also all about this simple fast-food burger that, like 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.
How to order: Via website
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.
How to order: Via Caviar
Minnesota's state cheeseburger has a loving home in the East Village, Hudson Yards, and Soho. The chuck and short rib blend featured in the Juicy Lucy at Whitmans 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 cheese.
How to order: East Village call 917-261-2858 or via Grubhub, Hudson Yards call 212-837-1416 or via Chownow, SoHo call 646-669-9339 or via Grubhub
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Kelly Dobkin is the Executive Editor of Local at Thrillist. Her interests include pina coladas (check out @piningforpinas), cats, pizza, and sushi she can not afford. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Tae Yoon is the Local Editor for Thrillist NYC. Born and raised in Queens, New York, he has been writing since starting his own blog in 2006. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.