Food & Drink

NYC's 11 best under-the-radar burgers

Published On 03/11/2014 Published On 03/11/2014
Chuck George
Prime Meats
Molly's Shebeen
Andrew Zimmer
Andrew Zimmer
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1. The Fat Radish 17 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002 (Chinatown)

This trendy LES spot, a favorite among NYC's fashion set, focuses on farm-fresh modern riffs on British favorites (think Scotch eggs, celery root pot pie, and "Bloody Butcher Grits") in a rustic/industrial space with lots of exposed brick and white tile.

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2. Blue Haven 108 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012 (Greenwich Village)

You know you're in a respectable bar when the crowd isn't made up of just locals, but local bartenders. Blue Haven is nestled between Greenwich Village and Soho, and much like its location, it straddles the line between sports bar and craft beer tavern. The elevated bar food menu is matched by 19 rotating craft beers on draft, plus another 30 or so in bottles. Post up at the marble bar, eavesdrop on some restaurant industry talk, and watch whatever game is on TV.

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3. Thistle Hill Tavern 441 Seventh Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

From an investor quartet whose past experiences include 'inoteca LES, Niagara Bar, and...NOFX (seriously, Fat Mike yo), THT's a vintagely cozy Euro-inspired pub sporting a mint-condition mahogany floor (discovered after ripping up a foot of concrete), exposed brick walls (discovered after ripping down a...faux brick wall), a bench from the Brooklyn courthouse, and an 80-year-old wooden bar hauled down from Springfield, MA that now sports a tap made from an antique fire extinguisher, dousing your burning inferno of sobriety.

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4. The Red Cat 227 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011 (Chelsea)

New American comfort food is king at this narrow, popular eatery in Chelsea, which has been in operation since 1999. Menu highlights include options like shrimp tacos, slow-roasted duck breast, burgers, and steaks. What puts this spot on the map, however, is its extensive wine offerings and BYOB status, which is especially great during brunch.

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5. Ear Inn 326 Spring St, New York, NY 10013 (Soho)

More than a century ago, this SoHo watering hole was a hotspot for sailors waiting for their ships to dock. The Ear Inn is a designated landmark of the City of New York, and the cheeseburger is a designated bar burger of the City of New York (designated by Thrillist, of course). The prime sirloin number topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion is something you absolutely have to check off your NYC burger bucket list, whether you're from here or not. It’s big, it’s juicy, and it goes perfectly with a pint.

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6. Coppelia 207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011 (Chelsea)

Named for a Havana ice cream shop, this 24/7 "traditional Cuban luncheonette" from the Yerba Buena chef is outfitted Caribbean-style, with a large marble bar sporting spinning stools, and a beautiful stained glass window near the kitchen. The eats are designed for the post-Meatpacking group, with Cuban classics like ceviche, fried cheese balls, and empanadas ready to satisfy even the most aggressive of 4am appetites.

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7. Molly's Shebeen 287 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010 (Gramercy)

Molly's Shebeen in Murray Hill is an old school NYC Irish dive, through and through. The well worn space (complete with sawdust on the floor) has remained a favorite of locals and regulars since opening its doors in 1960. An extensive beer selection is obviously where Molly's shines -- it's a solid spot to grab a pint just based off atmosphere alone, not to mention the mile long menu of English and Irish drafts -- but if you're looking for a seriously satisfying burger, Molly's comes through on that front, as well. The cheeseburgers, piled high with crispy onion rings and all the fixings are what basic bar burgers aspire to be.

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8. Red Rooster 310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027 (Harlem)

Marc Samuelsson's Red Rooster is the ultimate in comfort food dining. The all-day Harlem restaurant specializes in Scandinavian-meets-soul-food cooking with dishes like Swedish meatballs (based off Samuelsson's grandmother's recipe), fried yardbird, and shrimp and grits. No matter if it's dinner or brunch, the restaurant is almost always packed with a diverse crowd, including out-of-town visitors and New Yorkers of all neighborhoods looking for an energy-fueled meal out.

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9. Joseph Leonard 170 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

This 31-seat, bi-level bar-staurant gets comfortably rustic with a zinc u-shaped bar, barn-wood tables, an original tin ceiling, antique wooden crates & wire baskets, and portraits of friends' grandfathers.

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10. Fanelli Cafe 94 Prince St, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

Dim with dingy charm and the occasional dog panting in the window, you’d never know you were in Soho while in Fanelli's, home of the city’s greatest old-school burgers (the spot's been around since 1847!). You've got a choice between beef and bison, but you should opt for the rich and thick char-grilled bison on an onion roll. Add cheese or bacon if you please, but there’s nothing wrong with just a regular burger here (alongside a pint, of course).

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11. Prime Meats 465 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (Carroll Gardens)

This American fare spot has some of the best grub in Carroll Gardens.