Food & Drink

NYC's 11 best under-the-radar burgers

Published On 03/11/2014 Published On 03/11/2014

Have you ever noticed how the same 20ish burgers end up on pretty much every "best burgers" list, even though there are literally zillions (okay, maybe not literally) of patties in NYC? Don't get us wrong, the burgs at Corner Bistro and Shake Shack and Minetta Tavern and Burger Joint totally deserve to be on there, but what about the titular ground beef sandwiches that've slipped through the cracks? Here's a list of the 11 best under-the-radar burgers in NYC, all of which you won't find on ANY of the "best of" lists from NY Mag, Time Out, Eater (and this), Zagat, or Village Voice.

The Restaurant: Red Rooster (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Rooster Burger
Available on their midnight brunch menu, this burger (partnered up with Parmesan fries... mmm...) is lovingly placed on a sesame seed bun adorned with L, T, bacon, Jarlsberg cheese, and bread and butter pickles.

Chuck George

The Restaurant: The Fat Radish (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Fat Radish Burger
60% ground sirloin and 40% dry-aged short rib, this Downtown hotspot's namesake is grilled on an open flame, then topped with aged cheddar, nice thick cuts of bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a brioche bun.

Prime Meats

The Restaurant: Prime Meats (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Prime Meats Burger
They've got their own custom blend of meats from Debragga that're allowed to rest just long enough to achieve the perfect temperature without losing any of the juiciness. You won't need to top it with anything, but you can get down with some Grafton cheddar and thick-ass bacon, too.

Molly's Shebeen

The Restaurant: Molly's Shebeen (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: Bacon Cheeseburger
This 10oz monster from the relatively unassuming Irish bar in Murray Hill is made with prime, ground sirloin, your choice of cheddar, American, Swiss, mozz, or bleu, and some salty, smoky strips of bacon... which combined, make it somehow even better than it should be.

The Restaurant: Joseph Leonard (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Burger
Available for brunch and late-night, this one hits you with sweet/tangy/creamy/salty flavors, thanks to a tomato marmalade, bacon, and ricotta topping on the brioche-bunned patty.

The Restaurant: Coppelia (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: Frita Cubana
Probably the most tricked-out burger on the list, this ground sirloin is loaded up with pickles, cheddar, roasted pork, and chicharron. The best part, though? THE CHICHARRON. But also the fact that this place stays open 24/7, so you can almost always satisfy your under-the-radar craving.

Andrew Zimmer

The Restaurant: Fanelli's (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Cheeseburger
Nestled into an onion roll with the cheese coating the toasty bun (rather than the burger, just like God intended it), this Soho classic delivers on everything you want it to: a little char on the outside, juicy on the inside, and simple cheesy glory.

The Restaurant: Ear Inn (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Cheeseburger
This big, juicy classic is as close to the iconic bar burger as you'll get, with a toasted bun, American cheese (or cheddar if you're feeling frisky), lettuce, tomato, and onion.

The Restaurant: Thistle Hill Tavern (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Cheeseburger
While Dale Talde's other spot, Pork Slope, gets more of the burger-centric press, THT more than holds its own with a simple-yet-elegant burger donning organic, grass-fed beef, cheese, and bacon on a classic potato roll.

The Restaurant: The Red Cat (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Dirty Burger
Everything at The Red Cat is solid, and the Dirty Burger is no exception; it's loaded up with VT cheddar, grilled onions, and a fried egg. Also: their Tasty Burger with bacon is, well, quite tasty.

Andrew Zimmer

The Restaurant: Blue Haven (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger
This neighborhood Irish watering hole is a go-to for people looking for a relaxed, no-frills spot for a drink. Somewhat unnecessarily, the burger here is totally legit: it's a mound of medium-rare deliciousness that never veers towards boring, thanks to a semi-flaky, buttery toasted bun, nice pickles, shredded L, tomato, and onion. They've got a slew of other topping options too, but keep it simple.

Andrew Zimmer is Thrilllist's NYC Editor, and he basically spends all his time eating hamburgers and taking notes about them. So yeah, he's basically living the American Dream.  Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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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.