In 2016, NYC’s greatest burgers aren't just coming from burger-focused restaurants -- in fact, very few are. They're coming from classic old-school pubs and diners, tiny hole-in-the-wall spots in Brooklyn, beach shacks out in Rockaway, Australian cafes, and pizza places. Each one of these 24 burgers -- the absolute best of the best -- proves that New York burgers are never simply about just meat, cheese, and a bun (even when that's how they may appear). There's the perfect diner burger, a Juicy Lucy that does Minnesota proud, a chain burger that rivals In-N-Out, an ultra-fancy prime dry-aged beef number, a steakhouse burger with deckle (more on that later), and even a burger that's received Obama's stamp of approval.
Chargrilled burger with Roquefort cheese
The Spotted PigAddress and Info
Before April Bloomfield’s Salvation Burger earned long lines and quadruple-digit Instagram likes, there was the famed chargrilled burger with Roquefort cheese at her first restaurant (and the city’s first gastropub) the Spotted Pig. This is a real bare-bones cheeseburger -- you won’t get any lettuce, tomato, onion, or even ketchup. What you will get is an ultra-trick beef patty topped with seriously stinky (in the best way) cheese inside a fresh-baked bun adorned with criss-crossed grill marks. It may not be the hottest thing on social media, but there’s a reason it’s still one of the city's most in-demand burgers.
Sebastian's Steakhouse Burger
Brindle RoomAddress and Info
There’s plenty of great comfort food on the menu at the East Village’s miniscule Brindle Room, but you’re not coming here without ordering the Steakhouse Burger. Unlike other popular New York burgers that earn praise for their spicy sauces or triple patties, this burger stands out largely because of its simplicity -- a dry-aged blend of ground beef, steak trimmings, and deckle (aka the fatty part of a ribeye) that comes slightly charred and topped solely with American cheese and caramelized onions. The blend of different meats offers so much flavor, you won’t need to add on any extra sauce or toppings.
Shake ShackAddress and Info
Flatiron (& other locations)
What can be said about Danny Meyer’s elevated roadside burger chain that hasn’t already been said? There’s a reason both tourists and locals continue to line up for unreasonably long periods of time for a ShackBurger; the flavorful beef, melty cheese, and soft Martin's Potato Roll all mix together harmoniously in your mouth (plus it’s cheap, at least by New York standards). It's no wonder the chain -- which started as a hot dog stand in Madison Square Park -- has expanded to 15 other states across the country, in addition to the Middle East, UK, Turkey, and Russia.
EmilyAddress and Info
Two years after its inception, in a world where you can make a living out of posting pictures on Instagram of the city’s “hottest new burger,” the Emmy Burger still reigns supreme as the Internet food-world darling. And it’s no wonder why; in addition to being naturally photogenic, the Emmy Burger is also insanely flavorful -- a dry-aged beef patty dripping in Grafton cheddar, caramelized onions, and buffalo-esque Emmy Sauce inside of a pretzel bun. While Emily is still first and foremost a pizza place, the burger here stands on its own, and is arguably more popular than the (still equally good) pizza.
J.G. MelonAddress and Info
Upper East Side & Greenwich Village
A totally no-frills burger if there ever was one, the cheeseburger made famous at the old J.G. Melon on the Upper East Side is a New York classic that’s been enjoyed by high school students and middle aged men in business suits for years. The conceit is simple: tasty beef on a regular soft potato bun with American cheese + L + T + O + P -- and luckily, the newer Greenwich Village location hasn’t made any changes to the winning formula.
Wilma JeanAddress and Info
You’ll find pretty excellent fried chicken at this Southern restaurant out in Gowanus, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the burger. Full disclosure: the pimento cheese on this one is optional, but we're just going to pretend it’s not, because that’s what truly makes it a great non-New York burger. Get a double patty on a sesame bun and be sure to throw some bacon on top for a perfectly juicy and flavorful burger.
Petey's BurgerAddress and Info
Astoria & Long Island City
Sure, you could go for a double cheese at this Queen’s fast food spot. You could also commit tax evasion, but that wouldn't be a very good idea either. So yes, you’re going for a triple -- triple the meat, triple the cheese on a lightly toasted bun, topped with plenty of special sauce (which just tastes like an elevated version of Burger King’s -- as it should).
Ear InnAddress and Info
The Ear Inn is a designated landmark of the City of New York, and the burger here deserves to be one as well. Eating a burger at the Ear Inn is a New York rite of passage -- grab a seat at the bar, chat up the bartender, and order the prime sirloin number topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. It’s big, it’s juicy, and it goes perfectly with a pint.
WhitmansAddress and Info
Minnesota's state cheeseburger has a loving home in the East Village. This beef-short rib-blend Juicy Lucy is stuffed with a whole lot of pimento cheese and topped with caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, spicy pickles, and special sauce on a sesame bun. This thing oozes cheese unlike any other New York burger, and for that, we are eternally grateful. Thank you, sweet, sweet Minnesota.
UplandAddress and Info
Think of Chef Justin Smillie’s lunch-/brunch-only cheeseburger as an elevated take on the classic diner burger. It’s a juicy, double-patty Pat LaFrieda grass-fed brisket-chuck blend topped with American cheese, peppadew peppers, cilantro, avocado, and even a tiny California flag (which you probably shouldn’t try to eat). Also, it’s Obama-approved, which not every burger on this list can say for itself!
The Happiest Burger
The Happiest HourAddress and Info
While there’s nothing more confusing than a bar named after a service it doesn’t offer, the Happiest Burger more than makes up for it. The double-patty, double-cheese, California-style burger is probably the closest we’ll ever get to an In-N-Out Double Double on the East Coast, with a similar Russian dressing to the West Coast fast-food fave.
Fuckin Good Burger
Whit's EndAddress and Info
After a long day at the beach out in Rockaway, make your way to Whit’s End, another spot that’s mainly about pizza, but also has a seriously great (or, OK, Fuckin Good) burger. The burger -- which is prepped by a non-nonsense staff that really, really loves the word “fuck” -- gets cooked in the wood-burning pizza oven and topped with lots of melted cheese and a delicious hot pepper jam (which you’re really going to want on all of your burgers moving forward).
Dry-aged beef burger
Having anything to eat or drink at the Nomad Bar is an experience -- the space is sleek and dimly-lit, people are generally well-dressed and only vaguely intimidating, and the drinks are excellent and sometimes served in vases. But if you’re going to visit the Nomad Bar, you’re going to get the exceptionally flavorful burger -- a perfectly pink dry-aged chuck blend mixed with suet and bone marrow and topped with cheddar, red onion, and special sauce on a soft bun. It sets the standard for fancy bar food.
P.J. Clarke'sAddress and Info
Midtown East (& other locations)
P.J. Clarke’s is another New York classic, and one of those burgers you just have to try if you live in New York and care about burgers. The Cadillac (named so by Nat King Cole) features double-smoked country bacon and American cheese on a soft bun. It’s greasy in the way you want a pub burger to be, and the perfect size -- not too big, not too small.
BareburgerAddress and Info
Astoria (& other locations)
This multi-city burger chain, which started humbly seven years ago Astoria, has an impressive lot of exotic burgers (bison, elk, duck, ostrich, wild boar, regular beef, and something very foreign called black bean). But it's the bison that stands out -- the meat is just a little sweet, and blends well with a pillowy brioche bun. The move is to make your own here, and top yours with manchego, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and red onions on brioche. You can make the call on the sauce (it’s the paprika mayo, get the paprika mayo).
Corner BistroAddress and Info
West Village & Long Island City
In the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Best Burger in New York," Marshall (Jason Segel) mourns a New York burger he loved and lost, and a fellow bar patron, overhearing his rant, tells him it's got to be the Corner Bistro. Marshall scoffs and thanks the guy for pointing out such an obvious choice. But the thing is, this is absolutely the burger Marshall is talking about. The Corner Bistro burger is completely unpretentious. While other burgers are topped with truffle aioli and 12-carat diamonds, the standard Bistro Burger at this West Village dive remains one of the most beloved in New York, because 8oz of beef with American and crispy bacon on a paper plate can make even the worst New York days tolerable.
RippersAddress and Info
There’s quite possibly nothing better than a burger on the beach, and no trip to Rockaway is complete without a stop at Ripper’s. From the owners of Roberta’s, Rippers is a casual oceanside shack, offering a small menu of burgers and hot dogs to herds of hungry beachgoers. The cheeseburger here is a small but plump medley of meat, melted cheese, pickles, special sauce, and a fluffy bun that’s just filling enough to tide you over for several more hours of trying desperately not to get burnt. Take it to-go and enjoy it in the sand, seagulls be damned! (Actually, definitely watch out for the seagulls. And be sure to add cheese fries).
Peter LugerAddress and Info
For the best steak in New York, you know to go to Lugers, but if you haven’t stopped by for a burger at lunch, when you’ll also have a better chance of getting a table, then you haven’t truly experienced it -- over 1/2lb 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 thick-cut bacon -- which will come on the side, since it’s literally too large to balance on the burger itself. Purists will insist you skip the cheese, but it really doesn't take away from the flavor of the meat, which is perfectly tender and just the right color of pink on the inside.
Black Label Burger
Minetta TavernAddress and Info
The Black Label Burger has quite the reputation (largely because of its $30 price tag). It's an 8oz 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 -- though, of course, you can add it -- but the flavor of the beef really doesn't require it. Sure, this isn't a once-a-week burger (sorry, I don't mean to make assumptions about your finances) but if you ever have an occasion where you want a burger that just feels luxurious while you're eating it, this is it. It's the Rolls-Royce Phantom of burgers.
Superiority BurgerAddress and Info
Twist! Yes, it’s a veggie burger. No, there is no meat option. And no, you won’t even miss the meat -- it’s just that good. Brooks Headley’s much-lauded quinoa-based Superiority Burger is a hearty one, and comes with topped with melted Muenster, iceberg lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, and honey mustard on a squishy bun, making the strong case that veggie burgers can be just as fulfilling as their meaty counterparts.
Dram ShopAddress and Info
No need to ask for a double at Park Slope's Dram Shop -- the burger here already comes with two patties (which, really, all burgers should at this point). If you’re feeling especially hungry, you can also add on a third. But the double is enough on its own -- a grass-fed behemoth that comes topped with melted American, chopped onions, lettuce, and tomato on a nicely toasted sesame bun. Even better, there’s Jenga and Uno available after (or while) you eat.
Joe Jr.Address and Info
Truly the ultimate New York diner burger, Joe Jr.’s bacon cheeseburger is probably the most reliable meal in the city. Whether you're going at lunchtime or 10:30pm, you can always count on Joe Jr,’s nicely grilled patty with melted American cheese and crispy bacon to be exactly what it’s supposed to be -- nothing more, nothing less. In a time of $30 burgers that demand hour-long waits, it’s nice to know you can sit down in a ratty old booth and order a $6.40 bacon cheeseburger ($9.10 if you’re living large and going deluxe) anytime you damn well like.
HearthAddress and Info
When Marco Canora decided to revamp the menu at the decade-plus old Hearth earlier this year, the focus was on healthful, yet comforting eats. That’s certainly accomplished by the new nutrient-filled Variety burger, a hearty blend of brisket, chuck, heart, and liver -- each one a pleasantly detectable flavor -- topped with caramelized onions and lots of melty fontina. It’s served bunless, but you won’t miss it. An offal burger might sound off-putting to the uninitiated, but there’s arguably no one in the city doing a burger as interesting or as healthy as this one right now.
Long Island BarAddress and Info
Toby Cecchini, who created Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite drink when he was at the Odeon in the '80s, now has his own place in Cobble Hill, where the drinks are just as TV-show inspiring, and the fast food-inspired burger is simply perfect. Chef Gabriel Martinez’s Ladies Burger comes with dry-aged Fleischers beef, pickles, house-made American cheese, and “Fancy Sauce” (obviously not to be confused with special sauce) on a soft bun. The cincher is the super sour pickles, better than any you’ll find on another New York burger. Opt for the L.I. Burger if you’re looking for an extra patty, but the single version does the trick just as well.
Ruby'sAddress and Info
The classic cheeseburger at this Aussie cafe is great, but the Bronte is something else: ground beef with tomato, lettuce, sweet chili, mayo, and cheese. The mix of sweet and savory flavors is something you don’t really find in another New York burger. And the soft, panini-style bread that’s used in lieu of a bun totally works.
BoilermakerAddress and Info
Named after the classic beer and shot pairing, this East Village bar is the type of place you can easily head out on a Saturday night to meet friends or to grab a casual afterwork drink. In either scenario, you should be ordering the burger, which comes from Jeepeny's Miguel Trinidad. The relatively cheap burger ($11 for a double, $8 for a single) comes topped with Jeepeny's Atchara (pickled vegetables that you'd be hard-pressed to find on any other burger in New York), plus fig aioli, lettuce, tomato, and onion (you can add cheese and bacon for an extra dollar). The pickled vegetables alone are reason enough to try this burger -- adding flavor that's at once sweet and sour.
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1. The Spotted Pig314 W 11th St, New York
2. Brindle Room277 E 10th St, New York
3. Shake Shack11 Madison Ave, New York
4. Emily919 Fulton St, Brooklyn
5. J.G. Melon1291 3rd Ave, New York
6. Wilma Jean345 Smith St, Brooklyn
7. Petey's Burger30-17 30th Ave, Astoria
8. Ear Inn326 Spring St, New York
9. Whitmans406 E 9th St, New York
10. Upland345 Park Ave S, New York
11. The Happiest Hour121 W 10th St, New York
12. Whit's End97-14 Rockaway Beach Blvd, Queens
13. P.J. Clarke's915 3rd Ave, New York
14. Bareburger3321 31st Ave, Astoria
15. Corner Bistro331 West 4th Street, New York
16. RippersBeach 86th St Boardwalk, New York
17. Peter Luger178 Broadway, Brooklyn
18. Minetta Tavern113 Macdougal St, New York
19. Superiority Burger430 E 9th St, New York
20. The Dram Shop339 9th St, Brooklyn
21. Joe Jr. Restaurant167 3rd Ave, New York
22. Hearth403 E 12th St, New York
23. Ruby's Café219 Mulberry St, New York
24. Boilermaker13 1st Ave, New York
April Bloomfield's West Village restaurant and bar is a fan-favorite among celebrities and neighborhood residents alike, known for its delicious 1/2lb roquefort burgers and pillowy ricotta gnocchi. The Spotted Pig also offers unique brunch and bar snack menus that feature anything from new twists on classic dishes to seasonal items. Make sure to get here early, because it fills up fast and will stay crowded until closing.
This East Village gastropub specializes in some of New York's favorite things: American comfort food, small plates, and weekend brunch. While regulars love it for its insanely delicious steakhouse burger (topped with cheese and caramelized onions), the specials menu is not to be overlooked.
It may have started as a hot dog stand in Madison Square Park, but the Shack's now a purveyor of the seriously delicious burgers, shakes, custard & dogs everyone's come to love.
This cozy Clinton Hill spot was founded by two foodies who sparked a relationship in college over a shared pizza. Today, they're serving up an overwhelming selection of creative pies in their intimate gourmet restaurant. In addition to pizza and the very popular s'mores calzone, make sure to order an award-winning Emmy Burger. They only serve 25 per night!
One of New York's best and most classic burgers can be found at this old-school American pub that's been an Upper East Side institution since 1972. The kitschy melon decor pairs perfectly with any item displayed on the wooden menu board, but again, you'd be remiss not to order the beautifully simplistic burger. Around dinner time you can expect a line, but don't fret, J.G. Melon stays open late into the night.
With a charming Southern vibe, Wilma Jean in Gowanus is ready to stuff you full of double cheeseburgers, fried bologna sandwiches, fried pickles, and of course, fried chicken with buttermilk dressing. Run by a husband and wife duo, this charming counter service eatery is a solid option for a hearty brunch (its daily happy hour deals on beer and wine are just a bonus) or late night, with the kitchen open until 10pm seven days a week.
This Astoria burger joint draws customers from all five burroughs. It's just that good.
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). This 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.
Famous for its rendition on the Juicy Lucy -- a burger with a cheese-stuffed meat patty, for you amateur gluttons -- Whitmans delivers on the American Dream with seriously indulgent burgers and rich sides like deep-fried crack kale, fried pickles, and sweet potato fries. The ground-floor counter service is grab-and-go, but the downstairs dining area offers a more intimate and leisurely setting in which to court your peanut butter-bacon burger.
Consistently one of the city's best and most reliable fine-dining destinations, Stephen Starr's California-inspired restaurant hits a lot of boxes: a huge, comfy booth-filled dining room with lots of West Coast vibes; a menu that offers great pizza, excellent pasta, and a perfect burger; a fairly affordable, and varied wine list; and the right to boast that even Obama has dined there.
Brace yourself: there is no actual happy hour at The Happiest Hour. But don’t fret, the Happiest Burger more than makes up for it (really). The double-patty, double-cheese, California-style burger is better than an In-N-Out Double Double, with a similar Russian dressing to the West Coast fast-food fave. This West Village bar pairs Florida and California resort vibes with burgers, grilled cheese, root beer floats, and cocktails of all shapes and sizes. From the Sugar Shack with salted maple syrup, vermouth, soda, and Jamaican rum to classics like the Sazerac, half the fun is picking the booze that your cocktail is made with. But if you don't feel like making decisions, try the staple Frozen Painkiller: in a twist on the Tiki classic, rum is paired with crème de Pêche de Vigne liqueur, coconut, lime, and orange juices. One will not be enough. But two might be.
This Rockaway Beach pizzeria serves pies (no slices) piled with toppings, like prosciutto or classic tomatoes and mozzarella. Also, Whit's serves incredible burgers baked in the pizza oven and topped with cheese and jalapeno jam.
A New York institution, P.J. Clarke's has delivered on the fancy cheeseburger promise since 1884. And while Midtown in the new millennia no longer projects late-20th century old money glam, the venue continues to maintain a setting of demure class. Come for the bacon cheeseburgers, stay for the exemplary cocktails.
This NYC chain has an impressive lot of exotic burgers (bison, elk, duck, ostrich, wild boar, black bean, and classic beef). Even better? You get to make the burger yourself!
From the outside, Corner Bistro seems like an unassuming dive, but step inside this iconic NYC establishment, which touts itself as one of "the last of the bohemian bars" in West Village, and you'll find plenty of local charm. A timeless NYC tavern and dive, Corner Bistro is renowned for its burgers; piled high with juicy beef, crispy bacon and melted American cheese, they're tasty, satisfying, and affordable.
The sole option at the 86th St pavilion, Rippers is from the folks at Roberta's and the Meat Hook (who're supplying the proteins), and backs up its slogan of "Titties & Beer" with Summery cans of Sweet Action and…burgers (?) like the double-decker Hardbody (cheese, 'kraut, jalapeno...), a juice/smoothie bar pumping out the avo/coconut water/cuke/agave Dreamcatcher, and live music.
This New York institution (opened in 1887) is specifically known for its old-school, impeccable waitstaff and its sizzling, perfectly cooked, buttery porterhouse. The wine list sticks to a strict but to-the-point number of options that pair perfectly with the dishes, and the lunchtime hamburger -- a mix of ground chuck and trimmings from the aged steaks -- is simply something you can't get anywhere else.
Situated in Greenwich Village, Minetta Tavern boasts a classic oak bar, vintage photos on the walls, and supremely delicious burgers (amongst other menu items). Its Black Label Burger has quite the reputation -- it's an 8oz blend of Pat LaFrieda prime dry-aged beef, cooked until there's a nice, light crust on top, then dressed with caramelized onions on a custom brioche bun.
Veggie burgers that will go head-to-head with their meat-based counterparts.
Dram Shop serves up super-solid burgers -- large, tasty, grass-fed behemoths with melted American, chopped onions, lettuce, and tomato on a nicely toasted sesame bun.
The epitome of a greasy spoon establishment, this corner diner in Gramercy serves typical American eats and all-day breakfast dishes. The kitchen lives up to its storefront's promise of all-beef burgers, steaks, chops, and seafood because Joe Junior serves a classic, diner-style cheeseburger that ranks among the city's best. The place feels just right with worn formica countertops, retro diner stools, and well-used bottles of ketchup.
An East Village mainstay for more than a decade, Marco Canora's Italian-American focuses on healthy cooking, which means good-for-you animal fats, fresh grains, and no processed ingredients. The result is a sophisticated menu where every dish feels like it's home-cooked, especially the meatballs. The restaurant feels like home too with wood floors, an open kitchen, and cozy leather banquette seating. Perhaps the most unique thing about Hearth is Brodo, its take-out window on First Ave that solely serves broth.
This tiny spot with an Aussie inspired menu is worth squeezing into. Avo-toast, awesome burgers topped with beets & pineapple, and even vegemite are included on the menu -- but you might want to skip the vegemite.
On the cusp of the East Village and Lower East Side, Boilermaker takes its namesake drink very seriously with multiple variations of the beer and shot combo. The drink menu also includes a rotating selection of draft beer, most of which are regional craft brews. Aside from offerings like burgers and wings, the bar's food appeal is its midnight breakfast: from midnight to close, the kitchen whips up pancake stacks in flavors like red velvet and apple pie, as well as eggs sandwiches with bacon or house-made sausage.