NYC has its fair share of establishment burgers, but we’re always on the lookout for new ones that might someday join the hall of fame. The burgers on this list have helped us cope with the fact that a lot of days in the last year have been worse than the one when U2 automatically uploaded their album onto every iPhone 6. From a bánh mì burger accessorized with pickled carrots and daikon, to a classic cheeseburger served on an aircraft carrier, we’ve put our 11 new favorites on this guide.
While we’ll always fondly remember the white cheddar-blanketed burger at Oola’s, that spot closed and made way for Smashed to open on Orchard Street in early 2020. And residents of the Lower East Side are lucky to have one amazing burger spot replace another. The meat on these smashed patties is perfectly seasoned, comes topped with cheese, oozing special sauce, raw onions, and has those thin crispy edges that really set smash burgers apart. Our order is a double with the works, but you can also get up to three patties, go for their version of a Big Mac, or sub in Impossible burgers. Plus, their covered outdoor area in front is a great place to people-watch. Last time we were here, the people at the table over were recounting their latest ayahuasca retreat and scheming plans to start a fast-casual chain that also sells vintage sneakers, all the while chowing down on burgers and beef fat fries.
Gotham Burger Social Club is a roving NYC pop-up that serves very buttery smash burgers. While their locations change, we most recently tried them out at the bar Marshall Stack on the LES. It was quite a scene - country music blared while people ordered round after round of drinks. The burgers fly off the grill in batches, intermingled with caramelized onions, bread and butter pickles, ketchup and/or mustard, and a cascading waterfall of American cheese. The burgers themselves taste like the butter that the grillman bastes them in, with some crispy strings of onion hanging out over the edges. Eating one of these will make you feel like a part of NYC pop-up history - however, be prepared to wait. It took us over an hour to get our burger.
Threes Brewing was already one of the best places to drink beer in Greenpoint. Now that The Meat Hook’s Burger Shop has taken over the kitchen, it’s also one of the best places to eat a burger in Greenpoint. Theirs is a smash burger (single or double) draped in cheese on a squishy potato roll - the kind of burger you have to stop yourself from eating too quickly, lost in a trance while ignoring all conversation going on around you. The Burger Shop at Threes is open seven days a week and is walk-in-only, making it a great place to keep in your back pocket for when you spontaneously decide you need to eat a burger outside tonight.
Apparently, there’s nothing Ursula can’t do. Not only is this Crown Heights spot making the best breakfast burritos in the borough, they’re also responsible for a green chile cheeseburger that’s unlike anything else we’ve tried in the city. Its juicy patty, pillowy brioche bun, and smoked pickles are excellent on their own, but the green chile - a staple ingredient at this New Mexican cafe - is the spicy element that makes the whole burger sing. Much like The Beatles or the original four members of Destiny’s Child, the four-part harmony on this sandwich deserves global notoriety.
Serving a fantastic burger is hardly a new pastime for this East Village Korean restaurant, but Nowon only recently added a second version of their cheeseburger to the menu. The new iteration has all the same components as the original (American cheese, tangy kimchi mayo, and bread and butter pickles sliced to the size of pennies), only it’s made with a thick, medium-rare Pat Lafrieda patty instead of two smash patties. We know the single vs. double debate comes down to personal burger-eating preferences, but after having both at Nowon, here’s where we stand: you’ll taste every ingredient more prominently in the new single-patty burger. By comparison, the double smash patty feels like eating (delicious) gobs up american cheese with a side of burger. If you like to taste high-quality steak meat in your burgers, you’ll love Nowon’s new version.
In addition to pizza, Roberta’s has always served a great cheeseburger. So it’s not too surprising that this new Bushwick spot from the same team makes a similarly delicious version served on a potato roll. The “Double Burgie” is a perfect cheesy mess, and, despite being a double, it’s a manageable size that won’t completely fall apart if you order it for takeout. You should also get a side of their fries, which taste like crispy, thin-cut, odes to the classic fried potatoes that have arguably kept McDonald’s relevant all these years.
Saigon Social’s portly burger will likely convince you to abandon your allegiance to smash patties. This new Vietnamese restaurant on the LES tops its burger with accessories typically found on bánh mì, like pickled carrots and daikon, pate, a handful of cilantro, and a couple of jalapeno slices. Our favorite thing about it is that you can actually taste the quality of the meat, which is made with a combination of short rib, ribeye, and dry-aged rib eye. In case the burger isn’t enough to inspire you to come here, they also make one of our favorite fried chicken sandwiches in the city.
The burger at Baylander doesn’t wow at first glance. But in its defense, the single patty with LTO and pickles on a Martin’s potato bun has a lot to compete with. The restaurant itself is aboard a converted aircraft carrier at the West Harlem Piers, with views of the entire westside of Manhattan, the Hudson River and GW Bridge, and depending on the time of day, sunset views over Jersey. But it will get your attention once you take a bite. The peppery patty is perfectly charred, and it’s topped with a mayo-based sauce that’s cut by the crunchy pickles and juicy tomatoes. Adding crinkle-cut fries with Cajun seasoning and spicy mayo is optional, but highly recommended.
Unlike every other place on this guide, L’Artusi has been open for years. But this classic West Village Italian spot’s burger is new, and delicious enough to warrant a trip here for outdoor dining or even takeout or delivery, when they serve it in separate components for optimal freshness. To say this thick, peppery burger is covered in taleggio is an understatement. The melted cheese acts somewhat like a funky fondue sauce - which works well with the spicy, pickled chili aioli and firm but juicy heirloom tomato. If you’re a fan of messy burgers, eat this and you’ll start compulsively doodling sketches of this burger on napkins, stray receipts, and maybe even your apartment wall.
If you don’t eat meat, we’re surprised you clicked into this guide. The good news is that there’s an exciting new plant-based burger spot on St. Marks. The Classic Burger at Pop’s Eat Rite has the grease factor of an Americana fast food fever dream. So much so that it will practically sing “You’re The One That I Want” at you before you eat it. This burger comes with an Impossible patty draped in thick-cut, sour pickles, caramelized onions, a dash of sweet ketchup, and vegan American cheese that’s both salty and creamy.
The backyard burger at Strangeways tastes like something someone’s Uncle Doug would grill on a Sunday afternoon. It’s nothing too fancy and that’s just how we like it. The dry-aged patty comes covered in a cascading layer of sharp cheddar cheese that pairs well with its nicely charred edges. With just lettuce, onion, and special sauce, this effortless burger will bring you back to the basics in the best way possible. And while you might find something like it elsewhere in NYC, you won’t find a better garden patio to eat it on. Walking into this outdoor-only Williamsburg restaurant is like entering a nursery lined with string lights and discovering a secret cafe inside.