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On the House: The Best Burger Downtown

On the House is our weekly column written by the owners and operators of the great food and beverage establishments of New York. Your resident proprietor is William Tigertt of Freemans.

Sometimes you get a tip off from other industry people. Normally it’s something small like a new restaurant that’s still in previews, a tasting event with free booze, or something off the menu. My favorite: “Such and such snuck a bottle of absinthe back from Prague, go get some cocktails before they drink it all.” That sort of thing. A few months ago I got a tip that lead me to the most unlikely of places to find what might be the best burger downtown.

For my money, the best burger south of 14th Street is the Lure Burger at Lure Fish Bar in Soho. Basically, the Lure Burger is a well-executed restaurant interpretation of an In-N-Out burger. It’s pre-assembled with catsup, mustard, pickles, shredded lettuce, and special sauce. The lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles are thinly sliced. It’s on a brioche, cut in half, and topped off with two thick cut onion rings hanging from bamboo toothpicks. It comes with classic thin-cut French fries with a trio of catsup, mustard, and mayo dipping sauces. It’s well-seasoned, fresh ground chuck, and unbelievably good. Myself and entire crew of guys from the restaurant walk across town and have it at least once a week.

Now, I know that the Corner Bistro crew, the Rare aficionados, and especially the pub boys from Fanelli’s across the street will be up in arms over this one.

Here's the situation: Number one, skip the regular cheeseburger. You have to order it Lure Style. It’s on the menu and costs $2 more. Number two, skip the dining room and sit at the bar. It’s quieter and you’ll get your burger faster. Three, at $16 it’s not the cheapest burger around, but if you want cheap – go to Golden Arches. There is no room in the Burger pantheon for skinflints.

Up and beyond its basic awesomeness; what makes the Lure Burger so compelling is its underdog status. It’s the wrong order – a burger at a seafood restaurant. It’s a throwaway menu item to appease the one person at the table that doesn’t like fish. Technically, it should be completely forgettable, an almost punishment for the curmudgeon that’s dragged to a seafood/sushi place by his friends and insists or ordering a hamburger, but it’s not. It’s amazing. It’s The Little Burger That Could. Someone on the inside of the restaurant became a student of In-N-Out, graduated summa cum laude and took this burger under his wing. For that I sing its praises.