Whether you’re the minimalist burger type or you’d go for a Hatch chile burger — now found across the city at places like Santa Fe BK or Revelie Luncheonette, and before that Mission Cantina — they’re both an option Two8Two Bar and Burger, an unassuming spot at 282 Atlantic Avenue, near Smith Street, in Cobble Hill, that’s been open since 2011.
Prior to opening, bar owner Billy Thanopoulos recipe-tested these burgers at burger nights he and his wife would host at their apartment around the corner. “Everyone who came over was like, ‘Dude, you have to start a restaurant,’” he says. A finance and real estate guy, he took the plunge, built out a kitchen in a former law office, and opened Two8Two.
That was a decade ago. Thanopoulos has continued to read up on burger regional burgers through books like George Motz’s book Hamburger America, where he first learned about the New Mexican Hatch chile burger. Thanopoulos started out years ago using poblanos when he couldn’t find the coveted chile (grown in a nutrient-rich Hatch Valley that gives chiles their distinctive taste). The rest of the year they’re roasted, peeled, and frozen before making their way to Two8Two, a low-key joint with TVs behind the bar, bartenders that might know your name and your drink order, and some damn delicious cheeseburgers — $14.50 for the green chile version, no fries.
The burgers are a blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib in equal parts — like a beefy Negroni — delivered every day from Paisanos, the time-honored butcher down the street, in the neighborhood since 1965. This isn’t a rocket science burger. It’s a five-ounce ball of meat, plopped on the flattop, pressed into a not-too-thin, not-too-thick patty with a spatula, sprinkled with olive oil and salt, and left alone to do its thing. That means crusty, flipped, draped with a slice of cheddar, and deposited onto a Martin’s Potato Roll with burger sauce on the bottom and those griddled green chiles on top. Really, the only suspense in watching this burger get made was hovering over the shoulder of the cooks like that guy at the barbecue, praying they’d leave it rare.
The result is a burger that’s thick and juicy but compactable; the bun is squishy but well toasted; the chile heat hums, but gently; and the fat drips out with a gentle squeeze.
There’s nothing particularly unusual about this burger — and that’s the point. “Good meat cooked the right way, decent bun, some cheese, some sauce, that’s it,” Thanopoulos says. “I just want to go for simplicity.”