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A pale bun piled high with fried egg and plantain fries sticking out.
The smash burger at Lagos.

The Wildest Burgers in New York

An overdue update of the city’s most unusual burgers

Ten years ago, I drew up a list of burgers that were — to say the least — unusual: but — wow! —have burgers evolved since then. Here are some that have appeared in the interim, all with strange twists that make them worth trying at least once.


Smash burger at Lagos

A smash burger is supposed to be on the flat side, easy to fit in your mouth, right? Well this Nigerian nightclubby restaurant right in Times Square has its own riff on a smash burger. The patty shares a bun with American cheese, tomato, spicy tomato jam, plantain fries that go tumbling out the sides, and a fried egg ($20). 717 7th Avenue, near 49th Street, Times Square


The Half and Half at Two8two

Sure, there are plenty of burgers that have bacon on top of them, but this burger ($15) showcases a patty that is half bacon, half beef, and it’s actually a great idea. The smokiness bursts from within the meat patty, which is dressed with green chiles, American cheese, and the house sauce. Two8Two is a downtown Brooklyn pub that takes its burgers and hot dogs very seriously — and serves little else. 282 Atlantic Avenue, near Smith Street, Boerum Hill

A burger held in the hand flopping open.
The half and half.

The Chester, Hamburger America

This off-menu selection ($9) is really just a modified patty melt, with two pieces of toast, a slice of American cheese, and a smash burger patty. It harkens back to one of America’s original burgers at Louis Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, where burger patties have been served on toasted bread since 1895, probably before the hamburger bun was invented, making a real “hamburger sandwich.” 51 Macdougal Street, corner of Houston Street, Soho

A patty and cheese between two slices of toasted white bread.
The Chester at Hamburger America.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The Pugliese at Cantiere Hambirreria

This outfit from Apulia, Italy rolled into town a few months ago, presenting its idea of what burgers should be like. All of them (and there were two dozen or more) weren’t good, but they were all interesting, including this absurdist Pugliese ($25), featuring a beef/pork patty lightly breaded, copocollo treated like bacon, seared cherry tomatoes, and a giant seething ball of smoked burrata. How are you supposed to eat it? 41 Kenmare Street, near Mott Street, Bowery

A piled high hamburger with a ball of burrata on top of the burger patty.
The Pugliese at Cantiere Hambirreria.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pineapple cheeseburger at 98K Hamburger

This Korean chain specializes in hamburgers and fried chicken sandwiches, and sports a military logo of crossed assault rifles and a helmet. It’s signature pineapple cheeseburger ($11) is an unspeakably gloppy item that features a burger patty, slice of American cheese, and slice of grilled pineapple, all drowned in a tidal wave of poppy seed mayo. 81-13 Broadway, near 81st Street, Elmhurst

A burger swamped with black dotted mayo.
Pineapple cheese burger at 98K.

Lamb burger at JoJo Duck

This window just west of Chinatown specializes in all sorts of northern Chinese snacks, including just about every duck and pig part you can think of, plus these Shaanxi sandwiches often dubbed Chinese burgers. This version features sauteed lamb plus lots of carrots in what could pass as a hamburger bun. The lamb burger ($6.50) is surprisingly delectable. 131 Baxter St, at Walker St, Chinatown

A split bun with shreds of meat and cubed carrots.
Lamb burger at JoJo Duck.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mexican burger at Jimbo’s Hamburger Palace

This uptown hamburger chain specializes in thoroughly cooked burgers done a dozen different ways. And one of the ways that must have occasioned a snicker among the fry cooks was the Mexican burger ($9.50). It consists of a modest beef patty with bacon, avocado, mozzarella, and jalapeno — put on a plain bagel rather than a bun. What a cultural mash-up! 2027 Lexington Avenue, near 124th Street, East Harlem

A hamburger on a plain bagel.
Mexican burger at Jimbo’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taylor ham cheeseburger at Krug’s Tavern

This flagstone-fronted classic was founded in 1932 in Newark’s Ironbound, and serves the full range of bar food. Among the burgers is quite predictably found one topped with the national meat of New Jersey, Taylor ham, also known as pork roll. It adds a savory note quite unlike bacon, and even unlike ordinary ham. And the patty on this baby ($14.50) is 12 ounces! 118 Wilson Avenue, near Napoleon Street, Newark

A thick burger cut in half with all the layers visible including a crumbly thick patty and two slices of ham.
Taylor ham cheeseburger at Krug’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hamburg curry with American cheese bento at Simple NYC

Hamburgers reportedly came to New York in the 1820s when they were served to homesick German sailors from Hamburg along the docks that lined the Lower West Side. These burgers were bunless, as is this contemporary cheeseburger ($15.50), made of great beef. It’s served in a bento with green salad, seaweed salad, and mayo potato salad, plus white rice. Hamburgs are common enough in Japanese izakayas, but this one has a slice of American cheese on top and is cooked medium rare, which is rare. 109 Eldridge Street, near Broome Street

A burger in a bento box with a slice of cheese on top.
Hamburg curry at Simple NYC.

Krapow smash burger at Little Grenjai

Here’s a griddle-cooked cheeseburger, a blend of pork and beef, that’s spicy, minty, crunchy, and sweet all at once. It’s inspired by the Thai stir-fry dish, pad krapow, made by cooking ground meat and holy basil in a wok over high heat and seasoned with soy and oyster sauces. Things get interesting when they add giardiniera: In Chicago, where co-owner Trevor Lombaer is from, the condiment is often made with pickled cauliflower and carrots. In Bed-Stuy, they add lemongrass and bird’s eye chiles. The burger starts at $11 for a single, $17 for a double, and $4 for a Thai-fried duck egg. Take note: It’s lunch only. 477 Gates Avenue, near Marcy Avenue, Bed-Stuy — Luke Fortney

A Thai smash burger.
The Krapow smash burger at Little Grenjai.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY
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