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An open-faced burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese next to a side of fries.
P.J. Clarke's
Nick Solares

The 25 Best Burgers in Midtown

Eater's resident carnivore picks your best burgers options in Midtown, from humble sliders to steakhouse behemoths.

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P.J. Clarke's
| Nick Solares

When it comes to dining, and especially on a budget, Midtown doesn't get much respect. National chains, tourist traps, and just-about-edible commuter-orientated restaurants make up the bulk of the options. But for the hamburger lover, things aren't nearly as grim. Quite the contrary, in fact: One can find almost any style of burger, and on most any budget.

Here are 25 burgers that prove that Midtown is a neighborhood that should be envied for its burger options.

Star system

**** A destination Burger, worth traveling to Midtown for.

*** A burger worth traveling across Midtown for.

** A dependable neighborhood option.

* Good if you're on the block.

Price range:

$: Under $10

$$: $10 - $20

$$$: $20 and over

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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P.J. Clarke's

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Nat King Cole famously dubbed the bacon cheeseburger at P.J. Clarke's “the Cadillac of burgers” back in the 1950s. It has remained the bar's signature dish and one of the city's best hamburgers. If you had to distill everything that is great about NYC and about hamburgers into a single experience, eating a Cadillac at the bar at the original P.J. Clarke's is it.
Style: Bar
Price: $$
Rating: ****

Shake Shack

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NYC's favorite boutique chain brings great hamburgers and long lines to Midtown. Shake Shack is unbeatable for the price, and the style it developed – smash burgers served on potato buns – has been imitated so prolifically that it is arguably a distinct style of burger.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: ****

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen

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Schnipper's just gets it right. The fast-growing chains turns out burgers that are the equal of Shake Shack, but for price.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: ****

Black Shack Burger

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The Black Shack burger is a loving homage to the Burger King Whopper, but uses fresh beef, quality ingredients, and a lot more care. Style:Fast food
Price: $
Rating:****

Ai Fiori

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Michael White may be known as a top Italian chef, but he's also a kid from the Midwest, and his White Label burger (a riff on the Minetta Tavern Black Label burger) is a high-minded take on a classic bacon cheeseburger, replete with white American cheese. It features a custom dry aged beef blend from butcher Pat LaFrieda. Served at the bar and at lunch only.
Style: Luxury
Price: $$$
Rating: ****

Le Rivage

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Chef Paul Denamiel serves one of the city's most calorie-packed and indulgent burgers at his old school French restaurant. The short rib-heavy patty comes topped with béchamel sauce, onions, and gobs of Emmental cheese on a butter soaked English muffin.
Style:Restaurant
Price: $$
Rating: ****

Smith & Wollensky

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The burger here was recently completely revamped, and now features dry aged ribsteak, brisket, and filet mignon from the restaurant's legendary meat locker. Available in the grill room all day and the dining room at lunch, though if you ask nicely you might persuade the kitchen to send one out at dinner. At $18, it's a one of the city's bargains in dry aged beef.
Style:Steakhouse
Price: $$
Rating: ****

Keens Steakhouse

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Keens's burger is made from dry aged beef seared in the broiler, and has all the hallmarks of the restaurant's steaks – a pronounced tang from the age box and run-down-your-sleeve juiciness.
Style: Steakhouse
Price: $$
Rating: ***

Porter House New York

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Chef Michael Lomonaco serves a proprietary and top secret dry aged blend from butcher Pat LaFrieda. It is one of the better proportioned steakhouse burgers. Lunch and bar only.
Style: Steakhouse
Price: $$
Rating: ***

Maloney & Porcelli

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This lunch-only burger is blended in-house using dry aged beef from the restaurant's meat locker, and comes topped with a mushroom marmalade and cheddar cheese.
Style: Steakhouse
Price: $$$
Rating: ***

Burger Joint

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Burger Joint was one of the earliest burgers to incite long lines and internet buzz, although it might be considered an also-ran next to Shake Shack. Still, the restaurant tucked behind a curtain in the Parker Meridien serves a classic flame grilled burger, and still provides a decent value.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: ***

HB Burger

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Less is more at HB Burger, a spin-off of Heartland Brewery. HB offers a variety of burger options, such as the totally over-the-top creation pictured here. These, however, should be avoided in favor of the plain cheeseburger, which is a study in synergy.
Style: NYC
Price: $$
Rating: ***

Bill's Bar & Burger

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The Midtown location of this mini-chaing doesn't have quite the charm or attention to detail as the original Meatpacking district locations, but still offers a nice variety of styles based on the smash burger cooking style.
Style: Restaurant
Price: $$
Rating: ***

db Bistro Moderne

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Chef Daniel Boulud's seminal foie gras and short rib stuffed db Burger ushered in the era of the gourmet chef burger. It is a burger that every aficionado should have on their bucket list, although for many it falls into the category of once in a lifetime.
Style: Luxury
Price: $$$
Rating: ***

Steak 'n Shake

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Popular Midwest restaurant chain Steak 'n Shake opened a fast food concept here a few years back. The burgers are decent enough, but not a good as in a real Steak 'n Shake, which features waiter service and a more considered and deliberate preparation.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: ***

21 Club

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21 Club debuted America's original gourmet hamburger in 1950. The current version however, is quite different than that meatloaf-like patty, and uses a dry aged blend from Master Purveyors served on a challah bun. It is an excellent burger, but sells for a wallet busting $34. Still, this is one of the city's most classic restaurants and the burger a once in a lifetime deal.
Style: Luxury
Price:$$$
Rating: ***

Whitman's at City Kitchen

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East Village favorite Whitman's has a counter in the newly minted City Kitchen, but is not serving exactly the same menu. Both the Juicy Lucy and Mangold, two highly commendable burgers, are absent from the Midtown menu, and Whitman's would rank significantly higher if they weren't. Still, the Upstate is an easy recommendation.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: ***

Bareburger

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This fast-growing chain specializes in all natural burgers with a staggering number of topping combinations. The quality of the ingredients is apparent, although you'll need a knife and fork to conquer some of the Jenga like creations.
Style: Restaurant
Price: $$
Rating: ***

Hillstone

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The beef for Hillstone's flamed grilled burgers is ground in house daily using fresh chuck and brisket. A good example of a restaurant style burger.
Style: Restaurant
Price: $$
Rating: **

The Counter

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This California chain offers a "build your own burger" concept that can easily overwhelm with choice. But the more simple composed options like the old school (lettuce, tomato, onion) offer a dependable burger in comfortable surroundings, with a full bar.
Style: Restaurant
Price: $$
Rating:**

Burger Heaven

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Burger Heaven is a chain that currently has three restaurants in Manhattan. It was originally opened as the Beefburger in the 1940s, but the name was changed to Burger Heaven in 1974. It's still family operated to this day, and though the burgers are on the lean side by modern standards, but they are an important part of NYC burger history.
Style: Diner
Price: $
Rating: *

Island Burgers and Shakes

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This popular Hell's Kitchen restaurant has been going strong since 1996. Part of the problem with the burger is that it is very much from the "lean 90's" -- it is just not as juicy or flavorful as the competition. Still, the $10 burger, fries, and drink lunch deal is an excellent value (cash only).
Style: Restaurant
Price: $$ / $(lunch special)
Rating: *

Lucky's Famous Burgers

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Lucky's started off as a hole-in-the-wall burger spot on Avenue A back in 2005, serving cold smoked and griddled burgers using the architecture popularized by Shake Shack. It shuttered for a spell and was then resuscitated as a mini chain, although the cold smoking was abandoned. The burger is decent enough but faces pretty stiff competition in Midtown with Shake Shack just around the corner. Still, it's a reliable neighborhood option with no lines.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: *

Genuine Roadside

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The burger here is a decent, if not especially distinguished, example of a fast food style burger in the Shake Shack model, but the $8 price tag is egregious. It's included here because it's so far west that it benefits from a lack of competition.
Style: Fast food
Price: $$
Rating: *

White Castle

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White Castle is the creator of both the modern hamburger and of the fast food as we know it. Unfortunately, the chain long ago abandoned using fresh beef. It's included here for historical and nostalgic purposes – if you have not had a White Castle you should try it at least once.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: *

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P.J. Clarke's

Nat King Cole famously dubbed the bacon cheeseburger at P.J. Clarke's “the Cadillac of burgers” back in the 1950s. It has remained the bar's signature dish and one of the city's best hamburgers. If you had to distill everything that is great about NYC and about hamburgers into a single experience, eating a Cadillac at the bar at the original P.J. Clarke's is it.
Style: Bar
Price: $$
Rating: ****

Shake Shack

NYC's favorite boutique chain brings great hamburgers and long lines to Midtown. Shake Shack is unbeatable for the price, and the style it developed – smash burgers served on potato buns – has been imitated so prolifically that it is arguably a distinct style of burger.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: ****

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen

Schnipper's just gets it right. The fast-growing chains turns out burgers that are the equal of Shake Shack, but for price.
Style: Fast food
Price: $
Rating: ****

Black Shack Burger

The Black Shack burger is a loving homage to the Burger King Whopper, but uses fresh beef, quality ingredients, and a lot more care. Style:Fast food
Price: $
Rating:****

Ai Fiori

Michael White may be known as a top Italian chef, but he's also a kid from the Midwest, and his White Label burger (a riff on the Minetta Tavern Black Label burger) is a high-minded take on a classic bacon cheeseburger, replete with white American cheese. It features a custom dry aged beef blend from butcher Pat LaFrieda. Served at the bar and at lunch only.
Style: Luxury
Price: $$$
Rating: ****

Le Rivage

Chef Paul Denamiel serves one of the city's most calorie-packed and indulgent burgers at his old school French restaurant. The short rib-heavy patty comes topped with béchamel sauce, onions, and gobs of Emmental cheese on a butter soaked English muffin.
Style:Restaurant
Price: $$
Rating: ****

Smith & Wollensky

The burger here was recently completely revamped, and now features dry aged ribsteak, brisket, and filet mignon from the restaurant's legendary meat locker. Available in the grill room all day and the dining room at lunch, though if you ask nicely you might persuade the kitchen to send one out at dinner. At $18, it's a one of the city's bargains in dry aged beef.
Style:Steakhouse
Price: $$
Rating: ****

Keens Steakhouse