Yes, there’s reason to believe the hamburger as we know it may have been invented in New York City in the 1820s, where it was named after a North Sea port, and sold as street food to German sailors along the docks around Chambers Street. By the mid-1800s, it was a staple of Delmonico’s and other fancy places. So it’s no surprise that New York City is a hamburger town, and we love to eat them whether expensive or budget-friendly — in every part of the city. Some options on this list are local icons, while other newfangled ones have become must-tries. From the head-turning burger at Rolo’s to the frankly weird upside-down burgers at Fairfax to one of the city’s best diner burgers, here are the ones we recommend ordering.Read More
The Best Burgers in New York City
From a ‘legendary’ burger in the East Village to an off-menu special in Carroll Gardens
This Upper East Side mainstay dating to 1972 is a paragon of bar food. Sure the turkey club and chef’s salad are up to par, but the burgers command the most attention, especially when they pop up enticingly at the pass of the semi-open kitchen. The ground beef is fresh and the patty arrives deeply seared from the flat top, but still pink and juicy. Rippled cottage fries are the classic accompaniment.
Founded 15 years ago in Astoria, with a newer branch in Dutch Kills, Petey’s was in the vanguard of the local burger revival. Its burgers explode with flavor, though they are neither too thin nor too thick, topped with lettuce and tomato of studied freshness, plain American cheese, and raw onions a bit stronger than most. This is a paradigm of the American hamburger with no frills. The price is below average, too.
Pig Beach BBQ
A great barbecue joint proves to be a pretty good place to look for a tasty burger. At the sprawling Astoria location of Pig Beach (the Gowanus original is closed), the modest-sized patty benefits from the wood smoke, and the cheese is applied with an unstinting hand, making for a gooey mess. Yes, the burger doesn’t look like much, but it’s delicious nevertheless.
Many worried when the Court Street Grocers took over the old Eisenberg’s that it wouldn’t be as good. Well, it is, and that includes the burger. It has been rehabilitated like it’s a burger of long ago with a price to match — a modest patty, smothering American cheese, raw onions, plain dill pickles, and most importantly, glorious quantities of mustard.
The diner burger is making a comeback, and we’re beginning to realize it is a burger unique enough to have a category all its own. Similar to the smash burger, it’s seared, but on both sides, and the thicker patty is also cooked all the way through. While this makes it drier, it’s still great because double American cheese is annealed to both sides of the bun before the burger is assembled. Hollywood provides one of our best examples.
The burger at Fairfax could be mistaken for a stunt burger, one that puts more emphasis on appearance than taste. It’s anything but. Topped with smoked cheddar and barbecue mayo, the flavor is sweet and smoky, with potato sticks adding some crunch and salt. It comes on a toasted, upside-down bun.
Threes Brewing Greenpoint
Threes Brewing in Gowanus used to make one of the city’s top burgers, a dry-aged patty served on a potato roll with pickled onions. The brewery one-upped itself at its Greenpoint location, where the kitchen is run by a different team. The patties are smashed, but substantial, with shredded lettuce, pickles, American cheese, and burger sauce on a toasted bun: It feels like fancy In-N-Out. The burger is made by Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Co., a seafood restaurant in the area, and is discounted during happy hour.
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The “legendary” burger at Nowon lives up to its name: two patties (made from a blend of chuck and short rib), pickles, onion, and a toasted sesame bun are held together with a single skewer. A decadent kimchi butter sauce is distributed throughout. It’s an actually interesting riff on the smash burger that’s managed to hold up since this restaurant opened in the East Village in 2019, and it’s just as good at the restaurant’s new location in Bushwick.
Burger By Day
One of the few restaurants serving smash burgers in Chinatown, Burger By Day occupies a storefront that’s also home to bubble tea shop I’Milky. The smash burger comes with a pair of patties smashed to a crisp, the sear so profound that it crackles on the first bite. American cheese and the counter’s special sauce, which is pink and slightly sweet, complete the sandwich. The burger is available in a dozen sizes and preparations.
You wouldn’t expect one of the city’s great burgers to be served at a restaurant attached to a hotel — where burgers are often ho-hum due to the captive nature of their audience — but there it is, Corner Bar’s compact cheeseburger. The cheese is New York State cheddar, and the onions are caramelized to within an inch of their short lives. Not a sprawling burger, but a compact variety you can hold with one hand. From 2:30 to 6 p.m., Monday to Thursday, it’s available at the bar for $15.
This distinctive red frame structure sandwiched between Briarwood and Jamaica Hills serves Bangladeshi, Indian, Afghan, and American food, and everything we’ve tried has been worth ordering. The lamb burger is particularly thick and juicy — no smash burgers here — and it’s cooked to a perfect medium, still pink in the middle. The fries are good, too.
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This lush burger is a fit successor to the famous DB burger of two decades ago. Comprised of beef, it’s also mantled with a sheet of crisp pork belly to give an unexpected semi-crunch and extra richness. The mayo is laced with peppercorns and cornichons, and the cheese, quite naturally, is Gruyere in a hamburger recipe that acts like the burger was invented in Lyon.
When a burger approaches $20, without fries, it’s held to a different standard: We expect better beef, a cheese that holds its own, and maybe a spoonful of jammy, caramelized onions to tie things together. Rolo’s in Ridgewood hits all the marks with its double cheeseburger, throwing a pickled hot pepper on the side like it’s an old-school Italian sandwich shop. It’s rich and meaty, the kind of sandwich you won’t want to share but will be glad you did.
Gus's Chop House
Like other entries on this list, the burger at Gus’s is best when shared. The rich patty is made from a blend of pork, chuck, and dry-aged beef, then topped with raw and caramelized onions, aged cheddar, and cornichons for a burger that feels like a full meal. The burger is off-menu, and a limited number are available each night.
Red Hook Tavern
Whatever you heard about big burgers being “out” hasn’t fazed Red Hook Tavern. This restaurant from the team behind Hometown Bar-B-Que, in the same neighborhood, is known for its burger, a thick patty topped with American cheese and a couple of rings of raw onion. It’s served on a bun speckled with sesame seeds and a small mound of cottage fries.