Where do you go when you have a hankering for a good burger? Well, when you live in New York City, you have a lot of choices. There’s the fast-food burger, the diner burger, and then there are fancier but moderately priced burger joints that specialize only in the ultimate comfort food. 5 Napkin Burger sells their burgers for $14 while Five Guys and Shack Shack are more reasonable, costing you less than ten bucks. But if you want something better, something more lavish than boring ground chuck, you need to follow the lead of fine-dining aficionados who know that the best burgers in town are found not at places specializing in burgers but at more high-end restaurants, upscale steakhouses and even bistros. You’ll be looking for burgers made from a custom blend of brisket and short rib from renowned butchers like Pat LaFrieda (Union Square Café) or a burger made from a blend of brisket, short rib, hanger and chuck blend (Augustine) topped on a fresh brioche bread (Minetta’s Tavern). These burgers have the best and freshest ingredients, so if you want to treat yourself to one, don’t get sticker shocked. The higher-quality the ingredients are, the more expensive the burgers will be. Most of the burgers we’ve sampled here cost around $35, but here in the city, these burgers have become famous and legendary, and the trend of being costly is not going away now that many other restaurants are adding their own take on the haute burger. As for toppings, you won’t get the usual like lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Instead, you’ll find mouth-watering options such as caviar, caramelized onions, fresh farm eggs, Burgundy truffle (Delmonico’s) and a thick slice of seared foie gras (DB). Additions such as these will set you back more, but if you’re even at these fine establishments, you might as well splurge. The Beatrice Inn burger, for example, will set you back at $38, but if you add a succulent duck egg and shaved black truffles, that’ll cost you an additional $14, which means that, at $52, The Beatrice takes the cake for being one of the most expensive burgers in the city.
So here are the best hamburgers in all of New York City that will blow your mind, as well as put a serious dent on your wallet.
1. Minetta Tavern: Black Label Burger ($33)
113 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012 (212) 475-3850
Before Minetta Tavern even opened in 2009, bloggers hyped about one item on its menu: the Black Label burger. Today, Minetta, has changed very little. It debuted as a hard-to-get-into high-end French bistro celeb hotspot, and to this day, its popularity has not dimmed. Even if the food was lousy, the bistro would still be a hot ticket simply because it’s brought to you by iconic restaurateur Keith McNally, the man behind some of the most successful restaurants in New York, like Pastis, Balthazar, Schiller’s Liquor Bar. And the burger? Called The Black Label, it remains as New York’s most famous and most desirable burger, as well as one of its most expensive. At $33 (it used to be $30), you get a Pat LaFrieda prime dry-aged New York Strip combined with a skirt steak and brisket from Creekstone Farms. The eight-ounce-plus patty is butter-basted and is topped with caramelized onions and placed on a custom-made brioche bun made by McNally’s other restaurant, Balthazar.
2. The Spotted Pig: Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestring Fries $26
314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014 (212) 620-0393
Michelin star chef April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig is still going strong after many years (it opened in 2004). One of the first gastro pubs in New York, this West Village serves comfort pub food with an upscale twist. The star here is the Chargrilled Burger topped with a huge mound of Roquefort cheese. It’s simply made and yet it has remained the best burger in the city due to the fresh patty that comes from a rich short rib blend as well as the brioche bun grilled to perfection and with criss-cross char marks. If the $26 price scares you, you can always share: it’s huge and looks as if it stepped out of Katz’s Deli, and it also comes with a ridiculous amount of shoestring fries.
3. 21 Club: ‘21’ Burger $36
21 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019 (212) 582-7200
One of the oldest and celebrated restaurant, this iconic upscale former speakeasy serves some great American fare in an old New York setting. The restaurant is still stodgy and still has a whiff of being a gentleman’s institution sans cigars because of its timeless dress code requesting men to wear both jackets and ties. However, ‘21’ Club has recently relaxed the code and now ties are optional. You come here for the burger, which is known as America’s original gourmet hamburger that premiered in 1950. Over the years it has changed and was a mess, once made with a lot of fennel seed and cooked in duck fat, and once made with more fennel seed, along with thyme, rosemary, coriander, cayenne, duck fat, and egg. These days, the burger is simply made and delicious, a mix of chuck, sirloin and short rib beef doused with just salt and pepper. The dry-aged blend is topped with sautéed onions, served on a challah bun and has a side of pickled relish and French fries. That’s it, and it is still New York’s most sought-after meal when one truly wants a gourmet burger.
4. db Bistro Moderne: The Original DB Burger $35
Helmed by the most important French Chef in the world, Chef Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne has remained a highly-sought -after upscale yet accessible French bistro since its opening in 2001. Theater goers love the Times Square location, one of a few quality and sumptuous restaurants in that area. Part of its endurance is that db is known for its Original DB Burger, a heavenly sirloin patty made with red-wine-braised short ribs, a thick slice of foie gras and black truffle that’s served on a parmesan bun with a side of Pommes Frites. This legendary indulgence is considered to have put into trend the gourmet burger to end all burgers, so much so that chefs all around the world felt that they could now put the same kind on their menus and charge over $30 without being laughed at. During the winter season, db offers an even more decadent burger that is exactly like the original but with a heaping layer of black truffle. Known as the DB Royale Truffle Burger, the price is set at $120 but that cost varies depending on how much truffle you want. We wonder how many people have tried that pricey gem.
5. Delmonico’s Benedict Burger $36
56 Beaver St, New York, NY 10004 (212) 509-1144
Opened in 1837, Delmonico’s still remains one of the fanciest and opulent steakhouses in Manhattan, and continues to serve its famous prime cut of beef to its exacting standards. Like ‘21’ Club, it is also widely regarded as one of the first American restaurants to serve an iteration of the hamburger. Today, people from all over the world come here to eat Delmonico’s specialty, the Benedict Burger. At $36, its price is comparable to other gourmet burgers in the city, and it’s also one of those that’s so big that you have to use a fork and knife. A spin on Eggs Benedict, this ultimate comfort food is a 10-ounce prime beef patty that’s topped with thick-cut bacon (from Billly’s) and a fried egg (from Meadow Creek Farms) and places on a toasted English muffin. If that’s not enough, the burger is oozing with truffled hollandaise and Burgundy truffle.
6. Old Homestead Steakhouse: Burger Bash $42
56 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011 (212) 242-9040
Old Homestead is an old-world relic located in the heart of the former meatpacking district that has specializes in its legendary prime-aged USDA Texas-size beef since it opened its doors all the way back in 1868. Set in a classy, dark-wood setting, meat lovers come here for its signature sirloin porterhouse and filet mignon, all oversized and pricey, pricey, pricey. But gourmet hamburger enthusiasts come here for the Burger Bash, a $42 (yep, that’s not a typo) whopping 20-ounce Kobe beef patty consisting of a blend of Snake River Farm Wagyu, as well as other steak trimmings. It’s served on a brioche bun and comes with fries, as well as chipotle ketchup and fresh stone-ground mustard on the side. And if you think $42 is expensive, at one point the Old Homestead, one of the longest continually serving restaurants in the US, charged $81 for its burger that featured authentic Japanese Wagyu.
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7. The Beatrice Inn: Burger $38-$52
285 West 12th Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 (212) 675-2808
The Beatrice Inn used to be a New York prohibition-era speakeasy in the 1920s, and is now known as a storied steakhouse known for its sumptuous meats. Helmed by Angie Mar, who trained at April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig, and is Food & Wine’s Best New Chef for 2017 (the only chef from New York selected to receive this honor) this upscale West Village chophouse specializes in the most lavish ingredients, liberally using wagyu, caviar, black truffles, truffle oil and other luxuries as ingredients in its food. Meats are basted in cognac fire or infused with the finest single malt Scotch. You know what we’re about to tell you. Yep, all of this comes at a hefty price, or, as Beatrice Inn’s menu puts it, MP, as so many of the dishes here are sold at “market price.” You need to bring your Amex Black Card here, because if you want to try the 60-day dry aged cote de boeuf, that’s $85. If that’s not old enough for you, you can get the 90-day dry-aged porterhouse that comes with Périgord Truffle Butter and Escargot Bourguignon that will only set you back $375. We know, that “affordable” suit you’re wearing from Men’s Wearhouse costs less. But you know what? This chophouse is the real thing, so much so that its whiskey steak was once profiled in fashion bible Vogue, one of the last magazines you’d think of that would cover a slab of meat. That said, the burger here is phenomenal, too. In fact, the 45-day dry-aged burger with no name is widely regarded as one of the best in the city, comparable to the Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern. The eight-ounce patty on fresh brioche is topped with red wine caramelized onions and d’Affinois cheese, and, at $38, is comparable in costs to other gourmet burgers in the city. You can also add a duck egg or shaved black truffles to your burger for $14, which means this decadent treat will set you back $52.