AT A JAPANESE SUSHI BAR
Kobeyaki - Upper East Side, Midtown, Koreatown, Jersey City
The “Kobyeaki Burger” is a shining example of our American classic with a Japanese twist. It boasts Wagyu beef, teriyaki onions, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, cabbage, and scallions on a soft toasted bun with just a hint of sweetness – all for $10.70. A thin, tender patty is met with a satisfying crunch from the accompanying slaw and veggies, all tied together by mouth-watering teriyaki ketchup and wasabi mayo. I know the look you’re giving me for telling you to pick up a burger at a fast-casual sushi bar, but I promise you won’t be wearing it after your first bite.
RUNNER-UP: Don Wagyu – The Japanese sandwich shop serves up the Katsu Burger with ground washugyu and wagyu on milk bread served with fries and a pickle.
IN A FRENCH BISTRO
Little Frog Bistro & Bar – Upper East Side
The thick patty in Little Frog Bistro’s “Frogger Burger” ($23) is the result of a blend from Pat LaFreida meat purveyors, who use only whole cuts of meat. The sharpness of Cabot cheddar is cut by the sweet maple bacon and charred red onions, whose acidity is welcomed in the presence of a decadent French choron sauce. A little bit of crunch and a whole lot of juice come with a delectable hunger-quenching bite out of the Frogger Burger. The toasted bun is not to be brushed off either – it has the perfect amount of puff to envelope the masterpiece. So how does a French bistro have one of the best burgers in town? This may have something to do with the fact that Executive Chef Xavier Monge was a sous chef at Minetta Tavern (home of the famous Minetta and Black Label burgers) before opening Little Frog.
RUNNER-UP: Raoul’s – Raoul’s Burger au Poivre – St. André cheese, au poivre mayonnaise, watercress, shaved red onion, and sliced cornichons, served on a challah bun with pommes frites. Brunch only – 12 available per day, $27.
AT A KOREAN RESTAURANT UNDER A KARAOKE BAR
Anytime NYC – Koreatown
Your standard burger gets Korean BBQ’d at Anytime, the stellar Koreatown restaurant a block away from the Empire State Building and yet somehow completely off NYC food critics’ radar. The $13.95 “Anytime Burger” proves this tapas spot below its sister karaoke bar is worthy of recognition. Right away burger-biters notice the pretzel bun has the tell-tale bubbles of a solid toasting, and it’s only uphill from there. The marinated short rib patty packs a flavorful punch itself, while fried shallots give a crispy contrast to a ginger avocado mash and tomato slice piled on top. A touch of arugula adds just the right amount of bitterness to this burger and yes, the Soy Russian dressing is exactly as heavenly as it sounds – two of everyone’s favorite flavors come together to create a creamy, tangy sensation. Of all the burgers on the list, this meat-mound is certainly the most unique, and yet just as satisfying as its simplified counterparts. Bonus: you can enjoy your patty along with a cocktail served in a light bulb – no, really.
RUNNER-UP: Mokja Korean Eatery - Bibimbap Burger – burger topped with bibimbap vegetables, a runny fried egg, and bibimbap sauce served on a brioche bun with fries, $14.
WRAPPED IN A PITA AT CHELSEA MARKET
Miznon – Chelsea
At Israeli restaurant Miznon, pita sandwiches are the specialty and Chef Eyal Shani is the name. The celebrity chef’s iconic pop-up restaurant has grown into an international chain, but Shani developed the “Folded Cheeseburger” pita specifically for New York. I can hear those who feel it is their born duty to defend the integrity of an American classic already protesting. But rest easy, the one thing I can promise you will always have access to in America is your run-of-the-mill burger. This is most certainly not that, and fans are lining up in the mayhem of Chelsea Market between 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to embrace it for $12.75. The large patty – almost as thin as a generous cold-cut – is griddled, wrapped around cheddar and then cooked once again until the white cheddar is oozing from inside the fold and crisped on the outside. Garlic aioli and sour cream meld with said cheese to soften the tasty bite of tomato and dill pickles. All of this is enveloped in cloud-like pita. I dare you not to finish.
Image: IG: @thecleezyone
RUNNER-UP: Rodos NYC – Loving the Greek twist on our American classic? Bite into the $25 Rodos Burger, a fat patty with pickled onions, lettuce, slaw, and tzatziki.
AT A FAMOUS PIZZA JOINT
Emily – Prospect Heights, West Village
“The Emmy Burger”: okay, so this one isn’t so much a secret anymore. Emily’s juicy single or double stack of ground beef is as famous as owners Emily and Matthew Highland’s pizza these days (and that means something). The generous patty is a dry-aged blend from Pat LaFrieda that is cooked on a black top and then rests – a step Emily herself notes is very important – before being topped with a slab of one-year-old Grafton Cheddar and a healthy dose of caramelized onions. And the Emmy Sauce is a sacred concoction indeed – a mayonnaise base saturated with the familiar potency of garlic and soy and ending with the punch of Korean gochujang that goes just as well with the mound of fries as it does the burger, so ask for extra. Only a sturdy pretzel bun from Tom Cat bakery could withstand the load. What other food critics haven’t told you is to order the golden peppadews Emily offers on pizza on the side. Their sweet-and-sour taste offer a welcome sting to the taste buds for those who usually enjoy their burgers with pickles. For a whopping $27 dollars, it’s one of the most indulgent patties on the list, but only about 25 are available per night, so you should leave your apartment like… now.
Image: IG: @heykatbabe
– Emporio Cheeseburger – Pat LaFrieda short rib burger, Taleggio cheese,
charred scallion aioli, house made pickle, and mixed greens served with hand
cut fries (only available at lunch), $17.
INSIDE A PANINI AT AN AUSTRALIAN CAFE
Ruby’s Café – Soho, Murray Hill
If you’re wondering why a burger inside a panini exists in an Australian Café in New York City, it’s probably because you haven’t bit into one yet. Ruby’s Café is a success on all levels, but their “Bronte Burger” ($13.95) takes their Aussie vision to new heights. Guests bite into your standard ingredients: premium ground beef, tomato, and lettuce, but then they’re met with a burst of zing from sweet chilli, softened by a touch of mayo – all of this on some lovely grilled…ciabatta? The most surprising part is that it works. There’s something about the familiar charred grill marks on sturdy ciabatta that make this quirky patty on bread a nostalgic indulgence. How did these Aussies come up with such a combination you ask? Who knows, but SoHo is ever-grateful that they did. Ruby’s isn’t just successful – it’s packed. Like, all the time.
Honorable Mention: J.G. Melon - Not a fan of surprises? I understand. For the traditionalists that just want to go to a burger place for a burger, head over to J.G. Melon for a good old-fashioned patty with some pickles and onion– they never fail you.