New York City has more than its fair share of burger joints. Every food website and magazine has their own rundown of the best of best, suited for every type of salty, juicy, cheesy craving, from fast food casual to high end steakhouse. And while every burger lover knows that they must go to Shake Shack, The Spotted Pig, JG Melon and Corner Bistro, the following restaurants offer surprisingly delicious burgers without the hype.
Five Leaves‘ signature burger features a grass-fed beef burger with pickled beets, harissa mayo, a sunny side up egg and a pineapple ring. Yes, a pineapple ring. The sweet and salty combination pairs so well that it will cause you to crave a tangy sweetness in the midst of meaty bites. A casual and chic restaurant with a focus on local ingredients and current food trends, Five Leaves has a menu that always pleases. You may have to wait an hour or more for a table, but it’s well worth it.
You wouldn’t normally go to a Filipino restaurant to satisfy a burger fix, but Jeepney’s Chori burger is one of the best in the city. A beef and longganissa (a Filipino pork sausage) patty with sweet and spicy banana ketchup, kewpie aioli (a mayonnaise using rice vinegar), a fried egg and vegetable slaw on a challah bun is pretty close to burger heaven. The cherry on top? It’s served with kamote fries. This unique burger is definitely on the sweet side.
Joseph Leonard is one of the best neighborhood restaurants in Manhattan. Consistently serving great food in a room packed with an attractive and hip crowd, Joseph Leonard is a staple among West Village inhabitants. Their brunch is amazing, but the late night menu is really where it’s at. Stop by after a few cocktails, or just stop by period because you need to try the cheeseburger. It’s nothing fancy; a beef-blend patty with melted American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles, but it’s nearly perfect. Upgrade your burger with the thick-cut bacon.
Kingswood is one of those restaurants that works for so many occasions. Meeting friends for dinner? Check. First date drinks? Check. Rowdy Saturday night bar? Check. Australian-owned with a rustic feel, Kingswood features a copper bar with 15 signature cocktails and a cozy but loud dining room. The menu is on the smaller side and you can’t go wrong with any of the main course options, but the dry-aged double cheeseburger with tomato bacon jam, lettuce and pickles on a brioche bun is the clear winner. Warning: you may want to push your sleeves up.
The Lion features a signature burger on their dinner menu for $21. It is served on a wooden board with tomato confit, pork belly and caramelized onion. Any of these three ingredients alone would make this burger stand out, but the combination of all three makes it a home-run. It is rich and flavorful, and served with a mason jar of amazing pickles on the side. The quality of ingredients and presentation of a burger fit right in with the chic atmosphere and potential celebrity sightings. It is worth every penny. Tip: wear something with a comfortable waistline to enjoy this hearty meal.
Tertulia, a Spanish tapas restaurant, may not scream ‘burger’ at first thought, but once you’ve tried Seamus Mullen’s Spanish inspired Hamburguesa de Tertulia, you’ll be hooked. A smoked Pat LaFrieda beef blend is layered with a mild cheddar cheese, crunchy homemade potato chips and pickled vegetables. It is then sandwiched between a thick, olive oil roll smeared with ñora pepper ketchup. The ñora pepper is a sweet chili with earthy undertones native to Spain.
Yerba Buena is a fun and exotic restaurant that maintains an air of class and is reasonably priced. For $40, you get two courses and unlimited cocktails for two hours. Most boozy brunches are accompanied with food fare that often seems inedible; the obvious focus is alcohol. However, Yerba Buena pairs delicious cocktails with food to match. The Frita Cubana is a beef and suckling pig burger with pickled jalapeño and red onion slaw and Swiss cheese, accompanied by a heaping pile of papas provenzal, Argentinian-style French fries with roasted garlic and parsley. This burger is served at brunch only, but you’ll need it when you’re downing margaritas for two hours straight.