There's nothing better than summer in New York. All winter, the city punishes you with snow and ice, and the dingy subway tunnels, usually gross and stuffy, are a warm reprieve from the elements. But come summer, everything is right with the world. You've made it through to the other side, so when that sunshine hits you during a nap in Central Park, it feels just a little warmer than usual.
Summer also goes hand-in-hand with a culinary staple: burgers. Like many other food categories, nobody does burgers better than New York. We've done our research to make sure you have a thorough list to choose from as soon as the clouds lift and the sun comes out this summer.
$ = <$10
$$ = $10 – $20
$$$ = $20 – $30
Breakroom (Chinatown) $
You didn't think Chinatown was the place to go for top-notch beef burgers? My, how sorely mistaken you were. Buried in this cultural hub is the burger oasis of Breakroom—though, it should be stated, burgers aren't necessarily this establishment's first and foremost offering. Their specialty is Mexican fare, again a strange offering in Chinatown. But their Breakroom Burger, with a 6-ounce angus patty, crispy pork belly, tempura onion rings, sunny side egg and jalapenos combines the best of several culinary specialties into one splendid burger experience.
Royale (Alphabet City) $$
A measly $8 buys you one of the best burgers in Manhattan. That in and of itself is a win in New York. Grab a double burger with cheese and a side of Royale's beer-battered onion rings. Next, pair it with a pale ale and head out to the patio they have out back. The weather's just about primed for it.
5 Napkin Burger (Theater District) $$
At 5 Napkin, it's all about the toppings: rosemary aioli, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions—all are available to you, and all serve to enhance the already-stellar burgers. The Tuscan fries, topped with herbs and parmigiana cheese, help to soak up the delicious burger juices and leave you feeling satisfied and slightly sleepy, though definitely with your burger fix satisfied.
Umami Burger (Greenwich Village) $$
Truffle fries. It's all you needed to read, and you're already heading toward Greenwich Village, aren't you? The fries are heavenly at Umami Burger, but the burgers themselves are equally as good. Their signature burger is topped with fresh greens and a fried egg, and served on a fresh brioche bun alongside some of those truffle fries. Some fresh french-fried onions on top or a couple slices of bacon take these burgers to the next level.
Bareburger (Murray Hill) $$
If you're dealing with the impossible affliction of somehow being tired of beef, fear not: Bareburger offers several alternatives, including ostrich, bison, wild boar and elk. If you're on the opposite end of the carnivore spectrum, they even offer a vegan black bean burger that's almost as good as the real thing. Everyone will enjoy their thick-cut hand-battered onion rings.
Mark (East Village) $
You're not going to get extravagant presentation at Mark, but what you will get is a perfectly prepared burger at a reasonable price, a precious commodity in this pricey city. Pair it with an order of their cheese fries, and while you're indulging, grab a slice of $3 pecan pie a la mode. Hey, you'll hit the gym twice as hard tomorrow.
Burger & Lobster (Flatiron) $$
For the gourmand, this restaurant combines quite possibly the two most delicious culinary specimens in existence, as the name alludes to. The menu is presented as simply and elegant as the name: the burgers here are ten ounces, and are served with generously cut bacon, while the lobster is prepared in-house and as fresh as you can get. The lobster roll may actually rival the burger—regardless, there's no wrong choice here.
Shake Shack (Original location in Madison Square Park, but all over) $
Okay, we know this isn't the most original choice on the list, but if you've ever braved those insane lines at any one of the some-sixty Shake Shacks throughout the city, you know they make a very stellar product. Fresh burgers, cheese fries, and a fried chicken sandwich, should you ever feel the need to stray from your red-meat roots, are all excellent, and affordable. Don't sleep on the shakes, either. Plus, what says summer more than a burger in Madison Square Park?
Let's be honest: the best place to grab a burger anywhere is hot off the charcoal at a friend's backyard cookout. If this option isn't available to you, however, you'll just have to settle for the next best thing, and snag one off of our list. Burgers, beers and summer: the best time to be in New York. And it's right around the corner.