America: land of the free, home of the hamburger. They are what dreams are made of at every family barbecue, on summer nights, and when you’re in desperate need of a meal on a long road trip. But hamburgers aren’t just for rural summer adventures. Some of the best burgers are right here in New York City (there’s probably a burger on most menus in Manhattan), and we have searched the city for the absolute best so you can simply sit back, relax, and dig in. And as an added bonus, many of these locations are relatively close by each other which totally warrants a NYC burger crawl.
Our Top Picks for the Best Burgers in NYC
One of the best burgers in NYC comes from Fairfax – it’s hands-down delicious and a little different. Fairfax is also quite unique in their “sportsman’s paradise” vibe with numerous mounted taxidermy animals on the walls – not the typical set of eyes you’re used to looking at in a crowded NYC room. And with a slogan of “Birds. Burgers. Booze. We’ve got it all”, it’s no surprise that we absolutely loved this burger. Covered in BBQ mayo, smoked cheddar, and crispy potatoes all sandwiched between an even crispier bun, this burger has it all. Looking for even more crispy potato goodness? The loaded tots are phenomenal.
9. 5 Napkin Burger
With two great locations, 5 Napkin Burger is the perfect option when you’re out and about and craving some of the best burgers in NYC. We are big fans of the 5 Napkin Burger – the rosemary-garlic aioli and melty gruyere truly hit the spot. We also can’t stop thinking about the Avocado Ranch Burger—something about pepper jack cheese, guacamole, and dripping ranch dressing just lights up our taste buds. Honestly, with its assortment of burgers to choose from, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. And for all the onion ring lovers out there, go ahead and order the tower: life is too short to miss out on crunchy, fried deliciousness.
8. Minetta Tavern
Another favorite NYC burger can be found at Minetta Tavern. Originally opened in 1937 and known as Minetta Brook, it was frequented by some of America’s great writers (Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and E. E. Cummings), with their photos now serving as décor along with rich, dark wood paneling and warm red accents. Minetta Tavern technically has two burgers on their menu, but everyone will tell you to go for the Black Label Burger. This burger has no frills, it’s literally just a mouth-watering burger made with a prime dry-aged beef patty that’s so lush it falls apart in your mouth, caramelized onions, the bun, and a side of some great fries. The Black Label Burger is definitely on the pricier end, but every bite is absolutely worth it.
7. JG Melon
JG Melon has been around since 1972, and if its walls could talk, they would be spilling all the secrets of socialites and stars, locals and visitors, politicians and artists all coming to have one of the best burgers in NYC. This cash-only establishment has perfected the simplistic made-to-order burger. The patty itself is absolutely delicious – it’s thick and juicy and shines on its own. Since there are no frills here, this classic burger is served with pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions on the side, with ketchup and mustard already on the table. There’s no secret sauce, no special kind of bun—just a (great) normal burger. JG Melon doesn’t need to show off and try to wow its customers with the latest and greatest food trends. It’s lasted this long, and with burgers like these, it isn’t going anywhere.
6. The Happiest Hour
The award-winning burger at The Happiest Hour is one of NYC’s finest. While The Happiest Hour does have a few booths in the back and a fairly large menu, it is first and foremost a bar and then a restaurant. Close your eyes and picture two juicy patties topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, confit onions, and some kind of incredible special sauce, all smothered in American cheese. Are you hungry yet? They’re open late, but no matter what time you get this burger, it will definitely be your happiest hour.
Located on the Lower East Side, Smashed is an incredible burger food stand for everyone, including the night owls with its 3:00 am closing time on the weekends. There’s nothing “special” about this burger, with its American cheese, griddled onions, pickles, smash sauce, and potato roll bun. But put all those ingredients together, and it becomes one very special burger at an even better price. We’re not sure what the seasoning is or what they are doing to those onions to make them so tasty, but we will gladly come back every day if that’s what it takes to find out.
4. Au Cheval
An import from Chicago, Au Cheval has been gracing Tribeca with its presence since 2019; we’re thrilled it opened because it’s home to one of the best burgers in NYC. Picture two beef patties with melted sharp American cheddar cheese, pickles, and onions nestled on a golden brioche bun slathered with dijonnaise—and then wipe the drool off your face. If you want to go the extra mile for an even more heavenly burger, you can add thick slabs of bacon or a farm fresh egg that oozes with yolky deliciousness with each bite. Don’t forget to order the fries! The garlic aioli sauce is truly to die for – you might want to order your own if you’re not okay receiving death glares from the rest of the table each time you steal a bite.
3. Burger Joint
If you’re looking for a speakeasy in the city, might we suggest one that includes some of the best burgers in NYC? To get there, enter the posh lobby of the Thompson Central Park New York Hotel and literally walk toward the light—the neon light of a glowing burger calling you home. Burger Joint, hidden in a Midtown hotel behind a red curtain, is an extremely casual establishment with graffitied walls full of signatures from loyal customers, cardboard signs for the menu by the grill, and bags of buns resting on the counter. The burgers, singles or doubles, are cooked to order and will be perfectly plump and juicy. Order “the works”—lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, mustard, and ketchup—and get ready for a great burger at a great price.
2. 4 Charles Prime Rib
If you’re looking for a classic NYC experience for one of the best burgers in town, come to 4 Charles Prime Rib. In typical New York fashion, you probably won’t be able to get a reservation until about 10:00 pm (if you’re lucky), and even then it’s hard to snag one of those spots 30 days in advance. Your other option is to show up around 4:45 pm, put your name on the waitlist, and hope for the best. If you do in fact get in, take a minute (you’ve earned it!) to soak in the beautiful interior: the dark moody walls and lights, the plush leather seats, the nod to a Gatsby-like era. Next, order the burger—10oz of double wagyu beef with American cheese, pickles, and dijonnaise, and don’t skimp on the egg or bacon! Soon enough, a waiter wearing white gloves, will come deliver your burger and offer the service of cutting it in half for you. It’s definitely an expensive meal but one you will be thinking about each time you eat a burger.
1. Emily: West Village
If you’ve been seeking out the best burger in NYC for a while now, we have big news: the family feud between sister restaurants Emily: West Village and Emmy Squared is officially over. After much deliberation, Emily: West Village is the clear winner, and we’re pretty sure the top-secret Emmy sauce might have something to do with it. This double-stacked, dry-aged, grass-fed burger comes with caramelized onions, pickles, and drippy American cheese goodness all on a perfected pretzel bun. There’s a lot going on with this burger, but somehow everything comes together to form a mouthwatering masterpiece.