The 15 Best Burger Places In NYC

The hamburger has been popular in the United States since the 1880s, and while the burger's origin story is widely scrutinized, it has long been viewed as a quintessential American food. Since its humble beginnings as a lunch counter mainstay, the hamburger has risen to star status on countless restaurant menus, and certainly has a foothold in the foodie scene of the culinary metropolis that is New York City. Whether you're one of the roughly 8.5 million people residing in NYC's five boroughs, or one of the over 60 million tourists who visit the city each year, if you want to know where the best burger places are, we've got answers.

What makes a burger place good, or even, the best? There's something to be said for a burger place that celebrates tradition and stays true to its brand, but it's also important to keep up with cultural shifts by using eco-friendly ingredients and sustainably sourced food packaging. Bonus points for places that are able to do both. But perhaps above all, the burgers served at these places need to taste awesome. Be it meat, fish, soy, or veggie, the best burgers consistently deliver freshness and burst with flavor. Burgers in NYC are literally all over the map, ranging from high-end and old-school, to fast-casual and refreshingly unique. Wondering where to stop for lunch (or dinner) as you wander through the city? Take a look at our picks for the 15 best burger places in all of NYC.

The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern is the stuff of legend

The neon-lit signs of many Greenwich Village restaurants signal nostalgia in the best possible way, evoking a time when poets, intellectuals, and eccentrics roamed the historic neighborhood. Minetta Tavern on MacDougal Street opened in 1937, and became a landmark restaurant in NYC, with regular bar patrons including Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway. The most famous name inside Minetta Tavern these days isn't a famous writer — it's the restaurant's famed Black Label Burger.

Minetta Tavern was one of the first NYC eateries to make the burger upscale and more expensive when it debuted the burger in 2009. The strategy worked marvelously. Patrons of Minetta Tavern think nothing of forking over $38 (it was originally $26) for the Black Label Burger, comprised of prime cuts of dry-aged beef topped with caramelized onions, and served atop a brioche bun with a side of pommes frites. This burger is notoriously cheese-less, but you won't miss it. The verdict is clear: the Black Label Burger packs a depth of flavor that is meticulously crafted and awe-inspiring. If a classy dinner in a retro-chic restaurant is on your NYC to-do list, consider making a reservation at Minetta Tavern. A minimalistic hamburger might not have been what you were picturing when you decided to eat somewhere a little fancy, but when the burger is this good, we bet you'll rethink that vision.

5 Napkin Burger exceeds its touristy reputation

The fact that 5 Napkin Burger serves some of the best burgers in the city is no secret — either of its two locations are packed at any given time. It's easy to mistake 5 Napkin Burger as a tourist trap, given that the Hell's Kitchen location is a few blocks from Times Square, and the one in the Upper West Side is near the Museum of Natural History. Despite this overt aim to draw in crowds, 5 Napkin Burger is one of the best burger places in NYC.

The menu options lack harmony (burgers are joined by Korean BBQ wings, matzo ball soup, and a tuna poke bowl). But the burger section of the menu is the most focused, with simple options like the eponymous 5 Napkin Burger: 10 ounces of natural beef served with Gruyère cheese, caramelized onions, and rosemary-garlic aioli. The bistro-style restaurant feels dressier than a fast food place and less generic than major chain restaurants while still succeeding to please the masses. When 5 Napkin Burger opened in 2008, The New York Times named it as one of its three burger spots to try. Characterized by gooey cheese and juicy meat, a 5 Napkin Burger lives up to its name. The prices are so-so (beef burgers range from $16.50 — $19.50), but the reviews are impressive. 

Red Hook Tavern riffs on the classic cheeseburger

The Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn is a peninsula that can feel a little isolated from the rest of the borough, but there's more to do there than visit NYC's local IKEA. Next time you're in the area, save room for a burger at Red Hook Tavern, the latest establishment from Bill Durney, the pitmaster behind the popular Hometown Bar-B-Que (also in Red Hook). This elegant eatery on the corner of Van Brunt and Sullivan streets is a stylish take on NYCs' vintage taverns (think gold-painted window lettering, polished wood bar, and embossed ceiling tiles). The ambiance and food feel simultaneously fresh and familiar, and the Dry Aged Red Hook Tavern Burger has been heralded as one of the city's finest.

Drawing inspiration from the classic cheeseburger at NYC heritage steakhouse Peter Luger, the Dry Aged Red Hook Tavern Burger passes on trendy garnishes, and sticks with a slice of white onion and American cheese, melted over expertly crumbled beef that's juicy and satisfying. Peter Luger's biggest drawback is its stodgy outdatedness, whereas the ease with which Red Hook Tavern makes the old feel new is perhaps its greatest strength — although the $29 price tag for a burger and fries is an unpleasant reminder of modern-day inflation.

The Jani burger at BK Jani is perfect Pakistani street food

Remember how we said that burgers are a quintessential American food? Well, the folks at BK Jani beg to differ, and we are so happy they do. BK Jani is a counter-service place serving up some of the best Pakistani street food in NYC. BK Jani has two Brooklyn locations, as well as one in Manhattan's The Hugh, a sophisticated international food hall in Midtown East that boasts 15 restaurants. At any BK Jani location, you'll find a menu filled with perfectly spiced meats and fries, but the scene-stealer is definitely a burger known simply as "The Jani."

The half-pound beef patty is custom-blended with spices typical to Pakistan's Lahore region, and served medium rare on a sesame seed bun spread with mint chutney, a little raita, and a tomato slice. New to Pakistani cuisine? BK Jani is a pretty awesome place to start — especially if you're a burger lover. If you want to try a Jani burger but don't eat beef, BK Jani will swap out the usual patty with an Impossible Burger.

The veggie burger lives up to its name at Superiority Burger

Perhaps naming your vegetarian burger place Superiority Burger is a bold move, but in this case, it's accurate. Back in November 2021, Superiority Burger's East 9th Street location in Manhattan's East Village closed its doors, and all 240 square feet of it was sorely missed. Nearly a year and a half later, owner Brooks Headley officially reopened in a larger space a few blocks away on Avenue A, in the former home of the Ukrainian diner Odessa which shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superiority Burger may have relaunched as a full-service restaurant and bar, but its veggie burger (named the Superiority Burger) is still the star. Served open-face on a diner plate, the patty is a soft blend of chickpeas, quinoa, carrots, and onions beneath a gooey melt of Muenster cheese, sliced pickles, and confit tomatoes. In a vegetarian market that has become saturated with gimmicky concoctions, Superiority Burger has the self-realization to stick to uncomplicated yet thoughtful dishes that filled the tables since the get-go. With the expanded restaurant space comes an expanded menu containing some truly unique vegetarian (and vegan) options, but if you want something that's straightforward and just plain good, the Superiority Burger won't let you down.

The steak burger gets the Korean treatment at Nowon

What started as a Manhattan pop-up has materialized into a full-fledged Korean burger place that is giving the best burgers in NYC a run for their money. The brains behind the successful pop-up shop (which was called Him — that's Korean for "strength") is chef Jae Lee, whose culinary skills have taken him from a mentorship with "Top Chef" veteran Dale Talde to heading up Nowon, home to one of NYC's best dry-aged steak burgers.

Nowon opened in the East Village in the fall of 2019 and almost immediately became a hot spot. The Dry-aged Steak Burger, with its kimchi special sauce, roasted kimchi, American cheese, pickles, and onion, is so popular that Nowon has to specify that a limited quantity is available daily. This is a fun burger place that describes itself on the company website as your prime destination to "Eat incredible food, crush delicious house cocktails, local beer, soju & play Korean drinking games while listening to hip-hop bangers!" The patrons agree. Nowon (and its legendary Dry-aged Steak Burger) are enough of a hot commodity that a second location has recently opened up in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Emily is an acclaimed burger and pizza place in one

Pizza and burgers don't always mix, especially in NYC, but the husband and wife creators behind Emily defy that boundary, and the result is pretty fantastic. Meet the Emmy Burger. The double-patty burger features melted cheese oozing over its pretzel bun, and a smattering of caramelized onions (seems to be a winning combo, no?). Oh yeah, and the pizza is a hit with customers, too!

We're giving it up to Emily for achieving the incredible: doing justice to burgers and pizza (Detroit-style pizza, no less) under one roof. With the success of its delicious food, Emily has expanded into two locations: Manhattan's West Village and the original outpost in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. The price ranges from $26 in the West Village location to $28 in Brooklyn, and a side of seasoned waffle fries is $8 extra which adds a slight sting to all the goodness served here. But judging by the regular crowds holed up at both locations, it just might be worth it.

Jerrell's BETR BRGR makes the Impossible possible

If you're familiar with the dining options in Soho, you already know that there are a lot of upscale options — which can get expensive really quickly (we see you $20 sushi rolls). Burger lovers: Behold Jerrell's BETR BRGR, an endearing and unfussy burger joint that cooks up some of the best vegan fast-casual eats in NYC.

Keep in mind that Jerrell's BETR BRGR focuses on Impossible Burger "meat" rather than house-made veggie patties like the ones you can get at Superiority Burger. In the plant-based burger realm, veggie burgers vs. Impossible Burgers ultimately comes down to a matter of taste. Fans of Impossible protein must run, not walk to Jerrell's where the Impossible Smashburger has been near-perfected — the proof is in the rave reviews. Impossible Burgers are made from soy protein concentrate, coconut and sunflower oils, and a fermented yeast compound called heme that mimics the taste of meat. At Jerrell's, the Impossible patties are topped with vegan cheese, chili, and other toppings, and range from $9 to $16. Jerrell's is 100% vegan, colorful, tasty, Black-owned, and open until the early a.m.

7th Street Burger serves up a smash hit

There's no denying that feasting on a gourmet burger in a chic dining room while sipping infused cocktails and listening to cool music is a sought after experience, but if you want to save a few bucks and still enjoy an awesome burger, 7th Street Burger is the place. We love that 7th Street Burger (which has 10 locations throughout Manhattan and one in Hoboken, New Jersey) keeps things super simple. Main menu items include a Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger, Impossible Burger, or Double Impossible Burger — all served with house sauce. Sides are equally pared-down: there are Fries, Chopped Beef Fries, and Chopped Impossible Fries (both Chopped Fries versions come smothered in melty American cheese).

7th Street knows how to keep its smash burgers minimal by folding in diced onions and letting the tender meat do most of the work. This grab-and-go late-night spot gained popularity quickly and has expanded beyond its original East Village home. There's usually a line and very little seating, but when the burger is this good and the single Cheeseburger costs $6.50, it's easy to understand why.

Great burgers are behind the counter at S&P Lunch

S&P Lunch had a lot to live up to when it opened in the space that once housed Eisenberg's, a sandwich shop established in 1928 and closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Owners Matt Ross and Eric Finkelstein were determined to keep up the vintage, cook-behind-the-lunch counter vibes that Eisenberg's was loved for. In the process, S&P has crafted cheeseburgers that are among NYC's best.

A basic cheeseburger is on the menu for $9 — a quarter-pound beef patty blanketed in American cheese and paired with mustard and onions. Finkelstein describes it as " ... the simplest, diner-iest burger possible" (via Eater), and while it fulfills the brief, S&P takes a standout turn with the Dinkelburger. What's a Dinkelburger, you ask? It's got pastrami, Muenster cheese, pickles, and Dinkee sauce (the house's take on Russian dressing), and it's all the indulgence you could ask for in counter-style food. Looking for a flavorful burger that doesn't include deli meat? Try the Prairie Prince Burger, served with a fried onion ring, Swiss cheese, Prairie sauce, and bacon.

The Burger from Bar Sardine gets a second act at Fairfax

NYC foodies may know the name Gabriel Stulman, a Manhattan restauranteur known for swanky eateries like Jeffrey's Grocery and Joseph Leonard. They may also know that Stulman was behind the now-shuttered Bar Sardine, a place where the burger was so notable, it became a pillar of the menu at Fairfax — one of Stulman's latest restaurant endeavors. Fairfax is a quaint tavern with just the right amount of quirk to make a burger with an upside-down bun look completely at home. We admit that the bun placement looks a little odd, but you've gotta love the mountain of potato sticks sitting atop layers of onion, pickle, smoked cheddar cheese, luscious beef, and BBQ mayonnaise. It was such a crowd-pleaser at Bar Sardine that it's listed on the Fairfax menu as "The Burger [From Bar Sardine]".

To broaden its exposure, the Bar Sardine Burger was a one-day guest feature at Shake Shack right before Fairfax opened in the fall of 2020. Nowadays, you can dig into one of NYC's best — and most creative — burgers by stopping by Fairfax on West 4th Street in the West Village of Manhattan.

Rolo's wood-fires its burgers into greatness

It's about time that Queens entered the best burger conversation, and what better way to kick off said entrance than a brief discussion about the burger at Rolo's. The hip-casual Ridgewood restaurant is fairly new (it opened in 2021), but introduces an inventive way of burger-making that is filling tables and making stomachs (and hearts) happy. 

Rolo's double cheeseburgers are pre-portioned by the house butcher into 100-gram beef patties, and individually smashed prior to being cooked on a wood-fire grill. The double cheeseburger comes with grilled onions and Dijonnaise and is plated beside a long, hang off the plate, bright green pepper that has been smoked and pickled. For $3 extra, you can add low-smoked coppa bacon. Rolo's may be a new kid on Ridgewood's block, but with a burger like this, along with a range of other wood-fired dishes, we sense some major staying power.

Zaca Cafe does the salmon burger justice

To all the devout pescatarians out there: We didn't forget about you! There is a salmon burger at Zaca Cafe in Brooklyn that's calling your name. The salmon burger doesn't always get the appreciation it deserves, which may be partly because they aren't prioritized in the same way beef or veggie burgers are. That's why we are giving it up to Zaca Cafe located in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood. The salmon burger here is well-seasoned and not too bulky, and is a well-crafted gift to the brioche bun it's served upon. Owner Inoussa Campaore may have a background in French cuisine, but has done a solid to all of his customers by bringing the soul of his native Burkina Faso into the restaurant.

Zaca — which means "house" in the Moore language spoken in Burkina Faso — serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so there is so much to choose from. But burger sophistos should not sleep on the salmon burger: it is made in-house, and includes fresh garnishes like lettuce, tomato, sunflower sprouts, avocado, pickles, and red onion that make every bite feel worthwhile. Eat it with a side of fries, and you might wonder why beef burgers hog all the spotlight.

Pera Ždera (Peter Eater) gives the burger international flair

If you're anything like us, you appreciate a lesser-known national cuisine — maybe you're even excited about it. Can we interest you in some Serbian street food? Queens has some of the best burger places in NYC, and Pera Ždera is a big part of why. The modest eatery, which advertises itself as Balkan cuisine, doesn't have many reviews on Google or on Yelp, but the reviews it has are overwhelmingly positive. The restaurant is named after Popeye's friend Wimpy in the classic cartoon who was referred to in Baltic nations as Pera Ždera, aka Peter Eater. Owner Peter Grujić, who grew up in Belgrade (then the capital of the former Yugoslavia), is passionate about bringing the Balkan burger, named traditionally as pljeskavica (pronounced pyays-kah-veet-sah), to Queens. 

The almost pancake-like patty is a mix of mostly beef and chicken, seasoned just right, and showcased between a flatbread-style bun. Inside is a one-two punch of traditional ajvar (a spicy, red relish) and a cheese spread called kaymak. This is the burger (and cuisine) you didn't know you needed. Eastern European food is an exciting patchwork of soulful, diverse dishes that provide a different vantage point not just to the international food scene, but to the NYC burger scene as well.

Donovan's Pub has been a best burger contender since the 1960s

We love a place that leans into its heritage, and Donovan's Pub is very much that kind of institution. The deep brown wooden accents and stained glass windows cry retro, but nothing about Donovan's is played up for trends. Since 1966, the Irish pub has been a favored watering hole for Woodside, Queens locals. It's also been placed on NYC's best burger lists decade after decade.

In true Irish fashion, the beef patty is not fussed with much — no infusion of herbs or reliance on secret sauces. The patty is broiled until it reaches just the right amount of outer char. Even with the inclusion of a side, the hamburger at Donovan's is priced at $14.95, something the owners are proud to stand by. Donovan's adherence to time-honored quality means that this burger remains one for the ages.