Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of a burger that I perceive fussy or fancy. That is to say that any burger going beyond properly cooked beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard or mayo on a decent bun is likely gonna be lost on me before the words on the menu make it past my eyeballs and into the old frontal lobe. (Notice I deleted ketchup? That’s on purpose. I hate ketchup.) So on a trip to Edi and the Wolf yesterday for brunch, it surprised me that there was an audible ding ding ding ding ding in my head when I saw their burger being delivered to another guest on a thin slab of black slate with roasted potatoes and pickled cucumbers. It looked a little swanky…but something told me I had to go for it.And, oh my, was I delighted I did. First of all, this thing is just frickin’ gorgeous. But looks, as we all know, aren’t everything. However, the minute you chomp down on this baby, your taste buds are doing backflips over the perfect sextuple of flavors working together to leave you smiling in contented bliss. Let’s start with the meat. Pat La Frieda, grass-fed Black Angus hanger cooked perfectly medium with just the right amount of salt. Off to a good start! The cheese is Gruyère melted dreamily over the previously mentioned mouth-wateringly-mighty meat. On top of this is a manageable pinch of pickled and caramelized onions with a nice little mound of baby arugula dressed with Edi’s chipotle-mayo based special sauce which adds just the right amount of zing to this already-over-achieving take on an American classic. Cram all of this in between the delicious brioche bun and you have, my very good friends, my favorite burger in New York City. Yeah, I just said that. And it took a lot. I seriously can’t think of one that beats it. Shake Shack? Love. But, no. BareBurger? Not. Corner Bistro? Not even close. Minetta? Great, but uh-huh. The Wolf Burger at Edi and the Wolf takes it, folks. It surprised the hell out of me too, because burgers are not what proprietor and Iron Chef champ Eduard Frauneder and co-chef/owner Wolfgang Ban are known for, but these guys have entered the ring here with some of New York’s best and are going toe to toe in one helluva bout. I highly recommend you put a weekend brunch trip to Edi and the Wolf on the calendar now, because you can only get the Wolf Burger on Saturday or Sunday from 11:30 to 3:30 at this Avenue C insta-classic establishment.
Let me come clean and say I’m guilty of paying whatever the going rate is for the promise of an amazing burger. What’s the going rate these days? $12? $18? $25? OK, fine, if we’re talking about a transcendent beef experience. But I have also learned that an open mind pays culinary dividends in this town, so when I saw the long line of people for the burger truck in the filthy covered parking lot of the Home Depot in Red Hook, my interest was instantly piqued.Sure, the backdrop is as shitty and gritty as a parking lot can get, but the fact is New Yorkers simply cannot resist a line. It is pure catnip to us. A line implies that there’s something great to be had, and if you’re not in line you are missing out. But eating in the Home Depot parking lot is not something to take lightly so I observed the line for a while. Most of the customers in line seemed to be ordering the same thing: a “cheeseburger with everything.” And when it came to be my turn to give the man in the window my order, I went with the consensus (you saw that coming) and then stepped to the side out of traffic to wait. 5 minutes later, I was handed a large tinfoil wrapped bomb. They have a picnic table set up in the neighboring parking space and as pastoral as that sounds I opted to go eat this thing sitting in my parked car. I never said this was a story about dignity.It was delightfully awesome. They toasted the sesame seed bun nicely, and the burger was a handmade patty, juicy and tender with some nice char from the broiler. “With everything” apparently includes fresh shredded lettuce, some dill pickles and old school American cheese slices. They also pre-ketchupped it for me. It was a tasty and satisfying burger, and set me back all of $3.50. What a surprise! I came for the weather stripping, and I left full and happy. I love New York.
Behind and unassuming curtain and a set of worn velvet ropes in the lobby of Le chic Parker Meridien hotel is an establishment that serves up of the best feet-on-the-ground no b*** s*** burgers in the city.
There is almost always a line to get into the crazily downscale Burger Joint where you’ll get your paws on one of their juicy gems. The place is packed with just about every language on the face of the planet and the walls are covered in old movie posters, hand scribbled notes and the ubiquitous signed celebrity headshots. The pricing gets me every time. $6.89 for a burger. $7.35 for a cheeseburger. $5.51 if you want anything on them. $1.38 for fries or a whole pickle. $5.05 for a cup of beer or red wine. And the priceless note at the end of the menu, “If you don’t see it, we don’t have it!” This one is a classic and worth the wait as long as the line hasn’t made it through the lobby and onto the street.