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The 11 Best Burgers in NYC, According to the Gotham Burger Social Club

Ariane Vigna | February 11, 2021 | Food & Drink

Mike Puma's original Gotham Burger

In the last decade, the New York City burger scene has really taken off. Food critics and New Yorkers alike love seeking the next new thing, paying close attention to how each chef puts their twist on the classic - though Mike Puma, founder of the Gotham Burger Social Club, doesn't need all the bells and whistles.

“A lot of places miss the mark because they try too hard,” Puma says, and he should know. The Gotham Burger Social Club is NYC’s premier burger club, made up of 15 gentlemen who rate the best burgers the city has to offer. The team shares their culinary adventures with their 182k followers on Instagram, and we asked Puma to tell us all about his favorites.

So, what makes a good burger? Puma says quality beef, the right bun and a proper protein-to-bread ratio.

“Anything over 8 ounces of beef is too big,” Puma says. “My sweet spot is 6 ounces, which works great with two patties at 3-ounces each.”

See also: The 9 Best Italian Restaurants in NYC, According to Foodie Magician

He likes his burgers with a nice crust topped with melted cheese. He loves the flavor of onions steamed right into the patty but leaves toppings to everyone’s unique palate (except for lettuce and tomato, which he says often makes the burger "soggy"). In the end, Puma admits that “nothing tastes better than memories, and the restaurants we grew up with will always have a special place in our hearts, dictating the style of burgers we love most."

With all those expert specifications in mind, we asked Puma to share his favorite burger joints in New York CIty. From craft burgers to old-school classics spanning the West Village to Long Island, here are Gotham Burger Social Club's picks for the 11 best burgers in the city.

Gotham Burger Social Club's Mike Puma enjoys a drink and a burger

Gotham Burger Social Club founder Mike Puma enjoying a drink and a burger.

Happiest Hour

121 W. 10th St. / Website

At first glance, you may not realize that this West Village cocktail lounge, patterned on the mid-century beach resorts of California and Florida, serves one of the best burgers in the city, but Puma calls it "one of my favorite refined and elevated fast-food style burgers." The $12 “Happiest Burger," from Jon Neidich of Acme and Tijuana Picnic, and Jim Kearns of Pegu Club and The Nomad Bar, was inspired by classic American diners and drive-thrus. What exactly is a happy burger? A double patty, griddle-cooked burger with cascades of delicious American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, confit onions and special sauce touched with mustard that resembles the spread of the Californian In-N-Out burger.

Burger and Barrel

25 W. Houston St. / Website

Burger and Barrel's $14 Bash burger is a juicy wonder. It's served on a brioche bun with American cheese, caramelized onion, pickles and a bacon jam that's to die for. There’s more where that came from. If you're looking for a bigger bite, try the BMC dry-aged burger. It's a 40-day, dry-aged ground beef blend topped with tomato aioli, griddled onions and raclette cheese. "[It's] all about that Bacon Jam with caramelized onions," Puma says. "There's a reason why this burger won Burger Bash six times!"

Bowery Meat Company

9 E 1st St. / Website

Bowery Meat Company lets you escape to the mountains with comforting and savory, melted raclette cheese and caramelized onions on a yielding bun. Josh Capon, one of the city’s most celebrated burger chefs, is behind the tender, dry-aged burger, which you can pair with fingerling potatoes or crispy Brussels sprouts. "The Bowery Meat Co burger should be no surprise, since it's the same chef as Burger & Barrel," Puma says. "This craft Burger is more about the awesome, dry-aged beef flavor and raclette cheese."

See also: The 13 Best Dumplings in NYC, According to Food Lover's Diary

Le Rivage

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340 W 46th St. / Website

Enjoy a delicious, French onion soup burger in the old-world, rustic atmosphere of longtime French bistro Le Rivage. Served on a soft English muffin and topped with stewed onions, Emmental cheese and mornay sauce, this double patty was the winner of the 2013 NYC Wine and Food Festival. "Le Rivage is also a Burger Bash winner with their French Onion Soup Burger," Puma says. "There have been many imitations of this burger, but only one does it for me."

Porter House Burger Company

10 Columbus Circle / Website

“If the bun is dry or stale, or the ratio is off, the burger just falls down to the bottom of the list,” Puma says. “That’s why I think you can’t go wrong with potato buns.” Chef Michael Lomonaco agrees. He uses a soft potato roll for his Bar Burger with two patties and melted cheese, which comes with sweet red-onion jam, pickled jalapeños, and a delicious homemade special sauce.

Suprema Provisions

305 Bleecker St. / Website

“With a burger, less is more,” Puma says. “Let the beef shine through, and don’t add too many toppings.” Suprema Provisions’ $19 Suprema Burger delivers just that. Its black garlic sauce, aged cheddar, roasted tomatoes, and Iberico Bellota jam make for one tasty burger. French fries lovers beware: This burger comes with roasted Brussels sprouts instead.

Bellwether

47-25 Vernon Blvd. / Website

Few spots nail a good patty melt, but Bellwether knocks it out of the park. Its awesome, grass-fed beef patty comes with caramelized red onions, special sauce, and a gooey house-made queso sauce.

“The bread that the chef uses is a brioche that works so well, Puma says. “Grilled with mayo for a buttery, rich crust while staying light and fluffy inside.”

See also: The 10 Best Sushi Omakase in NYC, According To Foodie Magician

Raoul’s

180 Prince St. / Website

“Raoul’s will have you feel like one of the chosen ones if you're lucky enough to get a burger,” Puma says. “The restaurant only serves 12 burgers a night, and there’s nothing better than ordering a martini and seeing everybody enjoying themselves.” There’s a reason Raoul’s $19 burger is so difficult to secure. It's not every day you get to enjoy a burger inspired by French cuisine, with a patty coated au-poivre style. The meat, layered in peppercorns and kosher salt, comes with a side of cream, cognac au poivre sauce and scrumptious duck fat fries. Savor triple cream Saint-André cheese, red onions and cornichons on the burger’s chewy challah bun from Amy’s bread. Raoul's is currently serving the burger on their daily menu, but that won't last long when indoor dining resumes.

Beatrice Inn

285 W 12th St. / Website

The upscale, West Village restaurant’s 45-day, dry-aged burger is worth the price. Chef Angie Mar makes an incredible meat patty on a brioche bun, topped with red wine caramelized onions and melted French D’Affinois—a double-cream soft cheese made from cow's milk. "Beatrice Inn has created a ... masterpiece," Puma says, "topped with nine-hour cooked onions." While Beatrice Inn is currently closed, look out for their grand re-opening right next door, coming soon.

Empire Steak House

151 E. 50th St.; 237 W. 54th St. / Website

At $10.95 for a double and $7.99 for a single, Empire Steak House makes great nostalgic burgers at an incredibly affordable price. Served on potato rolls, these roadside-style servings will have you coming for a trip back to your childhood.

“I usually find most steakhouses don't execute burgers well,” Puma says. “They either try too hard with fancy buns or the burger is an afterthought as they should focus on steaks, but these are great.”

The Gotham Burger Smash

Various locations / Website

In 2019, Puma opened burger pop-ups. Today, his Gotham Smash is considered one of the city’s best smash burgers. His secret? Smashing the ionions straight into the burger patty and letting it get cripsy on the grill. Gotham Burger’s blend of special sauce complements the meat, served on Martin's Famous potato rolls and topped with melted American cheese, pickles, ketchup and mustard. "I'd be remiss not to mention the Gotham Smash," Puma says. "After eating hundreds of burgers over the years, there's just something nostalgic and comforting about a smash burger cooked with onions [and] melted American cheese on a toasted Martin's potato bun. It's the burger I crave daily."

Follow Gotham Burger Social Club on Instagram and stay up to date on burger trends throughout NYC.



Photography by: Courtesy Mike Puma