One day I turned to the Boyfriend and told him that I wanted a burger. When I say that, I mean a real burger made with real beef and cooked to order. I do indulge in the occasional Big Mac at McDonalds but I don’t ever consider that a real burger. I wanted a real burger – juices dripping and melted American cheese. The Boyfriend suggested we hit up Burger Joint, hidden in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien Hotel on the West Side. It’s considered the second best place for burgers according to Zagat and I had stuck a bright orange flag next to it in my Zagat survey. So along with a friend, we began our hike to West 56th.
We arrived around 12:15 and I’m so glad that we did. When we arrived, there were probably 8-9 people ahead of us. I was able to snag a free table while the Boyfriend and our friend waited in line to order and pay. By the time we left, at around 1:00, the line was already around a corner. They had to bring out the velvet rope to coordinate the line because it was beginning to get very long.
The menu is hand-written and resides on top of the counter. The menu is very simple and no special frills. First you pick a burger. You get two choices of burgers – a hamburger or a cheeseburger. Then you pick how you want it cooked. After that, you pick condiments – ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, onions, etc.
There are fill-in menus in various languages outside of the restaurant, which I suppose is for the tourists. We decided to experiment and use the Spanish fill-in menus. When the Boyfriend got to the counter, they stared at him and asked if he spoke English. When he asked with a yes, they told him he didn’t need that fill-in menu and to just order off the main menu.
I ordered their Cheeseburger cooked medium rare with mayo, ketchup and lettuce ($8). I like to keep my burgers simple so when I bite into them, the condiments aren’t spilling out. The burger patty was cooked just right. It was pink enough to still hold all the juices in but not pink enough to bleed. The patty almost melted in my mouth when I bit into it. So good!
Here’s the friend’s cheeseburger with almost everything – lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, ketchup and mayo. Looks so big!
The Boyfriend got us a bag of fries to share ($4). Sprinkled with a bit of salt, it was perfect. There were more crunchy fries than soggy fries, which I suppose in general is a good thing. I, however, like the soggy fries so I had to dig for those.
The décor looked more like it belongs in a diner on the side of the interstate. I would have never guessed this restaurant was actually inside the Le Parker Meridien hotel. Compared to the rest of the hotel and Norma’s across the lobby, Burger Joint looks more like a hole-in-the-wall in the Lower East Side than a restaurant inside a swanky hotel. But that is exactly why I loved Burger Joint. Its hole-in-the-wall quality means you have to be on the lookout for it or else you’ll completely miss it. Their only marker that Burger Joint exists in the lobby is a little neon sign with a burger. So secretive!
I’m definitely putting Burger Joint on my best burgers in NYC list. I know I’ll be back for sure. I can’t wait until the next time I get my hands on another one of their burgers. Mmmmm!