We thought W42ST readers were passionate about their pizzas after last week's "best-of" list, but we had double the response when we asked the question: "What's your favorite burger?"
Here goes with the flipping best, juiciest burgers in the neighborhood. Remember, juicy doesn't just mean meat. A recurring theme from our readers was that veggie is "in" and swapping a bun for salad is on many minds (and menus).
"That's like choosing children. They are all loved equally and differently for their uniqueness and what they bring to the table," said Michael D'Angora, who set the tone, and named names: "I love Lucky's, Brazen Tavern, Galaxy Diner, Kings of Kobe, even Patzeria has a great burger. Also, RIP Market Diner. It's pretty hard to go wrong though!"
In alphabetical order (as we don't want to get in the middle of this fight) ...
5 Napkin Burger — 630 9th Ave - 45th St
This burger joint was deluged with compliments. Rafi Fuentes was keen to point out that it more than lives up to its name: "Brunch burger. You’re gonna need more than five napkins."
"Their burgers can satisfy every taste, from the original 'Five Napkin Burger' to tuna, lamb, and vegetarian burgers." Jonathan Espiritu shared the love and the health challenges of burgers: "Recently, trying to go low-carb, I've been a big fan of the burger salad, where you can pick any burger to be served on top of a great salad."
Anna Applebaum shared the search for health (and doing good for the planet):"As someone who relatively recently (and sadly) decided to no longer eat beef for climate change reasons, their wide range of non-beef burgers is a true gift!"
American Retro Bar & Grill — 11th Ave - 50th/51st St
This bar describes itself as "way the hell over on 11th Avenue since 2010." It's popular with locals and the sports crowd from DeWitt Clinton Park nearby.
Kathleen Coleman is a fan of The Retro Burger "because it's made from 100% Pat LaFrieda beef with bacon and choice of cheese on a large toasted English muffin with chipotle mayo, pickle, and choice of side" She recommends to get tots on the side. "It's delivered quickly, and when I say medium rare, I get medium rare. So juicy and delicious."
It's Jane Frye's favorite for three reasons: "It comes on an English muffin, it has chipotle mayo, and you can get tots on the side. What more do you need?"
Bareburger — W46th St - 8th/9th Ave
Declaring a personal interest. When my kids, Joe and Millie, come in from the UK this is the first place they want to go for food (and usually before they leave). They obsess over Bareburger.
Emily McGill nailed it last week with her knowledge of pizza, and this is her burger favorite. "Bareburger ALWAYS nails it! I love the classic beef burger – it hits the spot every time – but the options are endless. Plus those fries!"
The variety is a big hit with our readers. "Delicious, decadent, lots of options for vegans and meat-eaters alike. Just had their 'Duchess' with the Impossible Burger — it’s ridiculously great," said Kate O'Neill.
Raabia Shafi has her favorite picked out: "This. Burger. Makes. Me. So. Happy. 💗🙃🍔Impossible Burger, sprout bun, vegan gouda, turkey bacon, alfalfa, green leaf, tomatoes, baby spinach, caramelized onions, avocado, stone ground mustard, organic garlic aioli."
Corner Bistro — 11th Ave - 44th St
This legendary West Village spot took over the northern corner of Gotham West Market from Genuine Roadside last year. Its New York pedigree was described by a former owner Bill O'Donnell (talking to Westview News in 2012): 'You had neighborhood people, beatniks, some longshoremen, and tourists. You also had aspiring actors, writers, poets and the intellectual types. So it was a collision of cultures and sometimes it didn’t mix so well! There seemed to be a lot more drinking then. Today you can’t do anything in a bar because, as soon as someone belches too loudly, people are on their cell phones!”
Justin McCormick welcomes them: "Even though it’s not a Hell’s Kitchen original, it still weighs in as the best burger joint around."
"This burger is what a Krabby Patty would look and taste like in real life. It's the burger you would get on a sunny Saturday afternoon at your best friend's backyard BBQ," extols Teena Oh. "It's a simple and classic burger that's the perfect size to make you question whether or not a second is a bad (or good) idea."
Hold Fast — W46th St - 8/9th Ave
Hold Fast was at the top of the tree for hospitality when we asked our readers to vote for the Best of Awards earlier in the year (results will be announced, with a prizegiving in the next six weeks!).
Its burger offering got a deluge of praise from the W42ST tribe too.
Kristy Cumbow told us: "Hold Fast burgers are so juicy, cooked to perfection, and always served with a smile."
Danny Grumich identified the problem we all face with a great burger. "Always cooked and seasoned to perfection. It once was so good I ordered a second!"
Kings of Kobe — W42nd St - 11th/12th Ave
Restaurateur Etai Cinader moved his specialist burger and hot dog joint Kings of Kobe from 9th Ave to W42nd St and opened just before NYC went on pause.
"Kings of Kobe creates amazing 1/2 and 1lb of Kobe Beef deliciousness. Fabulous side dishes, those red onion rings! Tastes fresh whether you take it to go (travels super well) or dine in their off-sidewalk courtyard," says Danny Sayegh, a local realtor who headed back to ER during the pandemic as a respiratory specialist, "Perfect for those still nervous (such as myself) about dining on a sidewalk, as unmasked passersby walk by."
Le Rivage — W46th St - 8th/9th Ave
Photographer Nacho Guevara deconstructed chef Paul Denamiel's French onion soup burger for our food issue back in 2017. Denamiel won the NYCWFF Burger Bash title in 2013 with this bad boy, and it's still going strong. The French onion soup burger begins with two toasted English muffins. Then we have the burger (a blend of brisket, chuck, and short rib), a large slice of melted emmental cheese, piles and piles (and piles) of stewed, caramelized onions, all topped with a creamy bechamel sauce.
"Every bite is like a piece of heaven." says Angie Wooten.
It's a favorite of readers Shannon Patterson and Ryan Mugford. "Everyone has had that special experience in their life. The right thing at just the right moment with just the right person. I saw it first hand when my wife tasted the onion soup burger," shares Ryan. "The perfect blend of two of her favorite things. Joy! Bliss! Happiness! We've been back a number of times, but nothing will beat the first time when you realize that, for one brief moment, reality actually exceeds your expectations."
Lucky's Famous Burgers — W52nd St - 8/9th Ave
Another consistent theme from readers was the importance of the accompanying fries.
"The combination of meat to bun on one of [Lucky's] double burgers is just perfect. So much delicious meat. Additions are simple and just right: lettuce, tomato, pickle. They have my favorite burger sauce," Scott Dvorak told us, "Although it isn't part of the burger, any burger is made twice as good when the accompanying French fries are crinkle cut."
Brad Retterer is also a sauce fan, and re-iterated the need for a great place to have options: "They have multiple options for my partner, who is vegetarian. They also have delicious burgers that are styled with all the good stuff already loaded on. Also, don’t forget the Lucky’s Sauce. That’s important."
MTHR Vegan — W49th St - 8/9th Ave
Never has a list of burger joints had so many non-meat options. MTHR Vegan at Worldwide Plaza had praise heaped on its menu.
" I didn't know vegan burgers could taste this good. Their special sauce is so tasty," Jenny Pierson told us. They were a pandemic discovery for her. "I only tried them out during lockdown and wish I'd tried sooner."
Jessica Vaughn had praise and good ordering advice (don't use Seamless): "MTHR burger is the best for non-meat eaters. Great variety and really good fries. Very fast service. Order directly with them."
Route 66 — 9th Ave - W55th/56th St
There are few diners left in Hell's Kitchen, and although it doesn't have the classic booths, Route 66 serves up a wide-ranging menu for locals and tourists.
Bryan Anlas shared the dining experience we all want. "I was starving one day because I was running around the city doing a ton of errands. I was hungry and exhausted, so I stumbled into Route 66, asked for a burger, and devoured it without stopping to breathe. Do I remember what was on it? No. Was it amazing? Yes. That burger was pure love."
West Bank Cafe — W42nd St - 9th/10th Ave
Steve Olsen started in the restaurant business at the age of 15. From dishwasher, to bartender, to waiter, he worked his way up. He has presided over The West Bank Cafe for the last 42 years.
Brent Watkins has it down as his favorite burger. He told us: "Steve is a big fan of the perfect burger and has been researching and working on this menu item for years. It is the Classic Perfect Burger: great quality of products, perfect portion sizes, perfectly prepared."
Like most of the regulars, they are missing their theater. Stan Friedman said: "There was nothing better than the burger and a cold beer, post-theater. Will have to settle for two out of three for now."
W42ST food writer, Michael Muñoz, promised us a surprise for his favorite Hell's Kitchen burger. We can reveal that now, but the suspense won't end — as the place is still closed!
Dalton's Bar & Grill — 9th Ave - W43th/44th St
Michael told us: "As a born and bred New Yorker, you see a place like Dalton's and you immediately make generic assumptions. Those are: Irish pub, probably has an extensive on-tap beer list, most likely has 40 TVs for sports, probably gets a little fun and rowdy at some point, and if they have food it's probably pretty generic bar food. Well, I'm here to tell you that this is not only one of the best-kept bar food secrets of Hell's Kitchen, but this gem also has one of the best burgers, if not THE best burger, in the neighborhood."
"After 11 years of living in this specific neighborhood, I can honestly say there are few places I have yet to go to, especially as a meat lover. If we are talking about getting our juicy, well-seasoned, meaty, sometimes cheesy, with all the toppings burger fix, this is the place to be. Over the years, Dalton's has changed their menu a bunch, but one thing I can say that has always stayed constant is their burger. Oh, and their buffalo wings. Run don't walk once they're open for your summertime fix, and if you're not getting it medium rare you are doing it ALL wrong!"
There was sadness for the loss of Island Burger, the Market Diner, Lansdowne Road and Lincoln Park Grill.
Honorable mentions to Mr Biggs — "the burger at Mr Bigg's has a sense of nostalgia. No matter what was happening in the world (even Hurricane Sandy), they are there for their customers," said Nureen Gulamali, "Their inclusive vibes and loyal customer base makes enjoying a burger feel homey."
As well as from Vicky Kuperman for Westway Diner: "First burger I had when I moved to the hood in 2001, and still my favorite."
Then a long, long list of other options to try if the ones above don't stimulate your burger fever. They included Alfie's (re-opening this Friday), Brazen Tavern, Dutch Fred's, Galaxy Diner, Gossip, Hellcat Annies, Hurley's, Lily's Craft & Kitchen, Mercury Bar, Mom's, Schnipper's, Shake Shack , The Distillery, The Landmark Tavern, and Treadwell Park.
You can find all of these Hell's Kitchen Burger spots on the map below.
What should be next week's "best of" list? Email me at email@example.com.