Burger Joint Secrets to Success

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Burger Joint is arguably the most popular burger spot in NYC. You need my secrets to success, however, if you want to enjoy these flame-broiled cheeseburgers without waiting on the long line. I’ll also reveal my no-fail method to secure a hard-to-get seat in addition to some other essential information.

If you haven’t been to Burger Joint yet, you’re definitely in the minority. I can’t remember the last time I made a move for one of their juicy, flame-broiled beef shoulder cheeseburgers and wasn’t greeted by a line snaking out the doorway.

What I love about the Joint is their no frills attitude towards burgers. These tender, crumbly patties draped in yellow and white cheddar are always cooked to order and come with the works: Lettuce, tomato, sliced red onion, pickles, mayo, ketchup, and dijon mustard. If you want something different, you better be ready because Burger Joint moves fast. The fries are McDonald’s style but they put the fast food mogul to shame. They’re always crisp and piping hot and there’s something about fried food in a paper bag that just makes my mouth water. Unfortunately, the fries take a big hit if you don’t eat them immediately, so get to work.

Burger Joint is inside Le Parker Meridien Hotel. You can enter on either 56th or 57th street between 6th & 7th Avenue. People call it “secret” and “hidden” because if there’s no line, you probably wouldn’t even know the Joint was there. In these cases, look for the neon cheeseburger down the small hallway directly to the right of the hotel’s front desk and you’ll see exactly where to go.

Here’s the scene that will greet you once you’re inside.

Start deciphering the menu now so you know exactly what you want. Burger Joint wants to make this easy for you but if you’re stumbling they’ll just ask the person behind you.

The whole place is no bigger than a Manhattan studio apartment and seating is pretty hard to come by.

There’s nothing like eating these burgers and fries while they’re still fresh and hot, that’s why you need to know how to get a seat.

My no-fail method for a seat is simple but takes some practice and some New York City guile.

  1. As soon as you walk through the doorway take notice of who’s at least halfway through their meal. Politely ask these patrons if you can have their table when they’re finished.
  2. Add in a little “this place is nuts, do what you gotta do” statement with a smile and get them on your side, that way they’ll hopefully look for you if you’re not on the ball as they get up and leave.
  3. That won’t happen though because you’ll be watching them out of the corner of your eye like a hawk and as soon as they depart, you drop your hat or jacket or even one of your shoes, anything to claim that table as yours until you’re ready to eat.

What makes these burgers so delicious?

4 simple concepts have proven why Burger Joint has never disappointed:

  1. Fresh Cooked
  2. Flame Broiled
  3. 2 varieties of cheddar Melted under the broiler
  4. Loosely packed, fatty patties

So how do you beat the line?

  • Simple, call in your order before you arrive. Here’s the number: 212-708-7414. Put it in your phone right now.
  • When you get there, you walk to the front, tell them your name and you get to skip the entire line. It has never failed.

More essentials:

  • It’s cash only so bring at least $13 for a cheeseburger ($7.50), shoestring fries in a brown paper bag ($3.50), and a soda ($2.00).
  • I’d consider passing on the soda in lieu of a $5 Sam Adams Boston Lager on Tap, served in an appropriately casual plastic cup. It definitely makes the wait a little less grating. Get there now and share the glory.

Burger Joint

119 W. 56th St. nr. Sixth Ave.
You can enter on 57th street as well
New York, NY 10019
(212) 708-7414
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45 Responses to “Burger Joint Secrets to Success”

  1. Davey Says:

    I need to get here….been meaning to but have yet to get the chance. Everyone talks it up. Shake shack or Burger Joint?

  2. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Davey,

    Dude, you absolutely do need to get there. I’ve only had Shake Shack twice, believe it or not, while I’ve had the Joint at least 20 times. Burger Joint is not a transcendant experience but it is a simple and delicious burger with a great flavor. Shake Shack’s pretty delicious from what I remember but I don’t have a strong enough impression so for now, I’m going with the Joint as the superior burger. Stay tuned though, I’ll get to the Shack and let you know whats up…

    What are your top burgers?

  3. jenny Says:

    nycfg, you say, “Add in a little “this place is nuts, do what you gotta do” statement with a smile and get them on your side,” ……. can you describe this smile in a little more detail–there are all kinds of different smiles, i dont know which one to go with!

    that burger looks deeeliiiicious btw!

  4. Davey Says:

    1. White Mana Hackensack nj
    2. Shake shack
    3. Peter Lugers
    4. Corner Bistro(when they get it right)
    5. Dyers burgers – Memphis. Deep fried….pretty damn good. Found out about it from geoge Motz’s documentary. I believe they are in the book as well
    6. Mr barleys- Boston. Saw this place on the foodnetwork once….its in georges book as well. Overwhelming selection however I always go classic with American, lettuce tomato raw onion.

    All I can think of right now that truly stick out. I’m with u on the houstons burger. Love the smokeyness of it. It has its own distinct flavor.

    By the end of the summer I’ll be trying Teds steamed cheeseburers and louis’s lunch as per George Motz. I’m making it a goal to make it to every establishment he lists that is in reach whenever I’m traveling.

    What’s your top 5?

  5. Lil NYC Food Guy Says:

    Finally a burger joint post…I’m feelin Monday Virgils, Tuesday Burger Joint, Wednesday Hale & Hearty (so our hearts dont give) and Thursday BK Diner (I have Friday off the first week)

    As per the Top 5 question me and my brother differ but I’m gonna go
    1) Brooklyn Diner
    2) Peter Lugers (last two times I went I ordered Med Rare and got Med Well, very disappointing)
    3) Burger Joint
    4) Donovans (Woodside)
    5) Houstons

    Yes, Donovans is still on my top 5.

  6. Blondie Says:

    Ah, man, that just made my burger craving 10 times worse. I’ve wanted one all day, but the line at shake shack was 6 trees long, and now I’m really jonesing for burger joint.

  7. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Jenny,

    That would be a friendly, not overly maniacal smile which I refer to.

    Davey,

    Wow, White Manna number one overall. Big endorsement. Hamburger America is amazing btw, how about those butter burgers at Culver’s in Wisconsin? Nuts. I still don’t love Corner Bistro, they’ve been progressively poorer every time I’ve eaten them. Then again if you’re drunk at 3:30AM and eating it, I’m sure it’s another story….

    Okay my top 5 Cheeseburgers as of this moment:
    1) Brooklyn Diner
    2) Peter Lugers w/ fried onions (when they get it right)
    3) Burger Joint
    4) Houston’s
    5) Virgil’s

    Lil NYC Food Guy,

    That’s an excellent itnerary. I’m game. I still haven’t had Donovan’s in Woodside so I can’t say for sure.

    Blondie,

    Did you satisfy the craving?

  8. Bill Says:

    NYCFoodGuy,

    Love the 411, man! I need to get over there quickly. Sounds good! My gf and her family didn’t like it because of the whole line thing, but sounds like you’ve got the inside scoop.

    I think that Cozy Soup-N-Burger makes a fine burger, if a wee bit pricey for what it is.

    In response to Davey, I lived in Boston for 6 years, tried Bartley’s a few times and just couldn’t get behind their burgers. Always thought they were very charred outside and too close to rare/raw on the inside. More of a preference thing, really, my three roommates loved them.

    Sunest Grill on Brighton Ave had some mighty juicy burgers if I recall.

  9. Moose Says:

    Burger Joint is my absolute favorite burger. I don’t like the dry meat in Donovan’s burgers and Shake Shack burgers are not AS good as Burger Joint. YUMMY!!!!!!!!

  10. Ruth Says:

    You have to try JG Melons I think its the best burger in the city. It is on 74th and 3rd.

  11. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Bill,

    Which Cozy Soup Burger are you talking about? Broadway and 8th street?
    I miss Soup Burg on 75th and Madison. I didn’t even know they closed, that placed rocked.

    Moose,

    Glad to see you getting back into the action. I’m sorry to hear Donovan’s was dry, they probably just overcooked it. Shack is good but not as good as Joint, I agree. The crinkle cut fries at Shack are delicious though.

    Ruth,

    I went to JG Melon’s two years ago. I liked the cottage fries but the burger doesn’t stand out in my memory as amazing. I’m going to have to get back there and give it another taste, you should come. Think we can get Ax involved?

  12. brandon Says:

    burger joint is the schnizzle. big ups to NYCfoodguy for bringing me there and showing me yet another diamond hidden in the rough and tumble of Midtown Manhattan.

  13. Marshall Says:

    Burger Joint is one of the best eating experiences in NYC. Obviously the incredible burgers (my favorite in NYC) contribute heavily to this, but the atmosphere and “hidden” aspect of this place really set it apart from other great burger spots. But based on cheeseburger quality alone, my second favorite would have to be J.G. Melon on 3rd Ave at 74th St. Shake Shack is also very good and probably in the top 5 or top 10… no offense intended towards anyone by that.

  14. DocChuck Says:

    I consider myself a burger aficionado, since I have been eating (and preparing) gourmet-style burgers for just about 60 years now. That’s why I read all the blogs about “burgers.”

    But, as a laid-back-Southerner, I can never remember needing (wanting?) a burger so bad as to go through a NYC ritual of standing in line, eating elbow-to-elbow, or suffering any sarcasm or discourtesy whatsoever from the establishment or from its employees.

    But, it is fascinating to read about.

  15. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Brandon,

    Represent.


    Marshall,

    I’m glad to hear we like Burger Joint for the same reasons, before Brooklyn Diner came along and blew my socks off, it was my top burger too. I don’t know about this wishy washy top 5 or 10 of yours. I want the definitive list right now. Marshalls TOP 10 Burgers!

    DocChuck,

    Good to hear from you sir. Where are you based out of? Nothing like someone with some burger perspective to help keep things, well, in perspective for us.

    I can identify with your laid-back-Southerner demeanor especially since I’m a break-the-mold laid-back-New Yorker. I don’t like waiting on lines either or eating elbow to elbow, that’s why I wrote this story. The service at the Burger Joint is great, it’s what keeps the place moving smoothly. Amen for that.

    What are some of the best burgers you’ve ever had? How about cooking burgers any secrets, tips, or go to recipes? If you wanted to impress with your own burger, what would you offer?

    Thanks for the kind words.

  16. betazen Says:

    Great place. Been going here for a little and has yet to let me down…except for milk shake prices – $5?

  17. Dr. Dyspepsia Says:

    Gotta weigh in on the burger conversation, especially with a member of the medical fraternity in the room. Agree on Ruth on JG Melon’s, despite common complaints that the clientele is too upscale yuppie for many denizens of the FoodGuy website. Also, a mention to Joe Junior for a quintessential Greek diner cheeseburger. (http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/05/joe-junior-burgers-manhattan-gramercy-third-avenue-nyc.html)

    I used to love Jackson Hole, any Jackson Hole. Somehow came to my senses a few years ago and realized it’s terrible. Yes, it’s a big burger, and the bowl of cole slaw on the table for starters is tasty and free. But the burger is really just a steamed ball of tasteless beef on a bun. The fries are the big steak fry variety, also not my preference.

    As for homemade, try Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder, along with the salt and pepper, in the prep.

    Dr. D

  18. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Betazen,

    Yea I agree, the $5 milkshake is pretty overpriced especially for the size. It is ben and jerry’s ice cream though so I give credit for that. I’d pay $5 if it came in a metal cup with extra shake.

    Dr. Dyspepsia,

    I haven’t had Joe Juniors but i guess im goin to have to check it out. Those pics on AHT really make the burger look awesome. Jackson Hole. UGH. I’m glad you finally came to your senses. Outside Houston’s and Johnny Rockets, what’s your best Long Island burger?

  19. Dr. Dyspepsia Says:

    I’m drawing a blank on noteworthy LI burgers, as there’s no place like home (see recipe above, prepared with loving care by myself on the backyard grill for my own consumption.

    One find is Waterszooi, a Belgian place on Franklin Ave in Garden City known for mussels. Found myself invited there, and I hate mussels, so got the burger. Surprisingly excellent. And a prodigious selection of beers, too.

  20. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Doc-

    What a name that place has! Im not a big mussels fan either especially after reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. I may have to come over with KoK for a burger one day. Add it to the list.

  21. casey Says:

    I’ve been to Bk diner a gazzilion times and have gotten that kick ass burger every time…the chicken soup is delicious as well…….my question is……What about Island Burger?….there black & blue is one of the best burgers i’ve ever had..

  22. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Casey,

    That’s funny you mention the chicken soup. My friend Eric Cook, who turned me on to the BK Diner burger, also raves about the chicken soup. He implores me to get it everytime I order the burger. I just can’t justify spending $8 on a bowl of soup, especially when I want to leave as much room as possible for the burger. Have you had any other entrees there? I’ve never gotten anything but the burger.

    I’m going to have to shine the spotlight on Island Burger. I’ve only eaten there once, I really hate that they don’t have fries.

    I’ll warn you though, I’m not a bleu cheese on the burger guy but I definitely welcome a guest review if you’re interested. Thoughts?

    What other burgers in NYC do you dig?

  23. casey Says:

    EC is the one who directed me to this site…he is a good buddy of mine…..Other dishes worth having at the BK Diner would have to be the Mac N Cheese, Crab Cakes and eggs benedict (which is only on the late nite menu and i believe they have it on the weekends before 11am)…trust me on the chicken soup, goes perfect with the burger….

    Island burger explains about the lack of fries on their Menu……something to do with space…..just get yourself a baked potato with the works…..I can understand you being anti blue cheese…..they have over 50 different styles to fit everyones tastes..

    Burger Joint is next on the list….i’ve heard alot of good things…

  24. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Casey,

    Ah, that makes sense. Can you believe I’ve never had Eggs Benedict. Pretty crazy huh? I did just have a cheeseburger with a fried egg on it the other day. I think I’m still hurting.

    I guess I’ll have to rock the baked potato. I’ve seen that they have no room for a fryer. Disappointing. Guess you can always pick fries up somewhere else, thats a move EC endorses.

    What are your other top burgers in NYC?

  25. lauren Says:

    burger at Keens. Ridic.

  26. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Lauren

    Keens has been on my list forever. I’m definitely going to check it out soon. Can you describe it for me? What made it so good?

  27. Midtown Lunch: Outdoor Eating Spots « NYC Food Guy Says:

    […] Burger Joint […]

  28. DocChuck Says:

    NYC Food Guy,

    I am a retired “educator” with several PhDs and am now based in Columbia, MD after living most of my life in very rural Arkansas.

    My wife is much younger than me, if that kind of thing interests you.

    We (my young wife and I) are both very well-educated and impeccably bred. We travel often and enjoy the best of everything. We’d never consider eating at a place like “Burger Joint,” but do enjoy your fascinating documentation on how “the other half lives,” as they say.

    The internet is rife with compelling anthropological studies like this.

    Thank you for yours.

  29. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Doc Chuck,

    I didn’t see that response coming but that’s the best thing about this site, the wide array of readers who have stopped by and added their two cents. I’m glad you like my perspective, I’d love to hear more about yours. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten recently? Would you eat a burger if it costs $175 dollars and was topped with foie gras and gold flakes?

  30. DocChuck Says:

    My dearest NYC Food Guy,

    You asked about the best meal I’ve eaten recently. My (much younger) wife and I visited Shuckers for an early dinner (about 4:00 PM) on or about Sunday, August 27. We had just arrived by “Water Taxi” and were exhausting.

    Drinks were in order for us weary travelers, Amaretto Sour for the lady, and a cold, draft Coors Lite ($1.50) for myself. I do not allow foreign brands to cross my lips (I can trace my heritage back to the Mayflower, if that bit of personal information excites you).

    Like always, when confronted with an extensive seafood menu, my wife had a great deal of difficulty making a decision. While working on her decision, we ordered appetizers: “Spinach Dip” ($6.99) for her and “Nacho Pile-On” ($8.99) for me. My wife’s dip was served in a hollowed-out round loaf of bread (photos are scattered around the internet). A second round of drinks, and then orders were placed for the entrées. My young wife settled on the “Shuckers Fry-up” ($19.99) and I chose the “Old Tyme Fish and Chips” ($12.99).

    One note: Our appetizers cost one-half of the prices noted above because we had “coupons” from our “Water Taxi” tickets. Therefore, our total bill was reduced by $8.00.

    The total bill for this veritable feast was $56.14 (reflecting the $8.00 discount coupons), excluding gratuity. I realize the cost puts this meal out of reach of most of your blog (so-called) readers, but you must realize that a gentleman of my wealth and education can easily afford the finest life has to offer. Would we go back?

    You bet!

    Would we order something different?

    We always do . . . even when we’re pleased with a dish. We are extremely sophisticated in that regard.

  31. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Doc Chuck,

    “Nacho Pile on”, Coors Light, and Water Taxi Coupons for the man who enjoys only the finer things in life? You sound more like John Travolta’s taxi driver character in “Look Who’s Talking”. No offense. Is Shuckers in Columbia, MD? Moreover, are you the same DocChuck who commented on my Frankie’s Spuntino 17 Clinton Street post, saying the cavatelli doesn’t look appetizing?

  32. DocChuck Says:

    My Dearest NYC Food Guy:

    My wife and I are both highly educated and well-read, we make fine salaries and have invested wisely. We can EASILY afford just about everything life has to offer.

    As I have stated, however, we demand VALUE above else in everything we pay for, whether it be dining or anything else.

    Shuckers (in Fells Point, Baltimore, if that excites you), affords us such value, which is why we (my wife and I) rate it so highly. I agree with you that the management has probably erred in selecting names for their dishes. But they do know how to cook.

    Taking water taxis and using coupons allows us to spend more money on other things, like golf vactations and our wine cellar.

    One additional matter: yes, I have contributed my “worldly” thoughts to several of your threads. You must admit that the pasta in question bears a very marked resemblance to insects or insect larvae. I myself do not find that REMOTELY appetizing, but often one is able to overcome a sight or smell or taste that repulses them at first … only to realize they actually like the item in question. That is my hope for the cavetelli.

    Warm regards, Chuck, PhD

  33. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    DocChuck,

    I’m just messing with you while trying to figure you out a little bit. I can honestly say you’re one of the more intriguing commenters on my site and I look forward to your honest and sometimes contrarian commentary. You’re absolutely right about the cavatelli, I thought it looked like little worms too. Not a good sign. I didn’t think that while I was eating it, however, so that is a good sign. Like I said before, it’s a heralded dish at Frankie’s, I had to give it its due. Who would I be if I wasn’t honest with my readers? It’s what I’ve built my laurels on. You have any recommendations for Italian food in NYC?

    What are some of the best meals you’ve ever had around this country?

  34. shizzle Says:

    Just saw this post… best italian food in city.. under-radar, classic italian… Emilio’s Ballato on Houston between Mulberry/Mott. My go-to for mozzarella, spaghetti with meatballs or ziti arribiata, and a canoli.

  35. NYCFoodGuy Says:

    Shizzle,

    Thanks for the rec. I don’t have any Little Italy restaurants up here so I may use Ballato’s as a starting point. What about your top burgers?

  36. Bill Says:

    NYCFG,

    The Cozy I was talking about was the one on Broadway near 8th Street. Nothing fancy, but pretty reliable.

    11/30/08-I’m working up on Broadway and 53nd today and I just took your advice and called ahead for the burger joint. They had it ready when I got there. I was able to circumvent the smallish line (which, when I have a 30 minute break, does make a big difference). I got lost trying to find it though. For some reason, I thought the neon sign was outside of the hotel visible from the street. Duh! I finally asked someone inside as there seemed to be many velvet curtain around and I found it at last. Love the atmosphere in there. Hard to imagine a place like that tucked away in that hotel! My total came to $11 for a cheeseburger with everything and an order of fries. No camera today as it was raining too much. Here’s what I thought:

    Not a huge fan of the burger. I ordered it medium and it came just such with a nice grilled char to it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just didn’t do it for me tastewise. $7.50 for what I thought was a small-ish burger didn’t help either. The fries were of the McDonald’s cut, but far better tasting and not greasy at all. A 5 minute walk in the bag didn’t harm them and they were still quite crispy and someone used a judicious hand with the salt shaker (thankfully).

    I’m glad I tried it, but honestly, I don’t know that I’d make a return trip. Certainly not on my own. If someone really wanted to go there, I might go with them, but I wouldn’t be the first one to suggest it. Weird as it may sound, I still think Five Guys is better. Maybe I just like a well done burger. I don’t know… hehe

  37. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Bill,
    At least you didn’t have to wait long for a burger you didn’t love. To me, this is the best char-grilled burger you can find in this neighborhood, especially for the price. There’s nothing special about the meat per se, it’s just shoulder beef, but its always juicy and always charred on the outside. That’s enough for me. It’s really just a glorified grill burger, something someone with good skills could make in their backyard. Regardless, I’ve never been unsatisfied with a burger and fries although I usually go big and get two burgers and fries. I’m getting hungry just writing about it.

  38. Bill Says:

    NYCFG,

    sort of off-topic, but I made it to Corner Bistro a few weeks back and damned if that wasn’t one of the best, if not the best burger I had all year. Juicy, beefy and dripping and the topping were really fresh. I didn’t have to wait on a line for a table at all. Fries were somewhat greasy and ordinary, but I’d go back for that burger in a flash.

  39. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Bill,

    Wow. Corner Bistro coming through. Have you been to the nearby Tavern on Jane? Did you get bacon on your Corner Bistro burger? It’s funny, the burger never wowed me, the first time I had it the fries impressed. Did you drink at all before the burger?

  40. ORyan Says:

    hmm weather is gonna be a little better tomorrow, maybe i should take a a little trip to burger joint, lol

  41. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    ORyan,
    Where are you coming from to get this burger? Where are you from orignally? How long have you been living in NY?

  42. AG Says:

    Skip burger joint, not worth the trip in my opinion. So many better burgers in the city. Burger Joint used to much better but I’ve seen their quality decline dramatically over the past 3 years.

  43. ORyan Says:

    I’m from just above NYC, westchester.

    AG what do you recommend besides burger joint?

  44. Dr. Dyspepsia Says:

    Interesting that this thread was resurrected. Nevertheless, “best burger” will always be a topic.

    While I am no match for the Guy, as I am relegated to a middle-aged and sedentary life on Long Island, my faves for ORyan remain JG Melon and Goodburger, although I have not yet savored the delights of Brooklyn Diner, nor even Peter Luger, where there is a Great Neck outpost.

    And definitely skip any Jackson Hole, anywhere. Bodacious portions, but still a pile of steamed meat.

    Doc

    PS: Where DocChuck? Did he die?

  45. j-hole Says:

    jackson hole is disgusting doc you are absolutely right. brooklyn diners burger is 16 bucks — no burger is worth 16 bucks, and every time i go to lugers and order a burger medium rare, it comes out completely well-done. stick with the steak at lugers…

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