The Burger Joint @ Le Parker Meridien
If you have ever been on a NYC food message board, then you know that nothing gets the troops riled up more then a post about “The Best” Hamburger in New York City. One thread, started two months ago, just got its 100th reply. People really are crazy… I’m not really a hamburger connoisseur- but I do enjoy a burger now and again. I haven’t eaten at a McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s in years- but living in L.A. for two years, I couldn’t stay away from In ‘n Out… so I’m not anti-burger or anything, I just think the whole NYC “best burger” argument seems pretty silly.
First off, what kind of burger are you talking about? Thick or thin? Cheap or Expensive? If you ask me what my favorite burger place is, I would probably say In ‘n Out? But it’s only the best when you compare it to other thin burgers… which are mostly found at fast food places. Most people probably like thick burgers better then the thin patties… but there aren’t too many cheap, fast food places that serve the thick restaurant style burgers. Then you have the expensive burgers… which are in a class unto themselves. You know the ones… served at fancy restaurants, made with Kobe beef and stuffed with foie gras that cost a hundred billion dollars. That doesn’t really appeal to me. It’s a hamburger. If I go to a fancy restaurant, I want a real meal. Not a burger. I don’t care what animal’s liver you’ve stuffed it with, and how much you massaged the cow before you ground it up… I’m not paying over $20 for a hamburger and fries. Why stop at foie gras and truffles? You start stuffing burgers with fried chicken or Chinese food, then you give me a call…
So in my opinion to talk about “the best” or compare burger places across genres is really useless. If two places are right across the street from each other, and serve the same kind of burger at the same price- compare away. In ‘n Out is better then McDonald’s. But to compare Blue 9 Burger in the East Village to the burger at Spotted Pig is futile. (BTW, if you are a fan of In n Out, and are ever in the East Village check out Blue 9. It’s the closest thing to a good double double you’ll find in NYC.)
Lucky for us, when it comes to eating a hamburger, for lunch in Midtown, it doesn’t matter what you like- the choice for best burger is pretty clear and easy. The Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien Hotel. While I’m sure the name conjures images of some fancy burger served at an overpriced hotel restaurant with white tablecloths- here’s the best part. It’s a dive, and it’s hidden smack dab in the middle of one of the nicest hotel lobbies in Midtown.
Pictures, the +/- and more after the jump…
It’s hard to call the Burger Joint “hidden”, because it’s become pretty well known (the lines can attest to that). But the truth is, if you don’t know the Burger Joint is there, then you will never know the Burger Joint is there. There’s no real sign, or windows looking in. Just an unlit aisle, next to a large brown curtain with a little neon hamburger and an arrow pointing in. If there wasn’t a line coming out the hallway, you probably wouldn’t even notice it walking through the hotel lobby.
Once you make it inside, you find one of the true hidden gems of Midtown. The “kitchen”, if you could call it that, is a grill behind the counter where you order. The menu is pretty small, and like it says “If you don’t see it, we don’t serve it.” Hamburger ($6), Cheeseburger ($6.50), French Fries ($3), Grilled Cheese ($5). That’s it. There are milkshakes if you show up after 2:30 (supposedly that’s when the line dies down, but on a Wednesday at 2:30 it was still going strong for us). A bunch of wooden tables to sit at, and a bar with some stools. That’s about it. Here’s a picture of the burger from their website:
Here’s the picture of the burger I ate:
I can’t decide which picture looks more appetizing! Despite my horrible photography it really was delicious. I won’t go too much into how amazing the burger is, or why it’s so good. The last thing I want to do is draw the ire or attention of burger afficianados quick to tell me how much better some other place in the city is. Listen pal. We work in Midtown. This place kicks ass. I don’t care what you say…
But I will say this: It’s a little thicker then a fast food burger (but still in the fast food vein). If you like that, you’ll like this burger. It tastes like it’s been grilled on a BBQ, because it has been. If you like that, you will like this burger. It tastes like it was cooked fresh, using really good beef, because it was and it is. If you like that you will like this burger. If you order it medium rare, the inside will be deliciously pink. If you like that, you will like this burger. Will you like it better then (insert your favorite burger place here)? I don’t know. Is it worth $9.50 for a cheeseburger and fries? If the thought of eating at McDonald’s or Burger King (again, or for the first time) sickens you- then yes, it is most definetely worth it.
Transcendant experience? I couldn’t tell you, because I’ve never gotten that feeling from ground up meat, grilled and served on a roll. For me, that “seeing god” experience is reserved for that 3rd plate at an all you can eat chinese buffet. I must be a communist. Feelings of euphoria aside, it is a damn good burger, and I’ll go back again and again.
Tastes like a real hamburger, made with good meat, that’s been chargrilled on a BBQ
Your lunch is causing the lobby of a super fancy hotel to smell like chargrilled meat
Slightly thicker then your regular fast food burger
They will make your burger medium rare if you want it that way (and it’s thick enough to make a difference)
There’s no grilled onions. I’m a big fan of grilled onions.
For some $9.50 for a cheeseburger and fries is too much. I understand.
The wait. It’s a pain in the ass. Despite being a “hidden gem”, this place is pretty well known as it pretty packed for most of the hours that you would consider eating a meal that could be called lunch. Best case scenario, get there right at noon or after 2:15. Chances are you will still have to wait, but the wait will be shorter.
It’s really small, and getting a table is like winning the lotto
***ADDITION*** Thanks to an annoynymous tipster we have discovered that you can not only call ahead and place your order- but when you arrive you can skip the line, go to the side of the counter to pay, and receive your food!!!
The Burger Joint, in the Parker Meridien Hotel. Enter on 56th btw. 6th & 7th. Look for the big brown curtain in the middle of the lobby. (There is an entrance on 57th, but it’s easier to find the Burger Joint from the entrance on 56th). 212-708-7414