Ask Midtown Lunch: What Burger Should I Eat Today?

Cheeseburger & Fries @ the Blarney Stone, Midtown NYC
The Blarney Stone’s Burger & Fries

This email was sent to the old ML Inbox before the bad news about Five Guys, but it’s still a good question (especially if you’re craving a burger today, and were thinking about hitting up Five Guys).

“I haven’t had a burger since the summer (eating healthier; not salads or crap like that, just chicken instead of beef). I got a ridiculous craving yesterday, but it was miserable outside. I’m trying to decide which great burger I am going to unleash myself on. I’ve narrowed it down to Blarney Stone, City Burger (the black label is so intriguing) and Five Guys. I know you list Five Guys as your Midtown pick, but I just want to be sure that it’s a better option considering I’m both a steak (Black Label burger) and onion ring fanatic. I’ve been to AHT, but they give too many options. Any advice? Sincerely, dougiec”

This is a tough one Doug. My favorite is Five Guys, but I admit it’s a specific kind of burger for a specific kind of burger craving. None of this is new territory… but let’s weigh your options after the jump. After all, you can never have too much burger talk.

Cheeseburger w/ Grilled Onions & Mushrooms @ Five Guys, Midtown

Personally, I love Five Guys Burgers & Fries- but it is not a steak lovers burger. It’s for somebody who loves the In N Out style of burger. Two super thin burgers, covered in cheese and grilled onions (double double baby!), served with fresh cut fries. So good… but from the sounds of it, it’s not what you’re looking for. Plus it’s closed.  If you want to be in that area, there is always the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien (which I’m guessing will even more of a mob scene then usual) or the Carnegie John’s Cart, which actually makes a really good, and cheap burger.  No fries (or onion rings) though… which is a big negative.

Black Label Burger Innards from City Burger

The new black label burger at City Burger has been called the best burger in the city for the “steak lover”, and if high quality meat is what you’re after, this has to be your choice. It’s also the most expensive, and the smallest of the 3. But if flavor is what you’re looking for, and you don’t care about price, this is your burger.

The Best Onion Rings in Midtown, New York City

But then you had to go and mention onion rings. Blarney Stone has possibly the best onion rings in the city. While City Burger serves a frozen onion ring, Blarney Stone fresh cuts, seasons, and batters their onions every single morning. And it totally shows. If onion rings and price are as important to equally important to you as the flavor of the burger, then Blarney Stone must be your choice. Sure, the burger to bun ratio isn’t the greatest, but it’s a giant burger, and good enough. Plus, it’s super cheap (especially compared to Five Guys and City Burger.)

Anybody else have any thoughts on this extremely important question?

The Blarney Stone Burger
Original City Burger Better Than Black Label? Combo Comes Down By $1
Five Guys is NYC’s Closest Thing to In N Out Burger


  • I want…them…all

  • Five Guys is in NO way an In-N-Out style burger.

  • @ben – maybe not in its construction or appearance… but it is similar in the sense that they are both thin fast food burgers. And you can get grilled onions on both! And stack multiple patties on top of each other. It’s the closest thing to In N Out Burger NYC has (with the exception of Blue 9 which is a direct copy.)

    Everyone loves to compare places like Shake Shack to In N Out… but those burgers are thicker. You can actually order them cookied to a certain temperature. In n Out Burgers are thin, and you can’t order them cooked to a certain temp.

  • What about the good ol’ double cheeseburger from McDonalds? It’ll cost you about a buck… so be sure to hit up the ATM beforehand.

  • I’d always opt for the Burger joint, but the wait is just unbearable. I want to try this Black Label so bad, but I need a giant burger. Maybe I just take the true ML route and get one of each. Throw the O-rings on top of the burger. Mmmmmmmm.

  • You can call ahead at the burger joint and it will be waiting when you get there.

  • I just have to disagree Zach. The only thing these burgers have in common is the freshness of the meat and buns. In-N-Out burgers are the epitome of the West Coast (California really) style of hamburger. The patties are significantly thinner that Five Guys, the topping options limited to the traditional, a focus on secret sauce (russian dressing of course). Five Guys burgers are a much heavier affair, oodles of toppings means that the chances are your burger tastes a lot different that the guy next to you, and the buns are potato buns not just squishy white ones. Its no surprise that they look completely different as well…In-N-Out burgers come out looking pristine and Five Guys come out smashed and greasy. It’s worth noting that I like them both, but in the burger world they are apples and oranges.

    As far as the fries go too, once again completely different. In-N-Out are feather light and airy, almost no crunch at all. Five guys are are meaty, East Coast, double fried, Boardwalk style with crunchy outsides that yield to a creamy inside.

  • city burger will deliver a black label burger right to you AND give you 10% off. while i think burger joint and the black label burger are neck-in-neck for my midtown favorite, i aint trekkin’ to the parker meridien in this weather.

  • This post motivated me to go for a Shack burger today. (Okay, a Shack Stack.) It’s right by my (non-ML) location, and there’s no line at all on these cold winter days.

    The Blarney Stone burger looks tempting, but I’m too lazy to trek to 45th/3rd today! Maybe one of these days….

  • IF your Gonna break ya Burger Hymen…you may aswell do it properly and it’s gotta Be………… Shakeshack.

  • Take your time, spend the money, and go to Blue Smoke for their burger. As my coworker put it, it’s a “ketchupless burger.” ie, it needs nothing. And is just a few blocks from shake shack.

  • This was a midtwon lunch specific question. Shake Shack is out of bounds for sure. I went with the black label at City burger. It was extremely good, but, I could have handled a much larger burger. Saturday afternoon, I’ll be grabbing a double shack burger to satisfy the craving.

  • so in summary you’re $11 poorer and still heading to shake shack to spend half that for full satisfaction. so much for shitty bugger

    the shack is really the only place to do it right, shame they don’t have rings tho

    even an ocean away Rudy is right … except about butter

  • I know the shack is not midtown, but there has been many posts about things like taking the subway to Nolita for banh mi, or to the UWS for a satellite shackburger, as well as our regular Downtown Lunch reports. The Shack is an easy trip from most midtown locations, being very close to the 6 (23rd/Park), R/W (23rd/5th) and even the F/V (23rd/6th).

    Maybe we need some more coverage of this SOM (South of Midtown) area of lower Chelsea/Union Square/Flatiron/Gramercy? Let me know–I’ll volunteer for that beat. With places like the Shack, NY Burger Co., Maffei’s, Maoz, 2 Bros. $1 pizza and chicken, a few local carts, Rainbow Falafel, Mandler’s, etc., it’s a pretty good business lunch area.

  • I like Jimm’s Burger Shack next to Jimy’s BBQ on the corner of 33rd or 32nd st btwn 7 and 8th ave (I believe). I mean…french fries/tater tots and a burger for under $5?

    Where can you go wrong?

  • stevenp, I used to work around the corner from Maffei’s and miss it terribly.

    Bacon, Egg and Cheese w/ home fries for breakfast.
    Grandma slice or Chicken Parm for Lunch!
    Penne or Ziti for Dinner!


  • Carnegie John’s burger is better than Five Guys. Too bad it’s to go only. But don’t do what I did and order a double. It’s just too much meat!

  • Yeah, Maffeis makes a good slice and sub. You can always get a huge platter filled with different pastas, some fried calamari or shrimp, etc., for $7-8 too. Just ask. They are very flexible. Huge filling meal for under $10.

  • Case, I will confess that for breakfast I tend to hit up the cart on 23rd/6th (SE, outside Best Buy) for a 2-egg-and-cheese-on-roll-or-bagel for about $2.

  • I’m partial to the Burgers at Judge Roy Bean. I usually hold the fries and get onion rings instead.

    I wasn’t too happy with either Burger Joint or Five Guys (though if I had to pick between the two I’d go with Five Guys).

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