Your First Look At (And My Humble Suggestions For) The New La Cense Burger Truck


Big surprise!  It’s day one for the La Cense Burger Truck and by 12:15pm the line was already around the corner of 48th Street, and down Park Ave.  Clearly Midtown Lunchers love the idea of eating a burger from a truck, although if that was completely true the Steak Truck (just one block away) would have a similar line.  (It doesn’t.)  I guess people love the idea of eating burger from a truck made from grass fed beef!

I bypassed the PR lady escorting other bloggers directly to their free burgers, and waited in line to pay for mine like a regular customer.  Your first look at the thing is after the jump…


Considering that the beef comes for a beef supplier, and is grass fed, it’s not a surprise that it’s a good burger.  But at $7.50 for a cheeseburger I knew this thing was going to have to blow me away in order to pull my business away from Burger Joint or Five Guys or even the occasional trip to Goodburger.  That’s to say nothing about Carnegie John’s, the current “Best Burger from a Street Cart” in Midtown.

The verdict: it did and it didn’t.  There’s a lot to like about this burger.  It’s much larger than any of the burgers mentioned above, comes on a great sesame bun, and is topped with free grilled onions (which I love).  The burger had a great char, which you could pretty much smell within half a block from the truck.


The major downside is they won’t cook the burger to order, which I completely understand.  As a truck it’s going to be hard enough filling the orders quick enough to satisfy demand.  So it has to be done this way.  But at this price ($7 for a burger, $7.50 for a cheeseburger) their argument of “you’re paying for a quality steak burger” or “it’s a restaurant quality burger at half the price” doesn’t hold as much water when you’re forced to get the burger served medium (bordering on medium well).

There is no question it’s quality meat, has a good flavor (especially for coming off a truck), and if you don’t mind your burgers cooked medium- you will love this burger. Personally, I’d rather pay less money for a burger more suitable for the price point (like Burger Joint, Carnegie John’s or Five Guys.) But that’s just me. This truck will definitely have its fans.

In fairness to them, despite being cooked medium to medium well, the burger was still fairly juicy (unlike the unbelievably dry burger from the Steak Truck) and had a good flavor.  But it wasn’t so freakin’ good, that I could see myself spending this kind of money on a regular basis. Of course for those who don’t work anywhere near Burger Joint, this is now one of the better burger options for Midtown East (but if you go out of your way expecting greatness, you may be disappointed. Especially if you’re already skeptical about paying this kind of money for a burger off of a truck.)

It’s unfair to criticize the service because this is very first day, and they’re obviously going to get faster.  But as a public service I’m going to help them out with a few quick suggestions:

1. Pre wrap the pickles in tin foil.  So much wasted time to wrap a pickle every time somebody orders one.
2. You guys are doing a great job getting the burgers out. It’s smart to just keep making default burgers (with cheese and onions) to save time. (Although as a warning to the customers, if you want a plain burger without cheese or onions, you are going to wait a lot longer.) There were at least 6-8 already made burgers sitting on the counter, ready to be served when I got to the front of the line. The only trouble was the guy taking the money kept changing his gloves between each order so as not to touch burgers and money with the same gloved hand. This is commendable for cleanliness, but terrible for speed. Either have the guy who is cooking the burgers also wrap them in tin foil, or you need to hire a third person to take care of putting the orders together while the other guy takes the orders and the money.

These two things alone will make the line go a lot quicker. (I’m scared to think of what it looks like at this point in the day.)

Finally, the most interesting thing will be to see how long they last at this really coveted spot. With XPL across the street, the Steak Truck one block away, and Magdy’s Philly Cheesesteak Truck two blocks away, I can’t imagine La Cense will last too long before being “approached”. They’ll probably get a pass today, since the operation looks more like some sort of giant marketing stunt, than a truck serving food. Once that wears off, and the vendors start to realize that the truck is there to stay, there could be some issues.

To see where the truck will be tomorrow, follow them on Twitter. (Personally, I’ll probably stick with Carnegie John! It aint grass fed, but what can I say? I’m more of a cheapskate than a burger aficionado.)


  • I agree on the pickle and perhaps someone to work the money end.. but would prefer that my burger not be pre-wrapped. The foil would hold enough condensation that the goodies would get all soggy and such – just my two cents. I try to eat organic/free range as much as possible so I was skipping with delight that I could partake of a cart!

    Now if only they had chocolate shakes… nomnom!

  • Wow, no free burger for Zach? lol.

    Cheeseburger looks alright but for 7.50 – I’d probably rather eat a greasy Big Mac and McD’s fries. ;P

  • You have inspired me to make another Carnegie John’s run next week.

  • It looks really good and I love all that sloppy/oozy cheese. But I agree on the price, a tad too high. Do they have fries? If they threw in fries i’d be sold on it.

  • Meh. The burger I grilled for lunch today looked much tastier, had a nice char, came with lots of real cheddar, and set me back less than $2. Then again, I’m not a cart.

  • Wow, that line looks intimidating.

  • one look at all those sesame seeds and im going to pass. and for 7.50, you should throw in the pickle

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    That’s an awesome story, stevenp… do you deliver to 47th and Madison?

  • Allowing ads on this site yields some gold.

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    I went late in an attempt to bypass the long line (2:15pm) but with only 15ppl in front of me, it still took about half an hour. They definitely need to work on their efficiency as I wouldn’t go back to the truck unless there were only 3 ppl in line.

    Burger wise, it was good and tasty, like mentioned above, larger than most of the other burger joints in the area. Sesame bun was nice as well as the fried onions, But nothing about it stands out as a really really good burger.

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    Burger is pretty good. Kinda strange having two choices: cheese or no cheese. The wait took about a half hour, mostly because “media” people kept giving fake interviews so they could cut the line. I’d go with blarney stone over this any day though.

  • Looks ok.

    But we all know we’ll be seeing all those sesame seeds the next day in a gloopy oily mess.

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    The burger from the Steak Truck = SAD. But I guess I had low expectations.

    It’s too bad the burger was cooked medium; it would’ve tasted so much better if it were rarer. Oh well. At least there were grilled onions.

  • turaho–not now, but I am thinking about it…

  • @ecoli – totally forgot about Blarney Stone! I would definitely pick Blarney Stone over this burger… although the la cense bun is much better than the B.S. bun.

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    i feel the need to point out that, in my midtown lunching experience, the very best burger in midtown is at BXL Cafe on 43rd between Broadway and 6th. A little pricey but super deep Belgian style burger with hand-cut fries in a paper bag and a decent mixed green salad. highly recommended.

  • It’s a $7 burger in ny…$8 with cheese and pickles


  • Props for skipping the media line-cutting, Zach.

  • First of all – Zach, thanks for putting together a great site, source and service. Now for the La Cense Burger…

    I got there just as they were getting ready to close up shop for the day. The line was only two people deep, but the cook still had a few burgers on the grill. The guys who showed up a few minutes after me ended up getting the final burgers of the day.

    I totally agree with your assessment of the burger. It’s good, but not “would be worth the wait” good – at least not right now. The burger was cooked “medium well”, but, unlike yours, mine had hardly any char to it. It was a bit mushy which is usually a sign the grill was crowded causing the burger to steam a bit in all the juices from the other burgers. -That’s also my beef – pardon the pun – with 5 Napkin Burger especially if you go at a time when they’re really busy. I also ended up with a particularly gristly burger which made the mushiness of the burger even more evident. The taste was good, the texture wasn’t. I did like the pickle. Do you know where they get them from?

    By that time, the “money guy” had streamlined his hands. He kept one hand gloved to handle the food (burgers and pickles), and used his free hand to collect the money. It was encouraging watching him make sure his bare hand only touched the foil wrap and bag.

    Well, that’s enough for my first comment here on ML. I promise not to be so long-winded next time, or after my next trip to the La Cense Burger Truck – whichever comes first.

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