Clarke’s Standard is Worth Going Over $10

I really like burgers. My answer to the eternal question “Burgers or pizza?” is actually “BURGERSSS OM NOM NOM” to the shame of my New York heritage. So when someone pointed out that I’m reasonably close to Clarke’s Standard and Schnipper’s, I thought “um yes I want a burger RIGHT NOW” (unfortunately, a visit to Schnipper’s is NOT in the works – explanation at the end of this post) and walked the couple avenues east. What I got, and what I thought, after the jump…

Ack! I forgot to take a photo of the menu, which seems to have changed a few times since it opened at the end of last year. They had a somewhat confusing pricing scheme – single, double, then on the top was written “Add $3 for a combo – fries and drink.” I can’t do math on the fly that well, and I don’t actually know how much tax is currently (things I shouldn’t admit…) so I tried to balance the difference between the regular burger combo and the Cadillac combo. I knew the regular would come in under $10 definitely, but the Cadillac seemed to be squeaky close. Could I add bacon to the regular burger and get away with it?

Check the menu here

Honestly, my math shows that it’s actually cheaper by 10c to add bacon to the regular burger combo than to order the Cadillac, even though they appear to be identical (type of cheese is different, but both have cheese). Someone explain that to me?

Fountain sodas were serve yourself. My meal came pretty fast; the fries came in a smallish cup, and the soda that came with the meal was also a small. Yes, I got Fanta (orange)…

The fries were pretty good – slightly crisp but very rustic in a good way. The potato flavor was super evident, and I thoroughly enjoyed them…

… especially with some of the awesome sauces they had on the side! There was an entire row of pump-your-own sauces, like regular ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, … but what caught my attention was the tomatillo relish (which I mixed with mayonnaise), root beer BBQ sauce, and Sir Kensington’s spiced ketchup. The BBQ sauce was fairly sweet from the root beer (I think it was A&W), and while I wished the tomatillo relish had a little more kick, it was actually really good on my fries. The spiced ketchup – which I’ve had before – well, it was a nice touch to have it offered, and it’s good… just couldn’t hold a candle to the tomatillo relish/mayo combo, for my palate.

As for the Cadillac – I got the single, of course – I thought it was tasty, if the burger patty was on the small side (even for a single). The cheese was completely melted over the burger patty, and overall, it didn’t need any sauces to jazz it up. The burger was juicy, but not so much that it covered my hands in oil, and I found it satisfied my burger craving. Best burger ever? Not by a long shot, but perfectly tasty and suitable for all its qualities.

And the total cost?


Well, to be perfectly fair, I subsequently had a burger that I’ll be posting shortly that slaps the $10 limit hard. And I tried to go to Schnipper’s a few days later, only to discover that at the 50/Lex location, the Schnipper’s Classic is $9.50. Without fries. Without anything. Uhhh, what? I don’t recall Schnipper’s being expensive – though I’ve only been to the 23/Mad location – so I turned to the internet to find out what’s up.

And it turns out that Schnipper’s at 50/Lex and 41/8 both charge $9.50 for the Schnipper’s Classic, while the 23/Mad location asks a mere $6.99 – a whopping $2.51 cheaper than either midtown location.

No thank you – that is why you will not see me reviewing Schnipper’s here. (I understand that I can get a regular hamburger for $5.99, but I want the Schnipper’s burger for comparison purposes. The price prohibits me from making the comparison.)

Anyway, back to Clarke’s Standard…

THE + (what people who like this will say)

  • Perfectly suitable burger that satisfies the craving
  • Get a burger and an ice cream cup, stay under the $10 limit
  • Love the choice of sauces
  • Love fountain sodas, and help yourself? Score!!
  • Pretty good selection of types of burgers/sandwiches

THE – (what people who don’t like this place will say)

  • There is no way I can spend less than $10 here and fill up (I’m a big eater)
  • The space is pretty crowded/poorly laid out (narrow and hard to maneuver around people)
  • During the lunch rush, there should be more than one person taking orders
  • The pricing scheme, at least from regular to Cadillac, is silly
  • The burger patties are too small

Clarke’s Standard, 636 Lexington Avenue (southwest corner of 54th Street)
Locations also off Union Square & in the Financial District, check website


  • Looks underwhelming. Why are NYC burgers always ridiculously small?

  • While I really enjoyed Clarke’s standard’s burger combo, I remember still being hungry after the meal.
    Thanks for updating the Schnipper’s prices. That’s kind of strange that one location would charge $2.50 more for the same burger sold at another location in the city. That’s a huge difference in price..what were they thinking? That’s about 36% more!

  • A Standard combo + bacon would’ve been under the ML limit. ;)

  • Don’t know about 50 and Lex, but the Schnipper’s at 41 and 8 is almost exclusively populated by Times Square tourists, so I am not surprised they’re charging a premium there. By contrast, the one on 23rd Street is all professional types.

    Great write-up on Clarke’s though! Thank you!

    • 50/Lex Schnipper’s should be mostly professional types as well given the location – I don’t think tourists really wander around to see the office buildings over there, but I COULD be wrong. I would imagine it’s a rent + lack of competition thing for the 50/Lex location.

  • I just had the hot dog, which is excellent and cheaper, at $3.75. The onion rings were good too, but you get about 6 for your $3.

  • Very underwhelmed by this burger. Smashburger, five guys, zaitzeff, shake shack are all 3x better.

    • I thought it was ‘perfectly suitable’ – nothing to go out of your way for, but not terrible either. One of those I can’t get excited about in either direction; if it’s there, I’ll eat it, but if not, I don’t get upset.

      Smashburger is barely in midtown; I suppose you can consider TSq SS midtown but the lines are ridiculous; is there another Zaitzeff besides the one way downtown? Pretty far for me to get to during lunch. I do like Five Guys a lot but I don’t think anyone comes to this site to read about a burger place they already know about.

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