The Burger Joint

The burger and fries at the Burger Joint.

The burger and fries at the Burger Joint.

When someone says “BJ,” I used to think of blow jobs. Now I think of hamburgers. Because of the Burger Joint. That’s how good their hamburgers are.

I can’t remember the first time I went to the Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridian, the hotel on 56 Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. The original Burger Joint is literally a secret hideaway tucked in the far corner of the upscale hotel’s lobby. There’s no signage, and you’d never even know it’s there unless you were curious about the line down the dark corridor, on the far side of the reception desk.

The once-secret burger lair is no more than a little hole in the wall, far from what you’d expect in such a swank place. The walls are covered with graffiti and the operation screams “no frills,” though they now offer table service instead of having to line up at the counter.

The Burger Joint’s burgers are literally the best I’ve ever had, anywhere. The best. And the fries, well, they may very well be the best I’ve ever had as well – or at least in the Top 3. Amazing.

It’s not cheap, though. A basic burger is $8.50, and an additional $3.22 for the fries. OK, that’s quite reasonable for what you’d pay at most places here in New York City, but it’s still a bit pricey compared to Shake Shack’s $4.19 burger, which is mighty tasty as well. But the Shack’s fries suck, especially since they abandoned their new hand-cut shoestring fries to return to the old crinkle cuts.

The bigger Burger Joint on West 8th Street and MacDougal.

The bigger Burger Joint on West 8th Street and MacDougal.

The Burger Joint has been my go-to spot whenever I visit the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street. In fact, it’s one of the few places I like to eat in Midtown. Though it’s become so popular, particularly with tourists, that it’s intolerable during the lunch rush. So I prefer to hit it early or late, and actually structure my museum visits around that.

Fortunately the Burger Joint opened up a second spot, the Burger Joint on West 8th Street and MacDougal. It’s huge compared to the original, about four times the size, and I’ve never seen it get crowded. Same food, same prices, just less tourists and less tension. So now I’m finding all sorts of reasons to head down to the West Village, just so I have an excuse to grab a burger and fries at the Burger Joint. It’s that good.