This is how it always goes down. You’re on the bus, minding your own business, when suddenly the girl behind you starts gushing about “the best burger in New York”. If anyone has watched How I Met Your Mother, you’ll agree with what is coming: EVERYONE (includes me) thinks that they know where “the best burger” is. But the fact of the matter is, it’s so subjective that when you hear this…you never know if you’ll agree or be sadly disappointed. But no matter, I was up for an adventure. So I got this girl to write down the directions to “The Burger Place”. It’s so great, this place is located in a fancy hotel, but the burger place looks like a dive so they hide it behind a curtain. A classic case of hide and seek.
Upon our family’s arrival to New York, all I could think of was this burger. I’d seen the sights: Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, but there was one aspect of New York that I had neglected – food. Every day that I spent in the Big Apple and wasn’t devouring this secret burger felt like an eternity. We were so busy touristing but I finally caught a break and dragged my brother on my search. The search didn’t start off well, there were no tell-tale signs of a kitchen anywhere nearby. When we finally tracked down the hotel, we searched the lobby, the entire ground floor to no avail. But then we noticed it. We had been looking for a tiny curtain, but the place had been hiding behind this massive floor to ceiling curtain. And sure enough, there was a line of curiousts (curious tourists) like myself lined up outside the door.
I’m a little late to the secret burger party, and it’s become something of a tourist trap now. But if it’s between jockeying for position in the Empire State Building elevator line and this line, I’ll ALWAYS choose this line. You can tell because instructions for ordering are listed in 6 different languages outside the door (I can read three [read humble brag]). But the staff has no patience for dilly dallying. If you hesitate at all in your order, they will send you to the back of the line. Trust me, I read it on their menu, which also happens to be an old flattened pizza box.
The decor of “The Burger Place” makes it look like a dive, but it’s funny because it’s crammed to capacity with young 20/30 somethings. There’s something about a place that makes you THINK you’re living on the wild side. But the ambiance is cool. The walls are covered in the scrawlings of former guests, some of which I’ve heard are movie stars. Fighting for real estate on the walls are numerous movie posters, giving you the feeling that you’ve gained access to the coolest fort ever. Whoever said forts were just for kids, they were wrong. This one is perfect: and it serves beer.
James opts for a burger without mayo, healthy fella, but me, I select the “Half Noah’s Ark” approach : which means 1 of everything. One cheeseburger, one fries, one brownie. That’s what I said: brownie. The Burger Place has a limited menu, but they’ve saved room for dessert. The brownie is a massive hunk of chocolate love. No icing, which made for ease of transport in a communal brown bag. No chocolate icing sneaking onto my fries…but hey, I wouldn’t have complained if it had happened! When was the last time you had a burger, fries and a brownie?
As we were in a hurry, we ordered, took some photos, and split. We ended up speed walking downtown and eating our burgers leaned up against a hotel near Times Square. In that time, a gentleman also tried to sell my brother some cologne that was dispensed out of a container that looked like a cigar.
As the title suggests, one can get carried away when chasing after something secret. The chase can make something seem better than it really is. And this was the case with the burger. Now this burger is certainly a cut above anything that you’ll eat at any chain restaurant. The meat is tasty and cooked to perfection, the toppings are plentiful but not too messy. If there was one twist moment to this story, it would be the thick cut dill pickles, which added a great crunch and flavor to the experience. Often we as diners are plagued by “wuss pickles” as they will be referred to from now on. Wuss pickles are cut thin, just enough to register the flavor but not enough to make you sit up and take notice. I really enjoyed the thick cut delicious deli pickles that New York is so famous for. the fries were comparable to McDonald’s, nothing special, but plentiful. I ate the entire “half-ark” in about 5 minutes, and that’s rounding up. So, I wasn’t savouring the delicate nuances of flavor. Overall, it was pretty tasty for the price I paid and it’s less than any tourist trap that you’ll find in the surrounding area.
So, after that lack lustre review, would I recommend you try this burger? Absolutely. Searching for something that’s hidden is so exciting, just the prospect of finding something that was off the beaten tourist path was so alluring that I had to see it for myself. And the satisfaction of finding this place and discovering a part of Secret NYC was so satisfying, it makes me wonder what else this city is hiding. Something tells me it’s a lot more than the double decker tour buses will lead you to believe. The thrill is in the chase.