Category Archives: Burgers

The Elgin

The Elgin is a great midtown bar with international flare to the menu. My friend Sean, the chef who developed the menu here, recently invited me in to try some of the food, and, of course, to shoot some photos for Instagram. Here’s what we had:

Curry Hill Wings

These dry-rub wings are intensely flavorful and deliciously crisp, and they come with a nice tangy yogurt-based dipping sauce.

Detroit Style Pizza

Although these are more flatbread than Detroit, they are absolutely delicious. We tried the spicy sausage pizza.

Tuna Poke Nachos

These are incredible. This was by far my favorite dish of the night. Make sure you order this when you come here!

Burrata

Very nice. Super soft and flavorful, especially with the balance of sweet and savory coming from the tomatoes, blackberries and strawberries.

Lamb Burger

This thick patty beauty was so flavorful, and with the tzatziki style sauce, it really brought home those Greek comfort food flavors.

Southern Chicken Sandwich

Bacon and pimento cheese sauce with fried chicken? YES! So good. We actually liked this better than the burger.

I definitely cant wait to come back here to try more of the menu, especially the cocktails. We were stuffed! Likely because of the beer.

THE ELGIN
64 W 48th St
New York, NY 10036

Hall’s Chophouse

Hall’s Chophouse overall score: 90

I finally got down to Charleston, SC, and, of course, a top priority was to check out Hall’s Chophouse. I went down to visit a law school friend with some other guys from law school, so we went big here!

Also: quick caveat – I think the score for this place would climb with multiple visits. I’d need to get back and try more meats and some seafood, but I can see this place getting in the 95-point range.

Flavor: 9

We tried three cuts: the porterhouse, the tomahawk, and the prime rib. All were excellent, but I think the prime rib took the victory.

The prime rib was a 10/10. It’s wet aged, but rubbed with a Montreal seasoning that really added a ton of flavor.

Both the tomahawk and porterhouse are dry-aged a minimum of 45 days after two weeks of wet aging. These packed a lot of funk, both 9/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

There’s a great selection of dry-aged beef from Allen Brothers in Chicago. Everything is aged off site, first wet-aged and then dry-aged for 45-days (except for the prime rib – that’s just wet-aged). All prime, and all delicious.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

The meat board plating was really nice for our massive order of three steaks. Portion size is definitely on the large side, especially for sides, apps and desserts.

Price: 8

Don’t expect a cheaper bill just because you’re outside of the NYC insanity! Beef prices have gone up lately, and top notch quality like Allen Brothers being shipped from Chicago to Charleston means you’ll be paying a premium. That said, I thought the prices were all kinda fair, with the exception of the martinis at $26ea.

Bar: 9

The bar here a great spot to hang out. My buddy is there all the time, and I would be too.

My martini was great (blue cheese olives) despite being pricey.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were some specials off the menu that all sounded delightful. They have quail and duck for non-beef meat items. One stand out was the bison filet, which you can see here in this short video at the beginning (the very dark colored lean cut, top right). We didn’t try it, but I’m sure it was good.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We started with the bacon; really nice. The tomato on top was a nice twist on this.

The tartare was slightly over worked but it was still really delicious. The table was impressed!

We split a burger for our appetizer, which was really delicious. It reminded me of Peter Luger and Red Hook Tavern – a distinct dry aged flavor that eats more like a steak than a burger. It’s definitely a top five steakhouse style burger for me.

The sautéed spinach was a nice light side.

Loaded mashed potatoes – of course.

These fried okra were a fun change up for side dishes as well.

For dessert we tried the skillet cookie, the lemon cheesecake, and the whisky bread pudding. All were awesome, but the bread pudding was my favorite.

 Seafood Selection: 8

I gotta be honest – I didn’t even bother looking at the selections. But the she crab soup that we tried in between courses was fantastic. If you have room, get it!

Service: 10

Service was amazing here. You really can’t beat it. The staff knew everything there was to know about the meat when I pried them, too. Our waiter even asked if we’d prefer a chuck side or loin side cut of prime rib, which I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I was impressed (and of course I went with chuck side).

Table bread was warm and toasty, with a great whipped butter. You know I always have to mention it!

Ambiance: 10

Great spot. There is live music in the main bar room, which is more lively and loud, while the side rooms and upstairs are a bit more private and cozy.

While walking around, I saw Walter Goggins and Danny McBride having a meal, so I sent them a bottle of wine and had the pleasure of chatting with them for a bit. If you don’t know the names, they are the headliners for great shows like Eastbound and Down, Justified and The Righteous Gemstones.

Oh yeah – nice little Michters bottle in the bathroom filled with mouth wash.

This place is the real deal, and if you plucked it out of SC and dropped it into NYC, it would still be a wild success and I’d rank it among the heavy hitting stars here, easily. I can’t wait to go back.

HALL’S CHOPHOUSE
434 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

Blue Collar Hamburgers

I have to say, the simplicity and perfection of this burger blew me away. My photos suck, because I had to use a flash and didn’t have my light, but I really loved this. Nice regular patty – I’m so tired of smash burgers being everywhere now. Crisp texture on that patty! Great cheese coverage. Perfect soft bun. My only gripe was that the tomato was cut a bit thick.

I also got a hot dog – they’re split-griddled. PERFECT!

I will definitely be back here again.

BLUE COLLAR HAMBURGERS
160 Havemeyer St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Carla

I stopped in here with some of the guys from the Zooz electric bike club (for $150 off your bike, use code JOHNNYPRIME at www.zoozbikes.com).

We sat outside, but then it started pouring, so we went inside. The place was nice enough to let us put our bikes into their covered outdoor seating area to stay dry.

Anyway, I tried their burger. I wasn’t crazy about the pickled cabbage on it, but the rest was great. The waffle fries were perfectly crispy with a good spice seasoning on it, like Old Bay/cajun. The egg is unnecessary, but it didn’t make it sloppy or anything. Good crispy bacon, which I broke up a little bit for neater coverage.

I would definitely eat here again if I was in the area. The service was excellent, and the menu was unique. In particular, I’d like to try their pho and banh mi sandwich.

CARLA
2503 40th Ave
Queens, NY 11101

Emilia by Nai

Once again my friend Ruben absolutely nails it with his third restaurant, Emilia. Check out this quick video of some of the dishes we tried:

I can’t wait to go back and try more stuff. He is still in the process of perfecting the burger (he’s working on the bun), so I’ll definitely try that again.

Favorite items so far: artichoke with soy cured egg and crispy sunchokes, red snapper, and monkfish liver mousse.

EMILIA BY NAI
174 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10009

Billy Goat Tavern

The famous Olympia Diner scene from SNL, come to life!

I have to say, I expected this burger to suck, seeing as though this place is definitely somewhat of a tourist trap, and the meat to bun ratio seemed way off. That’s why I went with the triple. Boy was I wrong in my assumptions. The burger was great!

I will make it a mission to come here on every visit to Chicago. Next time I’ll try the Polish sausage and the hotdog.

BILLY GOAT TAVERN
Lower 430 North Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

Haswell Green’s

having gone to Haswell Green’s several times for cocktails over the years, I finally made it over there to try the food. I have to say: the burger matches the quality of the cocktails: AWESOME!

It’s a double smash patty burger on a potato bun with pickles, cheese and special sauce. Very simple, but really well executed. Go give it a shot. I actually think this might be my favorite burger in that part of town. Better than Black Tap, all the steakhouses nearby, and any other bar or fast food joint slinging burgers for theater patrons.

The boneless wings pork+veal meatballs are decent as well.

But make sure you try some of their cocktails. Really nicely crafted.

HASWELL’S GREEN
240 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019

Black Crescent

The tiny burger at Black Crescent may be overpriced at $13, but it is damn delicious. Great char, lovely beefy chuck flavor, and plenty of cheese coverage.

It’s definitely more of a slider sized burger (it’s sitting on a small ketchup cup in the pic above), but whatever. As long as it’s good.

Pro tip: order the waffle fries for $10: it’s basically enough for three people.

BLACK CRESCENT
76 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002

King’s Cafe

In my quest to try all the burgers in the lower east side, I came across another addition to the smash burger craze that’s sweeping the area: King’s Cafe.

The burger was beautiful, and well assembled. Cheddar, aioli, double patties, caramelized onions… Everything was great about it, except for the overwhelming flavor of onion water. It was as if the onions had been sitting in the bottom of a sink, just stewing there. I’m not really sure how else to put it!

Great seasoned fries, awesome bun, great ratios all over the place. Just that onion water… Odd.

KING’S CAFE
79 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002

The Burgary

The Burgary’s Lower Eastsider has potential to be one of my new favorites in the area. It’s got a 6oz dry aged patty, topped with crispy pastrami that acts like bacon and brings it into the “lower east side”/Jewish deli flavor profile, along with a killer horseradish mustard sauce. Gruyere, pickles, everything brioche. Very unique! It’s light on tomato and lettuce, which is good. In the negative column, it could use fewer raw onions and the patty was a little dense/over worked. Great batter style fries to go along with it. I didn’t try the tots. This burger is a winner in my book.

THE BURGARY
67 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002