Burgers have come a long way from a hunk of meat resembling a hockey puck on a barbecue. Today's burgers use top-quality meats, combinations of cuts and interesting toppings.
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While grilling at home is fun, it's not always an option for city dwellers in small spaces. When I'm craving a burger worth its salt, these are some of my favorite places to get a fix at a good price.
Island Burger (two locations)
This place is the king of toppings, with over 35 ranging all the way to pesto. You can also feast on tender chicken "churrasco" sandwiches with the same toppings; both are cooked to absolute perfection. I find it hard to choose but will usually go for The Mona Lisa ($14.95) with mozzarella, pesto, sauteed onions, mushrooms, peppers and Parmesan cheese on a ciabatta roll. Start with the grilled Thai chicken sticks for $8.25. The beach décor, complete with surfboards, make this tiny place feel like a vacation.
Merrion (1840 Second Ave.)
Hold on to your buns! The hamburger, or vegan burger, here is free with the purchase of a beer; or score a free order of wings with a pitcher. Merrion is a great choice to watch the big game, with 20 beers on tap and food and drink specials during big events. The burgers are basic with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion, but they are tasty and larger than you’d expect. Splurge on the waffle fries or sweet potato fries for $3.
Corner Bistro (331 W. Fourth St.)
This corner dive is an NYC classic, serving up some of the juiciest burgers in the city. Expect no frills: The menu consists of burgers, grilled cheese and chili. Move along, salad eaters. For $7 you get a burger cooked to order and served on a sesame seed bun. It is anything but ordinary, and so good I usually get a second one for dessert. Beers starting at $3 complete the experience.
Monica DiNatale is a deals expert, food host and author of“365 Guide New York City,”a treasure trove of restaurant deals and bar specials in New York. Monica has hosted segments for The New York Chocolate Show and Craft Beer Week Festivals. She dines out 8 days a week in search of the best deals in The Big Apple. “365 Guide New York City” is available in paperback ande-book.