When burger bragging rights are at stake, everyone brings their A-game. Last week, some of the best restaurants in the city turned out for Battle of the Burger at the South Street Seaport to vie for the right to claim the best in the city.

In the end, it was Peter McManus Cafe (152 Seventh Ave.) and their ode to their neighborhood, The Chelsea Burger, that won over the judges — and me. The oldest family-run bar in New York City (est. 1932) serves up the kind of pub fare that existed before Brooklyn became a brand: deli sandwiches, pork chops and Ol’ Man’s Sauerkraut.

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But you’re here for the burger that stomped young upstarts including Umami Burger and Williamsburg’s The Grand, made with an 8-ounce patty that’s half brisket and half short rib, topped with white aged cheddar, pickle and red onions on a brioche bun.


And because every great dish has a secret ingredient, the Chelsea gets a lashing of “fancy sauce,” a sweet-spicy jam that tempers the funk of the cheese while bringing out the fatty goodness of that combo patty. It’s actually a secret menu item so you have to ask for it, but rest assured there’s always a fresh batch in the back.

It’s appropriate that a classic joint got the glory. Everything old is new again — speaking of which, try the burger on their weekly Sunday bingo night, under-55s welcome.

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