Lately, all of my friends (and by “all” of them, I mean “two”) have been going on and on about how great Bareburger is. And even before I tasted the burger, I was pleased by the people making it and their commitment to all-natural ingredients like grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, and organic produce. As much as I love my home state of Ohio, my friends there have to hunt for grass-fed beef, while I have easy access to restaurants like this that serve nothing but tasty, tasty, vitamin-rich cowmeat.
Now, the astute reader will recognize that I have a bit of a carb problem, so on the days that I’m being a good girl, I do things like eat burgers without buns and order side salads instead of French fries. Obviously this makes for terribly boring blogging, but luckily for me, Bareburger makes it so it doesn’t have to be terribly boring eating.
No one should ever order a lettuce wrap if they don’t have to. There, I said it. I really appreciated how this one came contained in a paper wrapper that really did make it easier to keep everything cohesive, but the problem is that the paper held in steam and juices that made the lettuce soggy, unpalatable, and really not helpful at all as a burger vehicle. I really don’t know how to make a lettuce wrap better, though. Maybe just use two really sturdy pieces of cabbage?
Anyway, the burger itself was delicious sans lettuce. Juicy, cheesy, just-blackened on the outside, with crispy bacon and crunchy RAW red onion, which is the only way onion should ever be. Unless it’s in an onion ring. Which is just what was on my boyfriend’s version.
Truth be told, my boyfriend was napping when I ordered these for us, so he had absolutely no say in what he got, and I basically just got him the worst thing on the menu. “Worst” meaning “worst for you” and therefore actually “best”. This was colby jack, onion rings, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, chopped French fries and Bareburger special sauce on a multi-grain roll. See what I did there with the multi-grain roll? Makes the burger totally healthy.
Just as Bareburger put some thought into buying and serving all sorts of sustainable meats in interesting combinations, they also put some thought into their side salad. Can you imagine? Our Caesar salads were fresh and crunchy, with huge slivers of Parmesan all over the place. (And tomatoes and croutons, but of course I didn’t eat those.) Definitely a win, as far as salads go.
One star for quality ingredients. One star for awesome combinations of ingredients. One star for caring about carb addicts and the gluten-allergic (tapioca buns!). And one star for just plain yummy food.
I’ve been sick for a week now. Thanks to all the cold medicine I’ve been hitting or the immense amounts of godknowswhat up my nose, I haven’t been able to taste anything since last Wednesday. But my little cousin was in town from Ohio, and I couldn’t not take the poor kid somewhere cool.
So we went to “Top Chef” contestant and should-have-been-the-winner Angelo Sosa’s new casual burger joint, Social Eatz. If you can get past the fact that a Z has been added to every item on the menu–BURGER’Z! TACO’Z! SIDE’Z and SWEET’Z!–it’s actually a really cute, neighborhoody kind of place with what I understand is pretty tasty food.
I, of course, couldn’t verify the tastiness for myself thanks to my cold, but here are some photos to get your mouth to watering:
None of us could resist ordering this burger after seeing the giant banner proclaiming that it won Eater.com’s Greatest Burger in America competition, and while I think the New Yorkers in the bunch still walked away with our Shake Shack and Blue 9 bias still intact, the Ohio kids really thought it was the best they’d tasted, and nobody argued that it was one fine burger.
For me, it was a little too small when compared to the half-pounders you get at places like Cozy and Jackson Hole. For my boyfriend, it was a little too juicy, which is totally a not-real complaint when it comes to burgers. And for my cousin and his friends, the fact that they won’t add cheese to the burger was a major blow.
But why would you need cheese when the soft egg bursts all over the burger and then solidifies into this?
Hot dogs in this town always let me down. I know I’m the only one left, but I’ve never been to Crif Dogs in the East Village or Bark Hot Dogs in Prospect Heights. Yet I somehow expect that the hot dogs elsewhere will compare to my expectations of those places. I want a hot dog PILED with crap. I shouldn’t be able to pick it up unless I want to lick it off my shirt later. The diner in my hometown in Ohio serves hot dogs with chili, cheese, and onions for $1. ONE DOLLAR.
This was a sausage lounging on a thin bed of relish for $8. I won’t judge it, having not been able to taste it, but the look of it did not bowl me over.
Even with all of my sickness, I got a hint of citrus when I bit into one of these guys. That, I think, is a very good sign.
I’d be a terrible food blogger if I rated the place on presentation alone, but certainly everything looked good enough to entice me to try again when my cold subsides. And I don’t think I’ll have a problem getting in again: the place was nearly empty at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. Maybe it’s the out-of-the-way location or the way it seems caught between wanting to be a sports bar and wanting to be a trendy Asian joint along the lines of Sea in Williamsburg or Spice Market in the Meatpacking District. I never mind not having to wait in line for a seat, though, and just hope the eatz are better than the socializing.
The only time I’d tried goodburger, my boyfriend and I had ordered it for delivery, and while we didn’t exactly have any complaints other than a half-melted shake, it wasn’t the sort of burger we’d seek out repeatedly.
So I was admittedly pleased when I received an e-mail from goodburger’s PR firm asking me to try out their revamped menu and offering up a list of reasons why the new goodburger is a better goodburger: a tastier bun, the freshest toppings, and a burger made with Pat LaFreida beef and cooked on a open flame in a green-certified restaurant.
One of their six locations is just down the street from my boyfriend’s apartment, so we piled on our winter wear last weekend and went out for what turned out to be a pretty darn good burger experience.
Despite the restaurant’s novelty name, this is a serious burger. The fact that the patty is grilled instead of griddled hits you immediately, both in the lightly charred taste and in the way the outside is slightly crunchy to contrast the extremely juicy pink center. The restaurant doesn’t offer American cheese, to my horror, but the mix of white and yellow cheddar was clearly superior. All of the toppings–I got “the works”–couldn’t have been more fresh, and both my boyfriend and I absolutely loved the grilled bun.
The shoestring fries were your typical fast food type. I’m more of a steak fry girl, but I know some people like ‘em small and crunchy. Next time, I’m absolutely getting the cheese fries or chili cheese fries.
After tasting this, I made a mental note to never order a shake for delivery again. My Black Cow was real vanilla ice cream with nice big squirts of chocolate syrup down the sides, and my boyfriend’s Cookies & Cream was chock full of chocolate bits. They were both so thick it was hard to drink them through their straws, which is just what I like in a shake.
The big picture is that this is a really, really good burger. This is the kind of burger that satisfies that specific better-than-fast-food burger craving that all New Yorkers seem to have and try to fight. And the great thing about goodburger is that, at least in my experience, it’s never too crowded. It’s not a big to-do to go there. It’s the kind of neighborhood joint you can pop into
Here’s the fine print: goodburger isn’t Shake Shack. The goodburger is a couple dollars more expensive than the ShackBurger, the fries are a few cents cheaper, and the shakes are about the same price. But a lot of the reason Shake Shack is NYC’s most talked-about burger has nothing to do with the food itself. The goodburger is as good as the ShackBurger, and it’s probably better for people who like grill marks and something other than super-processed American cheese on their patty. But Shake Shack has the power of marketing on their side. If I’m going out for burgers with my friends, it’s more likely that I’d choose to sit outdoors at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park or to enjoy the sights outside the Times Square Shake Shack while I munch. The goodburger in my neighborhood looks more like a generic diner than some interior designer’s modern magnus opus.
The thing goodburger has on Shake Shack, though, is that you’re never going to have to stand in line in the sun or the rain for an hour for goodburger. There aren’t throngs of tourists taking up the sidewalk outside the door of goodburger, and no one’s making websites with a dedicated webcam showing how long the line is. I’m sure that’s not goodburger’s favourite thing about itself, but none of its customers are complaining.
I went to Shake Shack twice on Sunday. And not, like, for lunch and dinner, which would be totally acceptable. No, I went for dinner and then for a midnight snack. Except that it wasn’t actually midnight yet; it was more like 10:30. Anyway.
The first time around, I had a cheeseburger with mayo and a vanilla custard with a Doughnut Plant doughnut mixed in. (My friend Sylvan added her fries to the photo to make me look at it later and think about how dumb I was not to have ordered some myself.)
For me, the burger was decidedly less-good than the ones from the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. It just didn’t seem as juicy nor as flavorful. And at first I was like, “Nah, that’s not possible,” but then I remembered that the Joe’s Shanghai in Midtown is universally declared worse than the Joe’s a couple of miles downtown in Chinatown. It’s still the burger I most want to eat in NYC, though.
And the Concrete with the doughnut mixed in was a treat. Sugary cake doughnut chunks of various sizes were swirled into their thick, sweet vanilla custard. Next time, I’d probably get hot fudge or another sauce added in just to make the doughnut more moist, but it wasn’t necessary by any means.
A couple of hours later, after our bowling match, I came back with Sylvan and our other team member, Chris, and got the Shackenstein, this month’s special Sunday custard flavor. I’d seen so many “what is Shackenstein?” and “I almost want to go into the city on a Sunday sometime just to find out what Shackenstein is” blog posts that I felt like I had to try it.
It’s vanilla custard colored green and mixed with chocolate cake bits and chocolate what-tasted-like-cookie-dough-to-me. And hey, the mix-ins were pretty awesome and all, but when I get green desserts, I expect them to taste like mint or pistachio, and I don’t like to be played for a fool.
I’m coming back for the concord grape or pumpkin pie custard days to make this right.
Mark is cheap, delicious, and comfortable. The menu is tiny: sliders, fries, chili, pie, milkshakes, beer. Hidden away under a staircase on St. Mark’s between 2nd and 3rd Aves., it’s a long, skinny place that looks like a bar but feels like a café, with an open front wall, little ottomans to sit on, and no crowd at all when I was there with my friends Meredith and Jordan.
The sliders come “regular”, covered with cheese and onions, or “bacon”, which means bacon is chopped and mixed into the ground beef. Meredith and I both agreed that the regular one was actually better, surprisingly. I don’t even generally love grilled onions so much (I prefer raw), but these perfectly blended with the juicy beef and soft bread.
The tables come equipped with four different fry-dipping sauces: chipotle ketchup, jalapeno, barbeque, and regular ketchup. The chipotle just hinted at chili flavor, but it was my favourite. Our fries were saturated with oil but still managed to be crispy on the outside with potato-y centers.
Don’t let the looks on these ladies’ faces confuse you–we all agreed that Mark is one of our best finds for NYC cheap eats.
5 donuts: transcendent experiences
4.5 donuts: extremely awesome meals
3.5 donuts: good eats
2.5 donuts: food I could have made
1 donuts: dinners not fit for the dogs
• Daniel (2)
• Eleven Madison Park
• Eleven Madison Park (2)
• Eleven Madison Park (3)
• Le Bernardin
• Per Se
• Per Se (2) (extended tasting)
• Per Se (3) (vegetarian tasting)
• Per Se (4)