Minetta Tavern: the Burger, the Bacon, and More
February 27th, 2013 by donuts4dinner

Stepping into Minetta Tavern, you can’t help but feel reminded that this is New York City you’re in. The bar is packed for Sunday brunch, with fortysomething women turned backward on their barstools to flirt with fiftysomething men. The floor is that classic checkered black-and-white, the ceiling is hammered tin, and the walls are covered in a mural that looks like it’s been there since the 1800s. Only the Minetta Tavern of today opened in 2009. It was opened by Keith McNally of Frenchy favourites Balthazar and Pastis, though, so you can bet it’s the perfect mix of the used up Minetta Tavern of the 1930s and sparkling new, classic and newly-conceived. And nearly impossible to get a reservation at.

My boyfriend and I went solely for the Black Label Burger, which is mostly talked about because of its $26 price tag. And also because it’s really, really good.

Minetta Tavern NYC
Black Label burger

A mix of different meats from famed purveyor Pat LaFrieda, this thing is dry-aged for weeks like a fine steak is. The New York Times review that gave Minetta Tavern three stars said, “It’s without question a riveting experience, because burgers seldom pack the discernible tang and funk of aged beef. But for that same reason, it’s unsettling and arguably too intense.” MAYBE FOR A PANSY. For me, biting into this thing with its caramelized onion topping was like sipping a cup of French onion soup. Beefy French onion soup. Except better, because it was on a bun. The meat was so dark and had such deep, rich flavors that it tasted expensive, gentlemanly, and refined. Served with a side of slightly crispy, slightly curly fries to soak up all of those beef juices.

Minetta Tavern NYC

Minetta Tavern NYC
“fried green tomatoes”

Neither fried nor green, these tomatoes were a big broiled disappointment when they arrived at our table. But once we got over the menu lying to us, we found that these were perfect to spread over our burgers like natural ketchup. Of course the burger was perfection on its own and didn’t need them, but at least we found something to do with them aside from throwing them onto the floor in anger.

Minetta Tavern NYC
thick-cut bacon

The bacon was your steakhouse staple, with that just-right chewy-melty combination of meat and fat.

Minetta Tavern NYC
Green Mary cocktail

The bloody mary list is five-deep and ingredient-thick here, and this one had green tomatoes, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Southwestern spices. Tex-Mex in a glass.

Minetta Tavern NYC
coconut layer cake

With fresh coconut in the cream and toasted coconut on top to make it extra coconutty, and a nice, balanced amount of sweetness. There are rumors of rum being added to the cake, which would explain how moist it was.

Minetta Tavern NYC

Living in a city so crowded, I have a preference for sparse, modern, clean-lined dining rooms, but I have to admit that I was charmed by the hubbub and ballyhoo of Minetta Tavern. It felt like half of NYC was crammed into the restaurant that afternoon, all of us sipping cocktails and listening to the conversations of the people next to us.

Minetta Tavern NYC

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012 (map

15 Responses  
  • Jessica R. writes:
    February 27th, 20133:55 pmat

    I almost ate that cake through the screen.

    And that is one PINK burger. I think that would have freaked me out a little. I would have pressed on and devoured it, but wow.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 1st, 201311:47 amat

      It’s actually much scarier on screen than it was in real life! I was drunk on bacon by that point, though, and may not have been thinking straight.

  • Tracey writes:
    March 3rd, 201310:45 pmat

    Yeeeeah, the amount of pink in that burger was JARRING to me. I almost gagged a little.

    But I am very interested in trying a bloody mary made with green tomatoes.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 5th, 20139:57 amat

      I will not judge your hatred of juicy, pink burgers but will accept that different people like different things and that you are a unique and beautiful snowflake. Who likes tomatoes.

      • Tracey writes:
        March 5th, 20138:00 pmat

        I appreciate the sentiment, despite the lack of sincerity. Likewise, I will not judge your willingness to practically drink blood.

        • donuts4dinner writes:
          March 6th, 20139:55 amat

          This made me LOL. But apparently it’s true, because I also enjoy sausage made of blood.

          • Tracey writes:
            March 6th, 201310:04 amat

            And yet, you won’t even eat a pork rind.

  • Kim writes:
    March 5th, 201312:38 pmat

    I’m pro-pink burger. And any bloody mary in the universe, even the gross ones.

    $26. $26? I guess I’ve done comparably with shoes or something.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 5th, 20135:10 pmat

      It’s all ice wine and amaretto for you at my house from now on, bebe. And yeah, a totally understandable $26.

  • foodiemom10583 writes:
    March 5th, 20135:27 pmat

    Oh G-d, I feel awful making a correction, but Minetta Tavern opened in the 30s. I was there in the 80s and it was old then!

    That burger photo makes me want to change my Meatless Mondays to Minetta Mondays.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 6th, 20139:46 amat

      Oh, no, I appreciate it! I knew that it was an old revived restaurant, but when I was reading the history of it, I somehow got the impression that it had been closed when McNally bought it and made it what it is today. Coupled with the fact that I remember the hullabaloo in the blogs when it opened after his renovation. Confusing. So, thanks! I’ll reword the post.

  • Ash writes:
    March 5th, 20136:24 pmat

    I blame you for making me literally LOL at “but at least we found something to do with them aside from throwing them onto the floor in anger.”, on the train, therefore making people seated beside me assume I’m a little crazy. But it was worth it. Also I’m not sure I can take that much pink in a burger.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 6th, 20139:56 amat

      I was going to say “throwing them at our server’s face” but decided that tomato-relate violence against women probably wouldn’t be appreciated by my blog readers.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    March 21st, 20139:59 pmat

    A green Bloody Mary? This I must try.

  • NYC Restaurant Reviews » California’s Umami Burger in NYC writes:
    August 5th, 201311:01 amat

    […] than, say, 5 Napkin Burger, and a whole lot less expensive than the burgers at The Spotted Pig and Minetta Tavern. And this was just plain delicious with that pastrami so thick and spicy it became the whole point […]

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