While it's possible to find a good burger on just about every corner in this City, the West Village has such a high density of top-tier burger joints that the team at Viewing NYC thought it would be a great idea to try them all, back-to-back-to-back.
We did some research and chose 10 places to visit, all in the West Village. Most of the burger joints have appeared on various top-ten burger lists around the web, others have amazing reviews on places like Eater, Zagat, The Infatuation, and Yelp.
Thus, on this past Saturday, August 8th, 2015, we hosted the first ever Viewing NYC West Village Burger Crawl so we could try all 10.
Obviously 10 full burgers is too much for anybody, so we couldn't do a full burger at every spot. We had 15 people participate in the crawl so we split 4 burgers into ¼ at each place, which ended up being 2.5 burgers in total, with one lucky crawler getting the extra ¼ at every stop.
After the first spot, we called ahead to the next place on the crawl for a pickup order, then picked them up and munched on the sidewalk. A few places actually had room for 15, so we were able to dine inside, but we mostly pigged out on the concrete.
For the most part, we didn't get fries, sides or any booze during the crawl in order to preserve our sacred stomach space. For fairness in comparison while reviewing, we ordered a medium-rare cook at all spots for consistency.
Immediately after tasting a burger, each participant individually rated it on a scale from 1—10, then wrote some comments explaining why they rated it as they did.
- The Bash Style Burger at Burger & Barrel 2. The Wiki Wiki at Bareburger 3. The Bacon Cheeseburger at J.G. Melon 4. The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern 5. The Bacon Cheeseburger at Five Guys 6. The Original Umami Burger at Umami Burger 7. The Happiest Burger at The Happiest Hour 8. The Fedora Burger at Bar Sardine 9. The Bistro Burger at Corner Bistro 10. The Bone Marrow Brisket Burger at Swine
More on each of these below…
The total walking distance was 2 miles, starting from Burger & Barrel on W. Houston and zig-zagging our way Northwest until we hit Swine. We crawled for about 4.5 hours in total.
Yes, the first few spots on this list aren't technically in the West Village, but they are close enough so we counted them in.
We had a good mix of people in the crawl representing a broad array of culinary interests. We had some Yelp Elites, some who eat only Michelin rated food, some hardcore carnivores, some who took the top bun off every burger, people representing 4 out of 5 boroughs (sorry S.I.!) and even New Jersey. All-in-all a good mix of tastes that led to a good representation in the averaged ratings. Burgers were scored and ranked based on a simple average of all 15 ratings.
Presented in order of average rating.
The Wiki Wiki at Bareburger (5.42/10)
Somebody had to come in last place, and with an average score of 5.42/10, it's the Wiki Wiki Burger at Bareburger. Perhaps it was our fault for ordering it, or maybe it's just coincidence, but this burger is the only one on the list not made with beef.
The Wiki Wiki Burger at Bareburger is a wild boar burger with thick cut duck bacon, gouda cheese, chickpea onions, and pineapple relish.
While exotic and still tasty, the boar was a little dry, and I'm don't love fruit on hot food because I'm lame like that, so the pineapple wasn't my thing. But that duck bacon was delish!
I felt as if the wild boar and duck bacon conflicted a bit much. The pineapple relish was a nice touch though, as was the brioche bun.
Duck bacon was great. Pineapple relish gave a nice sweet taste. Boar was overcooked unfortunately.
Disappointing. Pineapple did not complement. Duck was good but felt misplaced
A bit drier than I would've liked. The flavor was subtle. The subtle flavor on top of the somewhat dry burger didn't make for a very impressive combination.
The general consensus was that the Wild boar meat was a bit on the dry side due to being overcooked. Naturally a leaner mean, the lower fat content already makes well-cooked boar a bit on the dry side. The duck bacon and pineapple relish were right on for people who enjoyed the combination, but still not enough to salvage its rating.
The Bacon Cheeseburger Five Guys (5.73/10)
While I would say the Bacon Cheeseburger at Five Guys is one of the top fast-food level burgers, many people scoffed at it making this list. The greasy burger joint was halfway through the crawl, and because each of us had eaten there before, Five Guys provided us a fantastic way to find our baseline, ensuring that the rest of the ratings were more accurate.
The Bacon Cheeseburger at Five Guys — ordered all-the-way — is a double-patty, double-cheese burger loaded with crispy bacon, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, and mayo.
Me and this burger go way back. In comparison to the others, it's not as sophisticated, but the flavored are consistent and delicious.
Solid burger-everything you need in a burger with no frills and fast service and peanuts
Exactly what you expect from a semi- fast food burger
Meh, standard. Mustard overpowered what burger flavor might've been there.
Five Guys will always hold a special place in my heart. The best drunk food in college, my love for the mini cheeseburger will never wane. Not the most gourmet burger in the world, but it's a solid, coma-inducing, delicious cheeseburger.
Despite its lower, and possibly biased overall score, Five Guys was in the top-tier for at least 3 of our tasters, making the Double Cheese Burger one of the more polarized selections on the crawl. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't show you this Dayum!
The Bistro Burger at Corner Bistro (5.80/10)
Corner Bistro has been dishing out greasy burgers and cheap beers since 1961. The cramped kitchen has a very limited menu, but has been producing one of the biggest, juiciest burgers around for over 50 years. Preliminary polling had the classic bar pulling down a few votes as the favorite to take home the trophy, but on game day they unfortunately came up short.
The Bistro Burger at Corner Bistro is an 8oz burger with American cheese and crispy bacon, served with raw white onions, lettuce and tomato.
The guy's guy burger. Simple meat lover burger. No thrills. Back to basics... Massive size handcrafted party.
Like eating a live animal- gamey and gross
Unassuming pub burger, it was the largest burger on the crawl but didn't blow my skirt up :-/.
Blue collar burger. No fuss, giant patty. Everything you expect from a classic NYC establishment.
Great eats at this place with a fun vibe. The patty is a bit big for my liking, but this was still a good burger. Hard to place in lieu of the others.
The patty itself was the thickest we had seen all day, but it lacked a bit in flavor, was sloppy, and overpowered every other flavor component in the burger. I think it was an off-day for Corner Bistro, as burgers I have had there in the past were far superior, but we can only judge on how things were presented to us on Saturday, so here we are.
The Bacon Cheeseburger at JG Melon (6.80/10)
JG Melon on the UES constantly hits the top ten of best burger lists in the City. The downtown McDougal St. outpost of classic burger joint only recently opened, but has been generating quite a buzz. Professional carnivore Nick Solares of Eater NY just wrote up an amazing comparison and review of the Downtown location, saying it was better than its predecessor, but how well did they do on our crawl?
The Bacon Cheeseburger at JG Melon is a 7¼ ounce griddle-cooked patty served with American cheese, red onions and pickles on a soft white bun.
Rare. Good quality meat, but also very greasy.
Excellent juicy classic burger. A little on the rare side
Not out to impress with exotic toppings or fancy breading, J.G Melon presents a simple, yet quintessential bar burger.
Juicy and unassuming, this burger is a tender and classic American cheeseburger. I'm definitely a fan and will return!
The simplicity of this burger is what made me love it so much. The fresh vegetables were on point, and the meat was cooked well.
The majority of us loved it! This burger probably would have finished higher on the overall list if it was a little more towards medium rare rather than rare. 5 tasters pointed out that the meat was on the low side of rare rather than medium rare, affecting the rating drastically. Had we been inside we could have sent the burgers back, but the crawl must move on!
It should be noted, however, that a small subsection of the crawl opted to go back here for beers and burgers over dinner a mere 6 hours later. The Bacon Cheeseburger served over dinner was actually cooked medium-rare and was delicious.
The Umami Burger at Umami Burger (7.00/10)
When Los Angeles based chain Umami Burger opened on 6th Ave last year, they were overwhelmed with demand, leading to 3-hour wait times and tons of press. They have since died down a little, but are still one of the top burger joints in the City.
The Umami Burger at Umami Burger is a 6oz wagyu beef patty with a parmesan frico crisp, shitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and their housemade ketchup.
I loved the Umami burger! The combination of the roasted tomatoes and umami ketchup and parmasean made a unique and wonderful flavor for the juicy and tender meat.
If California vibes were somehow cooked in a burger, this is that burger.
Yuck. Soy sauce and Parmesan? No thanks.
The presentation and taste of this burger was quite incredible. It was a great combination of such different flavors, both creative and delicious.
Reminiscent of an English breakfast, the roasted tomato, caramelized onions, and umami ketchup produce a unique and polarizing taste. While good, I probably wouldn't order it again.
Aside from Five Guys, this was the second most polarized burger, with lovers and haters abound. The combinations of flavors was indeed different, and presentation was top-notch. Umami refused to cut the burger for us in order to preserve the presentation and the signature branded U in the bun, and I respect them for it.
4th Place (Tie)
The Happiest Burger at The Happiest Hour (8.06/10)
The Happiest Hour sits tucked away on W. 10th next to Rosemary's, but has as big of a presence as its neighbor. It's a relative new-comer to the West Village burger scene and is making quite a splash with its low key vibes, tiki-cocktail ambiance and, of course, delicious burgers.
The Happiest Burger at the Happiest Hour is two all beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, confit onions, and special sauce.
The sauce here along with the freshness of the meat made this quite the treat. Great vibes, great food.
Smokiness to the burger creates a different dynamic that makes the burger stand out from others.
Great smoky flavor that's balanced with creamy cheese and a not-too-greasy burger patty. Only drawback is the bun is a little underwhelming. The meat flavor is subtle but certainly still tasty.
An amazingly refreshing burger. Nice smoky flavor, with an almost tartar taste from the special sauce.
Soft bun. Cheesy and smoky. Goes well with their refreshing cocktails. Not nearly as heavy of a burger as it looks.
You might be wondering where this smoky flavor comes from — we were too — so we asked. Despite not having any smoked meats in the meat itself, the confit onions are fried in bacon grease, giving the burger a subtle, non-overpowering smokiness throughout each bite.
The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern (8.06/10)
Minetta Tavern was the most upscale burger joint on the list, though calling it a "burger joint" is a bit misleading. Minetta Tavern describes itself as "Parisian steakhouse meets classic New York City tavern." Since 1937, Minetta Tavern has served one of the best burgers in the City, and no West Village burger crawl would be complete without them on the list.
The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern is a selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions.
One of the best burgers I've ever tasted.
Mild nutty flavor to the perfectly cooked burger patty. Complemented by the mild French onion soup notes of the grilled onions.
Burger was made by the high quality of meat. No unnecessary toppings from far away lands. Just simple goodness.
For me to give a stellar rating to a burger with no accoutrements is a BIG DEAL! I love toppings, but the black label didn't need any. The meat was so incredibly juicy and flavorful that it could stand on its own.
By far the best base meat, which pairs well with the caramelized onions. Didn't feel as complete a burger as others.
For a burger with 3 ingredients (meat, onions, bread), the Black Label Burger sure impressed the crowd. A few of us thought it was the most divine thing ever placed on our tongues, others thought it was lacking the complete package. Almost everybody agreed that the meat itself is what made this burger, and it was the best quality of all 10 spots on the list.
Of course, you are paying for that meat, and with Minetta Tavern at least two times more expensive than everyone else on this list, many of us agreed that it would take a lot for us to go back, even though the burger was so delicious.
The Bash Style Burger at Burger & Barrel (8.13/10)
Burger & Barrel took home to top-spot in the 2009 New York City Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash with their Bash Style Burger. Though technically not in the West Village, this W. Houston upscale gastropub deserved a spot on this list, and was the first location in the crawl.
The Bash Style Burger at Burger & Barrel is a mixed ground beef patty topped with American cheese, pickles, caramelized onions, special sauce and — wait for it — bacon jam.
Jam and special sauce made the day. Great blend of tastes
Great smoky flavor balanced with slightly sweet jam. Bread took a back seat to the overwhelming flavor of everything else. It was a bit textureless and soggy.
Bacon jam is amazing! Savory with a slight touch of sweet-favorite of the bunch
This burger was OUT OF THIS WORLD. The bacon jelly along with the secret sauce were the perfect combination of flavor.
That onion and bacon jam - omg! Juicy and delicious burger. Such an awesome start to the crawl.
As expected, the bacon jam did not disappoint. The burger was cooked well, flavors combined excellently, presentation was on point and pretty much everyone liked it, making it the first "upper echelon" burger on the list with individual ratings 7 and above across the board.
The Bone Marrow & Brisket Burger at Swine (8.93/10)
Swine was the last burger on our crawl, and we almost didn't stop here. When one of the original burger joints on the list refused to participate in the crawl (think "dotted hog"), we looked around for burger joints we may have missed in our first research pass. We found Swine and were immediately enticed by their only burger offering, and are so incredibly glad we found it.
The Bone Marrow & Brisket Burger at Swine is a beef brisket patty made with bone marrow inside, then topped with Tarentaise cheese and caramelized onions.
Bone marrow a nice touch and added to the texture. Sweet bun with a little salty after taste.
Juicy bone marrow in ground brisket, good, deep flavor in the fried onions
Even on a full belly this was delicious-juicy, great medium rare with, amazing aioli - bun was soft on the inside but had a crunch-so tasty
By far the best burger on this crawl for me. I could taste the bone marrow, and the meat just oozed with flavor. Even after consuming my body weight in food, this was STILL an enjoyable treat.
Brisket and bone marrow?! Yes please! So juicy and melt-in-your-mouth, this burger had an amazing flavor that was augmented by the accompanying cheese and topics. Definitely a top contender of the day!
Damn. Just damn.
The bone marrow flavor was not overpowering, but offered a melt-in-your-mouth quality that the other meats did not have. The second the burger hit your tongue, the juices flowed all around, covering your mouth in juicy, fatty, marrowy goodness that did not have an overwhelmingly greasy feel.
1st Place and WINNER of the 2015 Viewing NYC West Village Burger Crawl
The Fedora Burger at Bar Sardine (9.13/10)
Bar Sardine feels like a place that shouldn't exist. The small, airy gastropub lives on the intersection of 2 streets — West 4th Street and West 10th Street — that defy the laws of the "grid" and should never meet. The burger we had was so amazing, it felt like make believe, as if we had wandered off 7th Ave into some dreamland territory filled with imaginary amazing things like unicorn tears, the Second Ave subway and this impossible burger.
The Fedora Burger at Bar Sardine is a chuck/brisket patty with barbecue mayo, thin sliced raw red onions, melted smoked Cheddar, thin pickled cucumbers, and mini shoestring potatoes on a squished potato roll.
Great balance. Smoky burger patty offset by cool cucumber. Soft, toasted brioche with crispy shoestring onions. Great textures all around
Replacement of the pickle with cucumber cools down the burger to a gentle breeze. Texture with onion straws create a nice crisp.
High quality beef. Cooked perfectly. Onion straws and cucumber slices are perfect complement.
Perfect medium rare-cucumber refreshing-smoky juicy, excellent crunch from shoestring fries-2nd favorite
Smoked cheddar, bbq mayor, and shoestring fries to top it off, the Fedora burger might be the best so far.
The combination of the fried onions and house-cured pickles made the Fedora burger incredible! Such a succulent and special burger. That garlic aioli was also the bomb. And the atmosphere was so quaint and cute!
Very good smoky flavors. The cucumber kept it refreshing and the pressed brioche bun added great texture
The Fedora Burger won over our hearts and our taste buds, scoring 9's and 10's across the board. Aesthetically, the Fedora Burger is the prettiest burger we had all day. With its bright colors from the red onion, green cucumber pickle, orange smoked cheddar all combining with the browns and tans of the meat and bun, the color combinations presented would make any artist happy.
The Fedora Burger has the most amazing "mouth feel", with the juicy, perfectly cooked patty and cheese providing soft textures, the shoestring potatoes, onions and cucumbers adding a crispy, cool texture, and the perfectly grilled and squished bun tying the package all together with a delicate balance.
Aside from the amazing taste, the best part about the Fedora Burger is that you get all this deliciousness for just $13, a fraction of what most of the other burger joints on this crawl charge for their burger.
Well done, Bar Sardine, you have rightfully earned 1st place in the 2015 Viewing NYC West Village Burger Crawl with your impossible Fedora Burger.
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