Burger Joint (West Village)

I remember when Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien (LPM) hotel was the best kept secret in town. I used to go there when I was in college. One of my friends was hip to all the next-best burger places in the city, and welcomed me to the wonderful (and then-hidden) world of Burger Joint. Nowadays, when you go to LPM for a burger, you’re destined to meet a long line of hungry patrons and a no-seating situation.

burger joint cheeseburger

cheeseburger

That’s why it’s so very important that Burger Joint has expanded to the West Village. Situated on 8th Street by Macdougal, Burger Joint is easy to miss. Don’t expect a street address or sign reading “Burger Joint” when you go. Just look for the signature burger that’s emblazoned in the front left window.

When I arrived, I almost asked someone if I had, in fact, walked into Burger Joint. But as soon as I saw the cardboard sign in the window displaying the Joint’s hours, I knew I had found the place. You see, at LPM Burger Joint, the menu is listed, in Sharpie, on a slab of cardboard. The no-frills atmosphere of the hotel version–which is a dive, and that’s being generous–is nearly replicated at the 8th Street location. Yet there’s something classy about the dim lighting and secret room and long, skinny booths at the new Burger Joint that elevates it, in a way. (The menu and instructions for how to order your burger are listed on cardboard, by the way.)

So, how was the burger? Divine, as usual. The LPM Burger Joint serves up one of my favorite burgers, and the 8th Street location is definitely among the top contenders for best burger in the city. I ordered mine with “the works”: ketchup, mayo, mustard, tomato, lettuce, sliced pickles, and onion. All this was on a perfectly rendered patty topped with cheese and laid artfully on a squishy bun. Okay, so maybe it’s not artfully done (as you can see in the picture), but the taste is tops–and that’s what’s important, right?

burger joint fries

french fries

And the fries are stellar. Served in a little brown bag, the shoestring french fries were perfectly salted–as in, not overly salted–and crisp. They were full of potato flavor and fantastic.

I love Burger Joint’s no bullshit approach. I like that they wrap the burgers in white butcher paper and hand them to you directly from the kitchen. I like that there are paper plates on the counter in case you need one for your ketchup and fries. I like the cardboard on the walls and windows and the long, empty bar near the entrance. And, most of all, I like that you can get a seat at this Burger Joint. Apparently, NYU students haven’t found it yet.

So, you must try the new Burger Joint. It’s conveniently located just a block or two from the West 4th Street subway station. Washington Square Park is but a few steps away, so even if the students catch on, you can always take your burger to the park.

Burger Joint

33 West 8th Street (by Macdougal)

West Village, NY

Take the A/B/C/D/E/F/M to West 4th Street. Exit by 8th Street and walk a block or two. 

Back Forty West

If you’ve ever walked around the east village, you probably know about Back Forty. They throw an awesome crab boil party every summer and boast an excellent burger. I’ve eaten at Back Forty a number of times and have walked away from the meals feeling quite satiated.

But, sorry to say, that’s not the case for Back Forty West, the new branch located in SoHo. The two-floored establishment sits on the corner of Prince and Crosby, right in the center of tourist mecca, which equates to several points against them from the get-go.

Back Forty West Fave Bean Hummus

fave bean hummus

Yelp reviewers share gripes about Back Forty West’s slow service, and, for a change, I agree. It took the waitress about seven minutes to come over and take our drink order. I got the Back Forty West mixed drink, which was pretty good.

Back Forty West’s menu is arranged by what you use to eat the food i.e. “hands,” “fork,” and “spoon.” Under “breads” (an outlier in the categorization convention), we spotted some fava bean hummus and decided to order it. “Why is this under ‘breads’?” asked My Dining Partner. “Because it uses flatbread for the hummus,” I replied. But I agreed with his sentiment. Confusing. Why can’t they just use the word “appetizer”?

The hummus came with some beets and olives on the side, which I mostly enjoyed. On its own, the hummus had the right texture, but lacked any discernible flavor. MDP wasn’t a fan, but I ended up nearly licking the bowl–I guess I was hungry.

Back Forty West Burger

burger

For dinner, MDP ordered the ribs with corn bread and slaw. The ribs were outstanding, but the sides were just okay. His corn bread was drier than most–which is pretty dry–and the slaw had an odd flavor that I couldn’t pinpoint. In typical fashion, I ordered the cheddar burger, which was accompanied by “rosemary” french fries. I put rosemary in quotations because it seems they were rosemary in name only–not in flavor. (Yelp reviewers also noted this fact.) I ordered my burger medium, and it came to me medium rare if not rare. I ate it anyway, since I’m not one of those people that sends food back, but I wasn’t pleased with their misstep.

Though we weren’t largely impressed by the food, we decided to order dessert. I had suggested that we might head to Balthazar for some treats after dinner, but ultimately chose the almond cake with some kind of sweet corn sauce to end our dining experience. The cake was fine, but the sweet corn sauce tasted strange with the cake. I wondered what ever possessed them to put these two flavors together. I’ll never know–and I can live with that.

Back Forty West is fine, but not great. I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re looking for a good burger in SoHo, you might try Burger and Barrel which is on Houston Street, but even that’s not nearly as good as, say, the Shake Shack.

Back Forty West

70 Prince Street

SoHo, New York

Take the N/R to Prince Street. Walk east one block to Crosby Street.