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. 

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Topaz Thai Restaurant

I love Thai food, don’t you? It’s so nice to live in New York and have a panoply of Thai restaurants to choose from. Last night, MDP and I went to Topaz, an old favorite located past Carnegie Hall on 56th Street.

topaz curry puffs

curry puffs

Just take a few steps down from street level and you enter a world of delicious food. Topaz seats about 40 people, give or take a few, and is often bustling with guests, many of whom seem to be tourists. But don’t mistake Topaz for a tourist trap, no. This isn’t like Guy Fieri’s new restaurant or “the world’s largest Applebee’s” over on 50th and 7th.

No, Topaz is a real treat. I called ahead for a reservation, and upon arriving, was greeted as “Miss Nicole” and was promptly seated.

We ordered the curry puffs for an appetizer, and though they took a long time to get to us, they were well worth the wait. The crispy, flaky exterior belied a perfectly spiced, soft inside. They were on the small side–much smaller than Yum Yum’s, for example, but Topaz offered three (to Yum Yum’s two), so all was well.

For an entree, I opted for the Drunken Noodles, possibly my favorite Thai dish. Rife with julienned carrots, Chinese broccoli and flat, wide noodles that perfectly absorb the dish’s juices, Drunken Noodles warned to be on the spicy side (indicated by a small chili pepper beside its name on the menu). I ordered it anyway–and paid the price this morning–but it was quite delicious. I can’t tell you if this is Topaz’s best noodle dish, as it’s the only one I ever order because it’s just that good.

topaz drunken noodles

drunken noodles

MDP got the Lovely in the Golden Nest, which is a rather ornate way of saying “chicken with cashew nuts on a bed of crispy Chinese noodles.” The noodles form the eponymous nest, and the cashew chicken lays atop them. This was on the sweet side, and tinged with a flavor of celery (which I don’t care for in this dish, but it’s always there. Such is life). MDP must have enjoyed it since he didn’t leave anything–not even a fragment of a Chinese noodle–to spare.

All in all, Topaz is quite good, especially for its neighborhood filled with crappy diners and fast food fare.

Topaz

127 West 56th Street between 6th and 7th avenues

Midtown West, New York

Take the N/Q/R to 57th-7th and walk south one block, then west on 56th Street.