I love New York magazine’s restaurant reviews. They’re the best in town—far better than Time Out New York’s attempts at recommendations and superior to even The New York Times, which strives to delineate the entire back story of the food they’re eating. Really, I just want to know whether it’s good or not.
So, when the Underground Gourmet recommended BurgerFi in the “cheap eats” edition of the magazine, I figured I had to try it.
Situated on 2nd Avenue between 81st and 82nd streets, BurgerFi loudly claims its spot two doors down from the low-budget Insomnia Cookies and a few steps away from a frozen yogurt shop. Bright colors—blues, greens, yellows—invite you in, where you will undoubtedly meet a long line of patrons who have likely also read the “cheap eats” issue. The seating situation isn’t especially crazed, but, should it cause you anxiety, you should know you can always take your food to the East River park.
So, how was the menu? Well, decent enough, but a complete, blatant rip-off of the Shake Shack. From custard to concretes to Martin’s potato rolls, BurgerFi eagerly emulates the gold standard burger stand. But there are a few problems with BurgerFi’s approach. One, the meat isn’t nearly as good as the Shake Shack’s LaFrieda blend, nor is the sear as perfect. Two, their standard burger is a double, and that may alienate some (not this eater, though). Three, the fries are wooden and in desperate need of salt, unlike the crisp, crinkle cut fries with ample salt shaken upon them from the Shake Shack.
The meal had its moments, though. The onion rings are fantastic. Gigantic circular pieces of onion are deep-fried, resulting in a delicious, thick coating that certainly doesn’t need ketchup. And the soda machine is redeeming. They have one of those special soda fountains that allows you to select which soda you’d like to try—from a panoply of options—and which flavoring you’d like in your soda. I opted for the Coke Zero with raspberry syrup—very good.
The verdict? Don’t bother with BurgerFi. If you happen to be on the Upper East Side with a hankering for a burger, just go to the Shake Shack on 86th. Its spacious outdoors area is the perfect venue for a summertime dinner or lunch.
1571 Second Ave. (between 81st and 82nd streets)
Yorkville, New York
Take the 4/5/6 to 86th Street and walk east a few avenues, then south.