New York’s Upper West Side is a little slice of hamburger heaven for burger fans like me. From gourmet to “grab and go,” there’s something for everyone’s taste. We even have great Kosher burgers! No doubt, your list of the best Upper West Side burgers will differ from mine, but I’m confident that burger lovers will love any of these.
Harriet’s Kitchen is a one-table, hole-in-the-wall joint on Amsterdam at 84th. But don’t let the appearances fool you. A handmade sign in the window proclaims (in Magic Marker, no less) “The Best (blanking) Burgers in New York.” And they make good on that boast. Best burger value I know of.
480 Amsterdam Avenue
The Upper West Side JG Melon opened in September of 2017, and has local meat fans frothing at the mouth. Their UES location is a staple of that neighborhood, and has been open since 1972. JG Melon’s burgers are simple … and real. Patty toppings are limited to cheese, bacon and sauteed mushrooms.
The pub-style restaurant also serves great french fries, nice cocktails and has a warm, classic feel, with green and white checkered tablecloths and a dark red and wood interior.
Five Napkin Burger
At Five Napkin Burger, you can find the definition of the seemingly contradictory term “Gourmet Burger.” Five Napkin Burger, now with multiple locations around the city, started life as a menu item at Andy D’Amico and Simon Oren’s Nice Matin, another great Upper West Side restaurant (corner of West 79th and Amsterdam). The burger lives up to its name: Huge. Many napkins needed. The décor is Old New York meets New New York Cool. Beer varieties abound. And please, please, try the onion rings, served in a towering stack. Thank me later.
Mel’s Burger Bar
This Columbia bar and restaurant serves not only great burgers, but tasty milkshakes and awesome craft beers. The kitchen is open until 11pm or midnight, but the bar is always open late. Mel’s has 18 burger options on their menu, including the “Widowmaker” which comes with mac ‘n cheese and bacon, as well as their “Dirty Hipster” which has spinach dip, jack cheese and onion rings. Check out this great Morningside Heights spot now!
Island Burgers & Shakes
422 Amsterdam Avenue
The options here are seemingly endless.
Build a custom burger with your choice of meat, cheese, sauce and toppings. Sauce-wise, the spicy bayou mayo is my favorite, but my primary dining partner usually opts for the HSB (horseradish, sour cream, black pepper sauce).
And beyond having the freedom to build the burger of your dreams, the patties here are massive.
Boat Basin Cafe
Riverside Park – enter at 79th Street
I saved the West 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe for last not because it deserves last place but because it’s a seasonal joint. It takes a bit of walking to get to—but worth every step. First, how to get there. Walk west on West 79th, just keep Jersey in your sights and you’ll be OK. Cross Riverside Drive, bear right at the traffic circle and wind down the stone stairs. Can’t miss it.
What you’ll find is outdoor eating, some shaded by umbrellas, some shaded by the Henry Hudson Parkway (trust me, you have to see it), both serving a menu about like an average Chili’s restaurant. But no Chili’s has an unobstructed view over Riverside Park of the boats moored at the Boat Basin and the Hudson itself. It would be worth it if the burgers weren’t any good . . . and they are very good!
The Boat Basin is also a great place to drink outside with your dog!
To learn more about the best places to eat on the Upper West Side, sign up for our newsletter!
Latest posts by Paul Cozby (see all)
- Upper West Side Burgers - February 15, 2017
- Morningside Park - September 16, 2016
- Riverside Park: The Upper West Side’s Sculpture Garden - August 12, 2013