The best hamburger in Brooklyn, just like the preeminent slice of pizza, is something on which everyone has an opinion.
The gourmet hamburger has hit with an upscale comfort food vengeance not seen since the panini; it’s seemingly everywhere and can be great or grotesque depending on when and where you dine.
So with an open mind and stomach, we sampled the borough’s hot burgers — you know, the ones that are on everyone’s lips right now, whether they deserve it or not — and ranked them from mediocre to mouthwatering.
This new addition to Seventh Avenue serves generously sized burgers made from “100% Grade ‘A’ American Chuck Beef,” a refreshing admission when most places are touting fancy schmancy kobe or Angus burgers. I went to the Burger Bar on a Monday night, and the low-key wooden tables were filled with locals chowing down. Though the burgers here are large, they’re fairly tasteless — the negligible portion of Swiss nearly overwhelmed the beef. They also lose points for the disappointing sweet potato fries — somehow they’re both dry and mealy at the same time. BBB will likely be a success due to its prime real estate right above the Seventh Avenue F stop, but unless you live in the ‘hood, don’t go out of your way.
Luger’s suffers from heightened expectations. When you go to arguably the best steakhouse in the city, you expect all of the bovine offerings to be superlative. Not so with the burger, made of broiled ground chuck cast-offs from the famous Luger porterhouses. The giant mound of meat, which is only available at lunch, looked good sitting on my plate, but it was too raw for my liking (a bit undercooked in the middle), as if someone had disregarded the “medium” in my demand for “medium rare.” The steak-cut fries, on the other hand, were flawlessly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. In my mind, a burger should come with as little fanfare as possible, and the fact that I had to make reservations weeks in advance just to eat a mediocre burger at lunchtime definitely made me not want to return.
67 Burger opened around the same time as Brooklyn Burger Bar, but with much happier results. The burger at this garage-themed joint is frill-free, but is juicy and flavorful. “We use salt and pepper,” said manager Ed Tretter, who declined to divulge the rest of chef Jeff Maslanka’s secret spice mix. “We charbroil the burgers to give them the best taste.” The spicy curly fries, with a perfect combination of spices, should not be missed. If you’re stuck with a burgerphobic friend, 67 also has a good selection of chicken sandwiches and salads. 67 Burger makes for the perfect post-BAM dinner spot if you like your burgers with a side of culture.
Schnack gets points for the best lingo (burgers are called “Schnackies”) as well as the best soundtrack — the uber-hip waitstaff makes sure that the speakers are pumping a perfect combination of John Lennon, Broken Social Scene and the Cure. Schnackies can be ordered like White Castle burgers: Singles and doubles are served on a tiny bun, while triples or quads show up on a four-inch bun. Though the burgers are served Castle-style, they taste nothing like those greasy squares: the grilled Schnack burger is robust and hand shaped. I had a single with a giant basket of fries, and it was the perfect-size meal. In general, special sauces are never all that special, but the Schnack sauce (made of mayo, Dijon mustard, chipotle, sweet relish, tomato and undisclosed spices) is a great complement to the well-cooked patty. The beer milkshake — vanilla or chocolate ice cream and Dogfish Hickory Stout and Indian Brown Ale — is a good choice for a cute couple to share, two straws and all.
Owned by the same team as DuMont and DuMont Burger, this swank Williamsburg(er) serves the best burger in Brooklyn. Though it will set you back $12, it’s a worthwhile investment. If a double-digit burger is more than your heart can handle, stop by one of the sister DuMont restaurants, where they serve it for a bit less coin. But the reason to hit Dressler as opposed to one of the DuMonts is the ambiance. With its dark walls and wrought iron and glass accents, it’s elegant without being alienating. My medium-rare burger was juicy, but crisp on the outside with a nice grilled aftertaste. The cheese was melted, not just tossed onto the bulky brioche bun. It’s a feat to cook such a thick burger as well as the chefs at Dressler do. If you want to class it up completely, pair the burger with the citrus salad instead of fries for a pre-beef palate cleanser.
67 Burger (67 Lafayette Ave. at South Elliot Place in Fort Greene) is open from 11:30 am until 10 pm daily. Closed Mondays. For information call (718) 797-7150.
Brooklyn Burger Bar (444 Ninth St. at Seventh Avenue in Park Slope) is open from 11 am until 11 pm daily. For information call (718) 832-5500.
Dressler (149 Broadway between Bedford and Driggs avenues in Williamsburg) is open Monday through Thursday from 6 pm until 11 pm, Friday and Saturday from 6 pm until midnight and Sunday from 11 am until 10:30 pm. For information call (718) 384-6343.
Peter Luger (178 Broadway at Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg) is open Monday through Friday from 11:45 am until 9:45 pm, Saturday from 11:45 am until 10:45 pm and Sunday from 12:45 pm until 9:45 pm. For information call (718) 387-7400.
Schnack (122 Union St. at Columbia Street in Red Hook) is open daily from 11:30 am until 2 am. For information call (718) 855-2879.