Royale (157 Ave. C nr. 10th Street) doesn’t get mentioned in the great burger debate as often as it should. Maybe it’s because of its location: Avenue C seems like a very far away place to many New Yorkers. Or maybe it’s because Royale looks like your average sports bar or neighborhood dive. There are no posters proclaiming best burger in NYC, no ZAGAT plaques filling the windows. There is just a small wooden sign hanging above the door with the letter ‘R’ painted on it in white. If you poked your head inside, you wouldn’t have any idea that there is a beautiful garden in the back (frequently covered and heated in winter) with long picnic tables perfect for a big group of friends. And you certainly wouldn’t know that you are in the home of the best burger in NYC.
Ask a New Yorker what their favorite burger is and you are guaranteed to get many different answers. Burgers have become so popular that a new burger joint seems to open its doors every week. From the greasy fast food patty to the haute-cuisine burger that costs as much as any steak dinner, it is nearly an impossible task to decide who gets the Best Burger in Town crown.
Even with all the variety and all of the many delectable ways this simple sandwich is prepared, a few names always rise to the forefront of any best burger debate. Shake Shack, Danny Meyer’s wildly successful burger and shake stand franchise, is always a contender. And there is no doubt that this is one tasty burger. The Shack Burger ($4.50 for a single, $7.00 for a double) is topped with the special “Shack Sauce” that makes the flavor of this burger unique. It’s tangy and sweet and so delicious that many people would probably brush their teeth with it every morning if they could only get it in a tube.
Another favorite is Corner Bistro. This fantastic bar in the west village has been serving happy burger-loving New Yorkers for almost a century. The Bistro Burger ($6.75) is the featured offering here. What’s great about this burger is that it’s all business. No frills, just BEEF. Twice the size of the Shake Shack paddy, this burger needs no special sauce. The nearly 100 year-old grill infuses each one with that perfect smoky, meaty-ness everyone craves from a burger. Even the French fries taste like meat.
And of course the list goes on and on, The Burger Joint inside the Le Parker Meridien Hotel is a must, J.G. Melon’s is a NY classic, And at the higher end, Minetta Tavern offers a burger so decadent and delicious that many say it shouldn’t even be considered a burger at all. All of these and many more are worth trying and won’t disappoint. But if you want the best in NYC, come to the East Village and go to Royale.
The “Royale with Cheese” is the thing to get here. For $8.00 ($9.00 with bacon, fries are not included), you get an explosively juicy, expertly seasoned patty nestled inside a sweet, airy brioche bun. Topped with a couple of tart, crunchy pickles, thick sliced tomato, buttery Bibb lettuce, thinly sliced white onion and gooey melted cheddar, this is pretty much burger perfection. The burger is substantial, but not overwhelming, just the right size to leave you full but still have plenty of room for some excellent fries and refreshing Pork Slap Ale ($4).
The burger at Royale strikes a perfect balance between a super high-end burger and a greasy fast-food burger. The burger itself is as juicy and flavorful as Shake Shack, Corner Bistro and the Burger Joint. The quality of the meat is second to none. If you opt for bacon (highly recommended) you will find beautiful thick slices perfectly placed on the paddy. Each element is prepared with an incredible amount of care and detail. The result is a burger that is not only mouth wateringly good, but for 8 or 9 bucks, an astoundingly great deal.
So remember the famous quote from the movie, Pulp Fiction? What do they call the best burger in NYC? The Royale with Cheese!
157 Ave. C
NY, NY 10009