Five Napkin Burger
630 Ninth Avenue at 45th Street, Hells Kitchen, (212) 757-2277
2315 Broadway near 84th Street, Upper West Side, (212) 333-4488
Getting There: A,C,E,2,3 to 42nd Street; 1 to 86th Street
Restaurant Review: Five Napkin Burger
Situated on a picturesque corner, the Hells Kitchen location of one of New York City’s must try hamburger spots had been elusive to us for some time. “We could get a decent burger anywhere” we thought to ourselves. But once inside, we got a sample of how burgers are supposed to be enjoyed in this day and age. Far removed from the greasy grill pits of some seedy stand or cart, Five Napkin Burger brings the special taste of a delicious comfort food into a chic, modern restaurant. And best of all- it works.
Although the exterior signage isn’t much, the simplicity of the black and red backdrop with white lettering seems to resonate with patrons- as visions of the colors of salt, pepper, and ketchup entice your entrance. Inside, illuminated light bulbs hang from elongated cords draping from the ceiling directly overhead, as the fine waitstaff scurries around the restaurant with the quickly prepared dishes. Although dimly lit in the evenings, the bright white exposed brick columns are outfitted with large rectangular elevator lights as you make your way through the restaurant to the black and white marble tiled bar area- which is small but sufficient, and is usually populated.
Not that we would dare classify this eatery as just another burger joint, the folks in the kitchen have made sure that nobody will make that mistake with a bevy of different menu options. From the “chicken, noodle, and matzo ball soup” ($7.75) to the well-presented sushi maki rolls ($12.95-$15.95), and enough salad dishes and entrees to give any eater several options (the “lobster roll sliders” ($19.75) sounded delectable), clearly Five Napkin Burger is as versatile as their menu is vast. But in a city full of burger joints, how does the traditional Five Napkin Burger, the sole reason we’re here, stack up? Incredibly well.
The standout feature of the “original five napkin burger” has to be the hefty burger patty itself. At a full ten ounces and served with mouth-watering carmelized onions, a creamy gruyere cheese, and a rosemary aioli spread, the taste of the chuck meat is virtually indescribable. Now the hamburger is in fact juicy, so you will need to use your napkin, but at a perfectly cooked medium rare temperature and with a small dab of ketchup, we’re hard pressed to name a better tasting all around burger. If you think we’re embellishing, you owe it to yourself to give this burger a taste. At just $14.95, French fries included, patrons are treated to one of the very best hamburgers that Manhattan has to offer, all within the confines of a soft white roll, and at an unbeatable value for both wallet and stomach.
The distinct cheese is certainly a nice touch as are the onions being added to the standard hamburger and the fact that the burgers are all served with fries. But the flavor of the tender, juicy meat is the standout here. Not a big fan of what we just described? Not to worry, as there are 7 other burger options, varying from the turkey burger ($12.95) to a veggie burger ($11.95) to the “ahi tuna burger” ($15.90) for fish lovers. While the ambiance of the restaurant allows you to make a special evening of having burgers and fries, it’s the savory fare that will bring you back time and again.