1571 Second Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side
Getting There: 6 to 77th Street
Restaurant Review: BurgerFi
There is no shortage of burger joints in and around New York City. And that said, there’s still somehow always room for new competitors to enter the fray. With a wild explosion of restaurants in the south, Manhattan’s first outpost of fresh hamburger paradise BurgerFi opened amid a great deal of fanfare in the early days of March. Boasting a product that eschews the use of any frozen products and a collection of fresh made to order ingredients coupled with a blend of proprietary meats from Meyer Natural Angus, BurgerFi is bringing a relatively healthy alternative to New York’s fast casual genre.
Spawned in Del Ray Beach Florida, BurgerFi almost happened by accident. Its parent restaurant The Office which serves an expansive, higher end menu discovered that more than 60% of its sales were coming from two burger offerings. Sensing that their dish was onto something, the first BurgerFi spin-off opened its doors in February of 2011 and found droves of people on lines out the door awaiting the brand’s signature comfort fare. Today, the outfit sports 16 stores already opened, with 22 in construction, and a slate of between 50 and 60 to be open by year’s end nationwide. For our purposes however, BurgerFi begins construction today on their second Manhattan location at 704 Broadway, right in the heart of NYU country. The sprawling 13,000 foot, two story space will house a full employee training center, 160 seats in the downstairs restaurant, and another 60 seats upstairs for students, fully equipped with Wi-Fi and a second full service bar.
The BurgerFi meats are pure Angus beef sourced from free range, corn fed stock, with no hormones and no antibiotics. And without a freezer anywhere in the restaurant, nothing here is ever frozen. The Second Avenue location was buzzing upon our arrival with hardly any available seats for us in sight. We managed to secure a corner high top communal table and ordered up some Samuel Adams “Summer” beers ($7) to wash down all we were about to consume. What’s also striking about BurgerFi, aside from the collection of frozen custards that would make any diabetic salivate, is their modern soda machine, which like a digital jukebox serves up virtually any product you can think of- the Diet Coke Orange was particularly refreshing.
At the front counter, the menu is digitally displayed overhead, and the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. Their BBB (Build Your Best Burger) option gives you the tools to create any savory concoction that you like starting from one patty to upwards of three. But we left most of the heavy lifting to BurgerFi’s traditional offerings opting for their signature “BurgerFi Cheeseburger” ($6.57). The double pattied burger was cooked to a perfect medium, with gooey American cheese, lettuce and tomato. Each delicious burger is enveloped in a fluffy potato flour bun, literally branded to show the restaurant’s moniker. Similarly mouthwatering was the “Brisket Cheeseburger” ($9.97), which was remarkably subtle for a 28 day brisket patty boasting equal parts Swiss and blue cheese. Perhaps what’s most likable about an experience at BurgerFi is that the butcher paper wrapped delicacies are not greasy, leaving little mess on our hands and faces, despite the satisfying sensation of their delectable creations.
We also thoroughly enjoyed our side order of salty “Fresh Cut French Fries” ($2.97- regular size) doused deliciously in salt and vinegar, but the “Cry and Fries” ($4.97), which paired gigantic spiraled onion rings with French fries in an order sized for two, put us over the top. The bulbous rings were excellently seasoned, pairing well each bite of the soft burger bun. We concluded with alternating bites of BurgerFi’s “Chicago Dog” ($4.47). The sizable sliced down the middle hot dog was served inside a fresh poppy seed bun, paired with hot sport peppers, cucumbers, green relish, chopped onion, and tomato, for a truly authentic Midwestern feel. And the taste was similarly out of this world.
The variations of the hamburger are endless, but somehow BurgerFi has managed to bring something that just feels inventive to the feel. Inside the space is warm and inviting, well lit and energetic, without that stench of sloppy greasepit that has been a burger-laden custom dating back years and years. BurgerFi may have opened less than a month ago, and despite not knowing it at the time, it might be just the right mix of casual, comfort, and taste that New York City has been missing.
Rundown of the Meal
All Natural Burgers
BurgerFi Cheeseburger ($6.57) *
Brisket Cheeseburger ($9.97)*
Build Your Best Burger: BBB ($6.57) – raw onions, sautéed mushrooms, fried egg
Chicago Dog ($4.47)
Cry and Fries ($4.97)*
Fresh Cut Fries ($2.97- regular size)