406 E 9th St, East Village
Getting There: L to First Avenue
Restaurant Review: Whitmans
The battle for who makes the better burger in New York City rages on. Some of the new joints that sprout up every month follow what’s popular, while others choose to risk it all and lead. Whitmans of the East Village proudly fits into the latter category. On a recent weeknight burgers were on the brain, so we decided to duck inside and try their take on the classic Americana meat sandwich.
The restaurant finds itself on a stunning tree lined street in this legendary neighborhood. From the outside Whitmans has the look of an old school lunch counter joint that has been around for decades, but in reality it has just been a few years. Many other restaurants have tried their hand at thriving in this non common space but only the present establishment seems to have cracked the code. Whitmans is situated in a cozy duplex style setup with the main level serving as a counter space and the bottom level housing a handful of tables and the kitchen. On our first visit we opted for sitting at the counter to people watch and keep it casual. As soon as we sat down our waitress, donning a cool East Village rocker girl look came over to take our drink order. We went for delightfully cheap cans of upstate New York favorite beer, “Genesee” ($3). This brew is perfect for pairing with grilled or savory foods since it’s crisp and very light. When it came time to order our meal we wanted to surround our main burger entree with some vegetables. As an appetizer we decided to go for a, “bowl of local pickles” ($4). After placing the order a bowl of mixed pickles arrived containing both half sour and new pickles. Our personal favorite were the new pickles as they tasted exactly like the ones we love from Jewish delicatessens. The crisp bite and briny flavor caused us to polish off the bowl in minutes.
Next up we ordered the, “Sauteed Kale” ($4). The medium sized portion was perfect for two people to share. The kale was prepared with a generous amount of fresh lemon and roasted garlic. This dish was mouthwatering and highly recommended. With the healthy vegetables under our belts it was time for the main course, burgers. Whitmans is the home of the Minnesota favorite, “Juicy Lucy” ($11) stuffed with heaping amounts of pimento cheese in its center. And even though we love this burger style we decided to go with a traditional burger to really taste Whitmans meat blend. Therefore we ordered the, “Upstate Burger” ($7 or $8 with cheese). The “Upstate” is served with seared onion, bibb lettuce, tomato, new pickles and special sauce. In keeping it classic, we ordered ours with white American cheese and cooked medium rare. The burger arrived with the bun open showing the perfectly melted cheese covering cubes of the seared onion. A sparse amount of ketchup was added and the first bite was taken. Upon our first huge bite we could instantly tell that they cooked it exactly as we had ordered. The salty medium rare meat brilliantly combined with the oozing cheese and lovely onion tidbits. The over sized tomato, lettuce and pickles provided a pleasant crunch to balance it all out.
The order for our inaugural visit barely cracked the surface of all the amazing and innovative comfort food coming out of the Whitmans kitchen. You can bet we will be back to devour the, “Juicy Lucy” and plenty other delicious creations!
Rundown of the Meal
Bowl of local pickles ($4)
Sauteed Kale ($4)*
Upstate Burger served with seared onion, bibb lettuce, tomato, new pickles and special sauce ($7) ($8 with cheese)*