For the fourth year in a row, I present the 100 most exciting dishes I’ve consumed during my food adventures around the five boroughs. Look for another five dishes every few days.

People in the food world always love to claim each year as being the “year of the cupcake” or the “year of fried chicken” or the “year of something.” While many people might decalre 2013 the year of BBQ or the year of Nordic food in NYC, I became smitten with that old American favorite: the burger. I kept biting into one delicious meat bomb after another and here are five of my favorites (some old, some new, and one very unusual).

NUMBER 65: THE ORIGINAL at UMAMI BURGER

The Original at UMAMI BURGER

I’d heard about the legend of the Umami Burger long before they opened their first NYC location this year. Even my non food-obssessed friends on the West Coast were calling to tell me about this new burger joint that highlighted the mysterious undiscovered taste: umami. Used to describe savory, meaty notes, the word umami is thrown around a lot these days. But every component of the original Umami Burger showcases the often misunderstood word. The already-meaty beef blend is brushed with a special umami sauce (containing umami-rich ingredients like seaweed and miso), then seared and sandwiched together on a toasty Portuguese bun, along with caramelized onions, oven-roasted tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and a parmesan crisp. If you want to know what umami is, this burger will show you. Price: $12

UMAMI BURGER
432 Sixth Avenue (between 9th and 10th Street),
Greenwich Village
(212) 677-8626
umami.com

NUMBER 64: CHEESEBURGER at SCHNIPPER’S QUALITY KITCHEN

Cheeseburger at SCHNIPPER'S QUALITY KITCHEN

While people continue to line up for Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, there’s a semi-secret around the corner from the park where you can get a burger just as good and for half the price and wait time. Schnipper’s feels like a glorified fast-food outlet, but it’s a small family business with just two prime locations in Manhattan. And they serve a simple, but killer burger. The thin patty bursts with char and meat flavors. Melted American cheese covers the meat, while crisp toppings (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles) showcase the actual quality of the ingredients. Although it may be blasphemous, I think I prefer this burger to the over-hyped one you have to wait in line for around the corner. Price: $4.99

SCHNIPPER’S QUALITY KITCHEN
23 East 23rd Street (between Madison and Park Avenue),
Flatiron District
(212) 233-1025
620 Eighth Avenue (at West 41st Street),
Midtown West
(212) 921-2400
umami.com

NUMBER 63: “SAI OOR FARANG” THAI BURGER at NGAM

Thai Burger at NGAM

The most unusual burger on this list is not the coveted ramen burger (I have yet to actually taste the damn thing), but a curry paste-laced patty from a casual and lively East Village Thai restaurant. At first I thought the beef was overdone, but it was actually all the spices inside the patty that gave it a dark color. The sear was just perfect and the heat creeps up on you. The spice is both heightened and cooled down by the toppings: green papaya kraut and cilantro lime aioli. On the side are Chiang Mai fries – large fried slices of kabocha squash and sweet potato – one more surprising and delicious concoction. Price: $16

NGAM
99 Third Avenue (between East 12th and East 13th Street),
East Village
(212) 777-8424
ngamnyc.com

NUMBER 62: ORIGINAL FIVE NAPKIN BURGER at 5 NAPKIN BURGER

Original Five Napkin Burger at 5 NAPKIN BURGERSome people rate a burger on how messy the thing is. I’m pretty much a clean guy, but I do like a juicy, greasy burger every once in a while. As long as there are Wet Naps close at hand. I had never been a huge fan of 5 Napkin Burger, which has been a favorite in Hell’s Kitchen (and other neighborhoods) for a few years now. But this year, I was in the neighborhood and gave it another shot. And let me tell you how wrong I’d been. The namesake burger is a full 10 ounces of juicy meat, caramelized onions, and gruyere cheese. Topped with some rosemary aioli, the juices constantly run down your hand on each consecutive bite. I’m afraid five napkins might not actually be enough. Price: $15.95

5 NAPKIN BURGER
630 Ninth Avenue (at 45th Street),
Hell’s Kitchen
(212) 757-2277
150 East 14th Street (at Third Avenue),
Union Square
(212) 228-5500
2315 Broadway (at 84th Street),
Upper West Side
(212) 333-4488
35-01 36th Street (at 35th Avenue),
Astoria, Queens
(718) 433-2727
5napkinburger.com

Photo courtesy of: yelp.com

NUMBER 61: HAMBURGER WITH CHEESE at FRITZL’S LUNCH BOX

SADLY, FRITZL’S LUNCH BOX IS NOW CLOSED.

Cheeseburger at FRITZL'S LUNCH BOXI had been hearing all about the new restaurant scene in Bushwick, but the tempermental L train often makes it difficult to commute. Thankfully, I made it to Fritzl’s Lunch Box one afternoon and discovered the best burger of the year. Blended with both beef chuck and beef cheek, the hand-ground patty literally explodes with flavor, which is only enhanced by chedder cheese, a mayo-based special sauce, and relish of pickles and onions. The sweet seeded bun is perfect for soaking up the flowing juices. This is one burger I would travel great distances for. Price: $10

FRITZL’S LUNCH BOX
173 Irving Avenue (between Stockholm and Stanhope Street),
Bushwick, Brooklyn
(929) 210-9531
fritzlslunchbox.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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