Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

JOE JR. RESTAURANT, 167 Third Avenue (at 16th Street), Gramercy

Most people will be surprised that the city’s best burger might just be hiding at the counter of an ordinary looking old diner in the middle of well-to-do Gramercy.

But that’s where it is. Forget your Shake Shacks or your Burger Joints or your fancy Minetta Tavern. Sure, you can get a good burger at any of those places. And if they’re willing to fight the crowds, I even recommend those spots for some people I meet on my tours.

But now that I have finally tried the respected but under-hyped burger at Joe Junior, I will direct my recommendations over to Third Avenue.

Not only is Joe Junior’s juicy charred patty the best example of pure beefy simplicty, it will also give you a sense of nostalgia for the days when no-frills coffee shops, diners, and soda counters were enough for those that wanted a good American meal.

Cheeseburger at JOE JR. RESTAURANT

I grew up at places like this and it brings me back to a much purer and simpler time. I don’t remember any of the burgers I tried at any of those places being quite this rich and peppery with flavor bursts in each bite. Or the American cheese being this much of a perfect complement to the smoky beef puck. Or the fries being this undeniably crisp, served hot with a communal bottle of Heinz ketchup. But I didn’t grow up in New York near Joe Junior.

Joe Junior is a place where locals go and people are there to enjoy the simple things in life. So put away your Instagram for a second and just take a bite of what a good old fashioned American cheeseburger should taste like. Price: $4.99/$7.60

JOE JUNIOR RESTAURANT
167 Third Avenue (at 16th Street),
Gramercy
(212) 473-5150
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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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