The NYC Smashburger Power Rankings image


The NYC Smashburger Power Rankings

The city's crispiest, sauciest, most satisfying smashburgers, ranked.

The city's best burgers fall into three distinct categories: the Big Meats (Raoul’s, Red Hook Tavern), the hard-to-classifies (Lovely’s Old Fashioned, Long Island Bar), and finally the flattened, saucy smashburgers that are over in four to five bites. Smashburgers aren’t new to NYC, but they’ve really taken off over the past few years, and now they’re as common as fluke crudo, everything bagels, and $1.50 slices that used to cost $1. (Shoutout to White Mana Diner, which is firmly in New Jersey, but always on our minds.) So of course, we had to try them all, at various hours of the day and night. These are NYC's best smashburgers, ranked.

photo credit: Emily Schindler



East Village

$$$$Perfect For:Serious Take-Out OperationCheap EatsLate Night Eats
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Your Order: Cheeseburger ($6.50). Keep it simple. 

In theory, a basic smashburger should taste the same everywhere. It’s just an extra-thin patty topped with cheese and squashed between two buns, after all. But 7th Street Burger turns the process into something more like composing a sonnet, with precise arrangements of flavor and texture. Roughly chopped onions are pressed into a beef patty made with a 75/25 blend from Schweid & Sons, and cooked until the edges get crispy. They then top it off with grilled sweet onions, a single pickle slice, american cheese, and a creamy house sauce on a gloriously greasy potato roll. A single cheeseburger costs $6.50, and all 11 locations are open until 3am on weekends. We could write an ode or two of our own.

Your Order: Double Classic Smashed ($10). Don’t play around.

Putting 7th Street above Smashed on this list was a tough call. Ultimately, while some locations of our top-ranked spot aren’t quite as consistent, we’d still pick the original 7th Street on 7th Street, even if it’s partly for that 2am line that’s sometimes more fun than the bar you just came from. But Smashed takes 7th Street to extra innings, and we’d comfortably put them in the same conversation. The burgers at Smashed’s two locations are also all about texture: lacy, burnished patties, gooey cheese, grilled and raw onions, pickles for crunch, and special sauce. All that on a fluffy, slightly steamy potato bun. We like that these burgers aren’t too messy, making them a great lunch option, and Smashed is open until 3am on weekends.

Your Order: BBD Smashburger Meal ($13.90), which comes with two adds: a drink, fries, or ice cream. A very happy meal. 

The smashburgers at this counter-service Chinatown spot are bigger than average, and the standard burger comes with two thin patties. This means that you won’t finish one, immediately wish you’d gotten a double, and then consider turning around for a second—a vicious smashburger spiral, avoided. At Burger By Day, the burger is about six to nine bites, and comes with gooey american cheese, grilled onions, and a squishy bun.

Your Order: The “Hot Mess” ($10), sweet yam fries ($5), and a milkshake ($6), because they have shake in their name and it seems wrong not to. 

You can, of course, eat an excellent smashburger at Harlem Shake, but you get to hang out in the excellent retro diner-like space while doing so. There’s usually a band jamming  on Sundays, a large sidewalk patio for summertime milkshake sipping, and it’s open until 2am on the weekends. Get the “Hot Mess” burger, which follows their standard double patty practice, but adds pickled cherry pepper and bacon relish, american cheese, and chipotle mayo. They also have a location in Park Slope for any Brooklyn burger cravings, and a Harlem Shake Express in LIC where you order your burger at a kiosk and pick it up from a locker.

Little Grenjai opened briefly in Bed-Stuy in September. They didn’t have gas yet, but even without a sizzling hot grill, their Krapow Smashburger was magnificent. The Thai-American restaurant isn’t currently open, but they do frequent pop-ups with their burger at various locations. Keep an eye on their Instagram—if you see a “Would Smash” pop-up, first appreciate the name, and then plan accordingly. The smashburger is topped with american cheese, holy basil, lemongrass-y giardiniera, and spicy-sweet special sauce, and though it’s a little hard to get your hands on, it’s completely worth the effort.

Your Order: Double cheeseburger ($18), because there is no single cheeseburger, crispy potatoes “war style” ($12), and a cocktail (from $15).

Rolo’s is a sit-down restaurant in Ridgewood, so you will likely come here for a full meal, but you should make sure that meal includes their smashburger. It’s on the pricier side, but it is a double patty, and it arrives effortlessly juicy, dripping with a mix of shiny grease, and dijonnaise. The smashburger here comes with one long pepper, which is well-charred and tasty, but it's also just a singular pepper, so you should also order the crispy potatoes “war style”. They’re topped with mayo, raw onions, and lemongrass-infused peanut sauce, and they are some of the very best spuds you can eat in all five boroughs.

Your Order: A single patty Knockout Burger ($7), K.O. cheese fries ($6), side of honey mustard ($1), side of jalapeño ranch ($1). 

A newer addition to the smashburger scene, K.O. is a takeout window under the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown that goes light on its boxing theme, and heavy on its special sauce. The sauce has pickled jalapeños, which make it actually taste a little bit different than all the other vaguely pink special sauces out there. Besides plenty of sauce, the classic Knockout Burger comes with american cheese, onions, mustard, and pickles on a soft potato bun. Eat it alongside their crinkle cut cheese fries, topped with chipotle mayo and fried onions.

Your Order: The smashburger ($8), but also the cheeseburger ($13), for comparison’s sake.

If you dream of special sauce, you should go to Mighties. The casual spot in The Market Line is from the teams behind Wildair and Ends Meat, and serves a variety of smashburger that is so smashed, and so crispy, that it hangs lazily off the sides of its bun, as if it knows the importance of that first, bunless, meaty bite. They also do regular cheeseburgers topped with lettuce, onions, tomato, something called “the mightiest sauce”, and some very delicious pickles. This is the place to get one of each, and then decide once and for all whether you’re more of a burger person, or smashburger person.

Your Order: ShackBurger ($7.69) and crinkle cut fries ($4.19).

Someone is probably going to be mean to us on the internet for this one, but they’re probably just hangry for a ShackBurger. In LA, there’s In-N-Out, and in NYC, there’s Shake Shack. And the burger—which you can find at 19 locations across the city, and also all over the country, including Lexington, Kentucky—is really good. Don’t go here if you have the time to read this guide and choose. But if you need a smashburger, and need it now, the odds are high that you’re ten minutes from a Shake Shack, and that the ShackBurger with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce will more than satisfy your craving.

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photo credit: Willa Moore

The NYC Smashburger Power Rankings image