The NYC Smashburger Power Rankings

The city's crispiest, sauciest, most satisfying smashburgers, ranked.
The NYC Smashburger Power Rankings image

photo credit: Willa Moore

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 everything bagels and $1.50 slices that used to cost $1. So of course, you need to know which ones to eat first. 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: Double Gotham Smash ($11) with everything, and an order of frickles ($8).

If Gotham Burger Social Club’s double smashburger had its own Instagram account, it would probably post a photo of its brown, griddled bun with the caption “So I did a thing.” Lots of places toast the inside of their buns for a buttery crisp, but GBSC on the Lower East Side toasts the exterior of the top bun, then layers it with lacy, caramelized beef patties, steamed onions, pickles and pickled jalapeños, plus slice of gooey american cheese. The result is a textural wonderland.

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 can also hang out in the 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.

Your Order: The Legendary Cheeseburger, even though it’s $21.  Nowon calls their double smashburger legendary, and we think this Korean American gastropub nailed the name. Roasted kimchi, american cheese, raw onions, pickles, and kimchi special sauce smother two crispy, beefy patties, and a sesame seed bun brings the whole thing together. Yes, it’s a $21 smashburger. But you’re going to enjoy it while listening to Biggie, drinking a craft beer, and snacking on some honey butter tots, either at their East Village spot, or larger Bushwick location.

Your Order: The Krapow Smashburger, whenever and wherever it is available.  Even without a gas connection and a sizzling hot grill, the krapow smashburger at this fledgling Thai American diner in Bed-Stuy was magnificent. Now available at lunch, and charred on a proper grill, the burger is topped with american cheese, holy basil, lemongrass-y giardiniera, and a spicy-sweet special sauce. It’s worth making up a dentist’s appointment to enjoy one on a barstool in the front window.

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: George Motz’s Fried Onion Burger (double, $11.50), shoestring fries ($4.25), and a chocolate milk ($5). Don’t skip the chocolate milk. 

Eating at Hamburger America might make you feel like Marty McFly before he got back to the future. This yellow-and-white lunch counter in Soho is straight out of a ’50s roadside diner, and the burgers are just as simply satisfying as what you’d expect at a place like that. The single ($7.25) or double ($11.50) smashburger “all the way” comes with mustard, american cheese, diced onions, and pickles. Nothing more, nothing less. The fried onion burger is even better, and you might find some other rotating regional styles. You may also see George Motz, the “burger historian” and founder of Hamburger America, smushing beef into the grill.

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 Classic ($5.49).

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a smashburger spot inside of a gas station in the West Village. Smacking Burger operates out of a supply closet-sized kitchen in a Mobil, and it’s worth noting that their classic smash is the cheapest one on this list. It’s fairly simple—onion, american cheese, sweet pickles, ketchup, and mustard on a potato roll, but if you’re willing to spend $8 you can get a double patty, and pink special sauce. Smacking Burger is open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, and there’s a picnic table outside where you can eat in case it’s 1:30am and you need beef right now.

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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