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Fun on a Bun
Buns, buns and more buns (Photo: iStockphoto)

Beyond the Burger: Best of New York City on a Bun

It's not just hot dogs and burgers that taste better on a bun. So does lobster, crispy clams, pork and even foie gras. Sink your teeth into the city's best buns.

Everything becomes a little more casual in the summer. Dress-down days are the norm. Workloads lighten as vacations cram the calendar. And silverware gets tossed aside in favor of eating with hands. Yes, buns are big in summer, and we scoured the city to find where they are most deliciously employed. From Chef David Chang’s justly famous steamed buns crammed with pork belly to Telepan’s foie gras on biscuits smeared with apricot jam to roast turkey with green apple at Sigmund’s Pretzels, New York City excels at gourmet buns – and here’s our roundup of the best.

 

Clam and lobster on a bun at The Clam (Photo: Courtesy of The Clam)

Clam and lobster on a bun at The Clam (Photo: Courtesy of The Clam)

Fried Belly Clam and Lobster Sandwich: The Clam
Can’t decide between two summery New England treats? No need to choose between Mike Price and Joey Campanaro’s newest West Village restaurant, where two great tastes — a light lobster salad and crispy fried clams) — come together on one griddled, buttery bun (price based on seafood market cost). Each bite brings out the brilliance of this complementary relationship – perfect for those who crave a little crunch in a lobster roll or chunky tartar on a clam sammie. 420 Hudson St., 212-242-7420, theclamnyc.com

 

Momofuku pork buns (Photo: Gabriele Stabile)

Momofuku pork buns (Photo: Gabriele Stabile)

Pork Bun: Momofuku Noodle Bar
David Chang’s execution of this classic Cantonese snack ($10) first debuted at his East Village Noodle Bar. It has since become so synonymous with the chef that it can be found across his empire — and it’s easy to see why it propelled him to superstardom. The supple steamed bun is stuffed with soft, roasted pork belly and slices of refreshing cucumber and sharp scallions, and is served with a masterful sweet and tangy hoisin sauce. 171 First Ave, 212-777-7773, momofuku.com

 

Hot Dog from The Cannibal (Photo: Brian Hoffman/Eatthisny.com)

Hot Dog from The Cannibal (Photo: Brian Hoffman/Eatthisny.com)

Hot Dog: The Cannibal
Dirty water dogs are becoming a distant memory, thanks to spots like the Cannibal, which are serving what many local food reviewers hail as the city’s top dogs. They are not only available at the original Madison Square location of the charcuterie-centric eatery, but also in their outpost at Gotham West Market where they come “tiger style,” with spicy tripe chili, Chinese mustard and scallion (two for $15). 600 11th Ave., 212-582-7940, cannibalnyc.com; 113 E. 29th St., 212-686-5480; Gotham West Market

 

Foie Gras Jammers at Telepan Local (Photo: Gastronami.com)

Foie Gras Jammers at Telepan Local (Photo: Gastronami.com)

Foie Gras Jammers: Telepan Local
These foie wonders are sliders for the sophisticated set, and certainly a big draw of chef Bill Telepan’s new American small plates eatery. What they are: rich slabs of torchon between mini biscuit buns, graced with apricot jam ($5). Can you say epicurean ecstasy? 329 Greenwich St., 212-966-9255, telepanlocal.com

 

Medianoche at Margon (Photo: Zach Brooks/MidtownLunch.com)

Medianoche at Margon (Photo: Zach Brooks/MidtownLunch.com)

Medianoche: Margon
It’s the slightly sweet potato bread that separates this Latin/Caribbean specialty ($4) from a Cuban sandwich. So named (translation: midnight) because it is known as a hearty late-night snack designed to stave off a hangover, the assemblage of ham, Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and pickle is a lunch staple here for office workers who want to avoid the touristy, and spendy, spots near Times Square. 136 W. 46th St., 212-354-5013, margonnyc.com

 

Veggie Sloppy Joe Mable's Smokehouse

Veggie Sloppy Joe at Mable’s Smokehouse (Photo: Courtesy of Mable’s Smokehouse)

Veggie BBQ Sloppy Joe: Mable’s Smokehouse
One usually thinks of racks of meat when it comes to BBQ, but this Williamsburg smokehouse doesn’t forget about the non-carnivores, with a nice alternative to the ubiquitous veggie burger. This is no ordinary Joe ($10.95): a sweet and smoky assortment of grilled vegetables ensure that it’s as filling as the meat variety. 44 Berry St., Brooklyn, 718-218-6655, mablessmokehouse.com

 

Tingmo at Himalayan Yak (Photo: Courtesy of Himalayan Yak)

Tingmo at Himalayan Yak (Photo: Courtesy of Himalayan Yak)

Tingmo: Himalayan Yak
A heartier version of a steamed Chinese bun, the tingmo, which hails from the Himalayas, is denser and more suited to a mountainous climate. In this Jackson Heights regional eatery, the bun is so sought after that it is served on its own ($1.95) and on the side with noodle soups ($7.95-$8.95). But it is best when stuffed with the explosively flavorful Phaksha Pa ($10.95), sliced pork with long green chili, radish and cheese. 72-20 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, 718-779-1119, himalayanyak.com

 

Pork belly sliders at Sigmund's Pretzels (Photo: Courtesy of Sigmund's Pretzels)

Pork belly sliders at Sigmund’s Pretzels (Photo: Courtesy of Sigmund’s Pretzels)

Most of the menu: Sigmund’s Pretzels
Follow the oven-fresh aroma to this East Village bar, originally a pretzel bakery. Here, the pretzels act as bun for a classic New York Reuben ($12), a grilled cheese ($10), sausages ($10-12) and roast turkey with brie and green apple ($12). And we couldn’t completely ignore the burger now, could we? Sigmund’s serves two on their pretzel bun: a classic ($11) and their house special ($14) with caramelized onion, bacon, Gruyere, fried egg and spicy mayo. 29 Avenue B, 646-410-0333, sigmundnyc.com

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