Ever waited three hours for a burger? That’s about par for the course at Umami Burger, recently opened in the West Village (432 Sixth Ave., 212-677-8626, umami.com). It’s the first New York locationof the insanely popular burger chain that got its start in Los Angeles, and ever since its opening several weeks back, there have been lines out the door for its burgers, known for their inventive toppings like the beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt-onion strings and bacon lardon-topped Manly burger.
If you’re not lucky enough to hit Umami Burger on an off-hour and you’re looking at a several-hour delay between showing up and eating, it’s good to know that there are other excellent burger options right nearby. Here are five just as excellent (maybe even better?) burgers to try that won’t require a three-hour wait.
Show up to Umami wanting a burger and it’s just not happening? Your nearest and easiest option is Burger Joint on West Eighth Street. It’s the second outpost of a well-loved burger shop, with the first one “hidden” in the upscale Le Parker Meridien hotel. Expect a basic but well-executed burger, with all the usual sides, as well as beer and milkshakes. 33 W. 8th St., 212-432-1400, burgerjointny.com
April Bloomfield’s massive burger is legendary, and justly so. A hefty chargrilled patty on a house-baked bun, with funky melted Roquefort, it’s got all the intense, rich, savory notes you’d crave from an Umami Burger — plus a heaping helping of shoestring fries. And if you’re there at lunch, there’s usually not too much of a wait. Go early or go at lunch to be seated right away; but even at peak hours when it’s tough to get a table, you can order a burger from the bar. 314 W. 11th St., 212-620-0393, thespottedpig.com
Little Owl’s burger was once listed in countless Best Burger articles, and years later, it’s still a fine, fine piece of meat. Available at lunch and brunch, it’s a 6-ounce bacon cheeseburger, with Gus’s pickles, lettuce, onion, and spiced fries. 90 Bedford St., 212-741-4695, thelittleowlnyc.com
Interested in the incredible, improbable toppings you’ll find at Umami Burger? Try Perla instead; its burger is served at lunch Friday through Sunday. There’s the excellent, funky, insanely juicy Perla Burger, with caciocavallo, oven-dried tomatoes and escarole; as well as a dry-aged burger with balsamic onions, cannelloni bean puree and provolone. 24 Minetta Lane; 212-933-1824, perlanyc.com
Umami Burger might be the hottest thing at the moment, but the burger whose appeal will never die: the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern. Prime grade Pat LaFrieda beef formed into a patty and griddled and then served on a custom Balthazar Bakery bun with hyper-caramelized onions — just enough to highlight the incredible beef, not enough to hide its flavor. Sure, it’s $26, but you’ll have one of the city’s best burgers and save the hours in line, and isn’t your precious time worth the difference? Note that while Minetta can be a tough table in its own right, as long as you go early evening or at lunch, you’ll have no problem. 113 MacDougal St., 212-475-3850, minettatavernny.com