Island Burgers & Shakes
766 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019
When we first started our “Glorious Pursuit of Delicious Burgers” we needed suggestions. So I did what any net savvy blogger would do, I Googled “Best Burger NYC.” After plowing through a multitude of mouth watering reviews and opinions, I landed on The Citysearch Best 2008 Burger list. That became our guidebook when in need of a new Burger Conquest location.
Having visited every place on the list save Pop Burger (I just can’t stand the idea of eating a burger in a club in the meat-packing district while 20 somethings / bridge and tunnelers upload pictures of themselves being “cute” on to Last Night’s Party), but the heralded Island Burgers & Shakes. This was a very difficult task considering it’s popularity and its 3 blocks from my apartment location but I wanted to save it for a special occasion.
Enter Immaculate Infatuation. This site jumped onto the NYC food scene around the same time as we did and it’s run by Chris Stang and my friend Andrew Steinthal. I’ve known Andrew for years as in our day jobs, we both work in the music business but I had no inkling of his foodie magnitude until he started the blog. The connection gets tighter; Team Burger member Nona* works with Andrew and demanded we have an Immaculate Infatuation Burger Conquest. Done.
Located in the food popular Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, Island Burgers & Shakes don’t serve up your average burger. In fact, don’t let their name mislead you, the place is more popular for the chicken Churascos more than their burgers. The menu is a mind-numbing, mile-long list of toppings, preparations and creations that will have your head spinning.
I order the Churascos here all the time and I am pretty sure I have eaten nearly EVERYTHING on the menu. My 3 faves are #1. The “Roma;” Thyme, rosemary, garlic, oregano and pepper flakes, #2 The “Crescent City;” Blackened, bayou mayo and onion on sourdough, and #3. “Here’s Gianni;” Parmesan spread, bacon and roasted peppers on a cibatta. But…I have NEVER eaten a burger here. The place is pretty damn small so unless you want to wait in a long line to get in, go mid-afternoon.
Given the choice, I like a burger with just cheese, lettuce and onions. No fancy stuffing’s, coverings, smothering’s, cooking’s, spices and so forth are necessary. I do like and appreciate all of that but you can’t deny the joy of simplicity in burger preparation. However on this day, that just wasn’t going to do it so I ordered the “Barzel’s” burger: Blackened, jack, bacon and horseradish on a ciabatta.
Jackie and Nona* went for something a little more traditional and after politely asking not to hate him if he did NOT get a burger, Andrew ordered a Churasco “Bourbon Street” style: Blackened , bacon, jack, bayou mayo and onion on sourdough. I can’t blame him, they’re amazing!
We started with an order of the very creamy and spicy guacamole and chips. They were damn good but I refrained from digging in too deeply. The huge freshly ground patty looked slightly dwarfed by the gigantic ciabatta but I didn’t care, this whole mamma-jamma was going down. Before I even took my first bite, the happy juices began to pour out of the sandwich onto my plate. I knew some delicious dipping was in the future for this bad boy.
The spices just dominate this burger like the Great White does the shores of a small New England town. I really had to focus in my palette to taste the beef itself and by focus, I mean take a bite of Nona*’s burger! It was so good. The half-pound patties are made of specialty-blended prime beef and have that old-school back yard burger like appeal. Unfortunately mine was overcooked but thankfully both and Nona*’s and Jackie’s was not, so I got to try it 2 ways. The Blackened spices are great, the horseradish is excellent, the bacon is crispy and oh so good and the jack cheese is real solid but the combo of all on top of a delicious burger is an experience like none other.
The crazy concoctions make this place unique but the already delicious burger doesn’t really need them. Either way, you won’t be let down by the burger.