Friday, August 27, 2010

Two New East Village Burgers with Bite

Two new burger joints have recently opened in the East Village. Black Market and Whitmans. Do we really need two more burger eateries? Sure, why not? Aren’t all carnivorous New Yorkers in search of the elusive best burger in town? These are worthy contenders. And strikingly similar on the surface. Both glass exteriors sport gold leaf signage. Both serve Pat LaFrieda beef (so do Minetta TavernShake Shack, The Spotted Pig). But Whitmans (nod to poet Walt) has a secret weapon...

This is Juicy Lucy
Meet the Juicy Lucy ($9). Lucy arrives alone on a plate. Thick and glistening beef short rib blend, fully dressed, but hiding a secret. Take one bite and you’re hit by a spurting explosion of flavor and hot gooey pimento cheese stuffed inside. Don’t ask if it’s good. How could it not be? Juicy Lucy is a burger star. Supporting cast includes an addictive, flash deep-fried ‘crack kale’ ($3), and crisp fries ($3).

The upstairs menu sticks to the basics: burgers, a free-range chicken sandwich ($9) and an intriguing sounding succotash Maide-Rite ($9). It’s tiny, homey and the kind of neighborhood place I love mid-week – humming with a friendly staff and chatty patrons. Whitmans just introduced a separate expanded menu for its newly opened downstairs dining room, including a blue cheese wedge salad ($4) and meat-hook sausage ($7) starter. Next time.

Black Market cheeseburger
Black Market is just plain sexy and a far cry from the former Pizza Shop. Located above 'secret' speakeasy Cabin Down Below (but no more direct access), it features dim lighting, dark leather banquettes and glass chandeliers. Oysters and burgers and a killer cocktail menu await. The staff is efficiently laid back. And while the burgers don’t have an exploding center, they are classic and delicious. The generous $11 cheeseburger is a bargain. You really can’t go wrong either way.

Whitmans on Urbanspoon

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