Burgers are one of those foods, like grungy plastic cheese fries or gooey burritos, that exist on my backburner. I'll be intrigued but never, ever order them, unless I fucking deserve it. Shitty day, body reaching too high of a quinoa count, so drunken hungry that I'm contemplating order the full halal cart's menu, that sort of thing.
So, yesterday, when I dragged my blobby torso through not one but two back-to-back exercise classes only to have long-awaited gorgefest plans at The Nomad fall through, I needed something big. Something big, and horrible for me and fatty and way too expensive. (Stuffing one's self on foie gras-lined chicken when your pants don't fit required some serious exertion, and I'd be damned if that caloric void didn't get filled.)
Naturally, the tippy-top of that burgery list popped back into my meat-devoid head, and we settled into a super-late dinner at the perennially-on-my-to-eat-at-list Minetta Tavern.
If you want to chow after 9pm without a reservation, it's only about a half hour wait depending on how much of a local you appear to be. The Pistachio De La Rosa, a nut-rimmed margarita would itself make the wait a pleasant one, if only the bar wasn't jammed with tourists shoveling in dinner under the misguided assumption that all New Yorkers eat in such terribly cramped spaces.
And, the burger. Here's the thing: it's not so much a burger as it is a phenomenal steak on a bun. I clearly had no trouble devouring it, but it's like a yacht competing in a sailboat race — something doesn't feel categorically correct. Granted, I will say the supreme quality of the Black Label burger's LaFrieda blend and its aging process justifies the kill-yourself price tag of $26. But picking between that and a gooey, hot Shake Shack buggah? Like comparing apples and pineapples — they sound similar, but couldn't possibly be more different.
Also, big ups to our waitress, who told us to skip the mussels since "they get sent back all the time" and pass on the foie gras since it's less than stellar. Honesty is always the best policy...unless you're commenting on being able to see the veins through my translucent vampire-y skin.
For those too lazy to read...
Where: Minetta Tavern, home of New York's priciest burger and former stomping ground of tons of old famous folks.
Recommended: Yeah, but it'll always be there, so don't rush.
How to do it: From the looks of it, specials are the way to go. Order an appetizer (I vote bone marrow, which I haven't had but will be be returning for), and split the Black Label Burger and one of that day's entrees.
A Heads Up: Even in booths, seating can get a little tight. Never bring your parents — unless you want to hear "back in my day, burgers were 75 cents!" all night long — and don't go with anyone you hate, unless they're footing the bill. (In that case, keep the maple sazerac's comin!)