Best Burger in Town








This article was originally written and published by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke on January 16, 2012

     Yes Boys and girls, we’ve got a Steak’n Shake. In new York that is. Not that very many of you have ever been yearning or heard of it. The popular Mid-West Burger (Not Steaks) and Shake Joint. Well I guess they must be thousands of native Mid-Westerners living in New York who’ve been dying for one, I’m sure at least 98% of New Yorker’s ever heard of these guys. Until I saw them featured on a Food Show once, I’d never heard of them.

     Anyway, they opened on Broadway and 53rd Street the other day. Went up there today to check them out.  Was checking out SeriousEats Burgers when I saw the piece and was reminded of them. Since I was just about to finish up my ritualistic Sunday Morning Coffee at Once Upon a Tarte and was thinking about what I was going to do for lunch, here it was. I’d jump on the 1 Train and take it up to 50th Street and try me one of those Steak’n Shake Burgers. A Original Double’n Fires to be exact, as I read in the SeriousEats piece that this was one the thing to get, and for just $3.99, a nice Double Patty Cheeseburger with Lettuce Tomato and onions, along with some Hand-Cut Fries. Got a Coke to go with that. I’ll try a Shake on the next visit, along with their other signature Burger the 6 oz. Organic Beef Burger with Fries.

    So I get to the Steak’n Shake and I’m happy to see there is no line, and not crowded. Just 1 customer ahead of me. I get to the counter and am greater by a tall Pretty Girl. Wonder if she’s a Mid-Westerner? Well, she sure is pretty, and friendly to boot. I order my “Original” Double’n Fries and a Coke, and it comes to just a little over 6 Bucks. Not too bad for a Double Cheesebuger with Fies and a Coca-Cola to boot. And how will it taste. They say they’re good. I believe them, and I’ll find out soon enough. My buzzer lites up and vibrates, signaling that my order is ready. I get it.

     Pull it out of the bag. It looks pretty good. Guess what? It is, pretty Dam Good that is. I like it. Not the best in the World, but very good. The Fries are excellent, Fresh, Crispy, seasoned properly, cooked just right. Yummm, I love em. And as for the comparison to my own top, New York’s Best Burger (my Opinion and personal preference), it’s the other Shake in the name Burger Joint that for me is new York’s Best, and that’s Shake Shack. Well, Shake Shack’s # 1 Spot is intact. That’s my top spot. Hold on now, stop your yelling and screaming. That’s my own personal preference. I’m not saying they are the Best in New York, though for me they are the Best, and give me a minute and I’ll tell you why. I know some will say Minetta’s Black Label Burger get’s the Top Nod (I like the Minetta Burger BETTER), some might say The Luger Burger at Peter Luger is Best and I love this one as well, New York’s Best Burgers are many, but although I love the Burgers at Peter Luger, Minetta Tavern, The Spotted Pig, even The Corner Bistro now and then, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I really like McDonalds now and then. Yes I do. Hey i have the Balls to admit, they’re actually better than many a “So-Called” renowned Burger of much higher prices and supposed High-Quality and Goodness. “Not!”

    Now as to why I choose The Shake Shack Cheeseburger as New York’s Best, # 1, First Prize, Champ, and I know I’m gonna get flack, hey this is my personal choice. But I’ll tell you one thing about Me and Burgers, and this is fact. I know a hell of a lot more than most about this great American Invention. For one, I’m a food professional and former Chef. I have not recently jumped on the Burger Bandwagon in the past few years or so. I’ve been eating these bad boys for forty years and along with Sunday Sauce and Cannolis, I was weened on these things. My Dad took us to Diners Hot-Dog and Burger Joints all over the North East Coast of the United States chopping on Cheeseburgers and Dogs all along the way.

     Now, let me tell you what, without question thee Best Burgers around are 4-6 ounce Patty’s 1/2 to 3/4 inch think, no more, can be less. Big Fat-Ass 8, 9, 10 ounce Burgers are over done and plain just don’t taste as good as a ones made of 4-6 ounce patties and no thicker then 3/4 of an inch. Also, they must “Cook in Their Own Fat” on a Flat-Top Grill, not a grated grill that lets the fat get lost and creates hard unappetizing grill marks. These Burgers that are usually about 4-5 ounce (can be 6) and that are cooked in their own fat on a Flat-Top Grill and served on a soft either Sesame Seed or Potato Bun, or regular seedless soft bun with White or Yellow American Cheese are tops and these kind of Burgers are known as  Diner Burgers. Forget those Thick-Ass 12 and 12 oz. burgers cooked medium-rare. They are too thick and too much rare ground beef just doesn’t taste good, and especially if the meat is Dry Aged Ground Beef. Do you know what Dry Aged Beef is Actually? It’s meat that is slowly under control deteriorating, and this kind of meat just doesn’t taste good in ground form cooked rare or medium rare. Thick Burgers that are under cooked, do not have near the great taste of thinner burgers cooked through or close to thoroughly cooked at medium-well. Reason being that thinner burgers have a high ration of browned-meat to the whole total some of meat, and this is where the great flavor comes in, the two outside sides of a burgers patty that is browned, 90% of the flavor is here, and the thicker the burger the smaller the good  ratio of browned meat to not-browned is, thus making for a less tasty burger, a half inch  to 3/4 of an inch is best for the Tastiest Burger possible. These are just facts people, not opinions. This is the reason why a Shake Shack Burger taste better than a Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern. For what a Burger is (Ground Beef) and for the BEST way to cook it for Best Tastiest results, the burger should not be too thick, and it should be cooked on a Flat Top Grill to at least Medium or Medium-Well, not rare or medium rare. So there you have it, The Shake Shack Burger is the Best in Town, and the TASTIEST BURGERS all across America are these types of Burgers, about 4-5 ounces, not too thick and cooked on a flat top grill. Basta.

   Oh, what about the burgers at Steak’n Shake. Well, they get high marks. They are very tasty, good quality beef, cooked on a flat top grill. Get em.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke





photo Copyright Daniel Bellino-Zwicke



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RECIPE for The IN-N-OUT Double Double



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RECIPE for The IN-N-OUT Double Double






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photo Copyright Daniel Bellino-Zwicke





Minetta Tavern, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

“Yes,” Minetta Tavern’s Second-Tier Burger, The “Minetta Burger” is without question thee “Better Burger” served at Minetta Tavern. Noted Foodie, Writer (The Hamburger) Burger Authority Josh Ozersky would disagree. Well, Mr. Ozersky is entitled to his opinion, as well as I and Thousands of others and the majority who like the Minetta Burger better than the now Highly Touted Minetta Tavern Black Label Burger, who some feel is the top burger in New York, even the World some say.

So, I’m wondering if some say the Minetta Black Label Burger is New York’s Best and even the World’s, does that make The Minetta Burger, according to myself and the majority of those polled, “New York’s” even the World’s Best Burger. “Not quite.”
This is a very subjective matter and one of personal taste. I can see why Mr. Ozersky loves the Minetta Tavern Black Label Burger so much, proclaiming it New York’s Top Burger and I believe he “May” said it is The Best in The World, but I’m not absolutely sure, so don’t quote me on that. Yes it is a Good Burger, and if you feel it is Great, than Yes it is Great to You and Everyone else who says it is Great. As for me, without question the “Minetta Burger” is Better, “Hell, It’s Tastier” and that’s all that counts isn’t it. And I’ll tell you why it’s tastier.
First off, the Blend and Quality of meat in the Minetta Burger is “Better for a Burger.” Note that I don’t say that the meat is just better, but better for making a Burger. Why? Well, Dry-Age Meat with it’s powerful gamey taste is not the best taste for Ground-Meat and a Hamburger. Fresher Meat that has not been aged, is much Better for a Burger, an it Taste a Hell of a Lot Better than ground dry-aged beef which did you Know that in it’s aging process is actually deteriorating? Some people like that taste. Fine. I do not, especially in ground meat and in my Burger. I’d much rather have my ground meat for a Burger Fresh.
And did you know that the Ground Meat Blend from Pat La Frieda for the Minetta Burger is a Blend of Prime Beef Short Rib, Beef Brisket, and Beef Clod, and this blend was La Frieda’s “Premium Blend” before he came up with the Black Label Blend which is Dry-Aged Rib Steak, and cost a lot more, thus the more Expensive Price of Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger at $26.00 for the Cheaper and Superior $17.00 “Minetta Burger.”
Just because something is more Expensive, does not make it better, and the Minetta Burger vs The Black Label Burger is a Classic example of more Expensive not being better than cheaper.
Why? Well, because of our current state of a bad economy, New York Steak Houses, Restaurants, and Meat Purveyors such as Pat La Frieda and others found that expensive cuts of Beef like Prime Sirloin Steaks and Prime Dry Aged Rib Steaks were not selling as well as they used to. Expensive, people have less money. Put 2-And-2-Together. So, these meat purveyors found themselves not selling as much as the High-Ticket Cuts. What to do? Well, as a result of a Bad Economy and Boggers Loving Burgers for there Affordability and Blogability, Burgers have become Insanely Popular in the past four years or so. Pat La Frieda has a great idea, make and Market Ground High-End Cuts of Dry-Aged Beef, give it a Fancy name, “Black Label,” and the rest is part of Hamburger History.
As for me, I’ll take the Better Tasting Burger that just so happens to be substantially cheaper to boot, the Minetta Burger.
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
Sadly since this posting Josh Ozersky passed away … Josh was greatly loved by Foodies and Gourmands everywhere, but nowhere more than from his home-town fellow New Yorkers who called Josh our own .. Josh had a wonderful down-to-earth everymans look at the World of Food and dining out, and as a food-writer Josh had no equal with his special brand of food-writing and reporting that was uniquely Josh Ozersky. You’ve sadly passed Josh, but you’d be happy to know your great food jounalism is till remembered and much loved, as are you.




SPAM BACON and Taylor Ham !!!!





A Couple Million Hawaiians Can’t Be Wrong !



Pork and Why do I Love all Products Made from it So! Spareribs are the “Best,” Bacon, Sausages, Pork Chops, Ham, Spam, McRibs, and? Yes I Love them all so! And Why? Why? What else? They’re Tasty! It’s Tasty! Pork and all things made from it. I Pity Vegetarians and Others who do not eat it, Pork, Ham, and Spam.

Robin Raisfeld in her story “Trendlet: It’s Baloney,” this week in New York spark my interest when I say the big beautiful picture of a slice of tasty Mortadella, “King of All Baloneys.”
As I read farther into the article, I was so happy to see a picture of a gorgeous “Taylor Ham and Egg Sandwich.” And it immediately brought out the in Jerseyite in me. As anyone who grew up or ever lived in New Jersey, they’ll tell you of their Love of “Taylor Ham,” the unofficial “State Meat.” Taylor Ham? Why? Well, first off, Taylor Ham was invented in Trenton New Jersey. It’s super tasty. Jerseyites and former ones (like Me) Love it, and you can only get it in New Jersey. More or less. Why? I don’t know. Can Jerseyites be smarter than New Yorkers who have never caught on to this wonderful Pork product from the Garden State. After moving to New York some 26 years ago, besides from missing my family, my only other regret of leaving New Jersey, is missing and yearning for my beloved Taylor Ham. You just can’t get it in the Big City. Well, hardly ever. Do New Yorkers not like it? Is it reserved for Jerseyites only? Don’t know! All I know is I miss it inside a Taylor Ham and Egg Sandwich or on my breakfast plate accompanying a couple fried eggs.
Reading the article and be reminded of my “Long Lost Love,” Taylor Ham, I’m also painfully reminded of another recent dumping by a Loved one. That being my beloved “McRib.” How I Love it so! After a brief Love Affair with her, way back in 1989. She disappeared! Why? I do not know. And for some 21 years. And then one lovely day last year. It was in October, what day I do not know. She reappeared. Back into my life once again. And the Love Affair was on again. On my part like it never ended. I Loved, as much and more than ever. Forgiving her and not think of the long cruel Separation brought on by her. She had deserted me. But I didn’t care. We got together more than 20 times this passed October, November, and was it a few days into December? I do not know. Once again, my beloved McRib disappeared. Into a dark December night. Why? I do not know? I only know that however long it may take. I’l wait. Just please my Love, do not make it another 21 years. My beloved McRib.

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
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