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Mel’s Burger Bar: Try It, You’ll Like It

Photo courtesy Mel's Burger Bar

Morningside has food niches vacated and sort-of filled every few years. AmCaf, beloved steak sandwich locale in the early aughts, became a fancy tapas bar that no one you know eats at. The fabled West End became mediocre Havana Central, a shadow of its former Kerouac-hosting, drunk-makeout-and-beer-pong-haven self. You could get full and drunk for less than $20, and sometimes much less, and that’s all we really ask for (until Mom and Dad visit– then it’s beet bowls for everyone!)

Bwog ate dinner at Mel’s Burger Bar last night, and we’re delighted to report that you can indeed get full from good food and drunk on good beer for not very much money.

Mel’s looks great. The floors are black-and-white marbled, there’s lots of wood paneling, hanging lamps, red booths, exposed brick, huge chalkboards with beer, food and dessert menus, and six flat-screen TVs showing the Yankee game. The hostess and server were friendly, and the bathrooms spacious and unisex– ooh la! There are 140 seats, with 18 chairs on an outdoor patio.

Bwog and our dining companion sampled two of Mel’s punches ($8-9): the Hook, which was a not-too-sweet alcoholic orange juice, and the Haymaker, which was Grey Goose, Bacardi, and some other stuff that got us properly tipsy. There’s also a promising-looking “unusual lemonade” with homemade lemonade, Jim Beam, and mint for $8, and a slew of other mixed drinks that aren’t as embarassing to order as a vodka cranberry.

There are 18 beers on tap ($4-8), 5 cans from PBR ($4) to 21st Amendment Back in Black ($8), and 10 bottles ($5-10). The Southampton White Beer is delicious. The fancy drinks are expensive-ish but strong, the regular beers are roughly 1020-priced. A good way to get a lot of beer: order a 32 oz. or 64 oz. (!) growler to go, from $7-30. There are also stacks of burgers and wings to go.

The food is good. For sides, Bwog tried the onion strings, which were thin and crispy and very good, a generous portion of zucchini wedges which were thick and crispy and very good, filling and well-seasoned, and chicken meatballs, also very good, with lots of tomato sauce and some cheese. The meatballs and wedges were also both excellent for breakfast this morning. The Buffalo wings were not quite crispy enough, but spicy and appropriately messy.

The entrees were pretty good: the Classic Burger was modeled on the first ever hamburger at Louis’ Lunch (which you may have eaten, like Bwog did, after your college visit to Yale, disillusioned but oddly relieved by the experience) which was made with two pieces of white toast instead of a bun. Our bad for ordering a burger on white toast, since the bottom piece got soggy and the burger hard to eat sans bread. Burgers are on buns for a reason. The burger itself, made with Pat LaFrieda beef, was really good, and the soggy toast still made for good solo eating, soaked as it was with burger juice and herbs. The Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs did indeed fall off the bone, and were perfectly sauced, but lacked some crispiness we like with our ribs. Bwog and dining companion suspect that the 6 hr smoked brisket sandwich is the entree to order, along with a regular hamburger (which comes with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion). Report back if you try either.

Desserts were fantastic: the Red Velvet Whoopie Pie was two thick slices of red velvet cake with icing, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. The Mint Oreo milkshake, thick, with big pieces of Oreo from the extensive shake menu (you can get them spiked or regular) was, in the words of the dairy-enthusiast sitting across from us, “the best milkshake I’ve ever had in my life.”

Mel’s has a weekend brunch menu with $9 croissant french toast and pancakes, and two omelettes for $11 and $12. Mel’s is open until 2 AM Thursday through Saturday nights. There’s good soul music and classic rock, and would be good for dancing if tables in the front or back of the house were moved around, Campo-style. We recognized two bartenders from class (Major Debates discussion section <33) and Joyce Jackson, housing goddess, came in to peruse the menu. You’ll still want to bring your parents to Kitchenette or Deluxe, but we think Mel’s will be good for 1 PM brunch with booze, an 11 PM burger with booze, and onion strings and booze at 1 AM.

Mel’s officially opens for business tomorrow night at 5.

Ze menu

Food!

The classic burger

Beer!

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28 Comments

  • A fellow taster says:

    @A fellow taster Had a regular burger which was great (something about bearnaise sauce on a burger is just awesome). Sampled a bunch of appetizers (spinach dip, chili, salad) all of which were solid. Tried 3 beers, including the Kelso Nut (odd but tasty) and the Speakeasy which is now my Morningside Heights favorite. All of the Jim Bean drinks were quality and the Haymaker is the tastiest ass-kicker I’ve had in a while.

    No complaints — even the prices are reasonable (not cheap) for NYC. Worth going for sure!

  • ... says:

    @... speakeasy on tap and 21st amendment in the bottle. nice.

  • ew says:

    @ew Southampton white beers are for pussies, just like bwog

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Hey! I happen to like pussy!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Might be nice to include a street address and a cross street.

    1. How come my comments don't show? says:

      @How come my comments don't show? Here you go:

      http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Mel%27s+Burger+columbia+university

    2. Better yet says:

      @Better yet http://www.melsburgerbar.com/
      Which was the FIRST LINK in the article.

      1. Not quite says:

        @Not quite The person asked for a street address and a cross street. Your link doesn’t include the latter.

        2850 Broadway between 111th and 110th street RIGHT NEXT TO FRIEkeN KORONET Pizza for heaven’s frieken sake and across from Chipotle. God I love Chipotle.

        There I said it.

    3. if you dont know where says:

      @if you dont know where mels is then you really must spend all your time in a hole or studying…bwog assumes people actually walk 5 blocks downtown

  • mmmm hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm says:

    @mmmm hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm THIS is a TASTY BURGER!

    you guys ever try a Big Kahuna burger?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous My girlfriend’s a vegetarian.

      1. right on says:

        @right on for the the pulp fiction reference. right on.

  • it seems as if says:

    @it seems as if Bwog devoured everything on the menu. I’m still surprised they can miraculously recall how everything tasted after getting drunk.

  • ... says:

    @... M2M is fuuuuuuuuucked.

    1. whatever says:

      @whatever As long as M2M still has those tasty tasty tasty tempura fries I’ll keenomnomnomNOMNOM!

      also, not to be stickler, but the recaptcha things are getting absurd bwog. The spam bots must be learning.

  • not necessarily says:

    @not necessarily M2M is cheap and [sometimes] quick. Mel’s is a much classier place.

    1. m2m? quick? says:

      @m2m? quick? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • yay arean says:

    @yay arean people out here know about speakeasy? wow, that’s awesome – tiny fuckin brewery ~2700 miles from here in hunter’s point that’s basically just a glorified garage that happens to produce great beer.
    kudos to your wonderful/obscure beer knowledge

    1. yay arean says:

      @yay arean … that was in response to the speakeasy guy/girl obviously

    2. STAR STUDDED IN THE BUILDING says:

      @STAR STUDDED IN THE BUILDING FLAT LANDS, HP, frisco wat up
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFdvzrIggNw
      kirkwood and mendell on mines yadadadayee

  • Cynic says:

    @Cynic you guy are giving this place a lot of buzz, what are you getting in return?

  • woo woo says:

    @woo woo COOP STUDENTS ARE ON CAMPUS!!!

    let the fun of living vicariously through freshmen making bad decisions during NSOP week commence!!

  • oh hell no says:

    @oh hell no That’s NOT a Whoopie Pie. Wrong, wrong, wrong. you New Englanders know I’m right…

  • Harmony Hunter says:

    @Harmony Hunter how far is this place and/or any other place from Harmony?

  • Just went today says:

    @Just went today It was not bad. Get a spiked milkshake. You won’t regret it. Get a jug of alcohol and pay for the jug. You’ll feel like such a badass walking down the street with a FUCKING JUG of not shitty beer. Burgers need a little working out though. My party asked for medium, medium-well and well and we all got a slightly charred outside, completely pink inside.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I can feel my arteries hardening just by reading this article.

    That being said, it still sounds delicious.

  • Neighbor says:

    @Neighbor The burger was ok buy way overpriced $10 with no fries. The burger at Toast(broadway & 105) is much better, $10 and you get fries or salad.
    Don’t think mel’s will survive with these high prices, large student customer base around here.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Bad service for starters, which I don’t really care about. What bothered me was the very small burgers – the cheapest of which (without including the side of fries) starts at 8.50. Evidently not even made to order, because no one in our party was asked how we would like the burgers cooked.

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