Battle of the Burgers
Written by Sylvie Krekow
We know you’ve been waiting a long time for Bwog to finally weigh in on the “newcomer.” But really, the question of the best burger in Morningside is so much more complex than a petty squabble between Five Guys and Mel’s. Thus, we’ve taken our time to really get our shit together. Burgers are complicated. They need context. Our own Ladies who Lunch (read: none of this “vegetarian” bullshit), Sylvie Krekow, Lily Icangelo, and Katheryn Thayer delved into depths of Morningside’s Burger circuit, chomping their way through serious pattyage (aided by not insignificant amounts of liquid courage) to bring you this comprehensive guide.
|Criterion||Five Guys||The Heights||Mels||M2M||Tom’s|
|Quality of Burger||A-||A-||B||B||F|
|Gettin’ Your Drank On||N/A||A||B||N/A||N/A|
The Heights: This $9 burger is well worth braving the notorious bouncer Anna for, especially if you’re saving on the happy hour $4 margaritas. It was remarked of their classic burger “this could have just come off a barbecue at a friend’s house.” It’s a good honest option: the meat is juicy, the cheese is real, the bun is toasted, and Grey Poupon is on the table. The Heights burger was our hands-down meaty thickness winner, and, for the classic burger lover, a clear win.
Mels: You burger aficionado, you! If you’re the type who will wait 45 minutes for a $12 burger cooked to order with premium ingredients, well, we have to question why you are drinking at Mel’s, but this is your spot for a drunken burger. We sampled “The Broadway”, a spicy, smokey masterpiece, served on rye with jalepenos and top-notch bacon. The meatiness was decent (a little on the dry side), but the intensity of the bacon undeniably offset any disappointment in the beef department. The problem with this burger, aside from price and wait time, is that it doesn’t satisfy that primal burger urge—just look at that miserable excuse for a bun. Overall, the burger disappointed. It was in no way greasy, and being strict adherents to the “classic burger” school of drunken burger analysis, reviewers had little to say besides, “was there cheese?” There was, but most likely not enough for any one’s satisfaction.
M2M: The fastest, cheapest one around. The burgers seem to be pre-prepared and you are hustled through a production line of workers, who let you choose toppings Subway sandwich-style. The meat is bizarrely chewy and the cheese is standard, but for a simple burger fix, there is nothing wrong with M2M. There is a downside to using this for your drunken burger destination: the store layout and pace of ordering can be baffling.
Five Guys: This new addition to the neighborhood adds a welcome level of sophistication to the burger decision. Though it is unfortunately one of those evil restaurants that posts calories on the menu (does an 800 calorie burger freak you out?) that will hardly matter when you take your first bite. The meat is standard, though enhanced by double patties, but the genius of this burger lies in the sauteed, juicy and pleasantly greasy mushrooms and onions that come with a standard order. The burger falls apart as you eat it, delectably oozing out from all sides and dripping onto your hands. One burger expert exclaimed, “My mouth just had an orgasm,” although it was not deemed a “perfect burger.”
Tom’s: Never go here for burgers. You already knew that, but this burger is by far the worst in Morningside Heights. Aside from the fact that the menu has as many rules and fees as a credit card contract ($4.00 to split a plate? $6.00 per person minimums?) not even your drunkest friend will want to finish this. Its patty is cardboardy and all its “juiciness” is grease—the joys of globules of liquid fat must always be rounded off with flavorful meat juice; the cheese is plastic-y; the bun is squishy and bland; and even when you order the “special” with toppings, all you get is a pickle. Seriously. You know better, don’t eat here.
Five Guys has by far the best quality/efficiency trade off. If you’re a purist, just in it for the burger, then the instant gratification makes this location a no brainer. By all other standards, however, you really want to be at The Heights, not Mel’s. Mel’s is pricier, slower, less tasty and more pretentious. M2M and Tom’s are really only places of late-night necessity, although The Heights is open for dinner until 11:30 pm Thursday to Saturday, while the bar stays open til 3 am or later.