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Battle of the Burgers

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.

The Scorecard

Criterion Five Guys The Heights Mels M2M Tom’s
Meat B+ A- B- C D
Quality of Burger A- A- B B F
Gettin’ Your Drank On N/A A B N/A N/A
Price A- B+ C A D
Speed A B+ D A D

Tasting Notes

The Heights

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

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.

The Takeaway

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.

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous most awesome place for burgers hands down= Strokos. yep Strokos. quick and cheap (4.90 tax included). great quality meat and its super quick.its also huge

  • Teddy Canyon says:

    @Teddy Canyon yo where’s Checkers on this list? That gets an A+ in every motherfuckin’ category.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous A second for the great burgers at Toast. They also have fantastic fries and my favorite beer, Blue Point Toasted Lager.

    1. bptl says:

      @bptl great beer.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Toast has the best burger in town – hands down.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Wait, so did Bwog pay for these people to go around tasting burgers?

    Can I haz free Cheezeburger from Bwog???

  • JJ5 says:

    @JJ5 But nothing is like an In-n-Out Burger……

    1. True says:

      @True …but Shake Shack comes close.

  • and says:

    @and who on earth goes to M2M for a burger??!

    1. CC'13 says:

      @CC'13 have you HAD their fries? GODDAMN

    2. CC'13 says:

      @CC'13 their fries were watching god

      1. Noos says:

        @Noos ROOOOOOFLLLLLL hahah nice one

      2. Bwog? says:

        @Bwog? Favorite? Please?

  • leaving out deluxe says:

    @leaving out deluxe = serious oversight

  • Campo says:

    @Campo burger is good too

  • Logic, Common sense, not a given. says:

    @Logic, Common sense, not a given. “CC14: LOL The hate that this post got, for NO reason. I love how everyone’s life changed drastically because of a faulty burger review.”

    @CC14: Your above comment demonstrates your “faulty” logic. You claim the post got hate for “NO” reason, yet in the next sentence called the review “faulty.”

    If you noticed, in the beginning, Bwog amped up its own damn self noting how HIGHLY ANTICIPATED this review was and how SERIOUS they took it.

    It’s ok, though– that’s why the Core has CC: to improve your ability to make claims using grossly flawed logic. Good luck.

  • Bwog doesn't know Columbia says:

    @Bwog doesn't know Columbia Burger Inc., while technically in “East Harlem”, is still a viable option, as they deliver via

    And how in the world do you leave out Hamilton Deli!? With its delivery, 24 hour service, ridiculous amount of customization, it is definitely a Columbia staple. And since you guys are so consumed with being cool, it’s also a prime post-intoxication spot, and also sells cigarettes and cigars (dutches). You guys should at least post an addendum noting the absence.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous bistro ten18 has a $12 beer, burger and fries. probably cheaper than all the rest for that combo + really good and a nice atmosphere.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous jjs place mmmmmm

  • Woo-hoo! says:

    @Woo-hoo! Five Guys is AMAZING, I’m so happy it’s in the neighborhood now. I’m just surprised there was not a shakes review- fries and shakes make the meal.

  • CC'14 says:

    @CC'14 LOL The hate that this post got, for NO reason. I love how everyone’s life changed drastically because of a faulty burger review.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous give it another year freshman, and you’ll see why

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Yo Hamdel has great burgers. The Mona Lisa is tasty as hell. Fries are substandard though

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous That’s why you ask for curly fries with your burger. They take longer, but are significantly better than the regular ones.

      1. Motherfuckin' says:

        @Motherfuckin' This’. Except today they gave me half regular and half curly fries and they hid the regular fries under the curly ones. I was pissed.

        1. Dude says:

          @Dude so sorry. That sucks

  • Go to... says:

    @Go to... Mel’s. Get the prime rib dip. Thank me later.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous When is the Holi festival?

    1. Claire says:

      @Claire It’s going to be celebrated here on Saturday.

      1. i love holi! says:

        @i love holi! make a post with the details! it’s supposed to rain saturday…

  • IM PISSED says:

    @IM PISSED stay the fuck off noco library computers if you’re not using science and engineering applications – there are tons of (empty) computer labs on campus, that dont have matlab, mathematica, r, latex, etc… but DO have microsoft word, internet, what ever else you need.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous or you could just go to mudd

      1. ... says:

        @... god the food at mudd has taken a turn for the worst this year…

        mac and cheese with tomato? seriously?

    2. Size Matters says:

      @Size Matters People love those big monitors. What bothers me most is people who decide to use two monitors. I just saw a guy in there doing that. Not necessary…

    3. ... says:

      @... oh. hahaha… yeah, columbia needs to get with the ’90s and put x-servers, x2go and freenx on all the public machines and setup a backend that doesn’t consist of 6 year old sparcs and mathematica/matlab from the era of phonebooks.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous yea this was a terrible survey they didn’t even compare the same burger at each place…plus Varelli has an amazing burger

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Le Monde has the best burger in the ‘hood, and kick ass fries too.

    1. um no. says:

      @um no. lies! especially when a medium rare burger is cooked well done!

    2. Agreed says:

      @Agreed I definitely had a bomb ass burger at le monde last week with brie and great friends… and how can you judge a burger place without the fries… that’s like 1/3 of the meal. We just shouldn’t look to Bwog for food reviews y’all…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous You can get your drink on at M2M. They carry beer.

  • guys says:

    @guys seriously, tom’s isn’t that bad. get ova yaselves

  • ... says:

    @... vareli has really good burgers.

    and well, you know, if a place like five guys costs $12 for a mere burger, fries and soda, going to vareli for lunch doesn’t seem so far fetched afterall…


    @ANTHONY BOURDAIN This survey blows.

    No ranking for customization points?

    No ranking for fries, which are a key component of a good burger?

    And why is “Gettin’ your drank on” part of a burger ranking?

    Tsk, tsk…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous fiveguys is overpriced

    you left out deluxe


  • Toast says:

    @Toast try them up near 125th. Very tasty.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The buns at deluxe are too big. Community burgers are great. M2M is not that fast and you forgot fortaga too.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous fortago went out of business

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous since last week when I ordered from there? O_O

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Deluxe burgers are tha bomb.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Hamdel?

  • Waitaminute says:

    @Waitaminute Havana has good burgers secretly. John Jay does not.

  • Since when says:

    @Since when is M2M fast?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I think this shows how awful the articles at Bwog are

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Did you order all the burgers cooked the same? What is Gettin’ Your Drank On? What happens with the rest of the burgers at Vareli or Deluxe? How do you evaluate a burger’s bun when you order one that comes with toast? Am I the only one that also thinks the table should have the restaurants as rows and the factors to be evaluated as columns?

      1. Excellent points says:

        @Excellent points Except ordering all of the meat to be “done” the same way, I think, would be highly inadvisable, given the spectrum of restaurants. Ain’t no burger like a medium rare burger. Unfortunately, Five Guys only cooks their burgers well done. Tom’s and M2M…for the brave, the foolish, the solid of stomach/immune system.

        Plus, Ladies who Lunch, there are three of you. Did you all individually taste the burgers at each of the five restaurants? No? Then, no excuses for not including Community Food, Deluxe, HamDel, Subsconscious, Toast, or Vareli. Let alone, Frites’n’Meats, a food truck which, until a freak accident, served up delicious burgers and perfect fries every Thursday…cheese from Murray’s, buns from Balthazar, wagyu or grass-fed beef. Red meat for journalistic integrity!

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous “every” thursday? i only recall them being here once. (which is too bad, because they were pretty good.)

          1. Above says:

            @Above Their usual spot was over on Amsterdam, and one fine Thor’s day they graced Broadway with their presence.

  • "top notch" bacon???? says:

    @"top notch" bacon???? at mel’s? that shit is so scrawny you could eat it for passover and it wouldn’t even count.

  • john says:

    @john judging mels on the broadway, a burger without a bun, seems counterproductive. judge them on the standard cheeseburger baby or california burger, as the house sauce iss awesome

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