The Great American Hamburger Mystery (Plus 5 Best Hamburger Joints in NYC)

If you use ketchup, you're a garbage person.

How many times have you felt the embers of that burning, perennial question: Who invented the hamburger?

If the answer is "never," then you haven't educated yourself about one of the most torrid controversies in United States history! The mystery has nearly unraveled congress, even! Just kidding. While the origin of the bread and patty combo is disputed–with some historians recounting German immigrants bringing the burger to New York City in the 1870s and others claiming that it originated in New Haven, Connecticut–the Library of Congress has firmly taken a side. In 2016, they declared the New Haven diner Louis' Lunch as the birthplace of the hamburger. The not-very-interesting legend is that in 1900 Louis Lassen invented the burger in his lunch truck when a customer needed a fast meal to-go.

See? We told you it wasn't that interesting. But in the tradition of great American cholesterol and fast, filling meals, we still honor a good burger when we taste one. Here are some of the best NYC has to offer, regardless of whether or not the burger was invented here:

(Also in the name of tradition, don't ever ask for ketchup on your burger; if you do that at Louis' Lunch then you are a trash person).

Burger and Barrel

Beloved for their Bash Burger, in particular, Burger and Barrel offers upscale pub fare. What's so great about the award-winning Bash Burger? It features caramelized onion and bacon jam, along with pickles, onions, and secret sauce combined with American cheese.

Butcher Bar

This Astoria gem only serves meat from locally sourced, 100% grass-fed and feed-lot free animals, which are raised without hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products. As per their website: "At Butcher Bar our mission is to connect our customers to the source of their food – small scale, sustainable local farms that are committed to producing natural, humanely raised, high quality and distinctive meat products. Our goal is to educate our customers to a growing movement of health conscious eating and sustainable farming practices."


You can still enjoy the American classic if you're gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. At Bareburger, they offer meat alternatives but keep the savory experience the same. As they say on their website, "So all you carnivorous, veggie-heads, and gluten-haters come hang at our place and let us serve you all the local, organic, & sustainable burgers, shakes, salads, fries, and sides your earth-loving mouths can handle."

Bond St. Cafe

For classy cafe fare, there's Bond St. Cafe in Gowanus, Brooklyn. They teamed up with the adored Brooklyn pizzeria Lucali to create the holy experience of the Lucali Burger. Thrillist calls it one of NYC's best: "The Lucali Burger's double patties are made with a blend of brisket and short rib from local butcher Paisanos and is served with melted American cheese, onions, pickles, mustard, and ketchup between a seeded roll."

Shake Shack

WHAT?! Literally, what? Yes, they've grown into a cult-followed chain, but over-rated or not they're still delicious and native to NYC.


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