the spot: Emmett’s NYC 50 MacDougal New York NY 10012
the eats: Char Cheddar Burger w/ fries or salad
the bucks: $23
the full nelson: a Chicago deep dish pizza joint nestled in Manhattan with an in your face burger
My last stop of my NYC Burger tour took me to Emmett’s NYC: a Chicago inspired eatery in the West Village. Oddly enough my burger trip featured not one but two pizza joints that happened to serve burgers. One might ask “why get a burger at a pizza place?”. A fair question, and here is a reasonable answer: New Yorker’s love good burgers and why miss an opportunity to cement your name as an NYC Burger destination?
It could have been the fact that I was flying out of Newark that afternoon but despite grabbing a seat at a near empty restaurant, the wait for the burger was significant. At the end of the day it didn’t matter but you should know this going in. It might have to do what some would consider the main draw at Emmett’s NYC: deep dish pizza. Despite being smack dab in the West Village, this menu is Chicago through and through with the famous loaded hot dogs and even an Italian beef. Those handheld favs might not back up the kitchen but apparently making deep dish pizza can.
Emmett’s NYC has three burgers to choose from: The Burger, Char Cheddar and the Blues Burger. Each one features an 8 oz patty made of famous meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda’s signature blend of Angus chuck, brisket and short rib. The bun comes from Turano Bakery, a Chi-Town import. “The Burger” is about as basic as it sounds: pickles, onion, and Dijonaise, with cheese as an add on. “The Blues Burger” features a blue cheese stuffed patty with caramelized onions. “The Char Cheddar” is the most Chicago burger of the bunch and reflects owner and Chicago expat Emmett Burke’s mission to bring the flavors of his hometown to New York.
Taking cues from a Chicago style hot dog(minus the ketchup), the Char Cheddar’s toppings drive the burger experience. This juicy burger drips with an aggressive toppings flavor profile. The double hit of acidity from the relish and sport peppers also adds sweetness and heat, respectively. Mustard and the sharp cheddar spread double down on the tang along with the given layer of fat from any cheese topping. Then there is caramelized onion to help bolster the umami of the beef. Finally they add ketchup, which I rarely have in tandem with mustard on burgers. If anything ketchup can be a sweet distraction but that speaks to this burger bite that’s driven to be unapologetic. All together it is a series of toppings I could not have conceived of, but I’m also not from Chicago.
Off the heels of an overcooked burger at Emily, Emmett’s allowed me to leave New York with a smile on my face. Dating back 20 years to my first burger at Corner Bistro, I will forever link the Gotham burger experience with a perfectly cooked medium rare burger, which Emmett’s perfectly delivered. The toppings combo of the Char Cheddar was a new experience as well, one that I might not crave often but like a Blue cheese burger, could certainly take one every now and then.
It’s got me wondering about a similar burger experience in Chicago, where the inspiration came from in the first place. That will take some digging. Until then, I’ll have to find my Chicago style burger fix in New York City.