Thursday, July 23, 2009

“Notable Burgers”, Part Two: 5 Napkin Burger

5 Napkin Burger
630 9th Ave (at 45th St)

After some rest and a long walk, Scott and I were ready for Part Two of our “Notable Burgers” expedition (read Part One here). We both asked for the Original 5 Napkin Burger and, on the waiter’s recommendation, we also ordered Deep Fried Pickles & Pastrami and Pork Taquitos. The Deep Fried Pickles and Pastrami are little fritters served on top of a pile of sauerkraut. The pickles aren’t as briny as I like them, and the sauerkraut is quite sweet from the wealth of onions - some caraway seeds or extra vinegar would help give it the extra bite that it needs, though.

The Taquitos capitalize on two current New York obsessions: mini-food and pork. They’re quite literally what their name implies - little tacos.

The pork in the Taquitos is tender and well seasoned, and also a little on the sweet side. They’re topped with fresh pico de gallo and served with sour cream, but it’s the taquito shell that really stands out - lightly fried and crispy, but with a little bit of doughy chew to it.

But now for the real reason to come here: the Original 5 Napkin Burger. Invented at Marseille, perfected at Nice Matin, and now working as full-time muse at 5 Napkin Burger, this is 10 ounces of ground chuck topped with caramelized onions, tons of melted Comté cheese and rosemary aioli, all topped with a lightly toasted brioche bun. It’s served with no additional condiments, just a side of french fries. And it is fantastic.

The Original 5 Napkin Burger - one review I read suggested eating the burger over the fries, so that you create your own “cheese fries”, complete with aioli and delicious burger drippings. This worked out well, but make sure to leave some fries to eat by themselves, too!

Unlike the burger at Five Guys, there is nothing refreshing about the Original Burger - lettuce and tomato would ruin it. The rosemary aioli has a mega-dose of garlic in it, and sounds like it would be overpowering, but it balances well with the caramelized onion. The only thing I don’t like about the Original Burger is that the bottom bun is already pretty well soaked as soon as you get it. You get over it quickly enough, though, mostly because you’re too busy trying to keep the delicious aioli-cheese-onion-grease combo from slipping down past your wrists.

The most remarkable part of this meal, however, came almost as an after-thought. On a whim, we ordered milkshakes for dessert, although mine was actually a “Dark and Stormy” float (dark rum, ginger beer, and rum raisin ice cream). The strawberry milkshake was unremarkable, but the S’more milkshake - wow! When you go to 5 Napkin Burger, you must have one of these - it’s incredibly thick and tastes exactly like campfire S’mores, especially with the burnt marshmallow on top.

The “S’more” milkshake - I don’t even like S’mores, and I was floored by how good this milkshake was!

We actually asked the waiter if the chef would be willing to give us the recipe for his S’more milkshake, and the waiter laughed and told us, “I’m sorry, but the chef would rather DIE than give out that recipe!” It’s so amazing, I feel inspired to make it at home anyway, so check back soon for a recipe to replicate the “S’more Milkshake”!

5 Napkin Burger stands on the opposite end of the spectrum from Five Guys, different in almost every manner but one - they respectively serve the best burgers I’ve ever had in New York.

**update** - on a recent re-visit to 5 Napkin Burger, Little Scarlet discovered that the S’more Milkshake recipe has been modified, and now includes chocolate. It’s still good, but unfortunately tastes less like campfire S’mores than it used to.


  1. Wow! The S'more milkshake looks to die for.

  2. great story. I wish i could try their burgers.

  3. "... the chef would rather DIE than give out that recipe!"

    Sounds like a challenge to me. Thanks for taking it on since, I can't try one myself!

  4. Wow! I'm not normally partial to hamburgers but I have to say this one really looks delicious...

  5. Interesting. Thank you for sharing. They all look delicious. Cheers !

  6. ohhh 5 napkin burger is on our places to review for top burgers as well. I'm glad to see that you had a great experience there!

  7. Have you tried the Shake Shack in Madison Park yet? My daughter (NYU grad) says it's great. I don't have the patience (or time) to wait in the always present line.

  8. I had the tuna burger there. I had read a review that said the wasabi mayo was a little overwhelming, so I asked for it on the side and had a wonderful meal.

  9. So me and one of my fellow Yankee friends have decided to go to 5 Napkin Burger over winter break, since she is ALWAYS in NYC and has never even HEARD of 5 Napkin Burger!!! I told her that THAT was unheard of!! In the meanwhile, this friday we are going to try and replicate the DARK & STORMY Milkshake, but use french vanilla ice cream...
    Can't wait and thanks for all the great ideas!!

  10. I recently checked in to 5 Napkin Burgers and wow! In the eyes of me, it lived up to it's hype. This was one serious burger. I couldn't finish the whole thing. So I took it home and enjoyed it the next day in my fine piece of upper east side manhattan real estate. Might I add that it was just as good the second day! 5 of 5 from this guy.