Bay Ridge and Park Slope have long enjoyed Burger Bistro's inventive selection of burger meats and customizations and now East Siders can follow suit. The new outpost of this beloved burger spot recently opened on a nondescript block of 1st Avenue just north of 86th street and mirrors its predecessors in both size and lack of pretense. There's seating for about 35 in the narrow but uncluttered dining area. Your cool older cousin's playlist of late '70s/early '80s punk, '80s new age and '90s grunge pumps out over the sound system and painted windowpane art—created by owner John Agnello—decorate the walls. At dinner time, low-lights and votives make for a relaxed and romantic date spot, so long as you don't mind your date watching you go to town on a huge hamburger.

There are salads on the menu, sure, but you're not here for the diet food. The Buffalo Tater Tots find the crunchy potato bits smothered in spicy buffalo sauce, topped with bits of celery for added crunch and a sprinkling of blue cheese chunks. The blue cheese dressing on the side might have been overkill but that didn't mean we weren't greedily dipping the tots in there anyway. You might expect Deep Fried Corn on the Cob to be heavy and greasy, but the crunchy, juicy nibblets are enhanced by the cooking process and don't retain too much of the oil. Two glistening ears arrive at your table piping hot from the fryer; they're sweet, salty and have a nice smokey flavor courtesy of a restrained drizzle of chipotle mayo.

The fully customizable burger menu puts the meal firmly in the hands of the customer, something owner John feels particularly proud of. "Restaurants have gotten pretentious, telling you what you should eat. We're not about that." Choose from six different types of patties, then top with a variety of cheeses, veggies, meats, sauces and your choice of bread to make your own custom creation. At a media preview last week, we got our beef burger topped with cheddar cheese and can confirm that these guys know their way around a griddle. The 81/19 Angus blend patty comes perfectly seared on the outside to contain the ample juice within. The tender, slightly sweet brioche bun handled the burger runoff expertly without falling apart into a greasy mush. While the added side of jalapeno mayo was tasty to be sure, it could have used a bit more bite for this fire-seeking foodie.

Each week they'll offer a special burger, which they will announce on their Facebook page. You may recall the kangaroo burger from last spring plus offerings like the Donut Burger, The Veal Ossobuco Burger and the Turducken Burger. The tourists may clamor for the nearby Shake Shack but keep in mind: they don't post the calorie counts over here.

1663 First Avenue // 646-368-1134 // open daily for lunch and dinner, 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Burger Bistro Menu