There are worse places you could hole up during this ridiculous spring freeze than a giant beer bar in Crown Heights—that'd be Berg'n—especially now that you can get a taste of some of that sweet, sweet summertime meat (and potatoes) with a Rippers-style cheeseburger (and fries) at the hall's newest stall, El Meat Hook.
Maybe you didn't know that Rippers of Rockaway, slingers of one of NYC's best burgers, was co-owned by Brent Young of the excellent Williamsburg butcher and sandwich-maker The Meat Hook. This was actually news to me when I stopped by their newest venture at Berg'n for a quick feast last week.
El Meat Hook is described as a pop-up, but there's no firm end date, and with a menu this appealing—basically it's Rippers meets San Diego burrito stand—the concept seems likely to stick around in some form or another for some time to come.
El Cheeseburger is one of the anchors here, a dense, medium-sized patty that stands up nicely to the hot peppers, gooey salty cheese, and pickled veggies above and below. A side of fries is a must no matter what you're getting, because these are some of the best in the city right now, well seasoned and cooked to fluffy/crispy perfection.
A Veggie Burger is also on hand if that's the way you roll—possibly relevant: the one at Rippers is great—as well El Hipi Turkey Sandwich (with sprouts, of course) and a BLTorta.
The Burrito is straight slamming, crammed with Meat Hook's own chorizo (funky, spicy), seasoned rice, stringy queso Oaxaca, and fistfuls of those excellent fries.
El Meat Hook takes on Nachos are thick, crunchy chips laden with a lively refried beans mix but no melted queso (just a sprinkling of cotija), so you have to be down for that, which we definitely were because how often to get to eat really good bean dip? Not often enough.
There are a couple of salad options here, neither one of which would be described as "light." The formidably-dressed Kale-Fornia, for example, is loaded with chewy quinoa, various pickled treats, at least half an avocado, and a sprinkling of pepitas and cojita. There's a fun-sounding Taco Salad as well.
El Meat Hook is located within Berg'n Beer Hall at 899 Bergen Street, between Franklin and Classon. Berg'n is open on Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. "'til late"; on weekends it opens at 10:00 a.m. Closed Monday. (bergn.com)