Midtown's Burger Joint has been a destination dining experience for tourists and New Yorkers alike for nearly two decades. Beloved as much for its first-rate burgers as for its dive-bar vibe and incongruous setting, the speakeasy-style restaurant is hidden behind a curtain in the lobby of a fancy hotel on West 56th Street.

It closed when the pandemic hit (outdoor seating is not an option), and then remained shuttered after indoor dining returned because the hotel itself was undergoing a big renovation, as the Parker became the Thompson Central Park.

But when it all finally reopened on November 1st, Burger Joint miraculously emerged from the rubble exactly as it was before — treated as sacred ground even as everything around it was spiffed up by the new owners.

"We wanted to keep it like this," the food and beverage manager Mohammad Ouedraogo told Gothamist on Saturday. "Our customers like it the way it is."

Much of the staff is the same too. "We love them," Ouedraogo said. "Some of them have been at the hotel for 25 years. We don't like to break up a winning team."

To get inside, you still make a left down an unmarked hallway just past the hotel's check-in desk, a neon burger beckoning you to the "secret" entrance. The wood-panel and white-brick walls are still covered in the same graffiti, as are the movie posters, stickers and the stiff-backed wooden booths.

No matter how many times I've turned the corner into this room, it still blows me away how cool it is that this place exists. It totally doesn't belong here, and it's increasingly tough to find anywhere in the city that feels like this anymore.

Equally important, the menu and prices are the same as they were in March of 2020. If you hadn't been in a while, pre-pandemic, they added a plant-based Beyond Burger a few months before the shutdown, so vegans aren't left out anymore. And I don't remember toppings like Spicy Slaw or Chili Crisp being available on my last visit, nor those Sweet Potato Fries or that Oreo Milkshake. No matter, there's still basically only one thing to get here, and the kitchen knows how to do it well.

Cheeseburger ($9.87) with French Fries, not all of which are pictured here  ($5.74)

Cheeseburger ($9.87) with French Fries, not all of which are pictured here ($5.74)

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Cheeseburger ($9.87) with French Fries, not all of which are pictured here ($5.74)
Scott Lynch / Gothamist

The Cheeseburger, which you can get as double but has plenty of heft as a single, is cooked to order — in my case, medium rare, but you do you — and should be ordered with "the works:" lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, mustard and ketchup, which all kind of blend into a special sauce. It's meaty, juicy, and the simple Arnold white bread bun does its job just fine.

The French Fries, served in a brown bag, are slightly soggy, plenty salty and delicious. And don't miss the dessert: A huge gooey Brownie with a side of vanilla ice cream, both drizzled in chocolate sauce and daubed with strawberry syrup. So sweet, simple, and satisfying. Really, it's all perfect — just totally hits the spot.

Interior of Burger Joint

Go left, right before the curtain

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Go left, right before the curtain
Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Burger Joint is located in the lobby of the Thompson Central Park New York Hotel, at 119 West 56th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, and is currently open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily (212-708-7414; burgerjoint.com)