February 22 2010
I hate being stuck in Midtown Manhattan between meetings at lunchtime, as there’s nothing but tourist-clogged canteens and generic global chains. So I always hole up in the same place, a grungy dive tucked behind heavy red curtains in the lobby of the Parker Meridien hotel (look for the lunchtime queue snaking round the lobby).
The burger joint – it doesn’t have a name, but that’s what everyone calls it – opened in 2002, replacing a generic hotel bar; but it doesn’t look just eight years old. It reminds me of a divey, decades-old diner in Venice Beach or Bethnal Green. Everything about the place suggests that it’s been patty-flipping for decades: the graffiti-spattered walls and rickety booths, the grubby, annotated posters and grease-spattered hand-written signs.
But I don’t just love it for its décor. The burgers here are the best in town: I opt for a cheeseburger (46 cents extra over the regular $6.89), medium-rare, with the works – I think the secret to the taste is its killer vinegary pickles. And the fact that the fries come in a paper bag, ready to spill over the table, is throwbackish and casual – the perfect antidote to the antiseptic offices around me. And if it’s a Friday, I admit it: I sneak a $5 glass of Sam Adams too.
Open Sun-Thurs 11am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12am.