Joy Burger Bar | 1567 Lexington Ave. (at 100th St.), Manhattan | 212.289.6222 | on MenuPages
I HAD ACTUALLY posted a Facebook status update asking my friends to recommend a decent Cuban place, hopefully close to my apartment. But not getting a consensus soon enough (I’ve since been convinced to try a place called Milanes Spanish Restaurant), I randomly thought I would just order delivery.
Unfortunately, my favorite place to order delivery from, located in East Harlem on 110th Street and Lexington Avenue, didn’t doesn’t deliver below 86th, making me two blocks “out of zone”. (I’ve only been fortunate enough to enjoy delivery from Joy Burger in the company of my friend, Danny, whose apartment and bar are both on 86th Street.)
So, keeping my promise to get out of the apartment at least once a day (I work from home), I figured it would be a worthwhile quick trip to check out the place myself, jumping on the uptown—for once!—6 trown and taking it 3 quick stops to 103rd Street, and walking the 3 blocks to 110th.
It is a kitschy space, yet complete devoid quaint cutsiness or hipster irony. The decor, a throwback to the national diners of yore, with old-timey signs, and some impressive memorabilia from Coca-Cola.
The kitchen, near the back, was clean and well kept, as the crew—dressed again in form garage-style uniforms with contrasting baseball caps, all worn backwards—prepped for upcoming lunch service. As their menu and wall-mounted board inform, the burgers are available in three different sizes (weights): the Munch, which is 3 0z., the Midi, 5 oz, and the Maxi, an appetizing 8 oz. The burgers are made from freshly ground beef, and are never frozen. The are loosely hand-formed into patties, as was my 8 oz. patty, which I ordered with lettuce and onions, and spicy mango chutney, one of their many special, housemade sauces, such as sweet chili, chimichuri. garlic mayo and pesto. (You can order extra toppings such as avocado, Portobello mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes—sorry, no bacon.)
I ordered mine medium rare, and watched them grill it over an open flame, while the toast the rolls and then prepped not just my sandwich, but some other sandwiches for delivery as well. I added a side of hand-cut, skin on, seasoned french fries, and a chocolate milkshake to complete my nostalgic “diner” experience, and within a few sweet-smelling minutes, my burger was served.
To me, this is burger perfection. The meat is notpre-salted; it gets salted right before grilling to help maintain the integrity of the inside meat while helping the exterior achieve a slight crisp to it. The cool lettuce and onions had great “snap”, and the spicy-sweet mango chutney woke up the rest of the tongue to better enjoy every bite.
The fries are excellent, although need to be eaten before they cool too much, and the milkshake was rich, thick, yummy, and definitely brain freeze-worthy. And all of it was satisfyingly filling—I couldn’t finish anything else beside the burger, the priority item. And, so, in these seasons of “Best Burger” warfares, I will officially go on the record as stating that Joy Burger is the burger of my greatest preference. More so than Shake Shack or Bill’s (and, sorry Minetta Tavern, but a $26 burger vould never be my favorite, no matter how excellent), these Joy burgers possess the most and best of the qualities I enjoy in the everyman sandwich.
So much so, I might even volunteer to stand on the corner of 86th Street in the freezing cold—risking the steely-eyed suspicions of passerby—waiting for my next delivery…!
Bun Apple Tea!