Haute hamburgers don’t really do it for steve h. But give him a well-made basic burger in a setting with character and he’s one happy hound. steve shares some of his regular stops and sets the scenes, too:

• Corner Bistro, midafternoon: “Sit at the corner window with the dinky countertop and modest picture window (the steam pipes run under the counter and keep you warm, the picture window keeps you entertained). The burger is good, the beers are cold.”

• Molly’s, late afternoon: “Sawdust on the floor, Guinness on tap, very good burger. Sub the onion rings for the fries. Maybe order the onion soup if it’s a really cold day. Bring an appetite.”

• P.J. Clarke’s, late afternoon but before the office workers get off: “Hang out at the bar, make friends with the barkeep. Share the onion loaf with your burgers. The men’s room cabin in the bar area has the most interesting urinals in the city.”

• Blue Smoke, at the bar: “Before there was Shake Shack, Danny Meyer had Blue Smoke. The Blue Smoke burger is a thing of beauty and could very well be the prototype (albeit larger) for SS.”

• Spotted Pig, after 2 p.m.: “Some love the burger here, others don’t. I like it a lot. … Beers are good, the herbed string fries are addictive.”

Corner Bistro [West Village]
331 W. Fourth Street (at Jane Street), Manhattan

Molly’s [Gramercy]
287 Third Avenue (between E. 22nd and 23rd streets), Manhattan

P.J. Clarke’s [Midtown East]
915 Third Avenue (at E. 55th Street), Manhattan

Blue Smoke [Gramercy]
116 E. 27th Street (between Park and Lexington avenues), Manhattan

Spotted Pig [West Village]
314 W. 11th Street (at Greenwich Street), Manhattan


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