Minetta Tavern
Wally Gobetz/Flickr

The Minetta Tavern Black Label Burger has become an icon for burger fans the world over. Made from a proprietary blend of Pat LaFrieda beef that includes NY strip, skirt steak, brisket and dry aged ribeye – the same ribeye that’s on the menu for $90 by the way – it’s a burger that is decadent and delicious, worth every penny and screaming for a great drink to accompany it. Normally you’d enjoy the burger after securing a reservation at this restaurant that feels straight out of old New York, but that reservation can be hard to come by. You’re better off grabbing a seat at the bar, and you’ll be glad you did.

Operating on a first-come, first-serve policy, the bartenders at Minetta Tavern run the show when it comes to who sits next on one of the stools at the imposing wood bar. Taking up a large portion of the restaurant, the bar is a great place to take in all the action of the space. If you happen to get there before others are waiting for a seat, go ahead and sidle on up. If instead, there happens to be a wait, mill about in the area behind the stools where others are waiting and the bartenders will notice you. Have faith that they know who sits next when a seat opens up and don’t continue to clamor to be seen or lean over the people who are currently sitting at the bar and enjoying their meals – act like you’ve been here before. You’ll also get on the bartender’s good side if you also order a drink before you actually are seated – you’re there to drink and eat anyways, right, so might as well get started.

While a beer normally feels like the appropriate call when it comes to a burger, what you really want here is a cocktail or glass of wine. In the cocktail department, go with a classic like a Martini, an Old Fashioned or a Negroni. The team behind the bar knows what they’re doing and will mix any of these concoctions to your liking. They also posses a great selection of Bourbons and whiskeys, perfect for drinking straight while you devour the burger. If wine is more your thing, Minetta offers great options by the glass – we recommend a glass of the Cru Beaujolais or a richer Bordeaux. The by-the-glass prices are fair, given your surroundings, but if you plan to have more than one drink, definitely get a bottle instead.

The Minetta Tavern Black Label Burger
Jason Lam/Flickr

Part of the charm of dining at the bar at Minetta is not that you were able to snag a seat at the last minute, when a bunch of these other people in the restaurant had to plan ahead and get a reservation, it’s the ability to actually converse with the people who work there. The people behind the bar are professional bartenders, they love their craft and everything that goes along with it, which includes chatting with you. Get in conversation with them and you’re likely to learn a thing or two, plus you may wind up being offered a taste or two of something delicious.

When the burger finally arrives, it’s a thing of beauty, rich and meaty and covered only with caramelized onions on a bun that was baked specifically for this burger, you’ll be amazed by its simplicity. Accompanied by some of the best fries you’ll ever have, it’s the perfect meal for enjoying along with a great drink at one of the best restaurant bars in the country.