It’s National Burger Month! NYC’s Best Veggie & Meat Burgers

May is National Burger Month: a full 31 days of dedication to the juicy, ketchup-and-onion-topped, charred, and dripping beast that is The Burger. And all across this fine city, you can find burgers in all kinds of varieties – quinoa–filled, topped with bacon and sauerkraut, served with a knife stabbed through it – but are they all quality? No. No, they are not. But fortunately, we’ve found The Best Burgers In NYC for the vegetarians and carnivores in all of us.

The Veggie Burger and Cheeseburger from Westville: This homey, like-your-mother’s-kitchen spot across downtown Manhattan has found the sweet spot in burgers, serving a veggie burger that’s one of the only veggie burgers the carnivores will eat (and finish). Topped with sautéed mushrooms, avocado, and a tartar sauce, the veggie burger has a fritter texture that’s reminiscent of a handful of fries. And the cheeseburger? It’s thick, simple and, like the veggie burger, served on a sweet Portuguese bun.

The Bistro Burger from Corner Bistro: This legendary, classic spot on a cobblestone corner of the West Village still stands as the king of The No-Frills Burger. Their signature Bistro Burger is 8oz of meat topped with a slab of American cheese and crispy strips of greasy bacon, sandwiched between a white, fluffy bun. At just $8.75, it is the last-standing delicious and cheap burger, and at evening hours, the rustic, wooden, dive spot is packed. Enjoy the wait.

The Veggie Burger and Original 5 Napkin Burger from 5 Napkin BurgerWhen you just need a massive, dripping piece of animal between your fingers, 5 Napkin’s Original burger is the thing; 10 oz. of fresh ground beef, topped with a creamy gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and their famous, sweet rosemary aioli, all stuffed between a white roll. And the veggie burger is stuffed with fresh veggies – black beans,  brown rice, carrots, beets, and jalapeños between a multigrain bun topped with a tartar sauce tang. Alternate between burgers each week this month. 

The Double ShackBurger from Shake Shack: Two slabs of all-natural Angus beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, grease, and the secret, beloved ShakeSauce make this one of the city’s most dependable burger spots and the ultimate hangover cure. 

The Cheeseburger from Burger Joint at Le Parker Merdien: This hidden, tiny, brick oasis inside the fancy lobby of the Parker Meridien shocks with its blue-collar diner-feel and its diner, greasy burger topped with lettuce, raw onions, and ketchup. It’s simplicity as its most delicious – and will keep you full for 6+ hours. 

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NYC’s Top Five Rainy Day Meals

Rainy days are a study in extremes. One day, you’re craving the comfort of a piping hot bowl of something buttery and cheesy, and the next, you’re seeking the cleansing refreshment of a vegetable juice and lentil salad. We humans are a complex bunch. In honor of the gloom outside, I’ve pulled together NYC’s top five rainy day meals. From heavenly to healthy, these dishes can warm even the most trodden spirit. Or at least distract you momentarily.

1.     A Burger and Bowl of Chili from Corner Bistro: Cozy yet boisterous NY institution. $8 cheese-bacon Bistro Burger. Robust chili.

2.     Mac & Cheese from Westville: Baked and crusty outside. Hot and gooey inside. Smoked bacon optional.

3.     The Classic Pork Noodle Ramen Soup from Ippudo. Moderately healthy. Sesame mushrooms. Thick, long noodles.

4.     Seitan in a Spicy Citrus Sauce from gobo. Arrives sizzling. Borderline healthy. Tastes like chicken.

5.     Homemade Bucatini Pasta with Crispy Garlic and Olive Oil from Bevacco. Heavenly. Coarse, fresh noodles. Toasted garlic. NY’s best.

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BlackBook & Nerve Dating: The First Date (Photo Slideshow Inside)

When two media publications — with some of the hottest and trendiest readers — hookup, you know something good is bound to happen. And last Saturday night, it did. BlackBook and Nerve Dating sent two people — who have never meet in-person before and have only communicated via Nerve’s dating site – out on a date to three venues of our choice. These spots are consistently lauded by BlackBook readers and are popular check-ins on Nerve Dating:  Westville for dinner, Sweet Revenge for dessert, and Smalls Jazz Club for late-night grooves. After the date, each wrote their own candid account of how it went. 

May we introduce: Mike and Raydene’s first date.

Mike’s Testimony:

Mike

Though I’m still a novice in the world of online dating, I’ve tested out many of the usual suspects: Match, OkCupid, DateMySchool, etc. There are several things that I like about Nerve Dating over these competitors. In fact, I prefer Nerve so much that I have deleted my accounts from these other sites. My favorite part about it? Nerve offers many different ways to strike up a conversation with someone, and see if you have any connection. Rather than randomly “wink” at someone with a cute picture or message someone blindly, you’re bound to find something that spurs an interaction.

Raydene and I both arrived to Westville at exactly the same time – fashionably late. She was all smiles from the first moment and I could tell that this was going to be a fun night. The waitress seated us and we proceeded to chat and joke for about 15-20 minutes, promising our server each time she approached that we would definitely look at our menus immediately. Our server was amazingly patient with us and super friendly. We split the delicious smoky mac and cheese as an appetizer, and for an entree I had the grilled cheese with bacon and tomato on a Portuguese bun (don’t judge). It’s a good thing that Raydene and I were getting along so well by the time the entrees came out because there was definitely no way to eat that thing gracefully.

Raydene was wonderful company throughout dinner and I think we both fed into each other’s goofiness as we made more and more ridiculous jokes and poked fun at just about everything around us. However, in between jokes we did manage to get out a lot of genuine thoughts and stories about our pasts and backgrounds. I, for one, had a lot of fun.
 
After dinner, we finished our drinks and moved on to our next stop: Sweet Revenge. This place was the most bumping Saturday night dessert spot I’ve ever seen. We were seated at a nice table for two off to the side and away from the door. It was a perfect vantage point to observe and ponder the never-ending stream of people walking past us and further into the café. (We were convinced there was a clown car somewhere back there.) I’d never heard of Sweet Revenge, but apparently I was the only one. It’s a very chic and lively cupcake bistro with a unique offering of 8-10 cupcake types, along with suggested beer or wine pairings for each. I enjoyed the insane “Sweet Revenge” cupcake, which was a peanut butter-frosted cupcake with a rich chocolate ganache filling, paired with the suggested Malbec. We giggled our way through our drinks and cupcakes, and pulled Tom, our hysterical server, into our banter whenever it was possible to pull him away from his arguably more important duty of tending to his other 30 customers.  
 
After finishing our drinks and giving up on the last bites of our decadent cupcakes, we decided to continue our night with some live jazz. We headed to Smalls Jazz Club and scored a table off to the side, where we wound down over a nightcap and some soothing music. Eventually, the yawns won out and we decided to call it a night. It was definitely a fun time.  Would I pursue a second date with Miss Raydene?? Definitely!
 
Raydene’s Testimony:
 
Raydene
 
Nerve Dating and BlackBook helped create one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in NYC since my move here in May 2011. Mike and I met on Nerve Dating, a super hip, well-designed dating site that’s really more of a social space for strangers to interact and meet, you know, before meeting. He "Noticed me" and I thought he sounded pretty great from his "Last Night" updates about food, movies, music, books, random happenings – a seemingly great way to get to know someone, because Mike was totally the guy from his posts: intelligent, open, and hilarious!
 
Oh right, onto the date. Mike and I had dinner at Westville in the West Village – a really cute, cozy restaurant serving the most delicious comfort foods. I highly recommend the smoky mac and cheese… with bacon – is your mouth watering?! After cleaning our plates, we wandered a little farther south to Sweet Revenge for dessert. The experience was amazing – another adorable place, this one filled with happy cupcake-stuffed people. We made a new friend in Tom, our server for the evening, and had great conversation, and too many laughs to count, to accompany our deliciously sweet cupcakes and bubbly champagne. After persuading Tom to take a few pictures with us (which took all of one second — seriously cool guy), we headed up to Smalls Jazz Club for some amazing jazz in a really unpretentious, packed house with great drink prices.
 
The evening was really fun — my cheeks hurt from laughing so much. The venues were wonderful for a first date, or a fiftieth date, where we could get to know each other in a simultaneously intimate and casual setting. Mike and I got to enjoy amazing food and drinks at a few clearly well-loved places in the West Village!
 
Couple Together

NYC Try Outs: Kristina Marino’s Downtown Diaries

Steve Lewis has it right: these are the good ol’ days. They’re good because there’s something for everyone, and you can change your something on any given night. Take Kristina Marino. Her blog, The Downtown Diaries, chronicles all things nocturnal in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn—her own weekly imbiberies are chameleon-like, but they’re also true to herself. She likes a nice local bar where everyone knows her name, she takes chances with new parties, and she doesn’t judge a restaurant by its dress code. Here, her weekly spots to be scene and be sceney.

Name: Kristina Marino Professional Resume: I’m a jack of all trades but am best known for my blog, The Downtown Diaries, and the parties I throw. In my spare time, I’m the Digital Engagement Manager at Mirrorball, aka I get paid to Facebook, Twitter, and blog, all day, every day—be jealous. One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Sceney

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City Loves:Favorite lunch spot: Westville, Schillers, Miss Favela (Williamsburg). • Favorite dinner spot: Rye (Williamsburg), Fette Sau (Williamsburg), Gemma. • Favorite nightlife trend: Wearing whatever the F you want. • Drink of choice: Dark and Stormy’s. • Meal of choice: Any kind of seafood. I love the linguine and clams from Fiore—it’s cheap and delicious but more of a guilty pleasure. • Favorite group of people to bump into: Nicole Wasilewicz (Free Williamsburg), Katherine Kelly, Melissa Widhson, Caitlin Monahan (Darling Cait), Tommy Eichmann (Alexa Ray Joel), Mike Del Rio, Brittany Mendenhall (ChiChi212), Antwan Duncan (I Think You’re Swell), Victor Castro (Wet Paint Photography), Hannah Rad (Sheena Beaston, East Village Radio), the Finger on the Pulse twins, DJ MSB, and a bunch of people no one reading this has ever heard of.

City Gripes:Nightlife trend you loathe: Fake glasses, models, celebrity/socialite DJs, and Aalex Julian. Oh and ladies, if you are not wearing tights in the middle of winter, you need to get your act together. • Drink: Vodka Cranberry • Meal: Street Meat. Food Chains. Dos Caminos. Group of people to bump into: About 50% of the people I see out on a daily basis…New York City is one big incestuous small world.

Her Hotspots:  Honestly, as a blogger, it’s hard to have a hotspot—I am running around the city attending different events, shows, etc. The best part about living in NYC is the variety—it’s all about having options. Here are some basics. Monday: Jane Hotel Tuesday: Le Souk Harem is giving a solid effort. The Bowery, Avenue, Lit, Gallery Bar…I guess. Wednesday: FOTP BBQ Blowout at Good Co, RDV. Thursday: Il Bagatto, Goldbar. Friday: Above Allen, Dram. Saturday: Day & Night, Le Bain. Sunday: Thompson LES pool party, Jelly Pool Parties/ All Saints Pub, Goldbar.

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Every night: Le Bain, Kenmare, Godlbar, or anywhere local—I usually hang at The Commodore, Maracuja, or Spuyten Duyvil. Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Greenhouse, Marquee, SL, Kiss & Fly, Tenjune, Veranda, Above 14th St.

For special occasions: MILK Studios is a great event space.

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Brunch is usually: To eat, I like to stay local. There’s nothing better than brunch in Brooklyn. My friends and I wind up at Lodge more often than not. If I am going to “brunch” to dance on tables and get wasted, then Day & Night it is. 

Where Celebs Go Out: Ed Norton, Tim Blake Nelson, Steve Earle

At the Leaves of Grass premiere: 1. Ed Norton: “Blue Hill — anything at Blue Hill. I like this little joint in the East Village called Joe Doe.” 2. Steve Earle: “Babbo is every bit as good as it’s cracked up to be. And A.O.C. is a favorite of ours, which is a French restaurant on Bleecker Street. The duck confit at A.O.C. is the best in the city.”

3. Allison Moorer: “We’ve been doing this like go out to dinner a lot lately, so we won’t think about, ‘When is the baby going to come?’ So we went to Union Square Café last night, which is fantastic. I’m vegetarian. I had this incredible ricotta gnocchi, which I think is a regular item on the menu.We just went to Babbo Monday night, which is great. Our neighborhood is ridiculously good for food.” 4. Josh Pais: “One of my favorite restaurants is called Westville. It’s on West 10th Street, between Bleecker and West 4th. The guy, Jay, is the owner. He’s a good friend of mine. It’s like so well priced. They have the best burger in the city. I’m not kidding. I am not kidding. The food is so fresh. It’s a great place.” 5. Lucy DeVito: “I really like Gobo which is on Sixth Avenue. It’s a vegetarian place. I like Milos. It’s like uptown. It’s Greek food, really nice fish, and I love feta cheese and the fresh vegetables and everything. What else? Oh, Frankies. I live in Brooklyn, so I go to Frankies. It’s on Court Street, and it’s really good Italian food. It’s so good.” 6. Melanie Lynskey: “I really got obsessed with that restaurant, Quality Meats, on 58th Street. It’s super good. I only eat fish. I don’t eat meat, so I don’t know why I love it so much. They have this amazing halibut there, and they have this crazy thing which is like a brulee’d corn dish, which is the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten in your life.” 7. Tim Blake Nelson: “I like Nicola’s, and Medeo in L.A.”

At the Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off: 8. Jacques Pepin: “From the French Culinary Institute in New York, because it’s one of the greatest values, to Daniel’s new restaurant in Houston — I forget the name. The menu of the students at the French Culinary Institute is the best and quite inexpensive. Everything has to be fresh, morning and night. The morning crew and the night crew can’t use the same stock. We may have the best bread in New York — short of being in Paris, the best baguettes. Go there. They’ll give you one. DBGB has different sausage and peasant food — it’s a great spot. From this to the Union League Cafe in New Haven. I live in Connecticut. One of the best restaurants in Connecticut — that goes to Clam Castle in Madison, Connecticut, where you get the lobster roll — one of those joints on the road.”

Moises de la Renta: Fashion Scion Gone Solo

Moises de la Renta could very well be a reality television icon by now. With Fashion God Oscar de la Renta as his father and a velvet rope lifestyle, he certainly fits the I-wish-I-was-him credentials. But Moises opted for a real (and respected) career in design/photography. And if his recently launched, painfully hip website for his bad ass womenswear fashion line MDLR is any indication, his career choice was wise. We met up to chit-chat for what I thought was drinks at the Thompson Hotel, but to my surprise, I was greeted by the man about town in a room full of models getting ready for their close-ups in an MDLR photo shoot featured on Whatswear.com. It was all lights, cameras, and action, mixed with plenty of cigarettes, blaring background noise of the sub-par performances of MJ’s classics from the previously aired BET Awards, sexy leather biker jackets complete with gilded MDLR zippers — and, in true rock star form, an Iggy Pop vs. David Bowie debate.

Let’s cut right to the chase. Why should people care about MDLR? I want to bring something a little different to the table. My aspiration is to show people almost a beautiful and glorious gloom — that it’s OK to be melancholy. I want to speak for the lady in the corner of the club, you know what I mean? She’s just chilling, doing her thing.

I’m going to need you to specify on the type of club girl though — not a Marquee girl, I hope. You’ve ever been to the Roxy in 1985? That type of girl.

What inspired you to start the line? The situation here is that, you know, it’s about having fun … creating. That’s all it is for me. What got me into this was really advertising, looking at old Jil Sander ads and stuff, and just looking through the magazines — that’s kind of what got me into photography. Inadvertently what made me get into fashion was that it was a way I could do photography. But it’s cool for me … it’s just a way I can create a world.

The newly launched MDLR website has a music section. What does music have to do with your collection? Music is definitely my inspiration — rock ‘n’ roll. The reason I came here to New York was listening to all that old time jazz — Iggy Pop and Patti Smith and all of that. It was good stuff when I thought that was how New York was gonna be … and it’s not. It’s a bunch of posers.

So is that why you chose DJ/model/musician/all things It-Girl Lissy Trullie to model for your look book? You know, Lissy Trullie to me — especially with her album, Self-Taught Learner, check that out, that’s good stuff. It’s exactly that — self-taught learner. That’s our generation. It’s just about doing your thing, going out there, not being scared, bringing something to the table. And just being you. That’s it, man.

MDLR captures the vibe from the youth of old downtown New York. Is New York an inspiration for you? New York is a young city. It’s always about the youth. This is where it all began. This is the city of liberation and freedom — creative freedom. I want to represent the independent woman — she’s cool, she’s chilling, doing her own thing, having a good time. She may go out on her own. She doesn’t need her girlfriends, she doesn’t need her guy to pay for the bill. She’s just an independent, modern woman just doing her thing.

But more geared to the pretty faces rocking vintage concert tees in the smokey basement of Lit than Sex and the City, right? Rock ‘n’ roll is a big part of my life. I just woke up and listening to Green Day’s Dookie, just a side note … But anyhow, it’s definitely for the girl who likes to have fun, for the girl who feels like a rock star even though she may not be. My clothes are just about having fun and being comfortable with oneself.

Speaking of a pre-Giuliani New York, what do you miss about it? New York used to be about coming together. It didn’t matter about how much money you had. I think there’s a little more of a commercialism. Obviously we do live in a time that is somewhat dictated by money, but at the end of the day, I think on the flip side of the recession is that it brought people together — it brought creative people together, and a lot more people are willing to collaborate. It’s more about just creating good things, man. It’s not really about the commercial appeal of making money, because there’s not really any money out there. So people just wanna have fun and have a good time, so I think that’s great.

So where do you party nowadays? I miss Beatrice … we want it to come back, but I don’t think it will. Jane’s cool … I’ve been hanging out a lot there. Chloe’s alright. Avenue is a cool little bar.

I’ve seen you prep it up and get all vintage rock star. How would you describe your personal style? Lots of black and jeans. I don’t know … comfortable American I suppose. I just like to be comfortable, so for me that means a nice pair of 511 skinny worn-in black jeans — it doesn’t really depend on my mood. Most of the time I’m wearing the same thing. I have five black jeans and who knows how many black tees.

Where do you shop? I like vintage stores. I like Tokio7, Barneys. I like What Goes Around Comes Around. And I like Jeffrey’s.

What Goes Around Comes Around and Jeffrey’s? That’s like saying you like Jessica Simpson and the Rolling Stones (which is totes cool in my book, by the way). (Laughing) No, Jeffrey’s is where I get my candles and all that Diptyque shit. Not clothing, but sometimes shoes.

Describe your perfect date. A bottle of red, St. Marks, some sushi. Maybe a film at the Angelika.

Favorite restaurant? Westville’s pretty cool. But I like to go to Cipriani’s. (laughing) Just joking. But I do like Da Silvano. I love it there … actually, I like Bar Pitti better — it’s lighter.

I’ve seen the Polaroids scattered all over your studio, and I know you enjoy shooting your interesting friends. What inspires your photography? Life and death. My favorite photographers are Annie Leibovitz, Bill Brandt and Irving Penn.

MDLR is a far cry from your father’s sophisticated feminine gowns. What does it take to be considered a rebel? I don’t really consider myself to be a rebel. But Stephen Hawking’s a rebel. Anyone who’s willing to challenge the current state of being is a rebel to me … anyone who stands up for change, stands up for others, for what’s right is a rebel.

So you’re a rebel in the making. Is there a fine line between making bold choices and trying too hard (a.k.a. a poser)? I hope one day I can change certain things about the fashion industry and maybe be a rebel myself. I don’t know, I just try and do my thing … that’s all. And hopefully, by staying true to myself, some changes will be made. And yes, there is always a fine line. If something’s not you, don’t rock it because the clothes pick the person, ya dig? So if you’re rocking an outfit that you don’t feel, you’re probably trying too hard and should throw on some jeans and a button down. Less is more anyway — simple is chic.

It’s your Fashion Week show. What music will you be playing, and who do you want front row center? I’d like Iggy Pop to be playing. They’re both great but Bowie bit a lot from Iggy when he first came to America and was trying to be all “raw” and “rock ‘n’ roll.” Iggy Pop is fucking raw power man, and Zombie Birdhouse is one of the best and most underrated albums ever, but so was Bowie’s Low. But Iggy still tops it in my book. It’d be cool and kind of a diss to be playing Iggy but have Bowie in the front row.