This Famous NYC Burger Was One Of Anthony Bourdain's Favorites

Anthony Bourdain was a walking Rolodex of wisdom in countless arenas, but two of the most prolific sections read "food" and "New York City." When the chef-slash-writer was tramping around the city he called home, a good burger was very often on his mind — and for the best burger in the city, no place else would do but Minetta Tavern.

In an episode of his perhaps most-unknown show "The Layover," Bourdain hit up his all-time favorite NYC burger joints, and Minetta Tavern sat at the top of the list. "If you're willing to wait on line or you want the best of the best," said Bourdain, Minetta is the way to go. As Bourdain noted years earlier in an episode of "A Cook's Tour," the burger is the ultimate bar snack if no other reason for utility: "I don't want cutlery. I want to be able to hold my food in one hand and a beer in the other." So, what makes the burger at Minetta so special? "The best — if priciest — burger in New York City, it's probably the famous Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern. A special blend made just for them by Meat Master General of New York, Pat LaFrieda," he explained. Pat LaFrieda is the go-to butcher of Chef Michael Symon and makes custom blends for such iconic and varied restaurants from Shake Shack to DANIEL and Per Se. Here's why folks were lining out the door for it (and still are).

Minetta Tavern brings the meat

The Black Label Burger is a combination of dry-aged ribeye, brisket, and skirt steak — dare we say, the bar burger to end all bar burgers. Plus, there's something that makes a burger taste especially good after your third or fourth round. (It's science.) Still, one Black Label Burger will set you back a whopping $38. Sticker shocked? It also comes with caramelized onions and pomme frites. It's perhaps less shocking considering the other elevated fare on Minetta's menu, like salmon tartare and roasted bone marrow. 

Minetta Tavern has been a Greenwich Village haunt since 1937, the stomping grounds of such prolific figures as Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway, E. E. Cummings, and Eugene O'Neill. Inside, Minetta Tavern itself is as much a bar as a French restaurant dripping with "old New York" charm. It's fittingly surrounded by similarly inspiring neighborhood fixtures like Caffe Reggio, Papaya Dog, Blue Note Jazz Club, and Joe's Pizza. The décor is vintage French mixed with New York sleaze: checkered floors, mirrored and wood-paneled walls, red leather booths, and white tablecloth tables to post up at if the bar isn't your thing, or if there isn't a free stool — which, by Bourdain's estimation, there probably won't be. In the episode, Bourdain recommended coming early or late in the day. But, whether you come early or late, ordering the Black Label Burger medium rare is the move. (As Bourdain noted, "It is, after all, your patriotic duty.")