NYC Food Trucks: If It's a Burgermergency, Maybe Head to Go Burger
Location varies; check twitter.com/goburger for latest updates; e2hospitality.com/go-burger-truck
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Everything's there but the beef, which is small in quantity and notably non-beefy
Want Fries with That? Coated shoestrings are unremarkable, onion rings and sweet potato fries fare better
Price: Go2, $6; +$1 for cheese; BLT $7.50; fries, $3; sweet potato fries $4; vidalia onion rings $5
New York editor Max Falkowitz has adopted a simple but pretty interesting philosophy when it comes to burger doneness: "if you order your burger rare, the worst case scenario is that they overcook it and you get the doneness you wanted in the first place...or you get a rare burger, which is also a good thing." I recently tested out this theory at BLT's Go Burger Truck . It was a success; I just wish the hamburger had been, too.
Damon reviewed Go Burger's LA location about a year ago and had a pretty positive reaction, especially to the Steakhouse burger (which doesn't exist on the truck). Kenji, in a 2010 roundup, was less impressed by the NYC outpost. I decided to visit the truck because AHT leaves no burger bun unturned.
As I've said before, black angus is so ubiquitous that it means little to my palate. Such is the case at Go, which uses "100% Black Angus" in its thin patties. At no more than 1/4-pound, the patties don't lend themselves particularly well to any doneness besides medium. Yet these burgers can come out somewhat rare, at the sacrifice of crust on the patty.
The first burger I picked up was the Go2 ($6). It's
hard not to compare it immediately to Shake Shack's ShackBurger considering it looks so similar—although unlike the ShackBurger, the Go2 comes with red onion and lacks special sauce. Physically, the burger was near perfect—cooked medium rare with a somewhat coarse grind and not-too-compressed meat. On the other hand, the flavor was lacking. Perhaps it was a seasoning issue, or maybe it was the doneness, but my burger was distinctly non-beefy. Rather, it had a weak bovine aroma and taste—it was more like meat disc than hamburger, but at least it was pink in the middle. There wasn't much salt or crust to speak of, which probably also explains the lack of beefiness in the sandwich. The bun is the same as Shake Shack's, too: a Martin's potato roll lightly toasted on the griddle.
The BLT burger ($7.50) fared a bit better with the help of Go Sauce (typical orange burger spread), American cheese, fresh lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, and perfectly crispy double smoked bacon. In fact, the state of the toppings reminded me a lot of Shake Shack—not fancy but clearly of high quality. Ultimately, however, the BLT burger ends up tasting like a meatless burger. All the familiar textures and flavors are there, except the most important element of all: beefiness.
Turkey burgers almost always suck, and BLT's is no exception. It's hardly worth mentioning except that it exists, it costs $6, and I wouldn't feed it to a starving puppy. The turkey is dry and gritty, despite tasting like a bland, herb, bread and egg-infused meatloaf. Herb mayo and red onions try to mask the abominable turkey, but they end up adding to the catastrophe. There is nothing good to say about this burger except that it comes on a Martin's roll, seriously.
If there's one realm where Go Burger succeeds, it's in the sides. The skinny fries ($3) are crunchy and salty, although the battered outside suggests that Go Burger isn't interested in learning how to fry like pros. Sweet potato fries ($4) are better—at this point I'm convinced that almost all restaurants use Ore-Ida frozen guys and that's all we've come to expect when we hear "sweet potato fry." The Vidalia onion rings, while slightly less satisfying than the sweet potatoes, were the biggest surprise of the bunch. I could actually discern the sweetness from the Vidalia onions, which separates these rings from yellow onion-based recipes.
I can't give an unqualified recommendation of this truck—there are far too many issues, namely its fear of assertive beef. Still, if I worked in the Tribeca/Soho area, I might stop by here when a burger craving hits. In all honesty these burgers aren't bad—rather, Kenji said it best when he claimed, "These would have been fine five years ago." Subject to lowered expectations for meat quality, these burgers might have even been excellent. Yet, in this day and age, where you can get one of the best burger blends in the city for a few bucks at Shake Shack, Go Burger's meat just won't cut it.
About the author: Sam is an intern, college student, food TV enthusiast and, like Jiro, he dreams of sushi.