AHT pal and burger expert George Motz, the creator of the documentary film Hamburger America as well as a book of the same name, has earned his stripes. He's the host of Travel Channel's Burger Land (the two-episode pilot is on the air now) and director of the NYC and Chicago Food Film Festivals. We consider his word pretty much gospel. After all, he eats at least three burgers a week.
But when we asked the Park Slope resident to name his top five hamburgers in the borough, he got a little cagey. "Make sure you say these are just my current favorites, and in no specific order!" he insisted. "I'm not a critic." He loves the direction the Brooklyn burgerscape has taken recently, saying that even five years ago things were looking pretty grim, but today, restaurants devoted to burgers, and burgers alone, are changing the scene.
In his own words, here are George's current top five favorite burgers in Brooklyn, in no specific order.
Lot 2 in Park Slope does a kick-ass burger. I'm not sure what they're doing over there—they only have one burger on the menu, but it's phenomenal. It's a cheddar cheeseburger with a pretty thick, grass-fed patty cooked on a skillet. It's so juicy, it literally squirts all over you. It's really hard to cook grass fed. To make it taste great, you need more fat, and you need someone who knows how to cook it. I give them major props for taking grass fed beef and making it taste like a standard, corn-finished burger.
687 6th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11215 (map); 718-499-5623; lot2restaurant.com
The signature hamburger at 67 Burger has crispy bits of bacon, blue cheese, and onions. My wife, who is a former longtime vegetarian, calls it the "porno burger." I took her to get that burger, and she said, "This is too good, I can't finish it." Who thinks like that? She won't ever have another, because she's afraid of ruining that moment.
67 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11217 (map); 718-797-7150; 67burger.com
Bark is right around the corner from me. They used to do a pork fat burger, but they've changed it so it's now an all-beef, grass fed burger. The owner, Josh Sharkey, purchases a whole cow, so they can control the content of the burger. It's one of the only real sustainable burgers in New York City; the sourcing is so direct, it almost seems unreal. It's straight beef, and it's great. I do the Bark cheeseburger with cheddar, but if I could get it with American cheese, I'd be a really happy man.
474 Bergen Street, Brooklyn NY 11217 (map); 718-789-1939; barkhotdogs.com
A great new place is Two 8 Two. They get their meat from Paisano's, right down the street. They make a great green chile cheeseburger. They do it the right way: They get fresh Hatch green chiles from New Mexico. Not a lot of people are doing this; most places cheap out and use Anaheims mixed with garlic to make a sauce. A true green chile cheeseburger is just Hatch chiles that have been roasted, then stewed in water. It's one of the most perfect hamburger toppings. These guys understand that, and they don't have it on the menu every day, only when it's in season. Their standard cheeseburger is off the hook too. I get it with grilled onions.
282 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11201 (map); 718-596-2282; two8twoburger.com
Blue Collar is a new place that opened up a few months ago. They keep it very simple with their smashed burgers—fresh-ground beef pressed on a griddle—on toasted potato buns. It feels like a West Coast burger stand burger, smashed thin and cooked fast, with a great griddle crunch. (They have a double, but I think it's too big. I'd rather get two singles than one double.) It's the closest thing to a true American hamburger. The beauty is that you can walk out the door in five minutes with hot food to go. I went with my kids and we scarfed our food down in ten minutes. That's one of the classic things about that hamburger experience: immediate satisfaction. (Another note: They have great fries.)
160 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn NY 11211 (map); 347-725-3837; yelp.com/biz/blue-collar-brooklyn