It’s a burger place! No it’s an upscale NY City lounge! Those were the thoughts we had as we entered this month’s BOTM night location. POP Burger is one of those places that is trying its very best to project a polished upscale image. Or at least half of one. When you enter the POP Burger on 9th Avenue just north of 14th Street (there is another location at 14 East 58th street just east of 5th Ave), you immediately feel the split personality of the place. On the left is a small, (somewhat) casual area with tables and a counter that you can order burgers from. On the right is an entrance to an upscale lounge. Did two people get together and say let’s go into business together and one said, ‘I want to open a burger joint’, and the other said ‘I want to open a lounge’, and presto: POP Burger? We don’t know, but for our 60th consecutive BOTM month we were at POP Burger to try their burger, not their lounge. That’s right! The POP Burger visit wraps up the BOTM’s 5th year of searching for the best and brightest of NY City’s Burgers.
POP Burger tries to extend the ‘hip’ atmosphere from the lounge into the burger side of the place but you still get the overwhelming split personality feeling. The counter wall displays all kinds of burger and food related words in various sizes. You can order the burgers in the lounge which come two for $12 during the day and two for $15 at night, or you can order at the counter and sit at one of the tables in that area.
From the counter, where the burgers come two for $6.75, (that’s right, almost half price at the counter right outside the lounge) we ordered our usual Bacon Cheeseburgers, which were not exactly sliders, but were more mini burgers. Each order of two burgers came packaged in nice little POP Burger Box (which must be part of the ‘hip’ theme they are going for). Fries were on the side with a can of soda. Our burgers were made fresh on a flat top griddle, but it seemed as though the fries had been sitting for a little while. Immediately the general opinion of the group was negative. The burger was boring, and lacking taste and it seemed ‘heavy’ for a mini-burger. The small buns worked well, and completed a nice looking picture. They burgers were generally cooked to a medium temperature (or past medium) and the overall effort seemed to be there, but the final product was lacking. Maybe the group was turned off by the atmosphere of trying to be an upscale burger location, but the rankings from the BOTM members were mostly in the lower echelon of our five year burger search. Out of the sixty places we have ranked, POP Burger came in at # 46, just barely putting it in the bottom (not BOTM) 20% of all the burgers we have ranked.
The idea of having the burger place attached to the lounge so the late night crown can order burgers or get them on the way out must be working for them but this is definatley not a burger we would recommend. If you want to make an evening out of it, (or even start your night out in a trendy place) and the burger is not your focal point, POP Burger might be for you, but if you are going for the burger, you would be smart to skip POP Burger.