When discussing food in New Jersey, the usual suspects come up; pizza, bagels and Taylor ham. However, NJ has no shortage of legendary hamburgers to choose from. Whether it be places that pre-exist The Great Depression or new-school spots opening in the last decade, it is time Jersey’s service to hamburger excellence was recognized. These are some of the best versions of the American staple you can find in North Jersey.
Krug’s Tavern – Newark, NJ
Opening in March 1932, Krug’s Tavern just celebrated their 90th birthday. For nearly a century, Krug’s has been the spot in Newark, NJ for drinks, watching the game, and of course, their legendary burgers. A thick, freshly ground patty, seared on a flat-top and served on a soft, sesame laden bun, is a fair reminder that while there might be impersonators, there is only one original.
The Riverside Inn – Cranford, NJ
I don’t like to play favorites, but this is my favorite burger in Jersey (right now, at least). This classic Cranford dive bar dishes out the epitome of a no-frills burger. It’s not the most impressive offering in Jersey, but it’s consistently delicious, cheap and served in an unbeatable bar atmosphere. Riverside’s burger uses hand-formed beef and is griddled on a plancha, served simply on a Kaiser roll—I like to get mine with bacon and American cheesee. Paired with a cold PBR and a Jukebox blasting The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem, it’s basically the greatest handheld meal you could ask for.
Burgerstrasse – Clifton, NJ
In 2018, Burgerstrasse began dishing burgers out of their quaint shop in Clifton, NJ. Four years later, and it is the place to go in Passaic County for thin, smash-style patties. Freshly ground beef is placed on a scorching hot griddle before being smashed down to create the unctuously crispy and lacy texture that has become so desired within the burger world for the last half decade. Quality ingredients, cooked perfectly every time makes the Burgerstrasse motto— where it’s real— ring true.
Steve’s Burgers – Garfield, NJ
This roadside stand in Garfield, NJ was put on the map by their six-ounce chuck patties, and the array of toppings guests can choose to go with it. Owner, Steve Chrisomalis Jr. is constantly reinventing the wheel with his weekly burger creations, and it’s why Steve’s has garnered a cult following since opening just over 10 years ago. With three locations, and a demand for more, it is no surprise why Steve’s was named the 15th best burger in the country in 2019.
Summit House – Summit, NJ
When walking into the beautiful space that is Summit House, a burger might be the last thing you expect to enjoy as you watch dry-aged tomahawks and grand seafood towers fly right by you. However, Summit House—which we recently named one of New Jersey’s 25 best restaurants—serves what is essentially the platonic ideal of an upscale cheeseburger. For lunch only, diners can enjoy a hand-formed griddled patty topped with melted gruyere, mahogany-colored caramelized onions and a spread of truffle aioli. This luxury burger brings serious flavor to the party.
White Manna – Hackensack, NJ
This slight, roadside shack has been dishing out hamburger sliders for over six decades in Hackensack, NJ. The signature slider at White Manna is a freshly ground beef patty cooked with onions and cheese before being sandwiched in between a steamed Martin’s Potato Bun. It is a classic New Jersey institution, and was highly touted by New Jersey native, the late Anthony Bourdain in his show “No Reservations.”
White Mana – Jersey City, NJ
No, we didn’t accidentally list the same spot twice. In fact, White Mana in Jersey City, NJ is the original Jersey slider joint, and conversations about which spot is best has been the subject of stark debate for years. The truth is, both serve a remarkably similar product, in a remarkably similar atmosphere. That’s because although independently operated today, both were founded within weeks of each other in 1946 by Louis Bridges. One less “n” in the name was not intentional, and instead the result of an error when making the sign. This error stuck, and has served as a distinction between the two ever since.
The answer to “which is best?” can usually be answered by which site someone grew up on. So, try both, and decide for yourself who serves the best sliders in the state.
The Corner – Montclair, NJ
The corner offers a burger that is seriously good. Reminiscent of NYC’s best steakhouse burgers, The Corner sears a thick all-beef patty on a ripping hot plancha— allowing for a deeply rich, and crispy crust to form on the outside of the burger all while keeping the juices inside. Cheddar cheese, a brioche bun and shoestring french fries round out what is one of North Jersey’s most pleasant burger experiences.
Diesel and Duke – Multiple Locations
What is now a small empire of New Jersey burger shops, Diesel and Duke in Caldwell, Montclair, and Jersey City has been smashing and serving crave-worthy hamburgers to North Jersey for the better part of a decade. These thin patties are seared hot and complete with an ornate edge of crispy beef. Toppings are meant to shine at Diesel and Duke, with burgers like their Holypeño burger which features two freshly cooked beef patties, bacon, aged cheddar, jalapeño, caramelized onions, and spicy mayo.
Tierney’s Tavern – Montclair, NJ
Walking into Tierney’s is like walking into a time capsule. The old school decor and cold beers have kept Montclair patrons coming back since 1934, but the hamburgers are equally a reason to travel to this Jersey relic. A thick patty is seasoned and griddled to juicy transcendence before being bestowed upon a toasted bun with cheese making for a rendition of the classic that is unforgettable. This is a burger that brings you back to a simpler time— there’s no other way to put it. For regulars and aficionados alike, there is another burger at Tierney’s worth trying. The Buddy Burger is a burger named after the late great Edward ‘Buddy’ Tierney who passed earlier this year. This off-menu staple features the same classic burger that customers have grown to love, but is griddled with a heaping mound of thinly sliced onions on top. The onions melt into the meat and char on the outside, creating a flavorful and textural masterpiece. Buddy would make this burger for himself, but shared the secret with regulars. Today, it stands as an homage to his hospitality. You won’t see it on the menu, but just ask— they’ll know.
Which of these North Jersey spots do you think has the best burgers? Or did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author/s
Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.