15 West 56th Street
Right away, let's eliminate the controversial foie gras-and-truffle-powered DB burger from the discussion. There are detractors out there (not us) whispering that it's not really a burger. A burger, they say, simply cannot cost as much as a cab ride to JFK. Relatively speaking, the burger at Geoffrey Zakarian's Town is downright old-school. It's made from chuck and shoulder (not a tuber melanosporum in sight) with a properly juicy fat-to-lean ratio. It's carefully ground twice to get the right texture. And then it's expertly grilled and served on a brioche bun with roasted tomato. Factor in the pedigree -- Zakarian's burgers at '44' were legendary thanks to Anna Wintour's insatiable appetite for them, and even at $23, they were wildly popular at Patroon.
49 Clinton Street
Although Zakarian's star has risen dramatically, that very same burger goes for only $18 on his new brunch menu -- practically a bargain. An even bigger burger bargain can be had at AKA Cafe, where Scott Ehrlich's superb $7 chopped-hanger-steak slider on a bialy with fried onions and thin Gus's pickle slices gets the George Foreman treatment in a sandwich presser. It's the best thing to happen to the bialy since Kossar.