OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Eat Good: Harlem Burger Co.

Eat Good: Harlem Burger Co.

Gentrification has become a scary reality for many parts of NYC that were once home to certain people, culture and lifestyle.  Folks are scared to lose tradition as well as many other things, but Gentrification like a good diet is all about balance, its good to evolve to better things but its not healthy to lose what makes a neighborhood, what gives it its character, so when establishments move into Harlem, its residents become skeptical.  Luckily, Harlem’s newest eatery Harlem Burger Co adds to the rich culture.  With a simple menu, amazing staff and great tasting food, Harlem Burger Co might be the best burger in Harlem.

Sitting in the heart of Frederick Douglass Blvd (between 118th/119th st), Harlem Burger hugs the corner in a subtle way, its small but cozy and as soon as you walk in, you’re being greeted with art from Rammer and the smells of burgers, fries and shakes.  I sat down and tried the Company Burger (bacon, egg, cheese, jalapeno, and homemade Tzatziki sauce, also wings (cran chipotle), truffle fries and the Confit Grilled Cheese.  Recommended options are the Company burger, confit grilled cheese and fries.  After I stuffed my face, I spoke with Chef Jonathan Shepard and spoke about what makes Harlem Burger the place to be:

What makes a good Burger?

Good meat, the right bun, seasoning properly and training

A must have at HBC?

The company dog, company burger with tzatziki and jalapenos, pork confit grilled cheese, hot chocolate shake.

What is Harlem Burger Co’s X factor when compared to other Burger joints?

As a quick service establishment we are making all our sandwich sauces (hummus, tzatziki, Co. sauce, bbq, cran chipotle), and pickles in house. We have more then just good meat and great freshly baked buns that come in every morning, we elevate our offerings from confiting house cured pork shoulder in duck fat, to marinating our cod in miso, cutting and blanching all our fries every day. Everything is made to order to ensure freshness.

Who makes the best Burgers?

That's more a personal question so for me I enjoy the burger at Bubbys, Mark on St marks, No bull Burger at Corner Bistro, Nomad bar burger, and the Spotted Pig.

As far as Harlem Burger, what else do you see doing to the space?

Harlem Burger Co. is my new home within my home! I'll be doing lots of things there: updating the menu, maybe revising some art, or even add some new chalk art in a column.  Most definitely I'll be working on doing some art on the windows. I see myself going periodically doing some seasonal art on the windows, maybe Thanksgiving, definitely for Christmas. There's also talk about t-shirts of the mural.

The art on the wall is the talents of Rammer who has been creating since birth, and draws a lot of inspiration from things he sees all over NYC.

Artistically, what inspires you about Harlem?

I've always identified myself with all aspects of Uptown Manhattan since it's where I grew up since young. It's part of my home and playground. Being the most southern part of Uptown, if you were to come from Brooklyn, Queens or Mid- or Downtown Manhattan, Harlem works as a gate or checkpoint to let you know that you're entering Uptown. It's the "Welcome to Uptown" mat.

From Puerto Rican revolutionary figures in El Barrio, to the Mexican motifs, to the Harlem Renaissance figures, you can't walk down the street without seeing some of the most colorful murals. Even seeing the hustle and bustle in 125th St., the vendors, the buskers, and people hollering to sell their CDs or products inspires me; they show me that anything that happens around the world affects our districts too and that you should never turn off the button of creating new art. You can feel the hustle in the air and it's very motivating.

The next time you’re in Harlem, visit Harlem Burger Co. and make sure you have the Company Burger with the fixin’s and don’t forget the fries.

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