Looking For the Best Burgers in NYC? These 3 Burgers will NOT Disappoint!

Cherche Midi's prime rib burger served with fries.

Yes, there have always been first-rate burger joints in this town, and most restaurants, even expensive ones, would include some sort meat-patty sandwich on their menu. But except for a couple of legendary exceptions (21 Club, Peter Luger's), in days of yore–say, 10 years ago–the restaurant burger was usually there more as an escape hatch for picky patrons, not to be taken too seriously by the kitchen or anyone else. That is no longer the way things are done. Today just about every respectable restaurant that traffics in meat not only features the dish prominently, but puts a lot of thought, love, and high-quality ingredients into its making. In fact, the burger deliciousness comes so thick and fast these days that our "Best NYC Burger" list seems to be more of a moving target than ever before. Here, then, are three exceptional burgers that are sure delight any meat fan.   

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Five Fun NYC Events This November

A view of the exhibits from the 22nd annual Canstruction exhibition

I'm not one to rush the holidays, preferring to give each season enough time and attention to try and fully appreciate all of the advantages of high-density, big-city living. For example, most hometowns just don't have the creative energy–not to mention the sheer numbers–to host not one but multiple, heavily attended dog costume parades/contests, as happens in NYC every year around Halloween (in Fort Greene Park, Tompkins Square Park, McCarren Park,, and Carl Schurz Park, to name just four). So why would you jump ahead?! I mean, for crying out loud there were stores around town putting up full-on Christmas decorations last week (ahem, Walgreen's in Astor Place, among others), 10 days before Halloween! Still, though, a little planning ahead is in order, especially around this time of year, when so much is going on. Here, then, is a drop-in-the-bucket look at some of the things to look forward to in November, as well as a couple of holiday shows that begin this month, and are far less crowded if you go earlier in the season, rather than later. 

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Tasty Tacos at Empellon al Pastor, Now Open in the East Village

The beautifully painted murals on the ceiling at Empellón al Pastor in the East Village.

Chef Alex Stupak has been making me very good food for a bunch of years now. I had the great pleasure of dining at the seminal wd-50 when Stupak was the pastry chef there. When he went rogue and starting opening up Mexican restaurants (which seemed strange at the time; less so now), Stupak served me some excellent mariscos and even better tacos at Empellon Tacqueria in the West Village; then mounds of the best guacamole available anywhere in the city, as well as plenty of awesome tacos, at Empellon Concina in the East Village; and now, at his brand new and predictably packed Empellon Al Pastor on St. Marks, Stupak is turning out some amazing, you guessed it, TACOS, including a truly remarkable version of the joint's namesake creation. I've eaten their twice during Al Pastor's opening week, and am heading back for more as soon as possible. 

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See Dead People (and other such things) at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn

An exhibit from Brooklyn's Morbid Anatomy Museum

If you're looking for one more NYC adventure with the crew before Halloween… or for a memorable second-date idea… or, an off-beat destination when out-of-town visitors start showing up at your door hoping you'll entertain them… the new Morbid Anatomy Museum may your exact right move. Located within a couple of blocks of the F and R trains in Gowanus, The Morbid Anatomy Museum's new digs are spacious and comfortable, with an impressive 4,200 square feet spread out over three floors. There's a gift shop, cafe*, and space for their popular workshop, lecture, and screening series. And, appropriately enough, the entire exterior is painted black. But really, it's in the back room upstairs, as you explore tiny drawers and poke around cluttered shelves, where the Morbid Anatomy Museum's appeal truly lies.

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Six Best Bets for NYC Kids’ Halloween Fun!

Kids gathered in costumes ready for Halloween

Halloween in New York City has long been home to myriad creepy, raucous delights for adults, from invitation-only theme parties and ribald club nights to the recent explosion of R-rated "haunted houses" around town. The following list, however, is for all of you who want to show your little ones a good, spooky (but not TOO spooky) time over the next couple of weeks, before the trick-or-treating begins in earnest, whether in your building or at one those great block parties that Upper West Siders in particular seem to be so good at throwing (the one on 69th Street is amazing but gets mobbed; maybe this year try 87th between West End and Riverside, or 95th between Columbus and CPW instead). Here then: 6 Best Bets For NYC Kid's Halloween Fun.

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Burke & Wills, A Grown-Up Australian Bistro Shines On The Upper West Side

The beautiful dining room at Burke & Wills on the Upper West Side

Although we're well past the days when the Upper West Side was something of a culinary disaster area–personal favorites among new(ish)comers include Bar Boulud, Red Farm, and The Smith–another reliable spot is always welcome for our neighborhood wanderings. So when the year-old Australian bistro Burke & Wills was cited several times in a recent "NYC's most underrated NYC restaurant" thread on Eater, I decided it was time to go eat some kangaroo! And other things. Located in the one of those semi-subterranean spaces on 79th Street, the former home of Sunburnt Calf, in fact, (which was also an Australian spot, though catering to a younger, more raucous crowd), Burke & Wills has a pretty dining room under a huge glass skylight in the back, a friendly bar up front, AND a separate "cricket and cocktail club" upstairs, decked out to look exactly as you'd expect such a thing to look, all worn leather armchairs and vintage photos of cricketers of yore. 

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Sesame Street Takes Over Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library of the Performing Arts

A recreation of the Sesame Street stoop at Lincoln Center's New York Public Library

Full disclosure: I was one of the first generations of kids to fall in love with Cookie Monster. And Ernie, who has so often made me laugh out loud, for decades now. Bert maybe a little less, but still, even as a child I admired his commitment to his nerdy passions, like paper clips and pigeons. And too-cool-for-school Oscar. And then when I grew up and had kids of my own and watched it with them–call it the Elmo years–how great was it to hear them laugh and sing along to some of the same jokes and songs that I remember? So great. 

Anyway, the point is that Sesame Street is one those rare cultural touchstones that can function as both heartwarming nostalgia and fresh contemporary entertainment. That it actively educates at the same time is nothing short of a miracle. Which is why it's hard to imagine anyone, of any age, not enjoying the terrific little Sesame Street 45th-anniversary exhibition at Lincoln Center New York Public Library For the Performing Arts, "Somebody Come and Play." Continue reading

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Apples to Apples: 7 Delicious Things To Do in NYC during Cider Week NYC

A half-full glass of apple cider.

Has there ever been a better time for people who enjoy adult beverages? The craft beer boom of a decade ago has, if anything, only gotten bigger and more exciting. In certain circles no party is complete without someone breaking out  growlers of their own personal home brew… with, it must be said, mixed results. And bartenders–sorry, mixologists–are putting an astonishing amount of skill, love, and homemade, high-priced ingredients into those lavish "cocktail programs" that are de rigueur in all manner of restaurants, all over town. And now the adventurous and thirsty among us, always looking for the next big boozy thing, have turned their attention to craft cider. Which, considering that New York State is America's second largest apple grower, with more than 700 orchards and some ten million trees, definitely makes sense.

And so, to honor the great New York apple and the aromatic, intoxicating liquor it brings, we have the upcoming Cider Week, October 24th to November 2nd, for which dozens of NYC restaurants as well a number of Hudson Valley venues will be celebrating the wonders of our local bounty. Here are a few of the events and offerings taking place during Cider Week; for lots more ideas, click here. All images via CiderWeek.com 

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Sweetgreen Tribeca: Raising the (Salad) Bar

Two workers at NYC's first Sweetgreen location

Usually, the thought of some chain (or mini-chain) restaurant coming to New York City from another part of the country provokes, at best, ambivalence. We have so many amazing, locally-run places here already, the heck do we need those (generally mediocre) carpetbaggers for?! Of course, there are exceptions, a huge one being the DC-area based salad shop Sweetgreen, newly landed here in the big town and serving up some truly first-rate bowls of healthy, delicious goodness. 

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Two Brand New NYC Public Art Projects – Perfect For The Fall!

public-art-nyc-2014-lincoln-center-john-gerrard-solar-power

If the vitality of a city can be measured, even to a small degree, by the prevalence and energy of its public art, then New York is in fine shape indeed. From the ongoing exhibitions in City Hall Park to the regular installations along Broadway and Park Avenue to the consistently engaging shows up and down the High Line, over the past decade or so great works of public art have left the usual corporate-plaza spaces far behind, offering ample opportunities for surprise and delight as we go about our day. Two terrific new installations in Manhattan got me thinking about all of this again recently: three huge sculptures by Tony Cragg that have taken up residence in Madison Square Park through February; and the addictive, high-def Solar Reserve by John Gerrard, plopped down front and center on the Lincoln Center's main plaza. 

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