339 9th Street, Park Slope
Rating: 4 out of 5 L's
When somebody tells you that they've found The Best Burger In New York City at a trendy new locavore spot, you've got to take it with a grain of salt. Nothing against a grass-fed burger, topped with the cheese of a virgin lop-eared goat and frizzled herbs that were lovingly grown on the chef's nightstand, but isn't the city just full of ‘em these days? Plus, if your burger-eating attire involves beat-up sneakers and a hoodie, the fancy-pants spots might not be your ideal burger night destination.
Thank goodness for Dram Shop. This long, dark bar and grill on 9th Street in Park Slope (not to be confused with Dram, the Williamsburg cocktail lounge) doesn't have a dress code. You may spot a couple of suits doing shots with the bar maid, but the vibe is casual, and there's nothing precious about the burger here. Served in a plastic basket lined with paper, with extremely generous portion of hand-cut fries, this burger comes in a soft sesame-seeded bun. Two juicy square beef patties are piled with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, onion, mayo, and mustard, and the messy result is greater than the sum of its parts. It's a respectable double cheeseburger that improves upon fast food. If you secretly get a little nostalgic at the McDonald's drive-through window, maybe this is The Best Burger in New York City for you. And for whatever it's worth, the Dram Shop's veggie burger is nothing to scoff at. Dressed up in all the beef burger's trappings, this hearty house-made patty is something you can really sink your teeth into—it won't fall apart or get mushy like so many of its meat-free counterparts.
As for beer, they've got about 12 on tap, all of which are served in frosty mugs—even the fancy doppelbock microbrew that's meant to be served at room temp. But if you're going to complain about an ice-cold brew, you're in the wrong place. If you're not watching the game on the TVs behind the bar, there are roomy booths and communal seating in the back, along with a pool table and a shuffleboard table. During our visit, they were jamming some extreme-90s tunes—Dishwalla, Joan Osbourne, and David Gray, with a little Johnny Cash and Jay-Z thrown in—the kind of songs that could've been on your college roommate's iPod shuffle, but only if you went to college before iPods were invented. But that's the thing about Dram Shop—unfashionable and unpretentious, something about this bar feels like home.
Photo by Ashley Minette