For your next group get-together in New York, don’t forget about America’s other border. Canadian export Big Smoke Burger is down from the Great White North, bringing a handcrafted take on burgers and beers to Chelsea. Order at the bustling counter and then grab a seat so you can all get reacquainted while you wait. The burgers are custom cooked, and beef this good is going to take a little time. To drink, there are old-fashioned milkshakes so thick you might just ditch the straw for a spoon. But maybe you’ve earned a cold brew. As this is the first Manhattan location of Big Smoke, it gets some special attention in the form of a deep craft beer selection. Play the hero and hit the trim little bar in back, grabbing a round for your gang in can, bottle, or draft form.
When the upbeat staff drops off your burgers, you’ll dig in to some charbroiled awesomeness. There’s a hint of namesake smoke from the grill, which adds character to patties that taste every bit the part of fresh, AAA meat brought in direct from Ontario. Add-ons run from Gorgonzola to caramelized onions to rosemary-garlic mayo, but Big Smoke deploys them carefully so they don’t overwhelm the beef. Fries for the side come with dipping sauces; make a run for that other border with the house chipotle mayo, which is hot, smoky, and addictive.
Then again, it may be hard to say no to poutine. Big Smoke’s version isn’t some sloughed-off plate of cheese fries, but instead a real deal version complete with crisp fries, savory gravy, and taut cheese curds. Order a large so you can all share together. It’s so good you may find yourselves raising a toast to our friendly neighbors to the north.