Some days just call for a cheeseburger — game day, a busy day, Saturday and of course, National Cheeseburger Day.
On Sept. 18, the country pays homage to the almighty cheeseburger. Sure, it’s a made up holiday, but we’ll take any excuse, especially on Long Island, where chefs have turned the basic comfort food into an artisanal meal. From an unassuming spot in Lake Grove to a brand-name burger bar in Nassau County, we’re settling the beef on the best places to find a Long Island cheeseburger.
Phil’s, Wading River
There are so many burgers (11!) at this northforker staff favorite, they get their own menu. The Pete’s-A-Burger combines the burger with another favorite comfort food: pizza. It’s a burger topped with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella on a garlic roll. The “Babe” burger (bacon, cheddar and fried egg) is ideal for brunchers, while the traditional cheeseburger is there for the purists.
Phil’s is located at 1856 Wading River Manor Rd, Wading River.
Babylon Burger Bar, Babylon Village
At this Main Street corner bar, the build your own burger menu includes nine — count ‘em — cheeses. There’s the traditional cheddar and American and more daring whipped goat and cotija. Choose from patties including a special blend infused with bacon, a vegan burger and an 8 oz. prime-aged steak blend.
Babylon Burger Bar is located at 1 West Main St., Babylon.
PeraBell Food Bar, Patchogue and Riverhead
This restaurant helped establish the downtown scenes in Patchogue and Riverhead, in part because of its unpretentious vibe and straightforward menu. The chophouse burger is a favorite. It’s made with 10 oz. of hand-formed certified Angus beef, rather than the typical 8 oz. patty, and diners can add cheddar, Swiss, American, blue cheese or fresh mozzarella. If you’re feeling a little extra, top it off with an avocado (hey, it’s a fruit).
PeraBell Food Bar is located at 69 East Main St., Patchogue, and
65 East Main St., Riverhead
Good Steer, Lake Grove
Many popular restaurants are part of walkable downtowns, which increases the potential for walk-ins. People coming to Good Steer head there on purpose. Set on the (somewhat unsightly) Middle Country Road, this joint has stood the test of time by consistently serving up meats that draw people from parts East and West. The summery BBQ burger combines beef, pork or chicken, hickory BBQ sauce, and the restaurant’s ever-popular onion rings for a smoky and satisfying meal. Cheese options include bleu, Monterey Jack or melted mozzarella. Feeling adventurous? The staff can make that burger a burrito by swapping the bun for a tortilla and wrapping it all up.
Good Steer is located at 2810 Middle Country Road, Lake Grove.
George Martin Burger Bar, Rockville Centre
This spot is like the steakhouse of burgers, and it should come as no surprise. The GM Group is known for its red meats, whether it’s George Martin the Original’s chops and steaks and the group’s strip steak joint in Great River. At Burger Bar, the bleu cheese in the Moody Bleu adds a bright, pungent taste to GM’s perfectly cooked, exclusive blend. Vegetarians won’t feel short-changed by the “Beyond” veggie burger — feta and avocado toppings keep this plant-based option fun.
George Martin Burger Bar is located at 209 N Long Beach Rd, Rockville Centre.
Black Label Burgers, Westbury
Regulars swear by the dry-aged beef patties served up at this casual spot. The burger menu, which features everything from the namesake black label burger (beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onion) to the indulgent yellow label (fried mac-n-cheese patty, homemade cheese sauce, lettuce and tomato), suggests beer pairings as well. For a sweeter experience, try a hands-spun milkshake instead. There’s everything from traditional chocolate and vanilla to more creative strawberry cheesecake and Oreo.
Black Label Burgers is located at 683 Old Country Rd, Westbury.
Snaps American Bistro, Wantagh and Rockville Centre
Eating lobster rolls is a favorite summertime pastime on Long Island, but this unpretentious spot makes it a year-round affair with a twist: a surf and turf burger that comes topped with a delicious lobster salad. Those who had a tough time choosing between burgers and Italian can opt for the burrata burger (fried burrata, sun-dried tomato, prosciutto and roasted peppers).
Snaps is located at 2010 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, and 13 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre
Small Batch, Garden City
Unlike many on this list, Small Batch isn’t known exclusively for its burgers, but celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s Wagyu cheeseburger is a hidden gem. Topped with a special black truffle pecorino cheese, balsamic onions, b&b pickles and crispy potatoes, it’s unique and indulgent. The burger, along with other locally-sourced American dishes, is served inside a farmhouse-chic space at Roosevelt Field Mall.
Small Batch is located at 630 Old Country Rd., Garden City.
Local Burger Co., Bay Shore, Patchogue and Southampton
Not even a pandemic could stop Local Burger Co. from expanding to Southampton in 2020. This spot is known for its logo-stamped buns, patties made with meat sourced from local purveyors and daring combinations. Take the PB&B, a burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and peanut butter. Those not feeling as daring but who are definitely hangry can opt for the Hangover — a massive burger with American cheese, bacon, fried egg and ketchup. The beverage menu is also largely local, featuring beers from spots like Greenport and Montauk Brewing Co. and North Fork wines.
Local Burger Co. is located at 62 East Main St., Bay Shore,
76 West Main St., Patchogue and 668 County Road 39, Southampton.