Best Things: Burgers – New Park Tavern

The place people most often cite as the best burger in JC is New Park Tavern. If you are unfamiliar, New Park Tavern is a bar on West Side Ave and Communipaw that should be in contention for best bar in JC. Cheap drinks, good jukebox, a nice outside patio, a legitimately awesome clientele, and a menu that never has anything more than 6 things on it at any given time. Its cash only. A cheeseburger is like $8, beers are super cheap, and you can walk out of there hammered and full for under $30. 

I love absolutely everything about New Park Tavern.  It’s old, but not gross…but not nice. It perfectly walks the line.  It’s like if the tavern from Lord of the Rings had the Yankees game on.  Its warm and dark. This also means you’re getting exactly one very low quality picture of this burger.  

Patty  

Patty type. Single patty. Undisclosed, but probably some 80/20 chuck blend. VERY beefy.  This burger is all about trade-offs. If you’re looking for unadulterated meat and crave myoglobin and rendered beef fat, then this is your burger – for better and worse. It’s a classic pub burger made with an awareness of their patrons taste buds, but not enough effort to make it seem like they’re trying too hard.  

Is it cooked well?  Meh. I feel like the bar is their job and the burgers are their hobby.  I got mine medium rare and it was definitely on the rarer side. This is why I love NPT as a bar, but really don’t understand the hype this place gets as the JC burger mecca. The total absence of char or crust makes me feel like the flat top is set to medium so they can tend to the bar and customers and not burn the burger. I don’t mind this, but what you get is basically a steamed burger without any of the technicals needed to enhance that method.  

Is it seasoned?  Devoid of seasoning.  Again, it’s a trade off, you want the beef to shine, so let it stand alone…but salt really helps get you to that place.

Does the size or amount make sense? This is a thiccc patty, almost a two fingers thick. Would love for this to be a bit wider and a little shorter. You inevitably finish the burger before the bun, which is totally preventable. Despite this, its not dense.  There is a fluffiness to the patty that seems deliberate and is very desirable. By not assaulting the meat with hot firefighting hands and loosely forming the patty, you get all of these pockets of rendered fat and meat juice that are very, very tasty. 

This can be problematic for your reflexive burger order that NEEDS tomatoes and lettuce and a ton of condiments. If you do, you’re in store for a Brazzers-esque gushing of hot goo on your upper body, so tread lightly with the wet add-ons.

Bun 

Bun type. A poppy seed roll.  Like something you’d probably get a breakfast sandwich on.  

Does it work? I think so.  This thing is big and dry and needed to catch all of the grease that is expelled from that freakishly juicy patty.  You put this thing on a Martin’s Potato Roll and the whole thing is fucked. This bun is like a colonoscopy: you might not like it, but you need it.  

Toasted or untoasted?  Untoasted.  Pretty sure you can get the bun toasted if you ask for it.  I’m also pretty sure I could have this burger cooked well done with swiss if I asked for it and was a sociopath.  I’m only judging the baseline burger here.

Is it dry? Yes, but it has to be. 

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Cheese   

Cheese type. Yellow American. God’s cheese.

Is the cheese melted? Fucking no.  Now, I’m not naive enough to think that NPT doesn’t know how to melt some fucking cheese.  I’m also not naive enough to think that Oak on Pine intends to serve their burgers on roasted ciabatta. But that’s what I got, and it affirms my belief that this place does burgers as a hobby, not their job.

 

Toppings  

What type of shit are they putting on it?  If you just ask for a cheeseburger, you’re going to get just a cheeseburger.  You can customize this how much you’d like, but its mostly inside the cannon of standard ingredients:  lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mayo, mustard. You can get corned beef and pork roll too if you’ve completely given up. I recommend just getting onion and pickles.

How much shit are they putting on it?  Nothing, unless you ask for it.

Does all this shit add to the burger?  Yeah. I’m being hypocritical here because I’ve said that I want to be presented with the best form of a burger possible in it’s creators eyes, but given all of the wonderfully unpretentious elements of the bar, I really enjoy their approach. 

It’s as blue collar as it gets, almost libertarian. It speaks to the mores of a broader community that seeks to preserve the fundamentals of establishments that improve the quality of their product by putting the responsibility of choice on the consumer.  New Park Tavern understands that you are an adult capable of making decisions for yourself. It doesn’t judge you. It doesn’t expect you to always make the right decision. But it respects your innate right to exist and your uniquely human essence.

This has its downside, as this freedom and non-judgement typically only extend to the walls of the sandbox that its community has created.  Everything is judgement free as long as it is derived from the dogma. Mayo, onions, mustard, and corned beef – sure, have at. Avocado? Get the fuck out of here, beatnik. You take the good with the bad.

 

Harmony 

How do all of these things above work together? It is what you make of it.  Mostly, there isn’t any real harmony here outside of the bun and patty combo.  The original intent of even having a grill here is probably just to give patrons something to fill their bellies so they don’t have to leave the bar and can keep drinking. Eventually some more thought was put into it, but its essence is the same.  

If I didn’t have every asshole with an opinion tell me that New Park Tavern has the best burger in JC, I’d probably think a little higher of the burger. I’ll probably get doxed for not giving this five stars. If I’m being honest, I’m probably giving them a score that’s a bit too complementary just because I love absolutely everything about this bar.  

You’re getting a good pub burger from this place.  It’s definitely the best $8 burger you can find in Jersey City.  It’s not great, it’s certainly not the best. I can see why people like it, but I can’t see why people hype this to the level its at.  Points off for not melting the cheese (which is a criminal offense) and unsalted patty. Bonus points for the inner workings of the patty and overall beefiness of the burger.

 

Overall rating

3.0 out of 5

 

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One thought on “Best Things: Burgers – New Park Tavern

  1. I went to New Park Tavern once right after I moved to JC like four years ago, based on the various claims of “best burger in town” you mention. My main memories of the trip are:
    – A group of young men that seemed very offended I was trying to walk through the middle of their important meeting on the West Side Ave sidewalk.
    – A weird sex shop called “Latex Nemesis” right next door that solicited a giggle out of me.
    – A very standard bar cheeseburger that I had absolutely no complaints about, but wondered where all the “best in town” claims came from.
    – Most importantly, a “good neighborhood bar” in a town that seemed to only have pretentious yuppie bars and really grimy and unpleasant old-school bars.

    As much as I liked it I haven’t been back since it’s pretty far from where I live and Lucky 7 scratches the same itch.

    Like

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