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Bill’s Bar & Burger: Bill Just Said No to Meatpacking Glitz

The Meatpacking District isn’t exactly known for its food – models and bottles tend to reign supreme at this small crossroads in downtown Manhattan. Yet, with the opening of Bill’s Bar & Burger just across from The Gansevoort, new light for casual, unpretentious and damn good dining shines through brightly.

The burger joint is diminuitive in a neighborhood where bigger and bolder is better. Set up to evoke your classic neighborhood sports bar with checkered tablecloths, bar-height tables, many a flat-screen TV showing New York sports, and both beers on tap and beer by the pitcher, Bills Bar & Burger seems a little out of place when kitty-corner to Gaslight, Tanuki Tavern, and Pastis. Yet, the relaxed vibe is a welcome antidote to the Meatpacking District’s glitzy, clubby and overpriced alternate reality.

The food is dressed-up ballpark fare: hamburgers and hot-dogs. Riding the popularity wave of haute burgers, the kitchen at Bill’s Bar & Burger offers a variety of specialty burgers that range from the Fat Cat, a delicious and savory mess of beef burger, caramelized onions and American cheese in a crispy and slightly sweet English muffin, to the Bobcat, a mildly spicy bunch of Mexican green chiles and Jack cheese on a classic sesame bun. The Classic is there for those who just love their basic beef hamburger with lettuce and tomato on a toasted and not-too-bready sesame bun. If you’re health-conscious (ask yourself, why are you in a burger joint?), there is either the Tuscan Turkey Burger with aged provolone, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun or the Market Veggie Burger with sharp Swiss cheese and a savory roasted red pepper sauce. No matter how you like your burger, Bill’s does a great job. The beef is flavorful and the patty not too thick; the bun is slim and soft, not too bready; the burger altogether is just greasy enough to give the illusion of indulging wickedly but not so hefty as to induce a slothful food coma.

Not in the mood for a burger? Bill’s also offers a few specialty items, such as Texas Brisket Chili and a Blackened Fish Sandwich, as well as hot dogs, which rival the best baseball franks out there. A series of fries and shakes options are available as well, for those looking to inflict maximum damage on your waistline. Fries range from classic potato fries (crispy, salty and just about perfect) to essentially flavorless sweet potato fries and unapologetically decadent disco fries, classic potato strips doused in thick gravy and melted cheese. Shakes range from your basic vanilla, chocolate and strawberry to more unusual offerings like the peach cobbler (vanilla ice cream, summer peaches, and streusel crunch), peanut butter banana, or Framboise flout (rich chocolate ice cream with Lindeman’s lambic framboise). Looking to start off or top off your night out? Every specialty shake can be make boozy with a shot of liquor.

Bill’s is chill and cheap, by New York standards. Naturally, it’s not quite as greasy and grimy as your classic burger joint in middle of anywhere America, yet Bill’s Bar & Burger evokes the comfort of a neighborhood favorite while still keeping in mind the discerning tastes of New York diners. Not to mention, it’s a totally acceptable sports bar with pitchers of beer for those looking to reincarnate their Greek life days.

Perfect For: burger fanatics, sports freak foodies, tight wallets, post-club milkshakes, a mellow Meatpacking experience, New York sports fans

Bill's Bar & Burger on Urbanspoon

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