Being home the last few days, I’m learning a lot about the restaurants in the East Village. Like at lunch, there are lunch specials! Who knew all this good stuff was happening while I’d been toiling away in Midtown for the past eight years?! Last week, lunch was at Mark Burger on St. Marks, where $8 gets you two burgers, fries, and a soda.
I’ve always liked the burgers at Mark. They’re not full-size burgers, but sliders in the style of White Castle, but much better. The beef is a mix of chuck, short rib, and porterhouse (ground daily), and although the patties are small, they have a nice crust without being cooked hard all the way through. The waitress will tell you the burgers are cooked medium-rare, but being so small, they lean towards medium, which isn’t a big deal. And in the style of White Caste, the burgers are served with American cheese and onions. The latter is grilled, not steamed. As for the bun, you still get a squishy bun, but instead of white, you get a yeasty potato bun. As I said, like White Castle, but kicked up for maximum deliciousness. The only thing missing are pickles. The burgers don’t come with pickles, but you can order them on the side for an extra 25 cents
Bacon can also be ordered for an extra 45 cents each burger, which sounds amazing, but unfortunately isn’t as good as it sounds. Instead of frying the bacon to a wonderful porcine crispness and then stacking the strips on top, the bacon is added into the beef mix and then cooked. So although you do get the extra flavor and salt (which the patties need a bit of anyway), the opportunity for crunchy bacon is lost. If you don’t mind non-crunchy bacon, go for it. Otherwise, get your extra flavor on by way of the many sauces on hand.
There’s chipotle, barbecue, jalapeno, and regular ketchup for the traditionalist. I like a combo of jalapeno and ketchup. I find the jalapeno spicier than the chipotle.
As for the fries, I have no complaints. The fries are fresh cut, skin on, fried crisp, well salted, and generous in portion size. Solid.
Sliders and fries at Mark are always great for dinner, but lunch works as well. Especially so if you factor in the special. I know, I confirmed it for science.