I recently had the excuse to go back to one of my favorite burger joints: Island Burgers & Shakes. A long-time Hell's Kitchen favorite, their extensive, colorful list of burger creations makes decision-making nearly impossible. The burgers are some of the best in the city: juicy, perfectly cooked, and tasty. And for you non-red meat people, they have churascos (grilled chicken sandwiches), and there are a couple of options for vegetarians, but not many.
I decided to venture outside of my typical burger box this time and ordered a Marco, which is a patty topped with pesto, ranch, bacon, and Parmesan, served on ciabatta. The pesto was rich with garlic and full of flavor, and the burger was perfectly juicy and pink--just how I like 'em.
The liquor license is a fairly recent addition, I think, and they have a nice selection of creative crap and high-end beers. I couldn't resist going for a Schlitz, which really, truly, tasted like the 70s. Amazing. (I even noticed a cheap Schlitz & a burger special on the board after I ordered...)
If your a fry-lover, just be aware Island Burgers doesn't have them: the kitchen's so tiny, there's no room for a fryer. But if you absolutely need fried potato with your burgers, they have excellent chips, so don't let the "no fries" thing deter you. Frankly, though, the burgers are so satisfying and complex, you honestly don't need them.
Island Burgers & Shakes, 766 Ninth Avenue between 51st and 52nd.