Black Shack Burger - Midtown East, New York City

Tucked away on a busy street just blocks from Grand Central Station is a small brick space highlighted with dark wood, a teal-and-white checkered diner floor, and duct work decorated with skateboard stickers. Aside from the quirky menu signage and throwback soda tap offering orange and chocolate flavors, Black Shack Burger was built on its protein and lauded for its simple approach to great food without a lot of fluff.

Beef, turkey, chicken, tofu, or a thick mozzarella patty, you can almost make a burger out of anything at Black Shack. The menu is sparse but well executed just like the dining room, promoting a laid back atmosphere offering a communal area where you can mingle with other ketchup lovers looking for their fix. The employees at Black Shack aren’t in the business of rushing their seated patrons and they don’t care if you just grab food to go or hit them up in their delivery zone.

Once I discovered Black Shack, it soon became a guilty pleasure as a cheap, quick, neighborhood spot. Most of the time, I opt for the Western (your choice of patty with crispy onions, pickles, and BBQ sauce –with cheese, because I dare to eat dairy) and often save room for an order of sweet potato fries with a side of honey mustard; a surprisingly spicy complement. If you’re thirsty for something other than a syrupy, fountain root beer or ginger ale, you can help that burger down one of many craft beers from a selection of popular, American breweries like 21st Amendment or Coney Island. If you're still hungry or you prefer to dip your fries in ice cream, they also blend up milkshakes in the usual flavors, but you can also find cookies and cream and peanut butter on the menu.

If you find yourself hungry in Midtown East, you won’t be up against long lines or a pretentious waitstaff at this funky, burger joint; so reward your taste buds.