I always feel triumphant when I happen upon a genuine greasy spoon in the tony Upper East Side, and Burger One epitomizes this venerable tradition. Don’t sit at one of the six stools at the tiny counter if you’re bothered by the sight of fries sizzling in rust-colored oil or fat burgers oozing, well, fat, on the big metal grill. Judging by the number of customers lined against the wall, reaching over your shoulders for foil tins of take-out burgers, however, Burger One is considered “The One” by many.
It also has multiple personalities—part burger joint, part Mexican taqueria, part “wrap house.” I had heard about their famous wraps, containing everything from a burger to B.L.T. and egg salad, but I opted for a hybrid: the burrito wrap ($6), which comes with your choice of chicken, steak or carnitas (pork) and mozzarella cheese, rice, red beans, avocado and hot sauce, if you wish. The fellow next to me, an Arizona transplant, vouched for the burrito’s authenticity, saying the tightly wrapped cylinders bested Americanized “bricks” that take a knife and fork to tackle. What’s more, these babies have everything you need from the food pyramid, with just enough grease to meld the flavors together and get you coming back for more.
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