Normally, wandering around NYC in search of a great meal with no concrete plan doesn’t end well. If you manage to come across a place that will seat you without a reservation, chances are, it won’t be long before you realize why it wasn’t exactly packed. But once in a while, you come across a gem that not only accommodates your poor planning, but also becomes one of your new favorites. And that’s exactly what happened when we stumbled into Pop’s of Brooklyn this past weekend, in search of a decent burger and a beer.
While the original location is in Williamsburg, the Manhattan outpost of Pop’s looks custom-built for Greenwich Village, the ideal spot for NYU students to grab a bite between classes. Metal tables and chairs give the place a diner-esque vibe, and two giant TVs attract sports fans to the bar area. But one look at the fine print on the menu and you’ll see that this is hardly your average dive. The chicken is free-range, and the Pat LaFrieda beef is grass-fed, and hormone and antibiotic-free. It’s all part of the mission of owner John Seymour, who’s making good on his late father’s dream.
Pop’s offers a great assortment of beers by the bottles and on draft, like Flying Dog Amber and Smuttynose IPA, and if you’re into Pilsners, you’ve got to try Pop’s Brew. The menu features a roster of hearty salads and sandwiches, like the Chipotle Chicken with creamy chipotle mayo or Philly Steak with housemade cheddar wizz, as well as Buttermilk Chicken Fingers, which are worth a visit alone. While I’m aware there’s no shortage of great burgers, Pop’s 8 oz. La Frieda burgers are some of the best in the city. Did I mention they come with just about any topping you could ever want, including chili and guacamole? When the “Texas Sr. Burger” arrived at our table, it became apparent that everything really is bigger in Texas. The burger, served on a warm brioche bun, was piled high with jalapeños, grilled onions, thick strips of crispy bacon, a healthy serving of fontina cheese, and a fried egg, along with lettuce, tomato, and pickles. It’s not the easiest thing to eat (and definitely not recommended for a date), unless your sweetie doesn’t mind the sight of barbecue sauce dripping down your chin, but it’s downright awesome.
If you’re looking for something a little less messy, try their Crispy Chicken Sandwich, topped with spiced honey and some to-die-for pickled onions, or their excellent BLT, made with soft country bread, massive slices of thick-cut bacon, smooth avocado, and chipotle mayo. The Cajun Fries or Parm Fries are a great addition to almost everything on the menu and the Cake of the Day is a happy ending. Next time you’re craving a burger and fries, check out Pop’s of Brooklyn in Greenwich Village.