George Keeley: The Upper West Side’s Best Pub Burger

Date January 22, 2008

In the ultimate search for the Holy Grail of neighborhood bars, your “Cheers”, the place where “everybody knows your name”, George Keeley on Amsterdam Ave. b/t 83rd & 84th, stands as this haven for NYC Food Guy. Great bartenders and beer, free, highly addictive and delicious popcorn, and a solid dart board, George Keely embodies all that is good with a bar, and if that’s not enough, they have a half pound behemoth of a burger that is, until further notice, the best Pub burger on the Upper West Side.


More pics, what makes a great pub burger, and the mind baffling appetizer sampler after the jump or…

For a glimpse into a few of the UWS’s many pizza slice joints click here.

What makes a good Pub Burger? Simple. It comes down to three qualifiers:

1) Good bang for the buck ($8 for a half pounder? Check)

2) Served Late (Keeley’s serves this bad boy until midnight every night)

3) Doesn’t make you feel like you ate a brick (Post meal, I surprisingly felt great)


Late one night after a few Bud Light longnecks and some Jameson, the lovely blonde bartender Bridgette aka “B-Money” got to pumping up the George Keeley’s Original Burger. I asked my usual gamut of questions and happily heard everything I wanted to:

– Fresh burger patties hand-formed daily

– Flame broiled

– Half pound patty

– Fries included (go with the spicy curlys)

It was a few weeks before I actually got around to ordering the burger and until then, B-Money was talking it up everyday. Finally one night after some plans fell through, it was time.

For $8 the Original Burger offers a mountain of melted American cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, ketchup, and yellow mustard all on a bed of fresh, crispy fries.


Look at that monster. The bun is toasted and ordinary but through careful handling, still held up under the weight of this beast and the sogginess from the cooked-as-ordered medium rare-ness of the patty.

NYC Food Guy added some crispy bacon, but in all honesty, it was superfluous and tasted like it had been sitting around all day.

The burger itself, seen as served below, didn’t embody a strong fire flavor, a result of its heft. It was fresh and not overly beefy. It melded well with the hearty ingredients resting on top of it, the layer of thoroughly melted American providing solid glue for it all.


NYC Food Guy is not a mustard on the burger fan, so beware if you’re the same because it comes on there if you don’t ask otherwise. I made this mistake the first time and the mustard flavor was strong, its presence tasted in every bite.

The spicy curly fries were the perfect accompaniment. They were plentiful and fresh, the grease from the fryer glistening across their surface.

You think about the burger at places like Corner Bistro and White Horse Tavern and they’re all gimmick, riding the wave of reputation. NYC Food Guy was unimpressed by these two burgers, all over toasted buns, cold overcooked fries or hot undercooked, and ordinary burger patties. Corner Bistro especially, got worse every time I tried it. George Keeley’s burger breaks this trend; all about business, this beast of a burger is delicious and it’s a bargain. What more can you ask for?

Well, how about an appetizer sampler that takes common conception and fries it into oblivion:


Mozzarella Sticks, Onion Rings, Buffalo Wings, Chicken Fingers, and Jalapeo Poppers all resting on a bed of spicy curly fries. You also get 4 sauces: Honey Mustard, Bleu Cheese, Ketchup, and BBQ. I watched my friend Padraic single-handedly devour this mountain of fried one night and immediately fall into food coma upon completion.


You really can’t go wrong at George Keeley’s whether you’re there to eat or drink. The bartenders and staff are welcoming and helpful, always willing to let you sample one of their many microbrews. The free unlimited popcorn might be the best NYC Food Guy has ever had and there is always some fierce competition on the in-shape dart board, darts provided by the house for free. Aside from the social atmoshpere, the best thing about George Keeley’s is that the crowd always varies but never descends to an all-out frat party, something you might find at all of the other bars on the surrounding blocks.

George Keeley’s

485 Amsterdam Ave (b/t 83rd & 84th)

New York, NY 10024

Phone: (212) 873-0251

Mon-Fri 2pm-4am, Sat-Sun 12pm-4am

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