Veselka Bacon Cheeseburger: Backyard Grill Flavor & Great Bun

Date April 11, 2008

Josh “Mr. Cutlets” Ozersky, co-creator of NY Magazine’s Grub Street, and author of “Hamburger: A History”, recently proclaimed his love for the bacon cheeseburger ($10.50 deluxe) at Veselka, a 24-hour Ukrainian diner in the East Village. I’ve had this joint on my to do list for a long time but it was Mr. Ozersky’s claim that lit the burner on this mission. Could it really be the best burger in the city?

I’ll give it to you straight. No. It’s not the best burger in the city.

Not in NYC Food Guy’s humble opinion. It was flame broiled and damn tasty, but we have to remember, Veselka is merely a diner, and they delivered on just that, a standard yet delicious diner burger. If I had to eat one last burger in Manhattan, I’d still go with Brooklyn Diner.

Now that you’ve heard the final word, let’s breakdown this burger and see what makes it good and where the experience fell short.

The Burger: Standard, pre-frozen, unspiced patty. Slapped on the fire grill, this puppy came cooked to order and was still pretty greasy, a sign that it wasn’t smushed by the spatula. The overall flavor was fire, backyard grill style, which when you’re looking for something simple and delicious, is great. I’m not going to run for this burger, but if I happen to be in the neighborhood, and I want something quick, this is a definite go to spot. Juice dripped onto the hearty bottom bun, which brings us to the next point of contention.

The Bun: Standard white, seeded bun with some Kaiser like quality that delivered some heft to support the juicy patty. Despite the heartiness of the bun, it remained light and easily compressible, never upstaging the burger, melted American cheese, and bacon. I love a good segway.

The Bacon & the cheese: The bacon was thick, crispy, and fresh. Cooked to order. Great crunch and flavor, perfectly held to the burger by the thick layer of melted American cheese.

The fries: Pretty weak. I ordered them well done and they arrived looking like they were part of an order that was hanging out for a little bit. I spied someone else’s fries a few minutes later and they were golden brown and glistening. Disappointing. That being said, even if they were well done, they’d still be pretty standard.

Service: I usually make a mention of service only if it’s very good or very bad and unfortunately over the course of the meal, service descended in the latter direction. When we arrived the restaurant had a few empty tables but as the lunch rush commenced, the food took a hit. My friend’s cheeseburger came without cheese, my vanilla egg cream was awful, all seltzer, no vanilla. And then when all was said and done, the bill was wrong. The egg cream was still on there and my friend was charged 50 cents more than I was for cheese. I know, it’s just 50 cents, but it’s the principle of it. The waitress actually put 50 cents of her own money in the checkbook and gave us a little attitude for even mentioning the mistakes and we laughed and left her silver on the table.


Veselka is a 24-hour diner which ups its stock by sticking to its Ukrainian roots. Their pierogies are legendary. I’ve had the fried potato variety once before, and they were very tasty, lightly fried pockets of oniony/potatoey deliciousness, especially when dipped in sour cream. The cheese blintzes were also quite tasty, slightly crisp on the edges, soft and sweet in the middle.

But as far as burger talk goes, if you’re in the East Village, you always have the option of dropping into Veselka, they’re open all night. They win major points right there. If that’s not enough, it’s nicer than a regular diner: spacious, clean, and hip. And on the newsfront, Grub Street’s reporting that a second Veselka location is set to open on 1st street between 2nd Ave and Bowery.

I strongly recommend you stop in for a burger one day if you want to get back to a time when burgers were simple. Flame broiled beef, a white bun, cheese, and crispy bacon. Maybe Mr. Ozersky was right, greatness in simplicity.


144 2nd Ave. at 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-9682

37 Responses to “Veselka Bacon Cheeseburger: Backyard Grill Flavor & Great Bun”

  1. wonders said:

    That burger looks tasty though. That’s alot of bacon! MMmmm bacon!

    On another note, Brooklyn Diner is way expensive, I had breakfast there one morning with the BF and the meal came out to be a little over 30 dollars. I can’t deny it was good but 30 bucks was a bit steep.

  2. cheeseburger in paradise said:

    nycfg– you talk about the stupid 50 cents extra — how about telling us how much the fuckin burger costs!!

    also, and i quote, “I’ve had the fried potato variety once before, and they were very tasty, lightly fried pockets of oniony/potatoey deliciousness, especially when dipped in sour cream.”

    What exactly does “potatoey” mean?

  3. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Cheeseburger in Paradise,

    Good point. Sorry for not putting the price.

    As far as potatoey goes, it means what it sounds like, potaotey. Ha. What else can I say?

  4. DDR said:

    Wonders, my BF took me to brooklyn diner too and we couldn’t believe how expensive it was! Luckily, he treated 🙂

  5. the REAL DDR said:

    oh my god this is absurd. Lawrence why can’t you control your posters? Why do I continue to read this site?

  6. BDR said:

    I’m just going to post as BDR from now on.

  7. wang dang lee said:

    me makey special burger with mooshoo beef and dumplings on bun. i call it “the wang dang lee special burger”

  8. the REAL NYC Food Guy said:

    My favoriete thing to eat is a dude’s corn hole.

  9. silliness said:

    some posters are so silly on this site hehe. good to see people who don’t take things too seriously!

  10. frenchy said:

    those fries look crappy

  11. frenchy2 said:

    no they dont, they look good

  12. frenchy said:

    um, no, they look plain and gross

  13. the REAL frenchy2 said:


  14. the REAL NYC Food Guy said:

    Silliness: I try to keep the site balanced with a mix of food-related posts, but keeping it clean and funny. Thanks for letting me know you enjoy reading it. Any suggestions of where I should eat next?

    Frenchy: The fries were standard, but not great. I like my fries well done with a side of mayonaise (human mayonaise).

    REAL DDR: I’m sorry about the imposter but what can I say? So anyways, is your boyfriend cute?

  15. the REAL frenchy2 said:

    where’s the love for me nycfg?

  16. DDR said:

    I’m 33/F for all you horndogs out there who think I’m talking about a manwich

  17. the REAL NYC Food Guy said:

    REAL frenchy2: those fries were NOT good at all. Where are your favorite spots to eat for fries? Do you like your fries soggy? I like mine crispy!!!!!!!

  18. daring dancer said:

    nycfg, how do you feel about houstons?

  19. the REAL NYC Food Guy said:

    daring dancer: as you can see from my previous post, Houston’s is my go-to spot (plus I used to hook up with one of the managers there, he is SO cute). If I had a last meal to eat on this planet, it would be at Houstons. What can I say? The place consistently delivers!!

  20. Something tells me said:

    that isn’t NYCFG… this impersonation shit has really got to stop already… it’s so sad, get a life.

  21. Miss Menu said:

    I’m so hungry right now. I would absolutely LOVE a 8″ kielbasa right now mmmmmmmmm

  22. my ass said:

    this is the best food blog on the internet hands down!

  23. Dirty Dave said:

    yo NYCFAG – wheres the best place to get hallal food in the city?

    I love that chicken & rice combo with the white sauce! Hope that habeeb doesn’t make the white sauce from scratch (if ya get my drift)!!!!

  24. Ruth said:

    You gotta go to the Upper East Side for the best burger around. JC Melon On the weekend it can be a long wait but it is totally worth it.

  25. The NYC Food Guy said:

    You obviously mean JG Melon, I’ll let you slide on that. It’s a good burger, not the best in my opinion. A little overpriced for the size. Respect for the cottage fries however. Those are money. Have you had PJ Clarkes?

  26. Doctor Dyspepsia said:

    Back to the Veselka headline:

    Sorry to be such an insufferable asshole stickler for detail, but the “Food Guy” needs to know that you had a backyard GRILL, not a BBQ (or barbecue). That is, unless your parents were way cooler than mine, and everyone else in whatever LI neighborhood you grew up in.

    This, from Wikipedia, best source I can find in the brief time allotted to this posting, for which I receive no honorarium.

    “Barbecue has numerous regional variations in many parts of the world. Notably, in the United States, practitioners consider barbecue to include only relatively indirect methods of cooking, with the more direct high-heat methods to be called grilling. In other countries, notably Australia and many parts of Europe, barbecue is either fried or grilled, and generally barbecue appliances do not have a lid.

    In British English usage, barbecuing and grilling refer to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, whilst grilling also refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat–known in the US and Canada as broiling. In US English usage, however, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat whilst barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke. For example, in a typical US home ‘grill’, food is cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal; while in a US ‘barbecue’, the coals are dispersed to the sides or at significant distance from the grate.”

    So unless Food Guy is British (somehow, I don’t think so), we in our youth (we originally from Brooklyn still sometimes say “yoot”), had a backyard grill. Nobody barbecued, unless our LI neighbors came from North Carolina, Texas or maybe Cuba. I don’t think so.

    If you and your illustrious readership want me to spare you the corrections in the future, say the word, and bask in your ignorance undisturbed.

    The Pedantic Doctor

  27. NYC Food Guy Recommends… Cheap Late Night Eats « NYC Food Guy said:

    […] Veselka (Full NYC Food Guy Review) […]

  28. Doctor Dyspepsia said:

    Food Guy says what?

  29. The NYC Food Guy said:


    Does that answer your question?

    I can take the criticism, what kind of dialogue and forum would this be if I didn’t?

    Keep it coming Doc. I’m loving it.

  30. jeez said:

    straight ownage above from the doctor

  31. Looks to me like said:

    Doctor Dyspepsia should be the one writing this blog. The Doc clearly has years upon years of knowledge to share.

  32. Doctor Dyspepsia said:

    Dear jeez and Looks,

    Thank you for the endorsements, BUT: yes, I have the years, perhaps the knowledge, and certainly more bucks to spend on food than Food Guy, but let’s give him some respect! It is he who sacrifices his time, his treasure, and judging from where he eats, his health on this quest.

    I have no interest in writing a blog, because, frankly, it’s too much trouble, doesn’t pay squat, and honestly, I can’t stay awake past midnight unless I get up to pee. (Remember, this is the fate of all you XY types, HA!). I prefer to stay on the sidelines and crack wise, dropping occasional pearls of wisdom as they come. But I serve at the pleasure of the Food Guy.

    Doctor D

  33. Doctor Dypshit said:

    why would we give food guy any respect?

  34. Doctor Dyspepsia said:

    Dearest Dypshit:

    You wouldn’t. Got anything interesting to say?

    The Real Doctor.

  35. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Doctor Dypshit-

    As the real Doctor said, got anything good to say?

  36. NYC Best Diner: Stick with Ukrainian Classics at Veselka « NYC Food Guy said:

    […] teaches us to stick with the food that made Veselka famous.  The burger may be delicious, but read on to find out which three Ukrainian dishes NYC Food Guy always includes on a trip to […]

  37. Doug said:

    hey — get the potato salad w/ the burger. i’ve had the fries here & there, nibbling off those of friends, but this potato salad is incredible & might help your backyard-esque approach to the main entree. cool, heavy on dill, and crunchy with fresh vegetables. in my opinion, it’s one of the two best such salads in the city — the other being the entirely different take available at the butcher block in sunnyside, queens (creamier than anything else & loaded with scallion flavor).

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