Mel’s Burger Bar – Upper West Side 

Mel’s is right around one of my favorite areas in the city right by Columbia University. Broadway around Columbia has some of my favorite restaurants, including my all-time favorite, Community Restaurant. From the exterior, Mel’s gives the impression of a trendy hangout for lunch or dinner with some good ol’ friends. There is nice outdoor seating available, and the exterior in general reminded me very much of Black Tap Craft Burger with the minimalistic black and white vibe.

Upon entry, one is pleasantly surprised with the trendy interior design, with large chalkboards, an aesthetic bar, and most notably, a giant neon sign that reads the name of the restaurant. The very back of the restaurant holds this attractive sign, and there is a large table available right by that sign, making it a perfect place for a birthday party dinner or large family gathering. 

The menu is straightforwardly simple, easy to understanding, and as expected. However, the names of the burgers are very interesting and laughable, especially the “Fat Mexican,” the “W.T.F.” Burger, and the “Hot Mess.” The burgers are crafted with very appealing toppings, with most of the burgers served on a potato bun. There is a vegetarian burger option that looked very attractive as well, and there is a whole list of french fry options. 

I embraced the “Fat Mexican” burger and shared a order of atomic fries. The burger was not overwhelmingly huge, and for me personally, it was a perfect portion for one solid meal that I could finish. The presentation of the burger was, admittedly, underwhelming, but nevertheless, the burger was cooked to a satisfying tenderness that satiated all my burger-desires.

The atomic fries, however, were addictingly fantastic. The other selections of fries were also decently good, but were in no way exceptional. The hot spiciness of the atomic fries made them wonderful, and potentially even better than the burger. However, at the end of the day, I do think that they were ultimately just fries covered in hot sauce — there was no special spicy seasoning or exceptional touch to the fries to make them anything too particularly noteworthy.

Overall, the meal was very satisfying and the portion sizes worked out very well, but I won’t say that Mel’s is the best burger joint I’ve ever been to. It’s great for an evening out with friends at a fun atmosphere with enjoyable classic burgers and fries. I would go back again, especially with its proximity to CCNY and Columbia University. The service was friendly and respectable, and one can easily reach Columbia to walk around in right after dinner. Mel’s also has some nice beer deals on some nights, making it a nice place to grab drinks and burgers. Mel’s Burgers deserves praise, but only to an extent. But, I did leave the restaurant feeling full of good food and energy for a great night. 

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