Review: Black Tap Burger {New York City}

by Cate on February 25, 2016

A burger and shake joint in the city that has an average of a two hour wait to get in … is it worth it?

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When Madeline started talking about how she wanted to celebrate her birthday some six months ago, she was very clear about her ideas.

She wanted to go into the city with her two best friends and spend the day. She asked if we could, and I agreed, and then we didn’t discuss it much after that.

We planned a low key party at home to celebrate with her friends, and I think she figured I had just decided against taking her into the city.

Which is exactly what I wanted her to think.

Because it was far MORE fun to surprise her.

I had made arrangements with her friends’ mom, decided on the day, and didn’t tell Madeline until we were on her way.

A boring Saturday of just “doing some errands” turned into a giant surprise for her, and she couldn’t have been more happy.

When I was planning what we would do, I wanted to stay away from the general area of Times Square.
Although it is heaps of fun, and there would be plenty to do there, I was going to be the only adult with four kids, and I don’t trust my NYC geography nor crowds quite that much. So I kept my focus on the Meatpacking district and built our day trip around lunch at Black Tap. Untitled

If you’re on Instagram or follow Buzz Feed, and, well, countless other social media channels, you have likely heard of Black Tap before.

Or perhaps seen their crazy, over-the-top milkshakes.

Which I thought the kids would be thrilled with.

They have two locations (the other in Soho), but I went with this one because I figured we could also visit the Chelsea Marketplace, the High Line, and the four-story Apple store (for Nick) while we were there.

Keeping everything in the same general area, and easy walking distance.

I also thought this location of Black Tap might be the least busy of the two.

Well…

Since they have generated quite the buzz on the internet over the last few months, it wasn’t exactly empty.

They open at 12, and we arrived around 11:45, and the lines were already three rows deep.

It took just under two hours to get in.

Craziness.

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Luckily the weather was gorgeous, and the kids kept themselves busy most of the time. They only started getting antsy towards the last half hour, but luckily we saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

When we were next in line to enter, I asked the guy manning the door about the crowd. He said that was his first day working there and he was a little astounded. I’m not surprised. (*Just a side note, after we had our meal, we did the rest of our sightseeing and had to pass by the restaurant around dinner time. By then, the lines had doubled, so those folks had a good 3-4 hour wait to get in.)

Once inside, the restaurant is actually quite small. A long bar on the right with bar stools, a few community tables, a bunch of booths, and a back room. (The Soho location is actually smaller, seating just 18 people and many reviewers warn against going if you’re claustrophobic because of the tight quarters).
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The tables are wooden and patrons have been doing their own form of decorating on them (bring a marker!). Each table is set with condiments, and a serving tray with silverware and menus.

Very no frills.

Our waiter came by with a jug of water and jelly glasses.

As Nick said, “mmmm, New York City tap water.”

You start by ordering your shakes first, and then your meal, and that’s how everything comes out. They are three of their “fancy” shakes on the menu, and when we got there, the cotton candy version was already sold out (even though they had only been open for an hour).

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Luckily the kids wanted the M&M shake (Sweet and Salty). The over-the-top shakes are $15 (we all split one and there was plenty), and the more traditional shakes are $7. With the bar right there, you can also spike your shakes with alcohol.

When the shake came out, I asked the waiter for a few more spoons because there were only two in our utensil holder, and he said they were out of clean spoons and wasn’t very apologetic about it.
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And still, this was just an hour after they opened.

We found one from another table’s utensil holder and made do.

But, COME ON.

The M&Ms are all stuck around the outside of the glass with some sort of fudgy “spackle,” and the shake was peanut butter (more liquid than solid). There were chocolate covered pretzels inside, as well as other candy, and the kids were, of course, thrilled.

The wait for our burgers was LONG, with many people getting their orders before ours. By this point, it was after 2 pm, and the kids were starving.

Just when I was about to throw in the towel, our food came.

We ordered a two burgers (one was large enough for two kids to split), fries, onion rings, and I got a Burger Salad.

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There is no kids’ menu, nor smaller portions available, but the portions are reasonably generous so allowed for sharing.

The onion rings were awesome, definitely not frozen. They came with their special “house” dipping sauce, which seemed like a riff on a ketchup and mayo mixture. The meat for the burgers comes from Pat LaFrieda, a top notch beef vendor, and they were good. They weren’t heavily seasoned, and Nick later noted that we could have had the same quality burger at Shake Shack or Zinburger.

And he’s right.

I think this is a good place to go for the shakes. They’re definitely a bucket list item, and as we saw trays FILLED with them, they definitely illicit some ooohs and ahhhs as they are taken through the restaurant. But outside of the shakes, it’s really a “one and done” type place.

Fun to visit, don’t need to go back.

Oh, and lastly, gratuity is automatically added to the bill, which I hate. Our service was poor (no spoons, no drink refills, one missing drink, no coming to check on us, took awhile to hunt down waiter to pay), and I definitely would have tipped less had it been up to me.

Go for the wow factor, and move on.

Outside of the long wait outside, and the long wait inside, Madeline and her friends were happy, so I was happy.
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If you find yourself in the city and want to visit, go to their Meatpacking location, instead of the Soho location, and plan to arrive about an hour before they open for lunch. There is a convenient parking garage a few doors down that has great weekend rates, and after you’re done with your meal, hit the Chelsea Market and do some shopping, and take a walk on the High Line. It made for a perfect day in the city.

PS Black Tap definitely has a legit Instagram game, and you can check out their awesome pics right here.

Black Tap
248 W. 14th Street
New York, NY 10011

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Taylor@Food Faith Fitness February 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm

What a nice looking restaurant and yes their instagram pics are amazing!
Taylor@Food Faith Fitness recently posted..Paleo Magic Cookie Bars {Vegan}

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Morgan September 30, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Black Tap is one of my favorite spots on the island! They offer so many great choices. The atmosphere is so clean and fresh, and the food is just as impressive. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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Selene May 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Wow, great post! Definitely sounds and looks like a great time, that shake looks awesome and very over-the-top! Thanks for sharing!

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