BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
Although I had passed by Paul’s many times in my East Village romps over the years and thought to myself, ‘now that is a place I have to try some day’, I had never been inside. The perfect opportunity arose when a friend of mine suggested Paul’s for dinner one night. I jumped at the chance and met him there on a crowded Friday night.
The service was slow and just accommodating enough to keep us seated. Our waitress looked and acted like she had been waiting tables at Paul’s since it first opened in 1989, which was probably close to the truth as Paul’s is a family owned and operated establishment. He assured me that the burgers would be worth it and we requested a complementary bowl of their pickles.
The pickles were served in a bowl of their salty brine and were thick cut and crunchy. It was hard not to gobble down the whole bowl before our burgers came out.
I decided on the St. Mark’s burger deluxe ($10.90), served with my choice of their Cajun fries. The burger came piled high with sautéed mushrooms and fried onions over an American cheese burger. The mass eye appeal left me drooling before I even got a whiff of its heavenly fried scent. The burger was much too large to pick up as it was, so I cut it in half and was pleased to find a sinfully juicy center to bite further into.
The burger was everything that a fried onion, mushroom cheeseburger at a divey East Village burger joint should be. It was a greasy, juicy, down and dirty, heart-attack on a plate. The beef wasn’t the highest in quality with hard bits scattered throughout the patty, but I certainly walked away full and happy, if not a little sick.
Paul’s is advertised in neon lights outside the storefront as NYC’s Best Burger. While I wouldn’t go that far, it certainly got the job done. I might be back if I’m with the right company whose stomachs are made of steel, but until then I think I’ll stick with a burger that’s a little easier on the stomach.