burger + (bar/joint/place)

I had previously posted about a place called Burger Joint in Midtown, so I thought it’d only be fair to mention Mel’s Burger Bar in the UWS. Then that got me thinking … what makes a burger place a ‘burger bar’ versus a ‘burger joint’? Or for that matter, a ‘burger place’ (I’m specifically thinking of Dirty Martin’s Place in Austin)?

These three places are known for their burgers and have that same homey/classic Americana atmosphere … the only kind of atmosphere that allows one to wholeheartedly dig into a scrumdiddlyumptious burger. They definitely differ, but not to the degree that I would be able to identify Dirty Martin’s as a place rather than a joint, so what’s the deal?


Does it have to do with location or how they function? None of the three has real plates. None has multiple locations. Mel’s is a classic sit-down, at Burger Joint you collect your order from the counter, and at Dirty Martin’s you have the option of eating at the counter, inside, or at a picnic table outside. All have beer. Mel’s and Dirty Martin’s have televisions. Mel’s is a few blocks from an Ivy League school, Burger Joint is an ironic fad in a swanky hotel, and Dirty Martin’s is a cultural institution a stone’s throw from the ginormous University of Texas. None of them particularly cares about your health.

Hm. Whatever. I don’t think it really matters. How much do you pay attention to how something is named? At Mel’s I had the W.T.F. burger (seriously, that’s what it’s called) and it had cole slaw and fries on it. If that sounds disgusting to you, it’s okay, I never wanted to be friends with you anyway. Because it was delicious. Much better than Burger Joint, but I don’t think anything could ever compare to Dirty Martin’s greasy goodness …