Jumping For "Joy": Mouth-Watering Burgers For Under $5

By: Allana Mortell

If I could eat one food for the rest of my life it would be a really good hamburger. My palate has certainly expanded over the years and I no longer scarf down a McDonald's burger a day like I did when I was a kid. Nowadays, when looking for the mark of a great burger I check for a number of factors.

First, price. Sorry to say, but I am a firm believer that a burger under ten bucks can be just as flavorful (and from my experience, better) than a 20-dollar-plus-ten-for-fancy-cheese some restaurants call a burger. Next, in terms of toppings, a great burger joint in my opinion, should have an array of burger toppers to choose from, whether it be cheese, sauces, vegetables, maybe some fried onion strings or pickled okra? Just sayin'.

To make things even sweeter for you and your wallet is when you stumble into a restaurant that doesn't charge $5 for each topping. (Yes, I have found that restaurant and no, I will never be going back.) These days, to find a restaurant that doesn't up-sell you for jalapeno's or "House-made" cheddar cheese sauce is an absolute rarity.

With that all being said, I recently visited Joy's Burger Bar in Harlem, a restaurant that fulfilled my criteria to a tee. Cheap eats, perfect fries and no crazy up-charges in sight. Tack on some friendly service, free soda refills and killer outside seating and you've got yourself a winner winner burger dinner.

Whether you're absolutely starving or just craving a small slider, Joy's is where you need to be. With a 3 oz "Munch" burger for a whopping price of, wait for it ... $3.75 and an order of fries for $2, your stomach and wallet can be equally satisfied. Since I wasn't ravenous on my first visit to Joy's, I went with the "Munch," and I certainly got my money's worth. My burger was juicy, oozing with cheese and BBQ sauce, smothered in sauteed onions, just the way I like it!

Hungry for more meat? For a dollar more, you can snag a 5 oz burger and for $5.95, you can go with the "Max", an 8 oz burger all with toppings of your choice. With free toppings (jalapenos, sauteed onions, lettuce, tomato, etc) and free sauces (garlic mayo, chimichurri, spicy mayo & sweet chili) to choose from, it's hard to go wrong. For 75 cents, throw some avocado, sundried tomatoes or an egg on top of your expertly crafted burger. Vegetarians, don't stray too far! Joy's features veggie burgers, salads and a number of vegetarian options, including the zucchini sticks, which apparently, according to loyal customers are a must!

Joy's can be found in two locations - one up in Harlem at 1567 Lexington at 100th and the other at 361 6th Avenue.

Want some more suggestions for great burger joints? Check out our top 5 picks for best burger spots in NYC, here.

Photos: Allana Mortell

For more neighborhood eats, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)