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Culinary Travel / Signature Dishes

Signature Dish: The National’s “Ugly Burger”

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This week, the Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio Show comes to you from The Benjamin hotel in New York, whose restaurant, The National, boasts a signature dish called the Ugly Burger. With a name like that, there’s always a good back story.

When The National Bar and Dining Rooms was reviewed by The New York Times in May 2011, Sam Sifton suggested that meat eaters order the burger, which he described as “an ugly-looking affair below its pickled onions and jalapeños, but has flavor to spare.” Upon reading the review, Chef Zakarian and Chef Corsentino renamed it “The Ugly Burger.”

To make your own burger at home follow this recipe


  • 1 bun
  • 8oz ground beef patty (preferably chuck, brisket, short rib blend)
  • 1 thinly sliced tomato
  • 2 leaves of Bib lettuce
  • 1 slice of pickled red onion
  • 5 pieces pickled jalapenos
  • 5 pieces pickled Kirby cucumber
  • 1 Slice Gruyere cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon NTL Burger Sauce
  • 1 onions roll bun sliced in half


On a grill or hot sauté pan cook the patty until desired temperature (preferably Medium Rare), and place slice cheese on the top of the patty until it melts.

To assemble the burger: toast the bun and place one piece of lettuce on the bottom of the bun and the top of the bun.  Next place the burger on the bottom followed by all the pickles, the sauce, the tomato and the top of the bun.

By Chef Zakarian and Chef Corsentino