Clifton's Best Burgers Revealed - One Clear Standout With a Great Backstory
Last week The Clifton Times asked the community, “Who Has the Best Burger in Clifton?” Almost 700 votes later, the winners are clear…and the standout burger, with more than 50% of the total votes, might surprise you!
Situated on the corner of Clifton Avenue and Jewett, The Clif Tavern is one of Clifton’s oldest establishments and under its new leadership, home to our number one voted burger, as well as to a pretty terrific story. Built in the late 1800s, most locals will probably associate this unassuming spot with its previous owner, Charles “Skip” Kazer. Skip was known and loved for his “peace and love” philosophy, a sentiment that is alive and well in the renovated establishment with its new owners.
Tony Barone found his way into The Clif the day after his 21st birthday in 2010. That same night, Alex Amphrazis, a student at Montclair State University, came in for her first night of work in the bar. That chance meeting led to a remarkable love story and business partnership. Seven years later, the two were married and when Skip passed away in 2019, they bought the bar in an effort to save this neighborhood spot. Tony is now an accountant and Alex teaches third grade at School 13 - the same school Tony attended as a child - and together they are keeping Skip’s memory alive at The Clif.
Their Clif Burger, topped with white American cheese, caramelized onions, and Clif sauce on a brioche bun, is their most popular. Made with Angus beef, you can count on a thick, juicy patty served piping hot with fries that crackle with each bite. If their burgers remind you of another now-closed Clifton restaurant, it may be because their super chef, Eric, used to cook at Zinburger. Once a regular patron of The Clif, he is now putting Clifton’s #1-rated burgers out for them. “Eric cares about every single thing. He will never send anything out that he wouldn’t enjoy,” Tony said of their chef.
One of their main attractions is the billiards table, kept in pristine condition, with games costing just $1 each and free every Tuesday. Tony said that they typically host 40-50 games a night and people line up to wait for their turn. Among their many beer choices, they carry locally-brewed Ghosthawk on tap. If you’re looking for a late-night spot to satisfy a burger urge, The Clif has you covered. They’re open until 3 am and serve their full menu until midnight. After that, you can still order fried foods like their popular wings.
Every evening at 6:05 (their address) patrons aged 21+ are treated to a special on-the-house shot made with Pink Whitney vodka. It’s a delightfully sweet reminder of why Tony and Alex do what they do. “This place really is about peace and love,” Tony said.
Coming in second place is a Clifton favorite, the Allwood Diner. Formerly the struggling Jubilee Park Diner, brothers George and Gus Logothetis bought the restaurant in 2010 and now it’s a thriving, bustling business that often sees every table full.
The Logothetis brothers grew up in the business, helping out at their dad’s diner in the late nineties. In 2005 they opened the State Street Grill in Bloomfield but have since sold it. They also own the West Essex Diner on route 46.
According to Gus, the diner’s sauteed dishes are their most popular but the big seller from their lengthy burger menu is the formidable Big Boss Man. This monster sandwich is made with two grilled cheese sandwiches on either side of a ½ pound bacon burger patty, topped with onion rings, and includes eight slices of cheese. It is not for the faint of heart! My personal favorite is the Cali Burger, which includes bacon strips and avocado slices.
The diner opens bright and early at 7 am every day and closes at 10 pm on weekdays; 11 on weekends. Last call for the kitchen is an hour before closing.
Gus said that community support has been wonderful and the Logothetis brothers reciprocate whenever they can, supporting local fundraisers with donations or other support. The best thing about owning the Allwood Diner? “Socializing with the customers. You meet people every day and it’s a true blessing,” Gus said.
The third-place winner is a standout because it is the only one of these three that serves up a smashed burger - the patties are pressed flat on the griddle to achieve an all-over crispy outer layer. Burgerstrasse, originally called BurgerHaus, is a popular stop on Market Street near School #9. Founded by area residents Edwin Decena and Salvatore Costa, Burgerstrasse prides itself on super-fresh, hormone and antibiotic-free ingredients.
Of the name change, they said that “We outgrew the house and made our way into the street!” Strasse is German for street. “We wanted to make it a point to be more a part of the community.”
The Haus Burger is their most popular and it’s deliciously paired with their proprietary Haus sauce, a secret blend that took years of experimentation to perfect. “...we came up with an aioli that not only pairs with our burger well, but combined with our hand-cut fries takes our eating experience to the next level.”
Burgerstrasse has vegetarian patty options and also serves hot dogs, a steak sandwich, and two varieties of hand-breaded crispy chicken sandwiches. Though they keep the menu simple, there is enough variety to satisfy every palette.
Said the owners, “We consider ourselves not only of the people but for the people. At the end of the day, community meets here! We are proud to serve and be part of the Clifton Community. We can’t wait to see you come in through the black-and-white awning!”
Clifton is home to dozens of restaurants where you can get a burger on this National Hamburger Day or any other time. If you’re looking to try one, any of these three would be an excellent place to start.