People know Virginia’s for its burger. Which makes sense, since it belongs in any respectable conversation about the best in the city. It comes on a soft, squat bun with a thick patty, hunks of half-melted sharp white cheddar, mayo, and a little hill of not-too-sweet caramelized onions. There’s an option to add bacon, and we’d advocate for that. Once you’ve made this burger disappear, you might consider designing custom prints of it with the phrase “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later” written in cursive underneath.
That burger is the main reason we’d tell you to come to Virginia’s. But the runner up is that this is one of the East Village’s best date restaurants. It stays quiet during the week, so you can walk in without a reservation, and pretend you’re the kind of person who leads a spontaneous life (when, in reality, you would schedule your headaches if you could). The two-room, white brick space is romantic - with candle-lit tables and tan leather banquettes - but not so much that the table next to you will be communicating in a made-up language they reserve for dogs, babies, and each other.
While there are some dishes on the rest of the menu that we’d gladly introduce to our inner circle, nothing compares to the burger. The wagyu meatballs with mint are good, as are the mussels in a curry saffron broth that tastes a little like a bouillabaisse. Others, however, like the hake with sweet and sour sauce and the roast chicken that may have accidentally been grown on a lemon tree, lack the simplicity we love so much about the burger.
But you won’t really mind that overly-acidic chicken, because Virginia’s is a nice date spot where you can relax. There’s a sommelier on hand to help you choose a bottle of wine, although you could also opt for a beer-and-shot combo. Whether you go with the gamay or mezcal and a Miller High Life, eating here won’t make you feel like you’re turning into your parents - even when the person you’re with orders the fish and ends up eating half of your burger. It’s just too good not to.
Relative to a lot of other hyped (and overhyped) burgers in NYC, the one at Virginia’s is simple - not unlike a single-cell organism or belting an Abba song during karaoke. We love this burger. Maybe get two?
Skinny, shoe-string fries that we would eat as an entree. We were raised better than that, though.
We liked these mussels so much, we ate them all and got sad that the experience was over. And then we used the mussel shells to scoop up the curry saffron broth and drink it like soup. Along with the burger, these are a must-order.
One order comes with three meatballs and tomato sauce that has mint in it. Start your meal off with these.
You’ve had burrata before, and you’ll have it again. What makes this one stand out is that comes with chunky tomatillo sauce and micro greens. We’re filing an official complaint that it isn’t served with bread, so we’d suggest asking for some on the side
The fish itself is cooked nicely, but it comes in a bowl of semi-gelatinous sweet and sour sauce with hazelnuts on top. The combination is confusing. Skip this.
You might love roast chicken, but to love this one - you have to fully appreciate lemon. It’s very acidic, has crispy skin, and comes in a skillet with buttery potatoes. Ours was a bit dry in some places and then perfectly juicy in others. Regardless, the juice makes for an excellent dipping sauce for the fries.
Like the chicken, these tahini brussels sprouts are very acidic. If you’re the kind of person who squeezes a whole lemon onto almost anything, get them.