After driving by one day, I immediately knew I wanted to eat there. I love old timey diners and eateries! Upon further research, I realized that this little dive is actually quite famous - it's been featured on multiple Food Network shows (one being Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), and has been in business since 1946. People rave about the burgers, and now I can see why!
White Manna Hamburgers in Hackensack, New Jersey
After digging a little deeper (I overly research EVERYTHING) there's a few things you need to know before going!
1. Ordering: There's a specific way to order your meal. The chef cooks the mini burgers right in front of you, and you order directly from him - number of burgers (they're small), with or without cheese, with or without onions, with or without pickles. The onions don't come in just a few pieces - it's like a HUGE dome of onions. Not my thing so I got mine without. If you want french fries or a drink, you order that from the person manning the cash register (the chef only takes burger orders). Condiments and ketchup are on the counter.
2. Tight Quarters: What you see is what you get. White Manna really is that small. There's about 12 stools in the whole place. We sat at the counter to the left of the chef, and watched him work his burger magic. At one point I think he had 30 mini burgers on the grill at once. The patties are not pre-made either - we watched him pull off pieces of the meat mix and shape them quickly before plopping them on the grill. Super fresh! We dropped by at around 1pm on a Saturday and the place was PACKED. Because it's very small, be conscious of your place in line. It can get tricky with people picking up their food, paying and leaving.
3. To Stay or to Go: You can get your order to stay or go - if you can find a spot, I suggest staying to eat. It's fun to watch the happenings of this place. There were locals that looked like they had been eating there for years. The chef knew a few people by name and sight. It's kind of like a local bar that's been open since the beginning of time and everyone knows each other. The decor looks like it hasn't been updated since the 40's, but that's what makes it cool. Just watching the chef churn out burger after burger with such precision was entertainment enough for me. This place cranks out 800 - 1,000 burgers PER DAY according to Food Network.
4. Paying: If you stay to eat, you can pay when you're finished. When paying, remember exactly what you ordered. They don't give you a receipt so be conscious of that. This place is super cheap, it's actually kind of crazy what you get for your money! My husband and I each got 2 mini burgers with cheese, shared an order of french fries and each got a soda - the bill was $13. We work in NYC, and one sandwich for lunch could be $13! Outstanding quality at a great price. The chef has a tip jar - it's not necessary to tip. We did after seeing how hard he was hustling. Other people did too.
5. THE BURGERS! Last but certainly not least, how were the burgers, you ask? After the confusing ordering process, remembering your bill, maybe getting confused who was next in line, waiting for the burgers to be cooked from scratch - how WAS it? It was quite honestly one of the best burgers I've ever had. No joke. I LOVE burgers and savored every single bite of my White Manna burgers. The burger itself was so tasty and tender. After being open since the 40's, this place definitely has their meat mix down pat. The cheese was super melty which I loved - huge pet peeve is when cheese on a burger is not melted all the way - gross. They use Martin's potato rolls which is the only brand my husband and I buy when we make burgers - they are simply the best! I put a little ketchup on mine and went to town. It's like biting into a little heavenly pillow.
That's all for today! We will definitely be back to this local gem soon!