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nycs hottest new hamburger is from a gas station
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NYC’s hottest new hamburger is from a gas station

It will really fill you up. The tiny hamburger joint Smacking Burger has opened inside of a working gas station — which happens to be the last one in Manhattan below 14th Street. On a recent Saturday, the owners said they served some 800 customers. The four-pump Mobil on the narrow corner of Eighth Avenue and Horatio Street has a small wedge of a convenience mart. When you walk in, there’s a typical cashier to the left. To the right, past a shelf of chips and adjacent to coolers of drinks, Smacking Burger occupies a tight triangle. In that cramped space, station owner Tommy Hondros and his girlfriend Elizabeth Torres, along with two employees, take orders, fry fries, and cook burgers on a sizzling flattop grill. “It’s hectic,” Hondros, 37, told The Post. “We’re trying to get everyone fed.” He and Torres, 32, started serving smashburgers — burgers pressed into thin, crispy-edged patties — out of the station at the end of April. “People say they love that feeing of pulling up to a gas station and getting a burger. You can’t get that anywhere else [in the city],” said Hondros, who owns three other gas stations, all in Brooklyn. “I’ve been pumping gas since age nine,” the Bayridge native added. “My father had gas stations forever.” He fondly recalls how fuel stops used to house unique burger joints and wanted to recreate that experience. “I wanted to get that old-school feeling. There’s nothing but Burger King now,” he said. Smacking Burger definitely has its own vibe. On a recent Wednesday, a dozen or so customers — mostly young men in the sporty vests and high-performance work pants that signal careers in tech — lined up outside before the noon opening. Inside, tracks by Tyla and Dua Lipa offered a summery soundtrack as people waited up to an hour for their meals. The 1997 flick “Good Burger,” starring Kenan Thompson, played silently on a monitor overhead. “Kenan’s a customer, but he hasn’t tried the burger yet,” Hondros said. Six different burger variations are on offer. There are also sides such as “Famous Fries” ($7.99) loaded with beef crumbles, American cheese, pickles, “smack sauce” — a riff on a pink burger sauce, elevated with dill — and a creamy take on chimichurri. The special sauces, which include a funky horseradish option, are notably delicious and made in-house by Torres. “I be cooking every day in the house, I just love it,” said Torres, who grew up in a family of restaurant owners and has studied at various culinary schools. Menu standout burgers include “The Big Smack” ($8.99) with two patties, American cheese, shredded lettuce and Smack sauce on a Martin’s sesame bun, and “The Truff” ($8.99) — a single patty, grilled mushrooms, Swiss cheese and truffle-tinged hot sauce. Lucas Flores Piran, a 38-year-old film director who lives down the street from gas station, raved about the Big Smack and said it was worth his 40-minute wait. (His goldendoodle Apollo also enjoyed a $3 puppy patty.) “It’s delicious, hearty, flavorful, nice umami,” he enthused. “Better than the Motz burger,” he added, referencing Hamburger America, the restaurant opened by burger scholar George Motz late last year. “Don’t tell George.” Chris Melbourne, a 35-year-old who lives in Brooklyn and works at Apple’s nearby offices, loved the smack sauce and the juiciness of the patty. “I definitely would go back for more,” he said.

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