On the Road Eats: FN-Approved Burger Spots

Whether you like a griddled diner burger or a  steakhouse-style tower of chuck, these burgers earn a stamp of approval from Food Network stars.
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Photo By: Linda Facci

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Patty Party

The humble hamburger has earned its spot in the pantheon of comfort food classics, and Food Network stars have eaten more than most. Whether it’s an all-American classic or a souped-up meaty masterpiece, these are the most craveworthy, between-the-bun creations that Food Network stars just can’t get enough of.

Photography courtesy of Jason Little Photography

Au Cheval, Chicago

Chicago’s claim to culinary fame is deep-dish pizza, but The Kitchen's Sunny Anderson and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian can attest that the double cheeseburger at Au Cheval — named the No. 1 burger in America — is threatening to steal the Windy City’s signature-dish spotlight. It’s a classic, diner-style burger that features three thin-but-juicy patties (made with an 80/20 blend of certified Angus beef) layered with molten slices of Kraft sharp American Cheddar cheese and topped with creamy housemade Dijonaise, diced red onions and thinly sliced sour pickles, all piled onto a slow-toasted bun. Add an extra layer of decadent gooiness by ordering it Au Cheval style and it’ll come topped with a runny fried egg cooked in clarified butter.

Go to: Au Cheval

J.G. Melon, New York City

Iron Chef, restaurateur and master of the grill Bobby Flay is a self-proclaimed burger guy. He credits Manhattan institution J.G. Melon with serving "the best cheeseburgers in the world.” The time-tested recipe, which Bobby lauded on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, features a proprietary-blend beef patty that’s cooked on the griddle, which sears the exterior while locking in the juices. It’s then topped with two slices of American cheese melted until they’re dripping onto the squishy bun and “hopefully into your fries,” said Bobby. For the perfect bite, he likes his topped with pickles and a little bit of ketchup.

Photography courtesy of Linda Facci

Go to: J.G. Melon

Holeman & Finch, Atlanta

When Anne Burrell first discovered the Holeman & Finch double cheeseburger, it was available only to 24 lucky diners a night, after 10 p.m. Anne, a self-proclaimed “griddle girl,” said on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, that she was immediately smitten with the griddle-cooked double patty (a brisket-chuck blend seasoned with salt and pepper), layered with melty American cheese, red onions and homemade bread-and-butter pickles (made with Chef Linton Hopkins’ mom’s recipe). The all-American combo is tucked into a freshly baked pain de mie bun from H&F Bread Co. and served with housemade mustard and ketchup on the side. Thankfully for Atlanta locals, this “off the charts” burger is now always available at H&F Burger in Ponce City Market.

Photography courtesy of Bart Sasso

Go to: Holeman and Finch Public House

Heck’s Cafe, Cleveland

When Cleveland native Michael Symon revisited this childhood favorite and local institution on Burgers, Brew & 'Que, he ordered a double helping of burgers. He started with the signature Market Burger (named for the historic West Side Market, where most of Heck’s products are sourced). The burger features a 100 percent grass-fed Ohio beef patty topped with a half-pound of beer-braised short ribs, market-fresh greens and bearnaise sauce, all piled on a brioche bun. Michael completes the meal with a dessert burger, in which a brownie and vanilla ice cream are swapped for the patty, chocolate chip cookies stand in for the bun halves, and there's a funnel cake instead of fries. 

Go to: Heck's Cafe

Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger at Brindle Room, New York City

East Village gastropub Brindle Room is known for shareable plates of comfort food, but many diners prefer to hog the burger. The inspiration for Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger came from co-owner Dean Piccolo, who started making the burger with beef trimmings from his steakhouse, Sebastian’s. On Top 5 Restaurants, Sunny describes the resulting innovation as “drippy, juicy, delicious and beefy,” and she notes that Brindle Room earned its spot on the list by creating the ultimate beef blend. The 6-ounce patty is made from 30-day dry-aged beef neck, deckle and suet (or beef fat) to amp up the richness, and it's cooked in a screaming-hot cast-iron pan for a perfectly even, crusty sear. It’s topped with two slices of American cheese and a tangle of caramelized onions, then served on a plain white bun — all the better to let the meat take center stage. And Sunny’s not the only fan: On Triple D, Guy calls it “my kind of burger.”

Go to: Brindle Room

Kuma’s Corner, Chicago

Chef Graham Elliot’s Chicago hometown pride runs deep, so it’s no surprise that his favorite burger hails from local fixture Kuma’s Corner. The neighborhood spot serves gourmet burgers named for heavy-metal bands, but the one that rocked Chef Elliot’s taste buds is the Mastodon. The meaty sensation features a 10-ounce grilled beef patty topped with slices of smoky, extra-thick applewood-smoked bacon, zesty bourbon-spiked-barbecue sauce, sharp aged Cheddar and a heaping pile of frizzled onions. It’s all sandwiched on Kuma’s signature pretzel bun, which is just sturdy enough to withstand the hefty helpings of meat and sauce. The dizzying, hand-banging flavors add up to an experience that Graham describes as like “being karate kicked in the tongue.”

Go to: Kuma's Corner

Bobby’s Burger Palace, Paramus, New Jersey

When it comes to burgers, Food Network Challenge host Claire Robinson shows a little love for fellow Food Network star Bobby Flay. On a burger-centric episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate, she describes the Buffalo-Style Burger at Bobby’s Burger Palace as so good that it will “melt her tummy.” To come up with the mouthwatering creation, Bobby combined two of his favorite football-watching foods: Buffalo wings and burgers. In his playbook, you can’t have wings without hot sauce or a burger without cheese, so the ground-chuck patty gets a serious flavor infusion of hot sauce amped up with smoky chipotle in adobo and a creamy Monterey-Jack-Blue-Cheese Mornay sauce. Claire always gets her burger crunchified, so it comes topped with potato chips to create a trifecta of textures — juicy-crunchy-creamy — with every bite.

Go to: Bobby's Burger Palace (New York City, NY)

White Manna, Hackensack, New Jersey

When it comes to getting her burger fix, Alex Guarnaschelli leaves Manhattan and heads across state lines for a three-bite delight that she described on Guilty Pleasures as “sort of like a hug — a warm hug — from a hamburger.” New Jersey diner White Manna has developed a cult following for its sliders —to the tune of 1,000 sold each day. Beef patties (a custom blend from a local butcher) are cooked on the flat top over a pile of razor-thin onion slices (all the better to absorb those beefy juices), topped with American cheese and nestled onto soft potato rolls. And while Alex is a fan of the diminutive burgers, the record for most sliders eaten in one sitting — 32 — is held by a guy named Tiny.

Go to: White Manna 

Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar, Las Vegas

When Robert Irvine wants to indulge, he heads to Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar for “a burger that breaks all the rules,” he said. The logic-defying Mac-N-Cheese Bacon Burger, which Robert raved about on Guilty Pleasures, features 8 ounces of Harris Ranch beef that’s rolled into a ball, then pressed into a thick patty on the flat top. After the first side is amply seared, the burger is flipped and topped with a scoop of macaroni and cheese, then draped with an American cheese slice that melts nicely while the second side cooks. The burger is housed on a buttered brioche bun slathered with Guy’s zesty mayo-based Donkey Sauce and finished with applewood bacon strips, onion petals and shredded lettuce to create a “big, bold and decadent” mouthful.

Go to: Guy Fieri's Kitchen and Bar

Edzo’s, Chicago

Jeff Mauro is the Sandwich King, so he knows a good bit about good burgers. His favorite burger stop in Chicago — “possibly the country” — is Edzo’s Burger Shop in Evanston, where owner Eddie Laken is a meat master. The kitchen uses chuck for its ground beef, creating 4- or 8-ounce patties that Laken smashes on the griddle to cook them evenly, then adds American cheese, leaf lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes. Jeff’s such a fan. “I knew I had found my home,” Jeff said when he tasted the burger. 

Go to: Edzo's Burger Shop

The Nook, St. Paul

After all the juicy, jaw-dropping burgers Guy Fieri has sampled on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, it was only a matter of time before one was created in his honor. On a return visit to The Nook, a St. Paul neighborhood dive bar known for its Juicy Lucy burgers (called Juicy Nookies here), the owners surprised Guy with the Guy’s Big Bite Burger. For this take on their signature cheese-stuffed burger, the owners opted for zesty pepper Jack to match Guy’s fiery personality, and to drive home the “meat as topping” running joke from his first visit, they topped the hearty patty with bacon and roast beef, then finished it with Cheddar for an extra blast of melty, cheesy goodness. 

Go to: The Nook

Casino El Camino, Austin

When in Austin, Guy says to head for Casino El Camino for "the best burger in town." Juicy and tender, the 12-ounce monster comes topped with everything from cheese and thick-cut bacon to roasted serrano peppers and Texas-hot buffalo sauce. For a spicy side, pair your burger with Verde Chili Fries.

Go to: Casino El Camino

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