On the Road Eats: FN-Approved Burger Spots
Photo By: Linda Facci
Photo By: Winnie Jeng
Photo By: Jason Little
Photo By: Danny Batista
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
Heck’s Cafe, Cleveland
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
White Manna, Hackensack, New Jersey
Go to: White Manna
Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar, Las Vegas
Go to: Guy Fieri's Kitchen and Bar
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
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