Where to Eat Great Restaurant Burgers from Coast to Coast
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Photo By: Andrew Cebulka ©Andrew Cebulka
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Photo By: Noah Fecks ©Noah Fecks
Created by chefs across the country, some of these burgers are topped with cheese and pickles, while others embrace exotic flavors. They've all won local and even national accolades, and for good reason: With almost everything made from scratch in-house, down to the condiments, they're not your average burgers. These are burgers that you have to use both hands to hold, ones that require extra napkins to wipe off the juices that flow down your chin when you bite into them. Here's where to find them.
By Monica Bhide
Atlanta: Holeman & Finch Public House
Want an H&F Burger? Used to be, you had to wait for 10 p.m. and the bullhorns. Yes, a staff member sounded two bullhorns when the burgers were ready, and if you were lucky, you would be able to buy one of the 24 burgers up for grabs! Served on a housemade pain de mie bun baked fresh daily, the burger has two 4-ounce beef patties with Kraft American cheese, slivered red onions, and bread-and-butter pickles, and is served alongside hand-cut fries and housemade ketchup and mustard. “We take the time to grind our own meat and make our own buns, pickles, ketchup and mustard from scratch,” says Chef Linton Hopkins. But you’re in luck: The burger is now available every day on the nightly menu.
More About: Holeman and Finch Public House
Charleston and Nashville: Husk
The Husk Cheeseburger is so terrific that just the description will make you drool: chuck, flank steak and bacon patties with Husk special sauce, white onion, American cheese, and bread-and-butter pickles on a potato-roll hamburger bun. “My favorite thing to eat in the world is a cheeseburger, and a perfect cheeseburger to me is reminiscent of that classic diner burger with a squishy bun and gooey American cheese. The Husk Cheeseburger is the kind I crave and was inspired by a drive-in I used to go to as a kid,” Chef Sean Brock tells us.
Photo by Andrew Cebulka
More About: Husk Restaurant
Boston: Craigie on Main
Chef Tony Maws spent six months perfecting this Local Grass-Fed Beef Burger, and all that work did the trick: The burger graced the cover of Bon Appétit magazine in 2010. Three cuts of beef plus suet, bone marrow, and dehydrated miso come together to form this burger. It is topped with Shelburne Farms cheddar, lettuce, onion, “burger vinaigrette” and mace ketchup. “The Craigie Burger is awesome! It’s beefy, unctuous and juicy — it satisfies every burger component and leaves you fulfilled and satisfied,” says Chef Maws.
More About: Craigie on Main
Fairfax, Va. and Washington, D.C.: Red Apron Butcher
The Original was made to be the kind of burger you could eat every day. The Original launched with the opening of Red Apron in Union Market DC in 2013. At the time, however, it was available only on Fridays, and only 20 were made during lunch. Demand grew so much that eventually it became a mainstay on the menu all the time and spread to the other two locations of Red Apron (Merrifield, Va. & D Street NW in D.C.). The Original is an 80/20 blend of brisket, short rib, sirloin and round and is topped with housemade pickles, tomato, red onion, iceberg lettuce and a very special take on Thousand Island dressing. “It’s a whole-animal burger. So it has a rounder flavor, great meat-to-fat ratio and a nice texture,” says Nathan Anda, partner/butcher/chef of Red Apron.
Photo by Marissa Bialecki
More About: Red Apron Butcher
Houston: Bernie’s Burger Bus
Buses roaming Houston
The Principal is a classic American burger with cheese and mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, pickles, onions, shredded lettuce and slow-roasted garlic tomatoes. “The Principal is your basic burger, except for the scratch-made condiments (yes, all of them — ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles and slow-roasted garlic tomatoes), amazing local cheese and a bun made by the best artisanal baker in town. It’s the most-unique basic burger on the planet!” says Justin Turner, chef/owner of Bernie’s Burger Bus.
More About: Bernie’s Burger Bus
Las Vegas and Los Angeles: Comme Ça
The Comme Ça Burger has become legendary and a must-order when you’re visiting the restaurant. Comme Ça Las Vegas Executive Chef Brian Howard tells us what makes this burger so special: “It’s a really simple answer. It’s all about the quality of ingredients. We use Cedar River prime beef that’s ground from the short loin, and hand shaped. We sear it off in a cast-iron pan, only using salt and pepper. A potato-and-egg bun is made in-house, and we’ve sourced a great mild cheddar that’s aged. To top it all off, we have a simple slaw of cut-to-order iceberg lettuce and Maui onion dressed in garlic aioli and a blend of spices.”
More About: Comme Ça
Los Angeles: Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
Chef Ernesto Uchimura's signature burger was rated Best Burger Los Angeles 2014 by LA Weekly. “The PCB (Plan Check Burger) is really an ode to the McDonald’s hamburger. The inspiration for this dish came from my childhood, but I wanted to make the burger uniquely my own by adding modernist condiments like a dashi-flavored cheese, chewy ketchup leather and schmaltz-infused onions,” the chef tells us. What is “ketchup leather,” you ask? Think of it as homemade-ketchup-as-fruit-roll-up. Chef Uchimura’s ketchup leather has tomato paste, sugar, cider vinegar, water, salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic, allspice, soy sauce, shiitake mushrooms and tomatoes. Before you head to the restaurant, check out their Instagram feed, which features their standout burger specials daily.
More About: Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
Madison, Wis.: The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant
The Old Fashioned House Burger is made from local pasture-grazed beef, grilled over a live hardwood fire, topped with fried onion, Bavaria Sausage Kitchen smoked bacon, aged Wisconsin Cheddar cheese, garlic sauce and a soft-cooked local egg, and served on a buttered and toasted bun. “[It was] created to reflect the lore of the original northern Wisconsin lumberjacks who started their day with this hearty sandwich. This combination of Wisconsin’s best-sourced products makes for the most-memorable burger you will ever experience,” says Chef Tami Lax.
More About: The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant
Minneapolis: FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar
FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar launched the Blu Ox Burger during the summer when they had a food truck. The lines of people waiting were a testament to how terrific the burger tasted. The burger, with Peterson Farms Limousin beef stuffed with AmaBlu cheese, bacon marmalade and oxtail ragu, has a Midwestern twist. “It’s the combination of elements that makes this burger so great. ... Flavors are layered, distinct and play off each other nicely. It’s a juicy mess!” says Executive Chef James Kyndberg.
More About: FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar
New Orleans: The Company Burger
The Company Burger does sound like the perfect burger — two patties of ground-in-house, all-natural, hormone-free Creekstone Farms beef that are seasoned with salt, griddled on a flattop with red onions and American cheese, and topped with homemade bread-and-butter pickles. It all goes on a butter-toasted bun that is made in-house. "At Company Burger we do our version of the classic American burger,” says owner Adam Biderman.
More About: The Company Burger
New York: Ngam
Former model Chef Hong Thaimee puts her Thai twist on the traditional burger at Ngam. The “Sai Oor Farang” Thai Burger mixes beef and Chiang Mai sausage with housemade sai oor curry paste, is topped with cilantro-lime mayonnaise and green papaya kraut, and is served with Chiang Mai fries (kabocha squash and sweet potato slices dipped in coconut-curry batter and deep-fried). “The ‘Sai Oor’ Thai Burger has become one of Ngam’s signature dishes, and it was on the menu from the very start. The burger really sums up my cooking philosophy, as it draws from the flavors and ingredients of Thailand that I love, while taking on the form that Americans know and crave,” says Chef Hong.
Photo by Noah Fecks
More About: Ngam
Portland, Ore.: The Grüner
The Grüner Hambürger is a grilled burger on a poppy seed potato bun with house-cured bacon, fontina or cheddar cheese, pickled onions, bread-and-butter pickles, aioli and arugula, served with fried smashed potatoes. “Our burger is consistently rated one of the best in Portland because it truly is an expression of how we do things at Grüner. Everything is made in-house and sourced from local, quality purveyors. Our pastry chef, Emily Kohlhepp, has created the perfect bun to accommodate the juiciness of the patty, which is ground in-house by our chef de partie, Oscar May. The pickles and bacon are cured in-house by Chef de Cuisine Jake Sheffield and Sous Chef Benjamin Sandberg,” Gregory Cantu, the general manager, tells us.
More About: Grüner
Washington, D.C.: Bourbon Steak
Why is the Oak-Fired Prime Steak Burger with sour pickles and Cabot clothbound cheddar at Bourbon Steak so good? “A key characteristic about our burger at Bourbon Steak that sets it apart is that we use 20 percent 50-day dry-aged New York strip steak in the grind. And we never overlook the importance of a good garnish. Ours is made with shallots and red wine cooked down to a relish,” says Executive Chef Joe Palma.
More About: Bourbon Steak