Breaking the Bun: The Most-Over-the-Top Burgers in the Country
Chefs around the country are redefining the burger with a distinct disregard for tradition in favor of insane moves like deep-frying American cheese in Dorito crumbs or replacing buns with quesadillas. Here are 13 of the country's craziest burgers — proceed with caution.
The Tanner and the Unicorn Burger, Tucker Duke's Lunchbox, Deerfield
Southern-style gastropub Tucker Duke's brings a local, seasonal and sustainable menu to the tip of Florida, but takes the do-gooding gloves off when it comes to The Tanner and The Unicorn Burger. A three-quarter-pound patty is already enough to knock out the heartiest appetite, but the beef is just the beginning. Add a dozen onion rings, six slices of bacon, six slices of American and cheddar cheeses, a sunny-side-up fried egg and some requisite veggies, and you've got a burger that could please even the most-mythical appetites. Plus did we mentioned it's sandwiched between two sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches?
Dorito-Fried Cheese Burger at Burgertown, Sacramento, California
Burgertown proudly reps Five Dot Ranch, a seventh-generation cattle operation based in Napa, California, where the cows graze over seven counties' worth of open space. The original ranchers behind Five Dot likely never envisioned the crazy lengths to which Burgertown would take their flavorful beef. The burger of the week won't be the same seven days from now, but come at a particularly wild time of the month and you'll find a monstrosity topped with three slices of American Swiss cheese that have been hand-breaded with nacho cheese-flavored Doritos, then deep-fried. Add thousand island dressing, pickled jalapenos, sweet potato fries and a focaccia bun, and you've got a burger that combines several guilty pleasures in one.
Sisig Burger at Tamà, Brooklyn
Tamà may look like a hole-in-the-wall takeout joint, but their creative and culinary approach to Filipino food has lures fans from all around. Those familiar to Filipino cuisine will know sisig (savory fried pork headcheese), but few have had it in burger form. Tama deep-fries the patty to add a crunch, then tops it with chile aioli, chile-garlic spread, lettuce and a fried egg. That alone qualifies it for over the top burger accolades, but the most eye-catching part is actually the bun, baked with purple yams (ube) to give it a pastel violet hue.
The Paul Bunyan at Bareburger, Brooklyn, New York
Bareburger started off as a music venue in Brooklyn's Bed Study neighborhood back in 2002, but when more fans started showing up for their grass-fed burgers than the bands, the founder decided to go all-in on the beef-based side of his operation. They've now expanded nation-wide, earning accolades including a nod from the James Beard Foundation for their sustainable mushroom and beef patty. Their conventional burgers are worth the trip alone, but while you're there you might as well go into lumberjack mode and order their Paul Bunyan, a hearty bison burger topped with Black Forest bacon, bourbon-pear jam and caramelized onions on a sprout bun.
OMG Burger at River City Cafe, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Voted Best of the Beach so many times they've lost track, the River City Cafe is renowned for their insanely delicious burgers made with fresh, never frozen ground chuck. There are 20 varieties to choose from, but the most-over-the-top is undoubtedly the OMG. Held together with a knife and best eaten with a fork, it starts with two seven-ounce patties topped with hickory-smoked bacon, Swiss, mayo, lettuce and tomato, fried onion strings and two onion rings. But the kicker is the bun – a pair of fried egg-and-cheese sandwiches.
LA Taco Burger, The Oinkster, Los Angeles
One of Los Angeles' premiere patty slingers collaborates with up-and-coming city guide LA Taco for a boundary-breaking burger mashup. Available at Oinkster's Hollywood and Eagle Rock locations, the LA Taco Burger tops their flavorful angus beef with a pair of carne asada tacos in corn tortillas with all the fixings (cilantro, onion, salsa roja), plus escabeche and a house avocado sauce. It's a clever embodiment of the beautiful melting pot that is Los Angeles, made even more perfect because it's inside a burger bun.
Goodnight Irene at Brgrbelly, Chicago
Brgrbelly’s chefs do it all, from baking their own bread to grinding their own meat. Their Plugra Butter buns, topped with black sesame seeds, make a perfect vessel for their Good Night Irene, named after a song covered by everyone from Leadbelly to Frank Sinatra. It's a blend of USDA choice chuck and smoked pork belly seared with sea salt and fresh black pepper, then topped with a crispy fried crab cake, pico de gallo, and a spicy remoulade. The best part? A free homemade “Almost Famous” butter cookie for dessert.
Quesadilla Burger at Pincho Factory, Miami, Florida
Pincho Factory started off as just an idea at a backyard grill-out, but it's since grown to 11 locations across Florida, starting in Miami. Much of the reason is their acclaimed quesadilla burger, which tops an all-natural patty with traditional Mexican ingredients like pico de gallo, guac, cotjia cheese, and crema, but then takes it to another level by stuffing it all between a pair of cheese quesadillas.
The Elvis Burger at Hopdoddy, Austin, Texas
When Hopdoddy opened on South Congress Avenue in Austin, it had hour-long lines for years. The company has since gone nation-wide, expanding to 25 locations from California to Tennessee. Timed with the opening of their Memphis location, they're paying homage to The King with their Elvis Burger, featuring American cheese, Applewood bacon, IPA-whipped peanut butter, and sliced banana on a house baked egg bun. Bonus points for the fact that it pairs perfectly with a local IPA.
The Sourvein at Kuma's Corner, Chicago
Kuma's burger prowess is no secret â they win burger awards pretty regularly, and many people consider it a must-try in Chicago. If you're looking for trouble, order a Sourvein. It starts simple enough â a 10-ounce patty, Applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and a fried egg â but things spiral out of control with the addition of a deep-fried chicken tender, Belgian waffle strips, maple-raspberry aioli and maple syrup.
California Roll Burger, 26 Beach, Venice, California
The great grandfather of the owner of 26 Beach might not recognize some of the creative burgers on the menu at this beachy spot. The family’s cooking lineage dates back to the 1800s and one of Tokyo's very first sushi houses, which they remember in the form of an eel hamburger that takes a traditional beef patty and adds grilled unagi, eel sauce, green onions, avocado, sushi ginger, seaweed and radish spouts.
Bad Ass Burger at Bad Daddy Burger Bar, Charlotte, North Carolina
Bad Daddy's over-the-top, build-your-own burgers have conquered six states. The crown jewel of the menu is their Bad Ass Burger. The restaurant has a way with bacon, as evidenced by their baconnaise and apple-bacon barbecue sauce, but their most-inventive creation using pork's greatest gift is their buttermilk-fried bacon, which tops a 10-ounce patty alongside American cheese, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato and pickles.
Austin Cho 1.5 at Kimchi Smoke, Westwood, New Jersey
New Jersey's Kimchi Smoke takes a Korean approach to American barbecue, which results in some of the country's finest fusion meats. Their brisket is no joke, but they took the Texas smoked tradition to another level by collaborating with the chef behind the original Ramen Burger for a pop-up featuring his signature ramen noodle buns. The result was the Austin Cho 1.5, which uses slices of 12-hour oak-smoked brisket, Fatboy Bourbon Chipotle Sauce, smoked kimchi, cheese, bacon, scallions and a gochu glaze on those ramen buns. Not surprisingly, the burger long outlasted that pop-up event and is now one of their best selling items.