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September 8, 2010 10:15 AM   Subscribe

28,000 people can't be wrong: McDonald's voted worst burger by Consumer Reports. Obama endorsed Five Guys Burgers came out top. Of course, everyone has their favorite and sometimes it's not a matter of what tastes best, but of what's most convenient.
posted by d1rge (184 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there a link to the rankings? Otherwise, this is just a link to a brief review of Five Guys + McDonalds.
posted by seventyfour at 10:19 AM on September 8, 2010


It's not (entirely) the chain; it's the location.

There's an A&W near us (inconveniently in a mall) that sells amazing, fresh, wonderful burgers. Other A&Ws range from good to blah, but these are always just excellent.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2010


I quite like McDonald's burgers; they have a taste all their own, recognizeable in their sameness. I hadn't thought it could be reduced and recreated until Dorito's came out with their "X-13-D" and "Late Night Burger" varieties, which did indeed transfer the taste of an entire McDonald's burger to each chip. It was kind of unsettling, kind of addictive, and massively impressive!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Five Guys is just not that good. I do not understand the rage.
posted by fusinski at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know what the survey specified, but the reporter CR sent out compared a Five Guys burger to a regular McDonald's hamburger. Outside of Happy Meals I don't think the regular hamburger is ordered very often. It's also not really comparable to the Five Guys offering, since it has very few condiments. Something like the Angus Deluxe or the Big n' Tasty would be a more fair comparison.

Don't get me wrong, McDonald's ain't great no matter how you slice it, but at least compare apples to (mass produced, processed and formed, previously frozen) apples.
posted by jedicus at 10:22 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a terrible comparison piece. And Consumer Reports can't get someone to an In-N-Out Burger?
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:23 AM on September 8, 2010


I've got 2 1/2 words for you.

In-N-Out.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:23 AM on September 8, 2010 [22 favorites]


My favorite burger is a toss between the Dolmen Burger at The Burren (omg....homemade potato veggie burger with other veggies inside of it!) in Davis Square Somerville, MA and the veggie burger at Houston's (made with rice and delicious barbecue sauce!) in downtown Boston near Government Center.

(What's with the chains being the most popular?? BUY LOCAL!)
posted by zizzle at 10:24 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is there a link to the rankings?

Click the "October 2010 ratings" link in the left column. Or go here.
posted by jedicus at 10:24 AM on September 8, 2010


Find a Ted's Montana Grill. Yes, that Ted.

Go to it.

Order a burger. Eat it.

Realize no other burger will ever be as good. Repeat as necessary.
posted by cavalier at 10:24 AM on September 8, 2010


I go to that Five Guys all the time. They aren't nearly as accommodating of my open mouthed reflection during topping selection.
posted by phrontist at 10:25 AM on September 8, 2010


Not to harp, but I don't think the rankings are available unless you're a CR member.

Also, although it isn't indie or craft (and there must be 15-20 indie/craft burger places in Austin), I love love love Whataburger.
posted by seventyfour at 10:26 AM on September 8, 2010


(What's with the chains being the most popular?? BUY LOCAL!)

I hear you (even parenthetically -- it's my Special Power) but nothing from either is going to compare what I put together at home. Once it moves past that point, it's a convenience/quality tradeoff that sometimes favours the stand-alone; sometimes the chain.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:27 AM on September 8, 2010


Incidentally, on the fries in that last article:

I won't be the first food writer to note that McDonald's makes terrific fries. I've read interviews with chefs who try to emulate that crispy exterior and moist interior, that perfectly pleasing balance of salty, savory and sweet. These fries are prevalent around the world for a reason: food scientists engineered the formula and the formula works. There's no real arguing with that.

Previously, J.Kenji Lopez-Alt's attempt. I tried that recipe just a few days ago, and the fries were, indeed, COMPLETELY SPLENDID.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:28 AM on September 8, 2010


(What's with the chains being the most popular?? BUY LOCAL!)

It's not really worth it to Consumer Reports to rate local burger joints because the results wouldn't be meaningful outside of a few major markets. Knowing that Bob's Burg-O-Rama in Sheboygan is the tastiest burger in the country isn't very useful to the majority of CR's readers.

Not to harp, but I don't think the rankings are available unless you're a CR member.

Okay, try this direct link.
posted by jedicus at 10:29 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hands down the best (non-homemade) burger I've had in my adult life was from The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro in Ottawa.

Having said that - I still prefer eating my burgers home made, off my own bbq.
posted by antifuse at 10:29 AM on September 8, 2010


If we're talking about chains, In-N-Out.

If we're talking about burgers in general, Bobcat Bite.
posted by joedan at 10:30 AM on September 8, 2010


The Five Guys burger was bigger and beefier but costs about $5, compared with $1 for McDonald's. (Five Guys sells a one-patty Little Hamburger for about $3.50.) And the meat is made to order, not in advance, so we waited 5 to 10 minutes.

Go into McDonald's when they aren't too busy. Ask them to make an Angus burger (about $5) and tell them you don't mind waiting while they cook the whole thing from scratch, burger, bacon, the works. Compliment the grill cook, and it will be even better the next time.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:30 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect that a blind taste test would yield significantly different results. McDonald's has perfected the art of short-circuiting your left brain and heading right for the pleasure center.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:30 AM on September 8, 2010


Paul's Burger Place made me a believer. I didn't know I liked burgers until I had one there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2010


There's an A&W near us (inconveniently in a mall) that sells amazing, fresh, wonderful burgers.

Speaking of A&W, I was really hungry for a chili dog the other day, and stopped in to get one with some rootbeer, and they said that they no longer served chili dogs. When did that happen? My greatest childhood memories include chilidogs, rootbeer, and the big boxes of family sized french fries. It could have been the location, but I felt like I walked into bizzaro world.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2010


In-N-Out is too greasy IMO. It's OK though. Plus the weird religious stuff on the wrappers - do I really want to know about 1 Samuel 15:3 when I'm eating?
posted by GuyZero at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2010


In-n-Out and Five Guys are actually tied for #1.
posted by electroboy at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2010


It's also not really comparable to the Five Guys offering, since it has very few condiments.

The standard Five Guys burger doesn't come with many (any?) condiments unless you explicitly specify them.

It's one of the reasons I love them so goddamn much; if you don't ask for something, e.g. ketchup or pickles or lettuce, it doesn't end up on there.

The interesting thing is that I recently took my father to Five Guys, and he said that it was very close to his earliest recollections of McDonalds and other first-generation 'fast food' places, back before pre-cooking the ingredients and pre-wrapping the food before it's even ordered became the norm. By modern standards, Five Guys almost doesn't count as fast food, and more than once I've heard people complaining about how slow they are, because they don't actually assemble your burger until you order it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:34 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Outside of Happy Meals I don't think the regular hamburger is ordered very often.

When I worked calling orders at McD's back in the late 80's, I was always surprised at how many non-cheese regular burgers we actually sold, and most of them were not going into happy meals. I wonder if the mix really has changed that much with the fattening of America, or if the people who would order 1 regular McD burger then, just order 3 now...

Here in Seattle, we have Dick's, a no-substitutions, $0.05 extra for ketchup throw-back to the 50's. If only I could get a Dick's burger and shake, with McD fries, in a single trip.
posted by nomisxid at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


do I really want to know about 1 Samuel 15:3 when I'm eating?
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
What do you think's in the burgers?
posted by norm at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2010 [19 favorites]


I find it really peculiar to read a review of a McDonalds burger. It's just mad. Anyone remotely interested in burgers is going to know what it tastes like. It also seems to be overthinking the issue.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 10:38 AM on September 8, 2010


Your preferred brand of ground bovine sandwich is inferior to my preferred brand of ground bovine sandwich!
posted by milarepa at 10:38 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


You can't compare a Five Guys $5 burger to McD's 99 cent cheeseburger. That's ridiculous, they're not in the same category. The unofficial burger hierarchy (in my head) goes something like this.
1. The dollar burgers at the big national chains are the ones you grab with your pocket change when you need a quick hit of grease in between meals.
2. Next comes the $3ish grab and eat on the go burgers, like the Big Mac or the Whopper that you pick up at the drive thru.
3. The Five Guys burger is a basic sit down to lunch burger. These are usually about $5. It takes time, because it's cooked to order, but they cook it well done and won't change it for you, so it's usually got no ooze factor. The fancy Angus Beef thing at McD's might be a fair comparison if you're writing an article, but I've never got round to trying one. Consumer Reports probably could have sprung for one though.
4. The quality sit down burger. Usually a local spot or local chain, uses good ingredients, will cook the burger medium rare if you ask, which is the proper way to do it. Usually around $7-8, but you can find some great burgers in the $4-5 range if you conduct a thorough search of your town.
5. The fancy burger. A good restaurant using ground sirloin, or the cut-offs from their steaks to make a $10+ quality burger. Pretty much the only thing you're going to eat for the next couple of meals.
posted by IanMorr at 10:38 AM on September 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hands down the best (non-homemade) burger I've had in my adult life was from The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro in Ottawa.

Dude, since you're here, I'll note that Quinn's near the Mayfair has the best swiss cheese and mushroom burger I've had in years. Though I was really hungry that day. The Works is good but so insanely overpriced. $10 for onion rings? No thanks.

posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:38 AM on September 8, 2010


Plus the weird religious stuff on the wrappers - do I really want to know about 1 Samuel 15:3 when I'm eating?

The wrappers could be made of Bible pages, the in-store music could be the James Earl Jones Bible audiobook, and the spread could induce religious hallucinations and I'd still eat it every time I was in California.
posted by jedicus at 10:39 AM on September 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Thanks, jedicus--that worked for me.

I'm with those who say that if you don't consider the convenience/quality tradeoff, any rankings will be meaningless (I'd add in cost, too). Yes, I'm sure a $15 Ted's Buffalo Burger is better than a $.79 basic Mickey D's, but that's not really a fair comparison, is it? Even if you add all the toppings, you're still talking about a completely different food and dining experience. Many times, I just want to breeze through a drive-in window and be on my way. Heck, I don't think Fuddrucker's belongs on the same list as Five Guys.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:39 AM on September 8, 2010


This chain doesn't exist in Toronto (where I presently live) but I used to be very fond of White Castle (and Harold & Kumar agree with me). It is the only fast food place I know which serves their hamburgers with sauteed onions. It's a really good idea.
posted by grizzled at 10:40 AM on September 8, 2010


This is a terrible piece, however, as a good and faithful MeFite I will not shy away from adding my two cents!

In the defense of Five Guys, their fries are made of potatoes, real potatoes. One of my coworkers went to visit her family in Idaho and upon her return we happened into a Five Guys. The board listed "Today's Fries Are From:" her tiny hometown. Excitedly we started looking around the restaurant and spotted the stacks of potato sacks FROM HER COUSIN'S FARM! That has never happened to me in a McDonalds.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:40 AM on September 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


AND--free peanuts.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:42 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has anyone besides me had a Butter Burger from Culver's in the upper-midwest? I seem to remember liking those even more than Five Guys.
posted by milarepa at 10:44 AM on September 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Our best local burger joint might be Blimpy Burger, which has been getting increasing attention from the cable channels. Some Guy Fieri show landed there last year, and "Man vs. Food" just shot a segment there yesterday. And then every time a Blimpy Burger episode gets rerun, the place is mobbed for a week. We want them to succeed, but don't really want success to ruin them either.

But as long as the staff keeps hanging up on people who try to phone in orders, and continue yelling at patrons who aren't paying attention to their responsibility to order their meal in the proper order, all should be right with the world and the burgers should continue being good.
posted by ardgedee at 10:48 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


How did you find out about the Bible references? I've sometimes pointed them out to people who've eaten at In-N-Out for years and never noticed them. If you're offended by them, you're trying to be offended.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:49 AM on September 8, 2010


"I've got 2 1/2 words for you.

In-N-Out."


I've got ONE word for you, Joe Beese.

Crown.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:49 AM on September 8, 2010


No Fatburger on this list? Biggie Smalls is rolling over in his grave right now!

(What's with the chains being the most popular?? BUY LOCAL!)

Damn straight. Where I live, Epic Burger and M Burger (a pretty good facsimile of In-N-Out) KILL Five Guys.
posted by partywithoutboundaries at 10:49 AM on September 8, 2010


the spread could induce religious hallucinations and I'd still eat it every time I was in California.

From the comments people make here about In-N-Out I kind of think this may actually happen to some people.

But good news, there's a Five Guys opening near me soon, a block from my local In'N'Out. Sadly, still no Sonic.
posted by GuyZero at 10:49 AM on September 8, 2010


I'm thrilled that Whataburger made it, even cracking the "7" rating. It's the highest-rated fast food burger on the list and is available 24 hours a day. Of course, I pity all of you who are not from around here and can't enjoy Kincaid's.

Mmm, now I'm hungry. But not for Five Guys, bleh.
posted by fireoyster at 10:54 AM on September 8, 2010


If you're offended by them, you're trying to be offended.

I kid. Usually when I eat there I joke about them referencing strange bible passages. They have the usual John 3:16 stuff but it takes a hardcore Christian to quote Numbers 3:21 or something like that. But I do find it a bit odd.
posted by GuyZero at 10:55 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Five Guys is utter crap. At least in Baltimore.

I had heard so much about how awesome it was and we ventured down to the Inner Harbor to give it a go. They screwed up my order (it happens, but not a good first impression) and I ended up with a really basic burger on crap bread with crap fries (the potatoes for future ones were a prominent feature of the decor/storage.)

Now, it did seem to be actual meat, so points for that, but unless the other Five Guys are serenading the customers while serving them lobster burgers I just don't get the appeal. It's the most basic of burgers. I think it only shines in comparison to Mickey D's and such, which is a low, low bar. Chipoltes does better Mexican than Five Guys does burgers. And faster.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:55 AM on September 8, 2010


Five-Guys used to be awesome. Back before they became such a huge chain. Now their burgers are awful. The buns end up a soggy mess, and the burgers are dense hockey pucks on inedibility. Granted, they're light years better than McDonalds, but really, that's not saying so much.
posted by crunchland at 10:56 AM on September 8, 2010


Correction: I guess In-N-Out is actually a fast food restaurant. Since there isn't one here yet, I was going based on my coworkers' assertions that it isn't "fast food." So, that makes Whataburger the second-highest in ranking.
posted by fireoyster at 10:57 AM on September 8, 2010


This chain doesn't exist in Toronto (where I presently live) but I used to be very fond of White Castle (and Harold & Kumar agree with me). It is the only fast food place I know which serves their hamburgers with sauteed onions. It's a really good idea.

Unless I am misremembering, since I haven't lived near one in a long time, White Castle steams their burgers (including, I think those little onion bits).

The fancy Angus Beef thing at McD's might be a fair comparison if you're writing an article, but I've never got round to trying one.

I never would have thought I'd be defending McDonald's publicly, but the Angus Burgers, reputedly made from fresh beef (as opposed to other McDonald's offerings), are actually pretty good. As good as a Five Guys little burger, certainly, though if you like the gimmick of all those 5G toppings like A-1 Sauce and jalapenos, I guess that's a shortcoming with any McD offering.

AND--free peanuts.

Okay, *this* is the thing I dislike intensely about Five Guys, those damn peanut shells strewn all over the floor. And as much as I love peanuts, why would I want to ruin my appetite wolfing down peanuts when I am about to get a burger that's already borderline too much food to eat in one setting (particularly if I have ordered the overflowing cup-in-a-bag full of fries)?

Has anyone besides me had a Butter Burger from Culver's in the upper-midwest?

My partner's family raves about them, but we've never gone when I've been out that way on visits.
posted by aught at 10:57 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, since you're here, I'll note that Quinn's near the Mayfair has the best swiss cheese and mushroom burger I've had in years. Though I was really hungry that day. The Works is good but so insanely overpriced. $10 for onion rings? No thanks.

Actually, I'm not in Ottawa - I was just visiting one of my university buddies there. He is moving back though, in the near future, so I will happily check out Quinn's the next time I head up to visit him.

And yes, The Works is insanely overpriced. But I can get Kraft Dinner on my burger, which is all you really need to get me in the door. :)
posted by antifuse at 10:58 AM on September 8, 2010


Yeah, the Five Guys I had in the DC airport was amazing, so I was stoked when they came to St. Louis, but it doesn't even seem like the same place. It was terrible!
posted by saul wright at 10:59 AM on September 8, 2010


Burger chains? Ugh. How common. I get mine from Dumont in Williamsburg. Aren't I just the cutest?
posted by Decani at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010


Five Guys is just not that good. I do not understand the rage.

I can kind of understand, since it just seems like they're trying to jack the mystique of a good old genuine independently (and likely Greek-) owned classic New Jersey burger joint. But having grown up a block away from the Red Tower II (home of "the fat boy"), it's easy to see through the facade.

White Manna burgers are my fave--little squares of greasy delicious heaven on a potato roll. Five Guys aren't even a pale imitation--and now, living outside of DC, I can't understand why anyone would go to Five Guys rather than Ray's Hell Burgers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:06 AM on September 8, 2010


Obama endorsed Five Guys Burgers

Why won't they prove they've passed inspection by the health department? Show us the long-form "A" certificate!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh, and I kind of like the little McDonald's 89 cent basic hamburgers. There's something about the mix of pickles, ketchup and mustard that goes really well with their basic roll.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2010


I used to go to the Arlington VA 5 Guys from time to time, circa 1998-99, when it was one of only (I think) two locations in the DC metro area. We'd make a special trip out there for lunch, because it was just superb old-fashioned greasy spoon diner food. And their fries were fantastic. That place also had perhaps the least overt branding I've ever seen on a fast food joint. Judging by the website, their branding is still pretty low-key.

I sort of want to go to one of the chain locations now that it's everywhere, just to see what's different. I feel like someone who used to frequent Ray Kroc's Mickey-D's wondering what the hell happened.
posted by rusty at 11:10 AM on September 8, 2010


Last time I was there for happy hour, Ruth's Chris offered their cheeseburger for $3 during happy hour. You can't beat that quality-to-price ratio.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:12 AM on September 8, 2010


have you seen the study on why M burgers do not decay? no. not the chemicals but the
heavhy doses of fat that mostly eliminate water, which is the usual cause of food decay.
posted by Postroad at 11:13 AM on September 8, 2010


And I feel like someone should mention The Counter in this thread. I quite enjoy it, and they have some great sweet potato fries.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:14 AM on September 8, 2010


I was actually a little grateful when I moved away from Madison, WI, because my arteries weren't going to put up much longer with the triple onslaught of Culver's Butter Burgers, the luscious higher-end burgers at Dotty Dumplings, and the divey awesomeness of the Plaza burger.

That said, isn't a lot of it as much about image/nostalgia as the food itself? Is there anyone who worships at the altar of Dick's who will honestly claim that their burgers actually taste good? Because if you do, you are highly suspect in my book!
posted by Pants McCracky at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


First, let me second cavalier's mention of Ted's Montana Grill. Outstanding burgers.

My vote for "worst burger" goes to Red Robin, for splashing juicy, yummy-looking burgers all over their literature but actually serving sad, grey pucks of meh meat cowering under overpriced fixings.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Barth's Burgery didn't even make the list?
posted by dr_dank at 11:18 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also like Fat Burger, and it's sad to see it always left out and mentioned behind In-and-Out when discussing West Coast chains. Anyplace you can get a fried egg on a burger is a friend of mine, and they're just much more tastier and more substantial than In-and-Out.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:19 AM on September 8, 2010


Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:21 AM on September 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can't understand why anyone would go to Five Guys rather than Ray's Hell Burgers.
Because Ray's has only one location? Because I'm out in Fairfax, and I want a decent burger, but don't want to make the 30-mile round-trip? It's not that mysterious. I mean, the best burger I've ever had was at the Bantam Chef in Clinton, SC, but I'm not making that road trip any time soon, either.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:24 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll see your Five Guys and raise you a BGR The Burger Joint. Ask yourself: What if Five Guys served beer, lobster and tuna?
posted by emelenjr at 11:28 AM on September 8, 2010


Because Ray's has only one location? Because I'm out in Fairfax, and I want a decent burger, but don't want to make the 30-mile round-trip?

Well, I understand that, but when I see statements above like Rusty's about taking special trips to go to Five Guys in Arlington, that's when I shake my head. Because the quality of meat (and the experience) at Ray's is worth a special trip, but I have a hard time seeing why Five Guys would be. Granted, I've only been once, but I was significantly underwhelmed.

And I say this as someone who has taken special burger (and chili dog) road trips. Though I understand there are limits to such things--the best burger I had (a bacon cheeseburger, at that!) was in Tel Aviv. Sadly, I don't think I'll be making it back there anytime soon.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:32 AM on September 8, 2010


milarepa: "Has anyone besides me had a Butter Burger from Culver's in the upper-midwest? I seem to remember liking those even more than Five Guys."

Yep - Wisconsin Reprazent! While, for health reasons, I don't get their burgers often, I do go there quite often for lunch (and gotta love Frozen Custard!)

There used to be a kickass site that had all the different kinds of burgers (butter, steamed, etc...) but I can't find it quickly - they also had a pizza guide. Anyone know of it? It's pretty fucking cool...
posted by symbioid at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


DC seems to be the center of the burger-eating universe with at least a half-dozen local burger chains sprouting up in addition to some one-offs (Desperado Burger, Rogue States, Good Stuff Eatery, Urban Burger, the aforementioned awesome Ray's Hell Burger). Just within the past five years we've had:

-the Five Guys explosion (I think this had something to do with former Redskins kicker Mark Moseley becoming their director of Franchise Development)
-Z Burger: basically the same as Five Guys but they offer freshly made onion rings.
-Fatburger came to town (OK, Landover. Close enough.)
-Elevation Burger: Same basic menu as Five Guys, but the meat quality is better, they use real cheddar cheese, and they cook the fries in olive oil.
-BGR (the Burger Joint). Closer to Ray's Hell Burger than the other fast food places.
-Cheeburger Cheeburger: Chain-y, but good.
-I've heard rumblings from former New Yorkers about the "Shake Shack" coming to town, dunno what that's all about.
posted by Challahtronix at 11:35 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


What, no Hardees Monster Burger??? LOL
posted by symbioid at 11:36 AM on September 8, 2010


That's awesome, Challahtronix. I think it's time for a DC burger tour.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:37 AM on September 8, 2010


PhoBWanKenobi: Also because I left the DC area a decade before Ray's opened?
posted by rusty at 11:38 AM on September 8, 2010


(Also it was a "special trip" from a different part of Arlington where I worked -- special as opposed to walking to one of the many lunch places we could walk to from the office.)
posted by rusty at 11:41 AM on September 8, 2010


I live right by the original Five Guys, and while I get the adoration, I can't take more than a few bites of that deliciousness before feeling like I'm going to die.

Anyway, I'm not in NY anymore, sadly, but for those of you who are: If you like Five Guys, Paul's is the same sort of thing, but better. If you miss In-N-Out, Blue Nine is the same thing, but somehow even better.

And Corner Bistro burgers only seem good because you're drunk on cheap beer.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:42 AM on September 8, 2010


I mean, the best burger I've ever had was at the Bantam Chef in Clinton, SC...

MrMoonPie is exactly right about this thread. We can all name a dozen places that serve better burgers than Five Guys, hell, the Matchbox still-local chain here in DC has better burgers than Five Guys, but that's not the point, they didn't compare little mom-and-pop outfits or chains with three locations in a single metro area, they compared national and regional brands. Consumer Reports doesn't compare every little mom-and-pop shop. They don't say "a '93 Ford Festiva maintained by theis wicked awesome mechanic that lives in your hometown is good for 300 or even 400,000 miles!" They compare the reliability over time of compact models, period. That means they might compare a Ford Festiva vs. a new Mini. Yes, the Festiva is the sad, pathetic McDonalds "hamburger" model in this comparison. In this comparison they took burgers, the standard issue burger for major national and regional purveyors and performed a poll. In their poll Five Guys and In-n-Out won, McDonalds lost.

Your favorite chain burger sucks.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was pretty impressed with the Five Guys that went into a local mall. I found the burgers to be quite a bit better than most of the area fast food (which I do generally enjoy, I just found the Five Guys stuff to be a bit better.)

But even if you ignore the burgers, Five Guys will always have a special place in my heart for those damn fries. Fuck they are so good. And like a drug dealer with the first time being free, when you order them, you ask for a small, and they give you a small, with a big heaping extra pile that nearly overflows the bag, and you eat every one, and then the craving sets in, and you need more...

For non-franchises, here in South East Wisconsin, we are blessed with Cafe Lulu which makes, without question, the best burgers I've ever eaten, and Leduc's which, despite being a custard stand, really knows their burgers as well.
posted by quin at 11:47 AM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I guess In-N-Out is actually a fast food restaurant. Since there isn't one here yet, I was going based on my coworkers' assertions that it isn't "fast food."

Unless you live in CA, AZ or NV, don't hold your breath on one arriving soon. INO is a family owned company and deliberately keeps expansion to a minimum, largely because the meat is all fresh and delivered to the restaurant daily. I guess all the locations are within overnight driving distance of the meat supplier(s).

It's more like medium-fast food. Your meal is cooked mostly from scratch when you order, there's usually about a ten minute wait.

I also bemoan the lack of Fatburger on this list. Mmmmm. I think I know where I'm going for lunch today!
posted by zoogleplex at 11:47 AM on September 8, 2010


Yeah, pre-franchise Five Guys burgers were great as far as fast food burgers go - and the original Virginia locations may well be good still. I remember going to them years ago; I was working at one of my first real jobs, for a start-up in Alexandria. I was very young, thought I was the tops, very into the myth of myself as a worldy young thing. I hung out with the Big restaurant people and thought I was special for doing so. We went to Five Guys once in a while. The burgers were honestly pretty good.

I kind of forgot about Five Guys when I stopped working in Virginia shortly after and grew up a little. I didn't notice when they franchised - and then I moved to Colorado last year and saw one in my small town. Surprised and overcome with nostalgia, I went in. The burger was terrible. I was sad.

I'd rather eat McDonald's, at least there's no saudade lurking inside that wrapper.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:49 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi: Also because I left the DC area a decade before Ray's opened?

Fair enough! My experience just didn't seem like special-burger-trip quality to me. And ironically, we made a special trip to the one I visited (at the insistence of some people who were psyched about a new chain's grand opening; I'd never heard of them before). But maybe the quality is location specific, or the quality has declined, as peachfuzz implies.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:51 AM on September 8, 2010


5. The fancy burger. A good restaurant using ground sirloin, or the cut-offs from their steaks to make a $10+ quality burger.

There's a restaurant not to far from my house that has a bar attached. The restaurant is upscale-for-the-town (white tablecloths, decent steaks and seafood, but not particularly fancy or expensive), but the bar attracts clientele on the other end of the spectrum. The last time I was there--around 8pm on a weekday, mind you--a middle-aged gentleman appeared to be entertaining two working girls while discussing with another patron a mutual acquaintance's trip "upstate."

In any case, the point is, on any weekday night, you can get the burger from the restaurant--which is good meat in a thick patty and actually cooked-to-temperature--for $2.50, if you eat it at the bar. It is occasionally worth the creep-factor. But usually not.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:53 AM on September 8, 2010


-I've heard rumblings from former New Yorkers about the "Shake Shack" coming to town, dunno what that's all about.

Shake Shack's not bad at all, but (as with Five Guys, apparently, judging by this thread) I was a little underwhelmed by the burger in comparison to its hype. But the first time I had it was sort of ideal -- I was walking home from getting drinks with a friend, passed near Shake Shack, and decided "What the hell, I'll stand in that huge fucking line, I'm a little drunk and have nothing else to do." So I got in line, and waited there for about five minutes, before this stranger walked up to the line.

"Anyone want some free cheeseburgers?" he asked. "We got too many, and we can't finish them."

The linefolk were silent. A stranger was offering us food of unknown provenance.

"Anyone? Seriously? We're just gonna throw 'em out otherwise."

So I piped up: "Okay!" and gleefully accepted two free cheeseburgers from the guy. I happily munched on them as I walked the rest of the way down to Union Square.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:53 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


We can all name a dozen places that serve better burgers than Five Guys

My instinct is that this comes up because Five Guys' branding is redolent of mom and pop burger chains, most specifically in the way their counter service and their ordering operates.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2010


I wouldn't be surprised at all if the chain quality is not as good as the original. And even the original wasn't, like, heavenly food or anything. It was just a big old-timey sloppy diner burger. They put something hyper-addictive in the fries though -- that is true. You'd get a large, and then a small for when you woke up in the middle of the night trembling.
posted by rusty at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Five Guys founder Jerry Murrell: If we put one frozen thing in our restaurant, we'd be done. That's why we won't do milk shakes.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:02 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a two- or three- store chain here that does a "gourmet" burger thing. Pick from beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, or salmon. Pick a style of bun: onion, wheat roll, etc. Pick toppings. You get the picture. Last time I was there I had a turkey burger with bacon, pepperjack cheese, spinach, and remoulade. It was fantastic, and cost around $8. The lamb burger with feta cheese and roasted peppers is good, too. Sides range from skinny fries, sweet potato fries (an abomination, but I get that people like them) to a decent salad to chips and salsa. They even sell beer!

It's a great concept for a burger stand. If they'd lose the hokey decor and get a marketing exec who knows what she's doing I think the place could really take off. In fact, it's the only franchise restaurant concept that I have ever set foot in that made me think, you know, this would work. I could see myself running one of these. Good food, simple concept, minimal number of employees, limited number of menu items that recombine a million different ways.

I've yet to try their beef burger yet, though.

(And Five Guys has improved since I stopped ordering everything on my burger. Limiting condiment creep makes for a less gloopy dining experience.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:16 PM on September 8, 2010


Best burger I've ever had at an independent restaurant was at a small diner in Berlin, Maryland. I don't know its name but it was old-fashioned and packed with memorabilia from "Runaway Bride," which was partly filmed in Berlin.

The sandwich in question was a generously-sized blackened blue-cheese burger. The meat was charred to a savory crust on the outside, moist and rare on the interior, just right, not cooked to death. The blue cheese was just melty enough, and the thing was crowned with fresh lettuce and a very flavorful tomato and wrapped in a hot, fresh Kaiser. Pure burger goodness. It's been my benchmark ever since.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:21 PM on September 8, 2010


The best (non-homemade) burgers I've had were butter burgers from Culver's.

I'm also a fan of Fat Mo's burgers, which is a local chain in Nashville and area.

Usually a local spot or local chain, uses good ingredients, will cook the burger medium rare if you ask, which is the proper way to do it.
posted by IanMorr at 12:38 PM on September 8


This American thing of eating rare *ground* meat freaks me right out. Whenever I'm in a restaurant and they ask how I want my burger, I'm always tempted to say, "cooked! Haven't you heard of trichinosis!" I generally settle for medium well because if you say well they turn it into hockey puck.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:22 PM on September 8, 2010


What kind of place is called "Five Guys" and doesn't serve pizza?

Also, peanuts. I had to leave before I could order. =(
posted by Eideteker at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2010


Though thank you, whoever, for reminding me I have *never* been to White Manna, despite going to high school in Hackensack.
posted by Eideteker at 12:30 PM on September 8, 2010


I just got back from a Five Guys (in Austin) not twenty minutes ago. Having experienced them in various parts of the country, I think that the quality generally varies from franchise to franchise rather than just by geographical region. The one I just ate it was pretty good, but probably not the best I've had.

Five Guys is not the most delicious burger you will ever have, if you make any kind of effort to seek out good ones. It probably will not compete with your amazing local restaurants and sit-down eateries. But it's good and you get a shitload of food, all of which is cooked right in front of your face and none of which is ever frozen.

I'll say that as compared to other national and regional chains, it stacks up very well. And though I will likely be hunted down and stoned to death for heresy, I like it a whole lot better than In-N-Out.
posted by malthas at 12:30 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're eating good meat freshly ground with clean equipment, it's not realistically any less safe than eating a rare steak. Nobody thinks you should eat a pile of rare ground mystery meat oozing on a maxi pad in the grocery store cold case.

And trichinosis is a worm that primarily affects carnivorous animals (wild game) and others that eat raw meat (factory farmed hogs). Cattle on their own are not a vector for trichinosis.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:32 PM on September 8, 2010


Also, peanuts. I had to leave before I could order. =(

Yeah, I remember thinking that their peanut allergy warning sign on the door was damn tiny when we visited.

This American thing of eating rare *ground* meat freaks me right out. Whenever I'm in a restaurant and they ask how I want my burger, I'm always tempted to say, "cooked! Haven't you heard of trichinosis!" I generally settle for medium well because if you say well they turn it into hockey puck.

Medium burgers taste delicious, though. I grew up in a family where burgers were always ordered/cooked well done and I didn't really like them that much until high school, when the father of a friend of mine gave me a medium burger at a family cook out. Delicious.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:32 PM on September 8, 2010


(that was for joannemerriam).
posted by peachfuzz at 12:33 PM on September 8, 2010


Arteriosclerosis with the mostest.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:33 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I will never forgive the asshole that burnt down my favorite burger joint in KC (technically they burnt down 3 times before they gave up...first fire was caused by a crazy guy setting himself on fire for his ex who was on shift, 2nd and 3rd were allegedly the owner of the bar across the street). They served the true fat burger. 6 kinds of cheese, including cream cheese, jalapeno's mixed into the meat before it was cooked, pepper bacon and an egg (I always got that scrambled on the side, then ignored it), nom nom nom.
posted by nomisxid at 12:36 PM on September 8, 2010


I don't get the love for Fatburger. Is it just nostalgia? The burger basically tastes like nothing and the toppings are crap. Not only that, but the fries taste frozen. The only redeeming thing about Fatburger is that you can get an egg on it. Maybe it's better in CA, but the one I've been to has always been horrible.
posted by !Jim at 12:50 PM on September 8, 2010


symbioid I believe this is the guide you were looking for.
posted by Carillon at 12:52 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


emelenjr: "I'll see your Five Guys and raise you a BGR The Burger Joint. Ask yourself: What if Five Guys served beer, lobster and tuna?"

A friend and I tried BGR — the location in Old Town — and were really unimpressed relative to Five Guys.

I think in part it's just a different style. The BGR burger emphasizes a really thick grilled meat patty and a hard roll; 5G serves a thin patty (or two, on the big one) cooked on a flat-top, and a soft roll. I think 5G's is the Right Way ... I found myself sort of gnawing on the BGR one, and not really able to bite through it to get the correct combination of flavors (bread, meat, onions, etc.) all in one go.

Granted this is a criticism I have of a lot of places; the uber-thick burgers just don't appeal to me very much. (Shooter McGee's is a local place in Alexandria that also does the thick-burger thing; if you're into that, it's worth checking out. Go on Monday; they're half-price.)

I have heard that some 5G locations are just not as good as others; they seem to be at risk of expanding too quickly and not keeping quality consistent.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:56 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like Five Guys hamburgers, but I rarely get them because I don't like to spend a quarter of my lunch hour waiting for my lunch. Lately when I want a burger I just grab a Wendy's single, and frankly it tastes pretty close to the same to me as Five Guys.

The Wendy's near my work is generally excellent as far as freshness and quality and it's the only one I ever go to, so I'm not sure if that holds true chainwide.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:58 PM on September 8, 2010


I'll just leave this here:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/lunchbox-laboratory-seattle
posted by markjamesmurphy at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2010


Oops let me try that again:

Lunchbox Laboratory
posted by markjamesmurphy at 1:03 PM on September 8, 2010


I love Five Guys, I really do. But when I was seven weeks pregnant and nauseated all the time...

I'm sorry, but there's some kind of secret ingredient in a McDonald's "burger" that made it one of the only things I could stomach. Woman can only eat so much applesauce. Otherwise, I'll agree that they're mediocre at best, but the fetus.... it has its preferences.

In any case, the sandwich is my favorite food group and the cheeseburger is by far my favorite variety of sandwich. I would have to say that the *best* I've had is the blue cheese burger at Fat Frank's in Bellow's Falls, Vermont. But as much as I do have my standards - if it has beef and cheese and it's on a bun, chances are good I'll stick it in my face and be happy about it.

AND--free peanuts.

This is my least favorite feature of Five Guys. My fiancé loves the damned peanuts and I end up finding peanut shells in my car for a week.
posted by sonika at 1:03 PM on September 8, 2010


Five-Guys used to be awesome. Back before they became such a huge chain. Now their burgers are awful.

Goddamn burger hipsters.
posted by electroboy at 1:04 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


The best burgers are made at home on my own grill with a homemade bun.
posted by Bonzai at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]




What do you think's in the burgers?

I heard that!
posted by Space Coyote at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


The point this article misses is that each burger joint serves its own purpose.

McD's = placating the small children or stoner buddy that just has a buck or two and needs something to eat like Right Now.
Krystal's = stoned out of your mind in the afternoon and you just can't stop thinking about the siren song of the Krystal burger.
Hardee's = last ditch attempt to soak up some alcohol before heading to the big game.
Burger King = Hardee's is closed.
Sonic = It's two-for Tuesday and you want an excuse to get a Cherry Limeade.
5 Guys = you actually want a hamburger that you can eat, but don't want to deal with all the time it takes to get to a real restaurant.
posted by teleri025 at 1:19 PM on September 8, 2010


As a kinda proud Midwester, I'm kinda proud to see Culver's doing well on the list. There are also a few SmashBurgers around here that I find pretty delicious for a quick mid-range high-class-fast-food burger.

Five Guys has made quite an appearance up here the past couple of years as well, but I sorta fear what their nation-wide mainstreaming may mean for their burgers.
posted by kingbenny at 1:21 PM on September 8, 2010


No Steak n Shake love?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:34 PM on September 8, 2010


We used to have Whataburger in Guadalajara, Mexico (where I grew up).

They were my favorite burgers as a child and when my parents decided we were moving up here, I was thrilled that I would finally have tons of whataburgers to choose from. Too bad we ended up in Palm Springs (and susequently Los Angeles).

They are now one of the primary reasons I want to move to Austin...
posted by fantodstic at 1:35 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've got ONE word for you, Joe Beese.

Crown.


I've eaten some tasty stuff at Crown Burger, but I inevitably feel sick later, and In-N-Out tastes better to me.
posted by weston at 1:35 PM on September 8, 2010


"Goddamn burger hipsters."

Strolling down 9th Ave. the other night, I saw a place advertising "HAMBURGERS & CUPCAKES."
posted by Eideteker at 1:36 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nobody here has mentioned Crystal burgers as the best. Huh. It's as if you care about your insides.
posted by inigo2 at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nobody has mentioned Jack in the Box either, which apparently reminds some folks of burgers, but has only ever made me think of e coli. That and that Rad Omen video.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:42 PM on September 8, 2010


Johnnie's Charcoal Burger, or nothing.
posted by HyperBlue at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This has got to be the most weirdly controversial thing that has been posted here in a long, long time.
posted by schmod at 1:55 PM on September 8, 2010


i'm kinda an authority on burgers as i have tried them from places all
around the world, my first burger i ate was at Uncle Sams cafe in 1957 in
of all places - Beirut, Lebanon. the other day while eating a very good
pastrami and onion rings at the Top Hat restaurant in Brea, Ca. the staff
had a couple of beef patties cooking on a grill. did'nt know that place
even had a grill or offered burgers. i'll let you know how good their burgers are, the next time i go there.
posted by tustinrick at 1:59 PM on September 8, 2010


Thank you, tustinrick! I would also like to know about the Top Hat burgers
to see how good they are. I hope that they end up being at least as good
as the pastrami sandwich!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:01 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a perverse interest in U.S. burger chains that makes my partner's eyes roll when I get excited that there's an In-n-Out on our way someplace. Any Canadians reading this far down have suggestions for anything almost as good North of the border?
posted by Space Coyote at 2:02 PM on September 8, 2010


inigo2, actually my dad firmly believes that Krystal burgers are exactly the perfect food for when you feel a stomach bug coming on. Got a quesy tummy? Have a Krystal. According to him the Krystal will chase out the sick because every living thing flees a Krystal.

Then again, my dad also believes that red lights turn red just to fuck with him, so ymmv.
posted by teleri025 at 2:03 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hero Burger in Toronto makes a great burger but it's completely unlike In'N'Out in terms of the burger itself. In terms of quality though it's arguably a better burger. Not to mention the 8oz patty is HUGE.
posted by GuyZero at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2010


Oh, also - Hero is halal so feel free to swing by after sundown to get your iftar on.
posted by GuyZero at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2010


I'm shocked that McDonald's finished last with Burger King faring better. Mickey D's isn't gourmet food, but BK's burgers are an insult to the cows who died to make that crap.
posted by Reverend John at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2010


Has anyone besides me had a Butter Burger from Culver's in the upper-midwest? I seem to remember liking those even more than Five Guys.

Your memory is correct.

Just as good as In-N-Out, too, as would be widely recognized if Culver's were in LA or NYC instead of Wisconsin and Illinois.

Five Guys makes a pretty good burger but they give you too many fries. The first dozen or so are amazing -- but once they're not absolutely piping hot they're sort of depressing.

The best of all, obviously, is Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in Cambridge, MA.
posted by escabeche at 2:19 PM on September 8, 2010


milarepa: Has anyone besides me had a Butter Burger from Culver's in the upper-midwest?

YES! We have Culver's here in Louisville and also in Richmond, KY. They make some excellent burgers.

My personal fav burger is from Big Baby G's here in Louisville. They're best known for BBQ, but they make one hell of a burger.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:24 PM on September 8, 2010


The thing about McDonald's ... everyone knows their food is terrible. It's the very symbol of American excess, industrialized food and bad taste. But the odd thing about it is, the business is absolutely amazing, very profitable and growing all the time, mostly outside the US lately. So, everyone knows it's terrible, yet they're by far the biggest fast food chain in the world, and they make money hand-over-fist. You can tell people about the factory farms and the health risks, and they don't seem to care - they still outsell all the burgers that are truly better, which is almost all of them. Pretty sad statement about human nature.

Remember the 25-cent Hamburger Stand? Now that was a crappy burger. From what I understand their margins were about 1 cent on the burgers, so they never threw them away. Well, that was true at the one where my friend worked. They made all their profits on drinks, but one dropped burger could really eat into the margins. So, there was no such thing as a burger they wouldn't serve.

A local place out in the boonies called the Owl Cafe here used to serve a mean green chile cheeseburger, but they expanded and kinda lost the appeal, and haven't tried them in a long time.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:24 PM on September 8, 2010


...the veggie burger at Houston's (made with rice and delicious barbecue sauce!) in downtown Boston near Government Center.

I love their California Burger (which GQ rated #6 out of 20 in 2007).

BTW -- The Houston's at the base of 60 State Street (Faneuil Hall) has closed and been replaced by its sister restaurant, Hillstone (of the Hillstone Restaurant Group).
posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on September 8, 2010


OK, so the best fast food burger in NM is still Blake's Lotaburger. Very greasy and made to order. Amazing. Totally bad for you. Try the green chile cheeseburger.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:26 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


but once they're not absolutely piping hot they're sort of depressing.

This is true, but it's a situation easily remedied by jamming them, still hot, into your mouth by the fistful while moaning ecstatically "Oh god... so good... must eat more..."

This eliminates any wasted fries and let's everyone know that you take eating fries really seriously.

I can also confirm that Culvers Butter Burgers are, in fact, completely awesome. Probably one of the best franchise ones out there.
posted by quin at 2:32 PM on September 8, 2010


The best drive-through burger I've had--hands down--is from B-Bop's in Des Moines, IA. It's a close second to Culvers.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:34 PM on September 8, 2010


BTW -- when in New Haven, CT one should head out to Louis' Lunch (Est. 1895) where "it all began!" Louis Lassen is credited with "inventing" the hamburger in 1900.

Today the burgers are made the same way they were since the beginning -- toasted bread instead of a hamburger bun and the only permitted garnishes are cheese, tomato, and onion.

[Library of Congress | New York Times | WCVB/Chronicle -- video | 01:39].
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on September 8, 2010


NPR: The Origin of the Hamburger.
posted by ericb at 2:37 PM on September 8, 2010


HyperBlue, why'd you have to go there? Now I'm craving a Johnnie's Theta burger something fierce. Other places may try, but nothing else comes close.

Otherwise, though, I'd pick Culver's over Five Guys any day. Steak and Shake now has a butterburger-type sandwich -- not a bad substitute, since the closest Culvers is 500 miles away.
posted by ThatSomething at 2:43 PM on September 8, 2010


I live across the street from a Five Guys, but fortunately for me Ray's Hellburger is only a few blocks away. I bet even Obama would admit his preference for the latter over the former.

For what it's worth, any food you get at the Burren in Somerville is going to be from Sysco. Not exactly local.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:44 PM on September 8, 2010


One of the best 'fancy burgers' in NYC that I have tried is the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern... it's a mysterious mixture of beautifully aged beef and prime rib, I think? For $27 it comes perfectly cooked on a yummy bun that doesn't get too soggy, and NO THEY WILL NOT PUT CHEESE ON IT.. if you want cheese you can order the $13 burger that is also great. I admire that. The cheese would ruin the magically deep and intense flavor of the meat. The fries are great too, with a bit of truffle oil. Anybody who scoffs at the price is urged by me to try it once, on a good night, say after your first paycheck or winning the lotto, or on your birthday.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:49 PM on September 8, 2010


I'll see your Five Guys and raise you a BGR The Burger Joint. Ask yourself: What if Five Guys served beer, lobster and tuna?

Yes, yes, yes. BGR is the best burger in DC, and anyone who says Rays obviously has broken taste buds and isn't qualified to be ranking burgers in the first place.
posted by windbox at 2:57 PM on September 8, 2010


I'm convinced that Krystal is actually the decades-long work of a misanthropic billionaire performance artist. Terrible food, incompetent service, filthy restaurants, and exorbitant prices.

How do they stay in business? Late-night drunks, judgment-impaired and still clutching a fistful of soggy one-dollar bills? How can that be a viable business model for anything beyond street corner prostitution?

I keep expecting to drive by Krystal and see it shuttered, with HA HA SUCKERS on the sign.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:29 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


UK-based MeFites may want to investigate Gourmet Burger Kitchen, a rather nice chain doing gigantic and very tasty (if a little expensive) burgers. They also do Oreo milkshakes. After one of each I could barely move.

(Can't give it my full endorsement, given the mouse that was happily scurrying around the floor while I was there, but hey, the food tastes good.)
posted by ZsigE at 3:35 PM on September 8, 2010


It's all about the Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis. Of course.
posted by norm at 3:41 PM on September 8, 2010


The best of all, obviously, is Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in Cambridge, MA.

are you a turrrist?
posted by raztaj at 3:50 PM on September 8, 2010


So not trichinosis, then. Am I thinking of E. coli? Why yes, yes I am.

Any Canadians reading this far down have suggestions for anything almost as good North of the border?
posted by Space Coyote at 4:02 PM on September 8


The Chickenburger in Bedford, Nova Scotia has pretty good burgers, which are made from all never-frozen ingredients. (I actually find their chickenburgers kind of meh.)

I'm not aware of any chains that are as good as the places mentioned above, except for Wendy's which is exactly like Wendy's in the US. (McDonald's, amazingly, is much worse; the McLobster Sandwich is an abomination.)
posted by joannemerriam at 4:05 PM on September 8, 2010


BGR is the best burger in DC, and anyone who says Rays obviously has broken taste buds and isn't qualified to be ranking burgers in the first place.

Blue cheese and bacon, naked. I defy you to come up with a better burger.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:22 PM on September 8, 2010


I live in the area of the original Five Guys, which is good. But the Mid-Atlantic is in this weird void that's too far south for White Castle and too far north for Krystal, which is bad.
posted by candyland at 4:27 PM on September 8, 2010


In the $1 burger competition, I like BK's Whoppper Junior much more than McD's Double Cheeseburger. Although in the last few weeks, BK has raised the price to something like $1.29.

Flame-broiled, with tomato, pickle, fresh onion, mayo. It also comes with lettuce, but I always ask for 'no lettuce'. For a $1 and change, it tastes great to me. I'm the one who's not at all surprised that BK beat out McD's.
posted by marsha56 at 4:38 PM on September 8, 2010


I'm sad if the Owl Bar has actually gone downhill. The Owl Cafe up in Albuquerque was always okay in my experience, but nothing special...whereas the Owl Bar was always a side stop on a road trip to Carlsbad Caverns or something, which just made everything taste better.

I always make a point of stopping at Lotaburger at least once when I'm back home (double meat, cheese & green, no pickles), but the brand-x ketchup they switched to back in the late-80s/early-90s still ruins the fries for me.

There was a burger place in a converted house down in Cruces that I remember as being pretty good but that was even further back than when Lotaburger changed their ketchup.
posted by Lazlo at 4:41 PM on September 8, 2010


I only got partway down the thread, but I CTRL+F'ed and found no mention of Larkburger in the article or this thread. It's a local thing to Colorado and it is some glorious burger action. The menu isn't all that big, and it doesn't have the secret In-N-Out menu, but the big thing it brings to the discussion is being fast food with quality ingredient and being able to order it from rare to well done. The default value is medium with plenty of delicious pink in the middle. I can't express the joy I found when I ate that the first day I moved out to the Vail Valley. If you're around CO look to see if there is a Larkburger anywhere near you I believe there are about four different locations right now. I'm sorry this sounds so Burger-Blue but I just moved out here a month ago and am in complete love with this place.
posted by Phantomx at 5:04 PM on September 8, 2010


I'm sorry, I know we've already sort of said this, but polling 28,000 people is just a fucking awful way to find the best burger.

There are basically three interesting categories of restaurants for this purpose:
  • Big national or international chains: everyone's been to these, but few people love them, so they'll generally lose.
  • Small local restaurants: these have the biggest variance in quality. Most of them are probably crap, but the genuinely best burgers are also going to come from some of the restaurants in this group (though the very best, Rocco's in Freestone, CA, has sadly been closed for years). However, in a nationwide group of 28,000, there'll be virtually no overlap in which local restaurants people have eaten at, so none of these have a chance.
  • Mid-sized regional chains: in any region, there tend to be one or two of these that really focus on quality, and that have a loyal following. People will generally prefer these over the big national chains, and they're big enough to actually show up in a big poll.
So the winners are virtually guaranteed to be taken from the group of regional chains. But at that point, the ranking is likely to be dominated by geography, rather than quality. Are most voters from the Northeast? Five guys will win. From the West? In-N-Out. And so on, all without any realistic ranking of quality.

On the other hand, it is probably a good way to find the best choice of chain hamburger restaurant in each region. So if the question you're asking is "Where can I get a really amazing burger?", this is article is worse than useless. But if the question you're asking is, "I'm driving down the interstate on a road trip, where's the local equivalent of In-N-Out here in _________?", it's probably a good resource.
posted by moss at 5:04 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Although frankly, the Five Guys I went to in New York was pretty disappointing, especially given how much my coworkers talked it up beforehand.)
posted by moss at 5:05 PM on September 8, 2010


Never had Five Guys but they are opening up soon locally. In-N-Out is on the way too. They'll give Sonic and Whataburger a run for their money.
posted by Doohickie at 5:14 PM on September 8, 2010


McD's is OK when I'm in the mood.
White Castle I love both because of sentimental attachment (my parents first date was at the one on Queens Boulevard) and the taste.
I had an In-And-Out Burger in Vegas and it was pretty damned good.
I also had the extremely decadant Rossini Burger at the Burger Bar at Manadalay Bay in Vegas (Kobe beef, topped with foie gras, black truffles and wine sauce. It was fucking delicious).
The best burger in NYC is at Paul's on 2nd ave near St Marks. The Corner Bistro isn't bad either. Same with the cheeseburgers at White Hut in Springfield, Mass and the Chili-cheese-bacon double burgers at the Merritt Canteen in Bridgeport, CT (soon to be visited by Guy Fieri, I'm told).
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on September 8, 2010


Man, would I love to live somewhere that good, cheap food (even the humble hamburger) was taken seriously.

Around here, you've got your choice of overly pretentious pseudo-French food or chains.
posted by madajb at 5:27 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I prefer a large plate of beans any day.
posted by Duke999R at 5:48 PM on September 8, 2010


Don't gimme no gas.
posted by jonmc at 5:49 PM on September 8, 2010


Although I recently tried Heinz Curry Beans. They were really tasty.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 PM on September 8, 2010


In-N-Out burger is my pick for Most Overrated Thing. Finally tried one in Los Angeles two years ago, after YEARS of listening to California people slobber all over it and I'd take a Wendy's burger if they both were sitting right in front of me. Like, it's fine, ok? It's a decent burger.
posted by Kwine at 6:10 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the Mid-Atlantic is in this weird void that's too far south for White Castle

Was about to complain that I totally ate White Castle as a kid in the DC area, but no -- it was Little Tavern ("Buy 'em by the bag!") I went my whole life up to this minute thinking these two places were the same.
posted by escabeche at 6:41 PM on September 8, 2010


Once about every month and a half, I'll go to Five Guys. I live barely a mile from one of the original locations, and it's darn tasty with a small order of Cajun fries on a lazy afternoon, when you only want one meal that day. I love Ray's and Good Stuff Eatery too, and their burgers are probably superior. The fries is what makes me go to Five Guys though, plus the fact that you can order online and just go pick it up - I hate the line at Ray's...
posted by gemmy at 6:47 PM on September 8, 2010


Been kind of down on fast food ground meat since this hit the news
posted by IndigoJones at 6:55 PM on September 8, 2010


Also, Thunder Jacksons on Bleecker Street is kind of ridiculous but their 'Dirty Burger' is awful tasty.
posted by jonmc at 6:56 PM on September 8, 2010


P. Terry's

When you visit Austin, TX!
posted by jchaw at 7:09 PM on September 8, 2010


I had a bad experience at a McDonald's back in college and can never eat there again. Know how every McDonald's has that smell? That smell is the smell of McDonald's. It's the smell you smell when you're a kid at birthday parties playing on the playground and eating happy meals, and when you grow up, it's a memorable nostalgic smell that you never forget. Well, I was at a McDonald's, and there was a bearded lady behind me, she had awful B.O. and I think she may have shat her sweatpants. Once I got my food, everything, her image, smell and the smell of McDonald's all just rolled into one awful thing and I started having gag reflexes and I got up and left. Now, anytime I smell that smell, that's the image I get.
posted by jefbla at 7:20 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I went all the way through this, wondering where the love is for Kua'aina (ahem, it's that Hawaiian burger joint). I guess they're only in in Hawaii and Japan. Juicy, delicious burgers served on poppy seed buns that force you to do the teeth checking smile to your friends, ridonkulous fries, and tasty onion rings. I realize most people coming to Japan aren't doing it for the burgers, but it's pretty tasty.

Shockingly, Outback has a pretty good burger, better if you get a side of blue cheese dressing with it.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:40 PM on September 8, 2010


"I quite like McDonald's burgers; they have a taste all their own, recognizeable in their sameness."

Me, too. They taste good and I mean the their regular ol' 79¢ hamburger.
posted by bz at 10:22 PM on September 8, 2010


If you're in Dallas you can hit up the Dairy-Ette
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:44 PM on September 8, 2010


Dairy-ette review - over 50 years of burgers, homemade root beer and hand cut fries

Also, Keller's Drive-In for biker babes, $1.15 burgers and serving beer in the car while you eat.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:45 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


"symbioid I believe this is the guide you were looking for."
posted by Carillon at 2:52 PM on September 8


YES! Thanks -- I recommend it, but most people here seem to have a lot of burger knowledge (I didn't, so that article informed me)

That site also has a great listing for pizza stuff (the different kinds)

Madison just got a 5-Guys and I'd like to try it eventually. Never tried Dotty's, but definitely need to, since it's a local classic, and I'd love to try In-n-Out someday. The BGR and Ray's both sound interesting as well. And maybe I'm a heretic, but I do love the Red Robin. But that's really more for the fries (I love their seasoning).

I used to get in-n-out confused with hot-n-now, and was like did they change management, cuz I thought they were horrible stuff, but then found out it was something completely different.

Cleveland region has a local drive in joint chain (5, according to their website) called Swenson's that I went to and they're pretty decent. My girlfriend loves their onion rings, and they have a decent veggie burger.
posted by symbioid at 11:17 PM on September 8, 2010


No love for Burgerville? If you're in Oregon (or in WA, in or south of Centralia), you have to go there. The only reason they didn't win is there aren't enough people in Portland to vote for them.

God I miss their marrionberry shakes. And everything else on the menu.

Going to have to try Five Guys though, now that I'm in NYC.
posted by Hactar at 3:13 AM on September 9, 2010


Checkers Big Buford Meal is my favorite fast food burger/shake/fries combo in the world.

Wake up sheeple!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:40 AM on September 9, 2010


Johnny Rockets when I'm in Ohio, In-N-Out when I'm in Los Angeles. Wendy's in a hurry, McDonald's if I just want fries. Don't know what's wrong with you people.

(It does not help that the franchise Five Guys and Culvers I've been to ranked slightly above Golden Corral in terms of quality, on the days I tried them.)
posted by SMPA at 6:50 AM on September 9, 2010


God I miss their marrionberry shakes.

Bitch set me up... with some DELICIOUS BURGERS!
posted by norm at 7:21 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


5 Guys is ok, mainly because they cook to order and you get exactly what you want on your burger. But, alas, they overcook their meat. If only they'd do burgers rare and use a hotter grill, they'd be a lot better.

Potomac Avenue, I have a serious weakness for Checkers fries, which I hate to admit.
posted by QIbHom at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2010


Five Guys is good, and their fries are pretty great (though not crispy at all, which is a problem for some), but Fuddrucker's burgers are really quite wonderful. They actually cook to whatever temperature you like (which is a rare thing for burgers except at fancy restaurants) and they have a pretty great little toppings bar. It's a family favorite.

That being said, if you're in Salt Lake City, we have a lot of really great Greek-family burger joints: Crown Burger, Apollo Burger, Astro Burger, Yanni's Greek Express...when I was younger and had better metabolism I used to go to Apollo Burger three times a week and get their cheeseburger combo: awesome greasy cheesburger, large fries, and a coke for $4.08 after tax. SO GOOD
posted by jnrussell at 8:11 AM on September 9, 2010


I like Five Guys. But the best burger I ever had was at Big Nick's Too in New York. SO GODDAMN GOOD.
posted by grubi at 10:18 AM on September 9, 2010


Okay, i can go into burgers, because I am a burger fanatic and a fat guy, so I'd know. The classification of burgers usually involves three tiers:

1. Fancy-schmancy "gourmet" (which may have a good taste, but are made too large and never have a taste which overcomes the logistical issues involved. if you have to put a knife in the middle to hold it upright, YOU FUCKED UP): TGI Friday's, Applebee's, etc etc. I am not a fan.
2. Sit down/fast food. Middle of the gourmet axis, but top of the taste axis. My favorite tier. Five Guys is a perfect example of this. it's better quality stuff, but they don't screw it up by making it a ground steak sandwich -- they make it a GODDAMNED BURGER. ther are some in this category that aren't super (Steak n' Shake is okay most times).
3. Drive-thru burgers. McD's, BK, Wendy's, Whataburger, etc. Can be quick, easy, and delicious. Also, can be boring as hell.

My faves in each category:
1. None. Seriously. No sit-down burger has been very good. Oh it comes with buffalo sauce? BFD, if the damn thing is unwieldy or not that tasty.
2. Five Guys, and a local joint here in Tallahassee named Brooma Grill. Fridays are double meat day, which means one extra patty for free. They're greasy, cheesy, and delicious. Like a burger ought to be.
3. Checkers' Big Buford. So tasty, it ought to have religious shrines. Also the double-meat Whataburger. When I want my burger fix sated, these two beat the Tier 3 competition, but I do scarf the trashier stuff from time to time.

We'll talk about fries later.
posted by grubi at 10:33 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I pity all of you who are not from around here and can't enjoy Kincaid's."

Tried Twisted Root yet? :) I liked it better than Kincaid's.

My favorite is still Clarkes in Mountain View, CA. Mostly because of the smoky cheddar cheese that they use. YUM.
posted by drstein at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2010


1. Fancy-schmancy "gourmet" (which may have a good taste, but are made too large and never have a taste which overcomes the logistical issues involved. if you have to put a knife in the middle to hold it upright, YOU FUCKED UP): TGI Friday's, Applebee's, etc etc. I am not a fan.
2. Sit down/fast food. Middle of the gourmet axis, but top of the taste axis. My favorite tier. Five Guys is a perfect example of this. it's better quality stuff, but they don't screw it up by making it a ground steak sandwich -- they make it a GODDAMNED BURGER. ther are some in this category that aren't super (Steak n' Shake is okay most times).
3. Drive-thru burgers. McD's, BK, Wendy's, Whataburger, etc. Can be quick, easy, and delicious. Also, can be boring as hell.


I posit that there is actually a higher tier than presented here. I've noticed a lot of so-called 'fine-dining' places recently getting into burgers - they tend to be much smaller than the mid-range chain-gourmet burgers listed in 1) above, but often try to use more exotic meat. Kobe beef, or some American knockoff thereof, etc. Sometimes these establishments even try to pass these burgers off as sliders, which seems like a baffling travesty.
posted by kingbenny at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2010


My visit to Gott's Roadside / Taylor's Automatic Refresher in St. Helena a few weeks ago and encounter with their Texas Burger was so great I'd possibly drive from Sacramento back there just for that experience again (well, that and Napa Valley is awful purty).
posted by weston at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2010


I posit that there is actually a higher tier than presented here. I've noticed a lot of so-called 'fine-dining' places recently getting into burgers - they tend to be much smaller than the mid-range chain-gourmet burgers listed in 1) above, but often try to use more exotic meat. Kobe beef, or some American knockoff thereof, etc.

Fois gras hamburger - $39 (Canadian)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:08 PM on September 9, 2010


Fois gras hamburger - $39 (Canadian)

Exactly. Probably served with cornichons instead of real pickles or some other flagrant misrepresentation. Maybe served on a croissant.
posted by kingbenny at 12:28 PM on September 9, 2010


If it's fois gras, it's not a hamburger.
posted by grubi at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2010


Try their foie gras poutine and get ready to burn your dictionary.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:29 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fois gras hamburger - $39 (Canadian)

And then there is the $175 Hamburger -- the "Richard Nouveau" -- at the Wall Street Burger Shoppe in lower Manhattan.
"...the Richard Nouveau consists of 10 ounces of Kobe-raised beef crowned with a thick 'lobe' of seared foie gras, 25 grams of shaved black truffles, and aged gruyere cheese. It comes enthroned on a brioche bun anointed with a homemade truffled mayonnaise and garnished with more shaved truffles. Oh, and gold leaf flakes from Japan, which has the yummiest gold.

This edible monument of decadence also eclipses chef/restaurateur Daniel Boulud, whose $150 'Royale' burger is now the Hyundai of haute burgers. While the star chef tells the Daily News he won’t get drawn into a pissing contest and raise his price, he’s none too impressed with this arriviste competitor: 'It's not about extravagance; it's about respect for real cooking. The luxury is in the care and the ingredients.' It is so on."
posted by ericb at 5:15 PM on September 9, 2010


...the Richard Nouveau consists of 10 ounces of Kobe-raised beef crowned with a thick 'lobe' of seared foie gras, 25 grams of shaved black truffles, and aged gruyere cheese. It comes enthroned on a brioche bun anointed with a homemade truffled mayonnaise and garnished with more shaved truffles. Oh, and gold leaf flakes from Japan, which has the yummiest gold.

NOT A HAMBURGER. Goddamn I hate people sometimes.
posted by grubi at 8:14 AM on September 10, 2010


NOT A HAMBURGER. Goddamn I hate people sometimes.

Alright I'll bite. Hahaha.

Why not? It's a big chunk of ground beef on a bun with cheese and mayo. That sounds like a hamburger. Well, a cheeseburger. Is there some condiment that disqualifies a burger from being a burger by its very presence? Is there some dollar amount threshold in pricing that disqualifies the burger?

It's a hamburger. It's just in a very different category than the ones rated in this list.
posted by kingbenny at 11:45 AM on September 10, 2010


Then again, my dad also believes that red lights turn red just to fuck with him, so ymmv.

Actually, that part's true.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:26 AM on September 12, 2010


NOT A HAMBURGER. Goddamn I hate people sometimes.

If it's ground beef, even if it's Kobe, it's still a hamburger. The condiments sounded ridiculous. Gold flakes? Delicious! Foie gras and truffles? Excellent with mayo! God, what a mess. The way I see it, all of those ingredients could have been used in other dishes and would have tasted better, so why waste it on a burger? All I want is onions, cheese, green chile and mustard. That's it. In a pinch onions and mustard by themselves will be adequate.

Take the truffles and put them to good use, better than a topping for a ridiculous burger. Ground Kobe beef, well, I can't argue with that, and the cheese sounds good. But I think I'd rather have a Kobe steak rare and just forget the hamburger and all the other crap. It's like a novelty of excess more than a well-crafted recipe. Who wants to put Kobe beef through a grinder? It's like serving a single malt scotch with soda. Nothing you do to it or add to it will help it taste any better than it already does. It stands on its own and should be served like that. Or give me the damn $175 if all you're going to do is buy a burger when you could have had the steak. Damn people ....
posted by krinklyfig at 9:40 AM on September 12, 2010


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