Not for veggies..
July 26, 2005 1:59 PM   Subscribe

The best American hamburgers? The American Hamburger is one of those things that I truly miss about the US and one of those things that we Brits try to copy but, for some reason, just never seem to get right.

Forget the golden-arches, we need some proper hamburger joints serving up half-pound burgers, real milkshakes and endless refills...
posted by Nugget (118 comments total)
Ground beef here in the UK just tastes... different. And burgers are... crispier. Is it because of a different fat content? From corn-fed beef?
posted by grouse at 2:03 PM on July 26, 2005

In and Out Burger in CA has some of the best burgers I've ever had at a chain.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:05 PM on July 26, 2005

A while ago Sunset did a nice piece on the best burgers in LA. This is one hell of a great city for hamburgers, I'll give it that much....
posted by mr_roboto at 2:05 PM on July 26, 2005

17. Double Bacon Deluxe with Cheese
Red Mill Burgers

posted by uni verse at 2:06 PM on July 26, 2005

Burgermeister's burgers are better than Burger Joint's (and as a bonus, are served without cloying pseudoretro design). Unfortunately their fries are not as good, but surely this cannot have swayed the rankings?
posted by cali at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2005

... I think I"m gonna have to try that, uni.

Also, upon my trip to Palm Springs a few months ago, I realized that Donnie was right w/r/t the In-n-Out. Oh, MAN we need those up here. We've got Kidd Valley though, which are (or at least used to be; haven't enjoyed them as much lately) great burgers.

And am I the only one who thinks Dick's is really overrated? They're decent enough, I guess, but, um, hell, give me Wendy's over them even.

But oh man, I would marry In-n-Out. I'd even overlook our religious differences. She could even take our children to church every sunday if she wanted.

Our delicious, delicious children.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

The Spiced Pear is right down the street...

Too bad I'd have to sell a kidney to afford it.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:13 PM on July 26, 2005

The fact that In and Out is missing makes the list invalid anyway.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:13 PM on July 26, 2005

If you want the best burgers in the world you have to travel to New Zealand
Burger Fuel
Burger Wisconsin

Made from top quality NZ product. They don't ooze acid like they do in the US either. My personal recommendation? The "Bastard" from Burger Fuel but that's cause I am fairly straight in my burger tastes.

If this sounds too much like a commercial, sue me. I'm doing you a big favour here bro.
posted by DirtyCreature at 2:15 PM on July 26, 2005

Anyone see this very cool documentary about unique hamburger joints? It was airing on Sundance for a while. Bobcat bite, from GQ's list, was one of the places profiled.
posted by papakwanz at 2:17 PM on July 26, 2005

For my (American) wife it was always Mexican food: Everywhere in London did it just slightky wrong. Now we're back in the US and having the same problem with Indian food.
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on July 26, 2005

The fact that [my favorite burger joint] is missing makes the list invalid anyway.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:18 PM on July 26, 2005

Rev. Syung Myung Me writes "And am I the only one who thinks Dick's is really overrated?"

No. And you're right about Kidd Valley, too. I like it for the onion rings and the shakes; not so much the burgers. I actually prefer Burgermaster.

In-N-Out is awesome.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:18 PM on July 26, 2005

... those are good burgers, Walter.
posted by devbrain at 2:20 PM on July 26, 2005

What? No Tommy's?
posted by zarex at 2:20 PM on July 26, 2005

My favourite
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:24 PM on July 26, 2005

Keith’s Café, in Memphis, MO has fanastic freshly-made-from-local-beef burgers. It's probably out of the way for most folks. Conway’s Red Top, in Colorado Springs gets a favoutable mention in Fast Food Nation, and I'd agree that they're great -- if somewhat larger than one's head.
posted by scruss at 2:25 PM on July 26, 2005

I surely likes me some in-n-out, but the best burgers I've ever eaten are most likely these if I do say so myself.
posted by dorian at 2:25 PM on July 26, 2005

It's gone now, I'm pretty sure, but there was a great burger joint in Placerville, CA. (northern foothill town) that served some wicked classic burgers. Great fries too. Great everything, really. And Emu burgers too! Which were really terrific.
posted by elendil71 at 2:28 PM on July 26, 2005

Here in Memphis, Dyer's serves incredible hamburgers, cooked in one hundred year old grease.

Rochester, NY has many great burger places. The local style favors a very thin patty on a roll with a meat and pepper sauce as the dominant condiment. Try a Garbage Plate if you're in the area and have a healthy cardiovascular system.
posted by bunnytricks at 2:29 PM on July 26, 2005

Jeez, you Dick's haters must not be natives. You go to Dick's when you're a) broke or b) drunk or c) drunk and broke.

posted by black8 at 2:31 PM on July 26, 2005


Why didn't you give me that advice /before/ I got home from New Zealand?
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:32 PM on July 26, 2005

Brenda's Bigger Burger in Fayetteville, Arkasnas.

It's a cinderblock building with two walk-upwindows. Customers can't even go inside.

Best burgers I have had.

I also like Steak and Shake.
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2005

Sigh, In-N-Out. Yet another reason to be born, live, and die in Southern California.

Don't you just love all the undocumented features? For those not in the know, you can have your burgers and fries done in ways not on the menu. Off the top of my head I know of the 4x4 (4 beef patties ... actually, you can have an XxX ... where you replace X with any number), animal-style (grilled onions in mustard, cheese, and diced pickles), meatless/grilled cheese (grilled cheese "burger" that still tastes like meat but is less filling and quasi-vegetarian), protein-style (a burger wrapped in lettuce - no bread), and others. You can also have your fries well-done (extra crispy), rare (less cooked), and animal-style (all covered in that cheese/onion/mustard/pickles mix - what a bargain).

You can also have your soft-drinks animal-style. Ok, no you can't.

All of the undocumented features can be had for no extra charge. What a country!

My usual meal:
Grilled cheese, no onions
Fries Animal Style
Diet Coke w/ a lemon wedge

BTW, I'm not trying to lose weight or anything (I would look sick if I did). My preferences are because of taste.

So English people in need of good burgers, come to Southern California. Enjoy our lovely weather and our foods ... and leave us your charming, intelligent, and lovely women.
posted by redteam at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2005

What a poor choice for Chicago. There are way better burgers than Poag Mahone's.
posted by agregoli at 2:37 PM on July 26, 2005

Yellowbeard : Why didn't you give me that advice /before/ I got home from New Zealand?

Poor bastard. Want me to post you out some? Even two weeks old, mouldy and cold, they'd still be better than the rest of the worlds' (and I've tried most of them).

They seem to like to keep the best things secret here.
posted by DirtyCreature at 2:39 PM on July 26, 2005

Burgermeister's burgers are better than Burger Joint's–cali

Agreed, Metro in L. Hairght and Joe's Cable Car on Silver are better hamburgers than B. Joint. I'm usually willing to hire a sniper to provide cover fire and brave going to Whiz Burger before I'll step into a Burger Joint.

Best burger experience is to get a burger at Zeitgeist and bring a joint.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:42 PM on July 26, 2005

Oh and someone should have told him about Redrum (formerly Murder Burger) in Davis. It's about the only pleasant smell in the whole damn city.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:45 PM on July 26, 2005

Red Mill makes some damn tasty burgers and all around I'd give them the Burger nod in Seattle.

Dick's burgers are merely adequate but they make up for that by being cheap. What sets Dick's apart however are the shakes and fries. Fresh cut fries and hand dipped shakes are the only way to go in my opinion and the fact that Dick's has both of these for under $1.50 each is simply astounding.

If I could get a Red Mill burger, Dick's Fries and Dick's Shake I think I would be in burger heaven.
posted by aaronscool at 2:55 PM on July 26, 2005


In which part of NZ do you live? I was there for two weeks and saw much of the South Island and a few parts of the North. Most breathtakingly beautiful country I have ever seen. Still considering moving there.
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:55 PM on July 26, 2005

The Awful Awful (awful big and awful good) in downtown Reno is the best burger in the entire world. Plus it's only $3.50 and comes with about 3 entire fried potatoes. And more grease than can be held in 7 hearts. Bliss.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 2:57 PM on July 26, 2005

What a poor choice for Chicago. There are way better burgers than Poag Mahone's.

Agreed. Moody's on Broadway, for one...if not for the burgers, which honestly vary in quality from night to night, then for the wonderful lowbrow backyard ambience.

If you're willing to drive an hour or so, and if you can ignore the crush of burger-lovin' Chicago yuppies, Redamak's in New Buffalo, MI is by far my favorite burger in the area.
posted by 40 Watt at 3:00 PM on July 26, 2005

Oh and Murder Burger/Redrum in Davis is that Red Mill/Dick's combo heaven I previously described.
posted by aaronscool at 3:04 PM on July 26, 2005

I work about a block away from the Santa Monica Houston's at #6, and it's true -- the burger is a revelation. $12, but oh so worth it.
posted by waxpancake at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2005

Deluxe Bar and Grill up on Broadway in Seattle's got some pretty good burgers.
Commentary on Red Robin plus or minus? I think they've got pretty decent burgers but their service is so slow you could go through an ice age and come out the other side waiting for your check. . .
posted by mk1gti at 3:22 PM on July 26, 2005


Weird, but Fuddrucker's, at least here in its original Wisconsin incarnation, makes an unbelievable burger.

You Madisonians: go to the Blue Moon. 'nuff said.
posted by rachelpapers at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2005

The Awful Awful (awful big and awful good) in downtown Reno is the best burger in the entire world. Plus it's only $3.50 and comes with about 3 entire fried potatoes. And more grease than can be held in 7 hearts. Bliss.

How funny! I was in downtown the other day (me=local) and my companions and I stopped at the Nugget so they could get their grease fix. I'm a vegetarian now so I didnt eat anything (well I snuck a few fries), but I was amazed (and a bit appalled) at the sheer mass of the burgers and fries there. I made constant snide comments about heart attacks, etc, but they were all making orgasmic faces and noises and didnt respond. I guess thats a vegetarians positive review, hehe.
posted by elendil71 at 3:25 PM on July 26, 2005

Yellowbeard writes "In which part of NZ do you live? I was there for two weeks and saw much of the South Island and a few parts of the North."

Required off-topic one-liner 1: Have you been to the Shire?
Required off-topic one-liner 2: And it required you 2 weeks because you got a flu and had to stay in the hotel for 13 days, right?
posted by nkyad at 3:40 PM on July 26, 2005

I just want to say that Luger Burger (#2) gets my vote for most unappealing burger name ever.
posted by makonan at 3:47 PM on July 26, 2005

I just don't get why people like In N' Out. Their burgers are OK and their fries are less than OK.

Saint John's Infirmary in Santa Clara makes the best greasy burgers I can remember but my memory may be warped by the baskets of salty fries I consume with each burger. Red's on the wharf in San Francisco has special place in my clogged heart for it's cheap hot dogs. When I need a burger fix here in Southern California I go to Cassell's. occasionally I'll go to the Apple Pan for variety.
posted by rdr at 3:51 PM on July 26, 2005

How dare they omit my favorite burger joint! This list is fixed. Which makes sense since its a metrosexual wank mag. I say that only because they overlooked my local burger joint.
posted by fenriq at 4:05 PM on July 26, 2005

cali and MiltonRandKalman: Interesting that neither of you mentioned Barney's... They've been my fave for quite some time (it "helps" that they're only a few blocks away).
Do you think they're over-hyped (seems they win "Best Burger" every year)?
posted by numlok at 4:10 PM on July 26, 2005

One of the most precious memories of travelling comes from a visit to London, where I, the naiive eight-year-old USian, decided to order a "broiled Beefburger" at a little Fish'n'chips place. At the time, I found most varieties of fish inedible, so it seemed like a sensible option.

Whooo, was I ever wrong. The "broiled" bit was true, and I assume the "beef" part was as well, but after the broiling, the beef patty was dipped in the same batter as the fish, fried in the same deep-fryer as the fish, and wrapped in a bit of the Times just like a piece of fish. I believe the good steward of the restaurant also had the courtesy to thouroughly douse the entire affair in malt vinegar for my benefit.

I understand now that this was entirely my fault for ordering such an unsensible item. The poor blokes had probably never seen a proper hamburger before in their lives. Even if they had, they wouldn't have had the proper equipment or training to replicate it.
posted by leapfrog at 4:11 PM on July 26, 2005

Since relocating to Columbus, I've discovered a local chain, Max and Erma's, that puts together really great hamburgers consistently. My favorite is the Garbage Burger, although I pretty much have to be hosed off afterward.

Red Robin makes pretty decent burgers too.
posted by alumshubby at 4:11 PM on July 26, 2005

Never forget In-n-Out's awesome secret menu.

I think it gives them the edge.
posted by hipnerd at 4:23 PM on July 26, 2005

There are at least two places in new orleans that should have made the list, and the fact that neither made it, nor any other place from new orleans, makes the list unusable, IMHO of course.

Sigh, In-N-Out. Yet another reason to be born, live, and die in Southern California.

I think you mean, at least 'one' reason...
posted by justgary at 4:28 PM on July 26, 2005

You know how Americans are, Kiki. They all love to travel, and then they only want to meet other Americans and talk about how hard it is to get a decent hamburger.
posted by ori at 4:34 PM on July 26, 2005

Wimpy said it best!

A Hamburger Today is a burger blog that should keep you salivating. Memories of Louie's Charcoal Pit on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, NJ, alongside the White Manna in Hackensack is good enough to keep me flying in urger dreams while I dwelll among the ignant non-burger eating Europeans.
posted by zaelic at 4:37 PM on July 26, 2005

"In-N Out.... In-N Ouuuutt... That's what making baaaabies is alllll about."
posted by afx114 at 4:41 PM on July 26, 2005

I should mention that the owner/manager of the above mentioned White Manna in Hackensack, NJ, was simultaneously the clan chief of the Cherokee Wolf clan of the Oklahoma Cherokee... (at least back in the '60s....)
posted by zaelic at 4:42 PM on July 26, 2005

In-N-Out more or less rules.

As far as chains go, you could do a lot worse than Fatburger. Can't hold a candle to In-N-Out, but then, you can't get a fried egg on your In-N-Out burger, so it'll do in a pinch.

(staccato thud of arteries slamming shut)
posted by hifiparasol at 4:45 PM on July 26, 2005

The best burger I've ever had was at Tamarack Pizza in Portage, WI. So good it'll make you cry.
posted by starkeffect at 4:50 PM on July 26, 2005

If you're in Chico, CA, it's gotta be the "Burger Hut."
If you're in Redding, CA, it's gotta be "Bartel's Giant Burger."
posted by keswick at 4:50 PM on July 26, 2005

Deluxe Bar and Grill up on Broadway in Seattle's got some pretty good burgers.

USED to have great burgers. I went there about 18 months ago and they were simply vile.

I'd say Red Mill is one of the best. But THE best in Seattle is a place in Ballard that I will keep ultra-super-secret ...unless you all agree to buy me a burger there.

And Dicks is GREAT post 11:30pm when coincidentally you only got change enough for a Dicks Deluxe in your car ash tray. (Plus Dicks pays their people well and gives them health bennies. And old Mr. Dicks used to occasionally work the counter or spray off the drive way in the early mornings.)

..mmmmm... Burgers. Man! I am trying to make weight! GODDAMNIT! No more food threads!
posted by tkchrist at 4:57 PM on July 26, 2005

Weird, two Philly places that are less than a block away from eachother.

Man, I want to try that $100 cheesesteak at Barclay Prime someday...
posted by deafmute at 5:14 PM on July 26, 2005

numlok, I haven't tried Barney's yet so I'm not qualified to judge.

My favorite fast burger (yes, better than In-N-Out!) is from The Habit.
posted by cali at 5:39 PM on July 26, 2005

I'm a big burger fan. Not only did I already know about that link, but I own the documentary that papakwanz mentioned. Also, a read a burger blog.

"red meat ftw," as I once saw someone say in World of Warcraft.
posted by danb at 5:39 PM on July 26, 2005

Try a Garbage Plate if you're in the area and have a healthy cardiovascular system.

Ack. I tried one of these shortly after moving to a village near Rochester--one of my colleagues wrote an "odd food" column for the local alternative weekly. Bring an titanium-plated stomach with you and follow instructions.

Lots of local applause for Bill Gray's, however.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:44 PM on July 26, 2005

I Lived in Teaneck, NJ up until October of last year and I'm almost ashamed that my whole life I never managed to take a shot at White Manna. This is far from the first time I've seen them on a top burger list. What's funny is that you have to see what the place looks like to truly appreciate it- it's an old 50-'s style red-and-white diner, checkerboarded glass windows and all, that looks smaller than your average gas station service booth. The entire place is surrounded by asphalt jungle- car losts, mostly, and camera stores, all the other elements of the modern world. At least once a year I would drive by it and just sort of be amazed that it's actually still there. I think it always will be. I'll come back home one day and the entire Hackensack main street would have slid into the river and there'd still be White Manna, just chilling there, completely lost in time.

And zaelic, Louie's is still around, but the burgers are terrible. Go for the chicken parm.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:49 PM on July 26, 2005

The best burgers are always to be found about 20 minutes' drive out of town, down a 2-lane highway that predates the Interstate. Look for a single-story white building, wood or cinderblock, wraparound glass front, with a sliding window for taking orders, and another window for pickups.

Additional Positive indicators: The sign is painted on wood, the old fashioned way. Or the sign is made of sheet metal and neon. They are only open from June - September. Picnic tables to the side. Parking on gravel in front. They buy their meat from a local farm, and the buns from a local bakery.

In my hometown, it's Ross Ice Cream. There's one in your town too. Try 'em before they fade into the mists of time, like the rest of the grand americana of the mid 20th century.
posted by Triode at 5:50 PM on July 26, 2005

A thread about burgers worth travelling for wouldn't be complete without mentioning the idea of the Hundred Dollar Hamburger
posted by Triode at 5:57 PM on July 26, 2005

But THE best in Seattle is a place in Ballard that I will keep ultra-super-secret ...unless you all agree to buy me a burger there. -- tkchrist
Okay, you're on. Let's not forget Zesto's Buffallo Burger though. . . email me at my super-secret email addy
posted by mk1gti at 6:11 PM on July 26, 2005

The best burger in Philly is from Nodding Head. Rouge is for Rittenhouse lawyer yuppies who wouldn't know a burger if it hit them with a supoena.
posted by Rothko at 6:28 PM on July 26, 2005

Agreed on the Nodding Head comment, Rothko. Also, about three hours outside of Philly on Route 522 west of Harrisburg is the Red Rabbit ("Make the Red Rabbit a Habit"). Great burgers, great fries, and they hang the tray on the window of your car. Triode, it matches your description pretty well.

Great burgers. Great frickin burgers.
posted by hifiparasol at 6:40 PM on July 26, 2005

didn't we ban hamburgers in the US? oh, that's next year.
posted by brandz at 6:46 PM on July 26, 2005

Don't forget The Admiral's Cup, down in Fell's Point in Baltimore, MD. A half-pound of good old-fashioned hand-shaped beef, seasoned perfectly. Plus, sometimes they're half price during Happy Hour. You can't go wrong.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2005

Frankly, In-N-Out, while really good for a fast-food burger, isn't really anything special, IMHO. It's not any better than anything you can get at your local roach coach. And yes, their fries do suck.
posted by gyc at 7:08 PM on July 26, 2005

Five Guy's in the DC metro area rocks! Best burger I've ever had, hands down.
posted by webranding at 7:24 PM on July 26, 2005

I liked the NZ burger links posted by DirtyCreature.

I think people in the US would be disturbed if major chains carried items like these.
Burger Wisconsin:
Satay: $7.30
Prime beef, satay sauce, mayo salad and relish

Garlic Mayo: $7.30
Prime beef, garlic mayo salad and relish

Hot Tomato Salsa and Sour Cream: $8.20
Prime beef, hot tomato salsa, sour cream, mayo salad and relish

Rocket: $9.90
Prime beef, rocket fuel sauce, cheese, bacon, mayo salad and relish

Chicken Chilli Jam and Cheese: $10.00
Chicken breast, chilli jam, cheese, mayo salad and relish

Chicken Camembert and Cranberry: $10.00
Chicken breast, camembert, cranberry sauce, mayo salad and relish

Chicken Cream Cheese and Apricot: $10.00
Chicken breast, cream cheese, herbed apricot sauce, mayo and relish

Tandoori Chicken: $9.50
Marinated chicken, mayo, salad and relish

Lamb: $9.50
Marinated lamb strips, mayo, salad and relish

Junior Burger: $4.20
Small unseasoned burger, cheese, mayo and tomato sauce
Studnut Stilton
1/3 lb ground beef, stilton sauce, avocado, salad, relish. $8.50

Brie Injection
1/3 lb ground beef, brie, salad, relish, aioli. $8.50

Peanut Piston
1/3 lb ground beef, peanut sauce, salad, relish, aioli. $7.90

Ring Burner
1/3 lb ground beef, jalapeno sauce, bacon, salad, relish, aioli. $8.60

1/3 lb ground beef, melted cheddar, beetroot, mango, avocado, bacon, salad, relish, aioli. $10.70

Flame Thrower
Chicken fillet, jalapeno sauce, avocado, salad, relish, aioli. $9.80

Chignition Pear
Chicken fillet, brie, fresh pear, salad, relish, aioli. $9.60

Nitris Seaside
Char grilled fish fillet, olives, dill hollandaise, salad, relish, aioli. (Fish subject to availability). $8.90

Carbon Seaside
Cajun spiced fish fillet, sliced capsicum, plum sauce, salad, relish, aioli. (Fish subject to availability). $8.90
And what is with aioli/garlic mayo in NZ? Is this just mayo with a bit of garlic flavor, or is it the real stuff where a heavy application on a bun would likely contain one whole clove of garlic?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:54 PM on July 26, 2005

MonkeySaltedNuts - unsure about NZ, but here in Oz, aioli is the new coulis, which was the new salsa, which was the new pesto - ie the trendy sauce du jour that every restaurant & cafe does its' own thing with, totally disregarding the "real" thing....

my two cents: any "burger": without beetroot is not a burger. should normally also include a fried egg, tomato, lettuce, a pineapple ring, fried onion, cheese & bacon... *salivates*
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:04 PM on July 26, 2005

In Cascade, Michigan there is a little diner called Pal's. It's in a classic 50's diner car and you can order a Chubby Checker Cheese Burger, a truckload of fries and a malt. Fantastico!
posted by Apoch at 8:04 PM on July 26, 2005

Chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Napa (Possibly the best restaurant in the U.S.) says he has a soft spot for In and Out. I think they're probably the best as far as fast food chain burgers go, but they're not the best burgers in the world or anything. However, they do have good service. One time they forgot to give me the french fries I'd ordered at their drive through window, and when I called their headquarters they promptly sent me gift certificates for eight burgers, eight fries, and eight drinks. Way to keep a customer.

I haven't tried a lot of these places and look forward to doing so...but I have to confess my favorite burgers are the ones my mom makes. Yeah, I'm a big mama's boy.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:10 PM on July 26, 2005

The best burger in Pennsylvania is neither Nodding Head nor Rouge, it is definately Red Rabbit. Ahhh, the Bunny Burger. Homemade poppyseed buns, bacon, cheese, secret sauce, brought to your car. Malt and fries with season salt.
But I've said too much. Please don't go. nevermind. Look over there. Where's the delete?
posted by Toekneesan at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2005

Here I go hatin' on the West Coasters - every person who I have ever met IRL that has had an In-and-Out burger has been underwhelmed. I have no desire to ever have one, or any of the so-called "great American hamburgers", for that matter. The best burgers will be, as always, cooked at home, from the finest sirloin, seasoned with salt and pepper, not handled too much, charred on the outside and slightly pink in the middle, and served on a toasted roll with whatever you want on it.

Except beet. Yuck-ptooie.
posted by yhbc at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2005

Oh, and to address the original question - don't let your cattle eat so much grass. Yes, the beef in Britain does taste different.
posted by yhbc at 8:21 PM on July 26, 2005

i think white castle deserves mention as something different and special ... they're small and you either love them or you hate them

and apoch ... i just might check pal's out on my next trip to gr
posted by pyramid termite at 8:30 PM on July 26, 2005

commish - you're wrong on this one. I live in L.A., have eaten at a NUMBER of these places, and In-N-Out wins. Five Guys is very good, I'll concur, and Houstons & Fatburger are also excellent. The best NON-chain burger I've ever had is at a restaurant in Santa Monica called Father's Office. It's mentioned in that Sunset article referenced above.
posted by jonson at 8:33 PM on July 26, 2005

jonson, I respect your opinion on many things, but have we ever met face to face?

I thought not. Bring me a burger when you do, and maybe you'll change my mind. Until then, I will still think that any burger served at a restaurant will taste more or less like an Applebee's all-American (or whatever the hell they're calling it this week) and could not hold a candle to a good burger cooked and served at home.
posted by yhbc at 8:43 PM on July 26, 2005

You're a strange cat, UbuRoivas. Your toppings frighten me.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:48 PM on July 26, 2005

What about the worst burger? I don't know if they're still around, but the Beefeater in Halifax, England gets my vote. Their "beefburgers" didn't even come with a bun -- just an awful synthetic-tasting shrivelled patty next to horrible soft chips (translation: fries) and mushy peas holding a wake on plate. It's possibly the saddest sight I've ever seen, and I won't even get into the taste.
posted by Devils Slide at 9:05 PM on July 26, 2005

worst burger? ... springfield high school cafeteria ... the "burger" was all crumbly and fell off the bun and the bun had these weird spider like threads coming out of them

fortunately, they've been closed for years ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:39 PM on July 26, 2005

No, commish, i wasn't clear: it's not the "home cooked v restaurant cooked" thing you're wrong about, it's the underrating of In-N-Out. It's not a phenomenon by hype alone, it's genuinely that good. Even if everyone you've met is underwhelmed by them, Southern California is burger mecca, and for this to be so widely acclaimed as the best burger in the best place for getting burgers is no accident. Frankly, when i meet someone who doesn't like the taste of In-N-Out burgers, I just assume they don't particularly like hamburgers, or that perhaps they are an alien creature disguised as a human, like our friend Ubu here in this thread. Hey, wait, have you checked these people you've spoken with for signs of being an alien?

As for home cookin', I imagine you might be right, but I'll be the first to admit that I've never had a home cooked burger that tasted as good as one from Fatburger, Houston's, In-N-Out, Father's Office, Five Guys, Fuddruckers, etc. Something about the variety of toppings, perhaps? Or the fresh ground quality of the hamburger? I dunno. Still, at worst, commish, if we agree to disagree, it will be perhaps the first time in several thousand posts between us.
posted by jonson at 9:49 PM on July 26, 2005

posted by euphorb at 9:58 PM on July 26, 2005

If you are in New Zealand, I quite like "Winsconsin Burger" joints, and if you are in Tokyo, I feel that Kua Aina has a fine burger.

Not saying the best, just saying they are good :)

If you have any places to suggest in my area, I'm all for trying :)
posted by lundman at 10:00 PM on July 26, 2005

I helped open the very first Red Robin back in 1977 and it was amazingly slow. Twenty years later I went back to the same place and the service was STILL glacial. It's odd that the RR's in Spokane do okay servicewise. The burgers are pretty good in both places, though.
posted by faceonmars at 10:16 PM on July 26, 2005

I agree. Beet (aka beetroot) "Yuck-ptooie".

But a little searching shows that beet is big in hamburger sandwiches in Oz/Nz. Beetroot happens to be the default relish on the Great Australian Burger – Aussies being the world’s biggest consumer of the humble beet. sells a special McOz (BEEF PATTY, Sliced Tomato, Iceberg Lettuce, Beetroot, KETCHUP, CHEESE SLICE, GRILLED ONION, MUSTARD).

I tried a google to see if anybody sane (non Oz/NZ) has beets in their sandwiches or even insane (USA) but the querry turns up 91,600 hits and I couldn't think of how to narrow the search.

I was able to find that Cannadiens combine hamburgers and beets to make Burger & Beet Pucks which are a "a truly Canadian Treat for Dogs".
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:57 PM on July 26, 2005

My favorite, is from Casino El Camino in Austin, Tx. Best burger I have ever personally had. It's a dive punkish bar on sixth street and you order from a window in the back. It may take an hour for your burger, depends on the crowd, but it's a 3/4 pound delicious hamburger.
posted by jefbla at 11:27 PM on July 26, 2005

Culvers burgers are dipped in butter.
posted by thebatmanager at 11:51 PM on July 26, 2005

jefbla- Casino cooks some good burgers.

Also great in Austin: Hut's Hamburgers. They have about 20 different specialty burgers, and you can substitute buffalo, chicken, or longhorn natural beef for them. Good stuff.

bunnytricks: I first heard about Dyer's in the documentary Hamburger America. However, I heard a rumor that the dirty little secret is they don't use the 100 yr old grease anymore. I know that when they moved they made a big show of transporting the grease under police guard, but I heard that they threw it out and started with fresh stuff. Any truth to that?
posted by papakwanz at 12:13 AM on July 27, 2005

dirty's. austin, texas. end of conversation.
posted by ambient2 at 12:43 AM on July 27, 2005

In Austin, go for Shortstop.
posted by Espoo2 at 1:00 AM on July 27, 2005

On the SF Bay Peninsula, across the road from the Stanford Campus, lies Kirk's Steakurgers. Its a 50-year old institution in a new location, but the same great burgers.

Get a one rare with pineapple and cheddar cheese. Douse with your preference of fixin's. I go for garlic salt, thousand island, horseradish, onions and tomatoes. Grease your truck axle later with the drippings.
posted by turbo_simian at 4:28 AM on July 27, 2005

Huh, you know I never thought of it, but I bet if you took some golden beet sliced very thin and pickled, it'd be fantastic on a burger.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:51 AM on July 27, 2005

I agree with those who say the quintessential American burger is cooked on a grill in the backyard and enjoyed late on a summer evening, after the grass is cut and before the mosquitos come out. But it you must have someone else cook it for you, The Varsity deserves a mention, as does that greasy spoon in the run-down part of town that still makes homemade onion rings to go with their handmade burgers. Yeah, you know the place I'm talking about; every town has one.
posted by TedW at 5:12 AM on July 27, 2005

WI - The Plaza (Madison)
NM - Burt's Burger Bowl (Santa Fe)
CT - Louis Lunch (New Haven. It's on the list!)

I feel that a good burger does not have to be some massive, hulking hunk of meat with a gazillion toppings on it to be a great. In fact, Louis in New Haven does not even allow ketchup in the entire place- which happens to be the size of my studio apartment. For a ginormous burger that happens to be wonderful, try the Wollensky Burger off the lunch menu from Smith and Wollenskys (a few locations, NYC at 3rd and 49th) It will set you back about 12.00, but for a huge burger, the meat is simply amazing.
posted by cpchester at 5:55 AM on July 27, 2005

Devils Slide: you think that *my* toppings frighten you? try ordering the plainest thing from a cafe here in sydney, and your fried eggs are almost guaranteed to come with a rocket coulis of baby goat's milk & parmesan aioli with kaffir lime pesto salsa & sundried organic broccolini with shiitake mushroom galangal coulispestosalsaailoli...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:57 AM on July 27, 2005

TedW, I know exactly the place your talking about: Ann's Snack Bar - home of the "ghetto burger". It gets extra points for the owner, who doesn't allow cell phones or cursing in her place.

As for the Varsity, I may just have to have a couple of glorified hamburgers for lunch today now that you mention it.
posted by trox at 7:02 AM on July 27, 2005

Mr. & Mrs. Bartley's Burger Cottage
[expensive, but worth it, fresh meat ground on site as required; lime rickeys, real french fried potatoes and onion rings]
1246 Mass Ave
Bartley's Burger Cottage is a Cambridge tradition. It's a hole-in-the-wall, crowded, student sort of place with a huge variety (40? 60? 80? different kinds) of hamburgers. There is other food available, but you go there for a hamburger. Bartley's is not your standard, assembly-line hamburger shop -- it's a one-of-a-kind. No reservations, of course.

Mmmmmmmm. They are soooooo good, I'm surprised nobody else from the Boston area has mentioned this place!
posted by WaterSprite at 7:32 AM on July 27, 2005

Some of my favorites in the Chicago area: Boston Blackies, Billy Goat's, Country House (bonus points because they also offer buffalo, emu, and ostrich burgers!), and Portillo's. Chain burgers I like: Red Robin (we have a fairly new one in my town and I've never had a problem with the service), Fuddruckers, and Max & Erma's. The best burgers on the planet used to be served at the Come Back Inn, but unfortunately that place is closed.

The Chicago Tribune did a feature on this not long ago.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:34 AM on July 27, 2005

Milwaukee - Although I haven't been there in a while, the one place that sticks out in my head would be Solly's Grille. Their butter burger has, IIRC, around 1/4 stick of butter. They also have amazing custard shakes and it's all very reasonably priced. Bella's Fat Cat is pretty good, and I've heard good things about Mazo's and Sobelman's. Kopps is a local staple, but I don't like them that much. Leon's has the best custard, by far...

I'm surprised at how many people voted for franchises. I've never been to In-and-Out, but I'm guessing it's similar to Culver's - damn good, but nothing I would consider "the best". Anyone that's been to both, correct me if I'm wrong. It just seems like there's so many pubs/diners in Wisconsin that have absurdly good burgers I'd never expect to find anything matching it in a franchise. And as great as home-cooked burgers are I've had some resturaunt burgers that beat anything I could ever hope to achieve.
posted by nTeleKy at 7:52 AM on July 27, 2005

The Counter, Santa Monica. Best. Burger. Ever.

In-N-Out is AWESOME... but The Counter is in another dimension.

Burger in a bowl with feta cheese, maui onions, tomato, omg.... and it's right across the street....

posted by AspectRatio at 8:37 AM on July 27, 2005

I live in the wrong country.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:19 AM on July 27, 2005

I have to second Dyers. It's moved around a lot, and it's newest incarnation just happens to be right down the street from my house. They have a TRIPLE TRIPLE that is basically just a heart attack in a box. A very tasty one.

Now someone needs to talk about hot dogs, so I can sing the praises of Dogzilla. (Stanton, VA)
posted by absalom at 9:25 AM on July 27, 2005

I also like the counter but burger-in-a-bowl? If you lose the bun, is it still a burger???
posted by chaz at 9:26 AM on July 27, 2005

I've never even heard of Poag Mahone's.
posted by me3dia at 9:36 AM on July 27, 2005

I can vouch for #19 Sidetrack Bar & Grill in Ypsilanti MI. I used to bartend there and the burgers are indeed excellent.
posted by Roger Dodger at 12:11 PM on July 27, 2005

Absalom... I haven't been to Wright's Dairy Rite in a long time, but I sure am craving it right now. Unfortunately, it's too hot to go to the Varsity and eat in the car today (I did eat inside though).
posted by trox at 1:50 PM on July 27, 2005

papakwanz: Another Memphian here regarding Dyer's. They loose grease thru the cooking process so they are constantly having to add new grease. The story is they've never thrown the "old" grease out but it's doubtful that any of the original actually still exist. My experience with Dyer's is that it is only so-so. In my opinion the best burgers in Memphis are to be had at Huey's.
posted by Carbolic at 2:12 PM on July 27, 2005

Nope, born and raised in Seattle, and I always hear people talking about how awesome Dick's is. And I've never thought them anything special.

The Deluxe Grill on Broadway is actually still pretty good inmy experience; especially one Wednesdays, which is Burger Day and they're all like 4.50 or thereabouts. They're not the best burgers in the world, but pretty good. And I actually like Red Robin, too. But I haven't really had the problems with the slow-service that others have had, I guess.

I actually like In -n- Out Fries, too, so Maybe I'm just weird.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 2:23 PM on July 27, 2005

Nugget - Dude, I can think of at least two off the top of my head (and that's after a couple pitchers of Pimm's and Lemonade). Fine Burger Company in Muswell Hill is excellent, and Hamburger Union in Covent Garden is well worth a trip into Zone 1.

One thing we do here that I've never found in the States is a properly done, medium hamburger...there's nothing quite like it.
posted by Kreiger at 3:25 PM on July 27, 2005

my mom's burgers are really good, if they aren't, dad hits her. nothing like home cooking.
posted by breakfast_yeti at 5:16 PM on July 27, 2005

UbuRoivas, I had no idea the food in Australian restaurants was so fancy schmancy. Chalk it up to ignorance on my part, but Australians always struck me as no nonsense bunch who would probably chase anyone trying to peddle lime pesto salsa etc. out of town. The items you mentioned remind me a little bit of California cuisine. Aussies are definitely coming up with their own unique take on gourmet cuisine.

Btw, everything you mentioned from the typical Sydney cafe sounds scrumptious.
posted by Devils Slide at 7:58 PM on July 27, 2005

Regarding a good burger not requiring a bunch of "accessories" to be great, that reminds me of Alton Brown's take on a good burger. If I remember correctly he paid special attention to the quality of the beef (which he ground up himself) and the cooking of the patty. But he implored people to try it the purist's way: mayo and pepper on the bun with no other fixings.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:17 PM on July 27, 2005

Devil's Slide - there's a link to Alton's recipe further up on this same thread, from someone who actually tried it and can attest to the deliciousness.
posted by jonson at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2005

Thanks jonson. I'm going to try it soon. I should really click on all the links before I open my big mouth, eh?
posted by Devils Slide at 6:38 PM on July 29, 2005

Wakko, Louis made the list.
posted by cpchester at 9:05 PM on July 29, 2005

BEETS, From the first page of Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Purfume:

THE BEET IS THE MOST INTENSE of vegetables. The Radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip ...

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.

In Europe there is grown widely a large beet they call the mangel-wurzel. Perhaps it is mangel-wurzel that we see in Rasputin. Certainly there is mangel-werzelin the music of Wagner, although it is another composer whose names beigns, B-e-e-t---

Of course, there are white beets, beets that ooze sugar water instead of blood, but it is the red beet with which we are concerned; the variety that blushes and swells like a hemorrhoid, a hemorrhoid for which there is no cure. (Actually, there is one remedy: Commission a potter to make you a ceramic asshole -- and when you aren't sitting on it, you can use it as a bowl for borscht.)

An old Ukrainian proverb warns, "A tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil."

That is a risk we have to take.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:00 PM on August 16, 2005

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