12 Of The Best Burgers In AmericaGooey cheese, lacy patty skirts, and all the toppings you could ever want.
We love you, Hamburg, but the burger as we know it was invented (and perfected) in the United States. And if for some reason you need proof of this, just read this guide. It includes 12 of our favorite burgers in food cities across the country, like smoked patties in Texas, the cheesiest juicy lucy in Minneapolis, a thick puck of kobe beef in DC, and more.
Bateau is a Seattle steakhouse that would be an ideal bridal shower setting if not for the glass window showcasing partially butchered beef torsos. They serve an off-menu, anatomically perfect burger you’d choose over your naked significant other. The patty is pudgy, and freshly packed from a coarse house grind. Toppings are simple—there’s just caramelized onion jam and garlic aioli between a challah bun that’s equal parts squishy and toasty.
Philly's best burger feels like it's hiding on the menu at River Twice, an experimental tasting menu spot that uses ingredients like koji butter, golden trout roe, and Firefly squid in its four-course prix-fixe. What makes the Mother Rucker so special are the crispy edges and perfectly-pink middles on the patties, topped with high-quality american cheese, pickled red onions, and mayo. It doesn’t matter that the prix-fixe is four courses. Go ahead and add this one on, too.
NEW YORK CITY
Our current pick for NYC's best burger is the thick, classic, purist’s delight at Red Hook Tavern. Guaranteed to be on every table in this cozy, saloon-like corner spot in Brooklyn, the burger is pretty simple: sesame seed bun, cheese blanket, Big Meat, and slightly sweaty onion. The quality beef patty is so tender that it falls apart like it had a long day and is eternally grateful to be at home in your mouth.
There are a handful of spots in Austin making smoked burgers, but our favorite comes from the barbecue trailer LeRoy And Lewis. Maybe it’s the all brisket patty that’s thick and peppery with a juicy interior. Maybe it’s the springy potato roll, or the chopped grilled onions that add a little sweetness to each bite. Whatever it is, it’s worth waiting in one of Austin’s famous barbecue lines to get your hands on one.
Unwrapping a warm USBS burger fills us with the kind of joy we haven’t known since Christmas Day, 1996 (the year the Nintendo 64 came out). The smashed and seared patties come covered in a runny cheese sauce that sinks into all the burger’s little cracks and charred bits, while the housemade potato bun is so soft that your fingers leave little imprints like a memory foam mattress. To top it off, the people behind this Miami food hall stand are as committed to a good pun as Bob from Bob’s Burgers. This place is a guaranteed mood booster.
Beep’s is a San Francisco drive-in burger joint that’s been holding it down with the same old-school setup since 1962. Burgers are cooked to a juicy medium and are embellished with lettuce and tomato, plus tangy Beep’s sauce that drips down the bun. Order a side of the beautifully crispy curly fries that are never greasy, and the creamiest root beer float ever. The whole Beep’s experience is simple and might inspire you to go to a vintage car show, pose with a Mustang convertible, re-watch Grease, or all three.
When you picture LA, maybe you think of traffic and celebrities wearing sunglasses inside. Here’s a better image: you, the beach, wine, oysters, and Dudley Market’s glam, beefy monster of a burger. Say hello to our favorite fancy restaurant burger in Los Angeles—a perfectly pink patty stacked with cheddar cheese, dill aioli, arugula, and caramelized onion-bacon jam, all on a brioche bun. It’s sweet and savory, briny and peppery, and something you’ll remember long after you’re finished. Not only is it the best burger in town, but it’s one to eat when you want to lean into the LA-ness of it all.
Burger Bodega pays a specific homage to the iconic corner stores around New York City, but this place still represents Houston. The space has the city's area code, “713,” plastered across faux corner store products lining every wall. Their glorious smashburger, with wafer-thin, crispy edges and a hint of griddle smoke, comes topped with a mayo-like sauce that melds together with cheese and grilled onions. The dense but soft potato bun supports the double stack without getting soggy.
Holeman & Finch’s legendary burger was once a very-limited-supply item you could only order after 10pm. Actual arguments resulted, relationships ended, and grudges were formed when the kitchen was sold out. Thankfully, H+F currently has a presence in the Braves stadium and another warm, memento-filled location that opened earlier this year. Now their hefty double patty simply topped with red onions, sweet pickles, and two slices of american cheese has become a menu fixture.
The Loyalist is a casual French restaurant hiding out on a quiet side street in Chicago, and the main reason to come here is for the outstanding burger. The patty is made from a mixture of chuck, short rib, and bacon, giving it a light, smoky flavor and incredible richness. The cheese is gooey and the caramelized onions are plentiful. In other words, this is a life-changing burger.
Thunder Burger & Bar in DC is one of those places that knows what it does well and sticks to it. And that’s the burgers, the best of which is the Love Me Tender—a well-seasoned kobe beef patty topped with white cheddar cheese and a sweet housemade remoulade. It’s the kind of burger where the juice runs down your hands and pools back on the plate (even when it’s well done), soaking all that flavor back into the toasted brioche bun.
In addition to being a beloved Minneapolis specialty, the juicy lucy is a heated local controversy, with Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club each claiming to be the originator of the cheese-stuffed burger. Although the real answer may be lost to history, Matt’s Bar gets our vote for the nostalgia: they’re still serving it decades later in a narrow, memorabilia-lined space that hasn’t changed much since the restaurant opened in the 1950s. The beef and grilled onions are extra flavorful, probably due to the well-seasoned grill that’s churned out millions of burgers. Just be careful with your first bite: the molten cheese has burned many a tongue.