Burgers, the quintessential American delight, manifest in a multitude of forms that span the culinary spectrum. From the griddled Smashburger with its irresistibly crisped exterior to towering pub burgers, adorned with a kaleidoscope of toppings and dripping with tantalizing sauces. Even the inventive vegan burger, a rising star in the culinary world, is redefining what it means to savor this timeless classic. Today, it is easier than ever to find yourself in the vicinity of an outstanding burger that transcends expectations.
In our quest to uncover America’s best burgers, we have traversed the nation, from bustling metropolises to quaint towns, seeking the crowned jewel of burger perfection. These are not just any burger joints; they are establishments that have withstood the test of time and culinary trends. They are the restaurants that have, oftentimes quietly, honed the art of crafting a single, flawless burger that graces their menus.
But don’t be too quick to dismiss the rising prominence of vegan burgers. The beauty of a burger is its adaptability; it can endure the test of time, retaining its original allure. Alternatively, it can evolve to cater to modern tastes and preferences. From smashed patties to towering toppings, we present our picks for the finest burgers in America, each with its distinct character and culinary excellence.
1. Amboy Quality Meats – Los Angeles, California
Chef Alvin Cailan, renowned for his YouTube show, “The Burger Show,” showcases an exceptional mastery of the burger craft. At his Chinatown restaurant and butcher shop, Amboy Quality Meats, he offers a diverse range of burger experiences. From the Classic Double, featuring thin, loose-packed patties, to the sumptuous Royale with its thicker and richer patty. For the true burger connoisseur, there’s even a ten-ounce dry-aged masterpiece, adorned with caramelized onions and garlic confit, known as the DH Burger.
2. The Balboa Bar and Grill – San Diego, California
The namesake Balboa burger at this establishment is a testament to simplicity and flavor. Served on a flat-top grill, this burger is stacked with fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, and a smear of garlic aioli, all crowned with gooey, melted American cheese. It’s nestled within a freshly baked bolillo bun, specially chosen for its ability to cradle the succulent juices without disintegrating midway.
3. Bless Your Heart Burgers – Portland, Oregon
Bless Your Heart Burgers is a shrine to the Smashburger, where loose-ground patties emerge crispy and flavorful. These delicacies are presented on a soft potato roll and come adorned with Duke’s mayo, mustard, ketchup, sweet onions, shredded lettuce, pickles, and American cheese. It’s a fusion of fast-food convenience and backyard barbecue charm. Be sure to try the chili and coleslaw-covered variety or the LL Cool J Burger, boasting guacamole and bacon.
4. Brooks’ Sandwich House – Charlotte, North Carolina
Despite its name, Brooks’ Sandwich House is far from a misnomer. This modest red shack has been serving top-tier burgers since 1973. Their burgers exhibit a distinctive craggy char that seamlessly yields to juicy perfection. For those who dare to go “all the way,” the burger arrives with mustard, raw onion, and a generous serving of their smoky chili, a specialty that harmoniously mingles with the patty’s flavors. Cash is the preferred currency here.
5. Bub’s NOLA – New Orleans, Louisiana
What started as a humble pop-up at Mid City Pizza in June 2020 quickly evolved into a burger sensation. The immense popularity of Bub’s Burgers led to the opening of a brick-and-mortar location on Banks Street. The Bub Burger, with its double patties, American cheese, griddled onions, homemade bread, and butter pickles, and a smear of Bub Sauce, is a masterpiece served on a butter-toasted brioche bun. It’s a burger lover’s dream come true.
6. Burger-chan – Houston, Texas
Burger-chan has become a cult sensation with its vigorously griddled, umami-packed burgers that you can customize to your heart’s content. Whether you prefer a single, double, or triple stack, these burgers are festooned with an array of toppings, from pickled habanero to fried egg and house sambal aioli. Additionally, you can opt for the newer, larger patty. And don’t forget to order some tots to complete your meal.
7. Burgerlords – Los Angeles, California
Burgerlords is a charming, fast-food-style burger joint that surprises patrons with its entirely vegan menu. As of 2020, no animal products are used in their offerings. The star of the show is their house-made patty, freshly crafted daily from a blend of 30 plants, grains, spices, and nuts. Whether you follow a plant-based diet or not, one thing remains undeniable: these are outstanding burgers. Pair your meal with tofu nuggets and a creamy tahini shake for the full experience.
8. Burgers Never Say Die – Los Angeles, California
What began as a backyard pop-up quickly ascended to Instagram stardom and, eventually, to a brick-and-mortar location in 2019. Known for its purist smash burgers, Burgers Never Say Die delivers perfection in simplicity. The Regular, a single patty topped with ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles, showcases the essence of a classic burger. Imagine a McDonald’s cheeseburger, but actually delicious.
9. The Butcher Shop – Boston, Massachusetts
A tribute to old-world European boucheries, The Butcher Shop, brought to you by famed Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch, offers a sophisticated culinary experience. The TBS burger, featuring a perfectly grilled Colorado Wagyu patty, melted American cheese, and a special aioli sauce, is a testament to culinary excellence. While this burger might cost you a pretty penny, the taste is truly priceless.
10. Causwells – San Francisco, California
Causwells presents a smash-style burger that can be likened to a refined version of In-N-Out’s Double Double. The double patties are blended with dry-aged fat, layered with American cheese, and then adorned with lettuce, onion, lacto-fermented pickles, and a secret sauce comprising house-made Worcestershire and Thousand Island dressing. While you can add extras like avocado, bacon, or a fried egg, the burger is a work of art in its simplicity.
11. Cherry Cricket – Denver, Colorado
With a history spanning 70 years, Cherry Cricket, a 1950s trucker bar-turned-burger joint, has perfected the art of burger crafting. Starting with a half-pound patty on a sesame seed bun, you have the freedom to customize your burger from an extensive list of toppings. From herb cream cheese to grilled pineapple and even corned beef, the possibilities are endless. Additionally, their second location near Coors Field offers arcade games and fish tanks, making it an ideal spot to enjoy a burger adorned with peanut butter and bacon.
America’s diverse culinary landscape offers an array of burger experiences, each with its unique charm and character. From classic, no-frills favorites to inventive vegan creations, these burger joints stand as beacons of excellence, capturing the heart and taste buds of burger enthusiasts across the nation.