Torta de Hamburguesa, Topolobampo, Chicago
While some non-burger restaurants may be accused of trying too hard when they offer a genre-crossing hamburger, Mexican-cuisine maestro Rick Bayless clearly knows how to play to his strengths. Topolobampo’s acclaimed burger, available only at lunchtime, is a house-ground rib eye and short-rib patty on an artisan bun, topped with chorizo, melted cheddar, and roasted poblanos. For dessert, go for the Oaxacan Chocolate Sundae.
3D Valley Farm Burger, Holy Grale, Louisville, KY
Occupying a former Unitarian church, this craft-beer bar puts a pub-cuisine twist on its local-beef burger: a fresh pretzel bun. It’s topped with bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar, arugula, and “fritje sauce”—a Dutch-style sauce made with mayo, whole grain mustard, and lemon zest. While fritje sauce is meant for dipping your double-fried potatoes, you can also request roasted beet ketchup, horseradish sauce, curry ketchup, or beer cheese. Save room for the chocolate pots de crème, topped with kettle corn and orange zest.
courtesy of Holeman & Finch Public House
Double Cheeseburger, Holeman & Finch Public House, Atlanta
Burgers aren’t on the dinner menu of Holeman & Finch, which offers upgraded southern classics such as fried catfish, oyster po’ boys, and braised rabbit. But show up around 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and you can order one of the day’s 24 double cheeseburgers, which come out at 10 p.m., announced by a bullhorn. Why only 24? The proprietors wanted to focus on quality over quantity. They make patties with a blend of grass-fed chuck and brisket, served on house-made buns with homemade ketchup, mustard, and pickles. If you don’t want to risk being Burger Customer No. 25, come on Sunday, when the burgers are available for brunch.
MGM Resorts International
Surf, Turf & Air Wagyu Kobe Burger, Tender, Las Vegas
The great burgers of Sin City—such as those at BLT Burger in the Mirage, or Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay—deftly walk the line between hangover comfort food and showstopping extravagance. But the Luxor’s steakhouse shows no such restraint: its $30 Surf, Turf & Air starts with American Kobe beef on a potato brioche bun, then takes it up a notch with a crab-tail medallion and crispy duck bacon. Not-so-mundane toppings include watercress, seaweed artichoke slaw, and truffle caviar aioli.
South Carolina Burger, Sesame Burgers & Beer, Charleston, SC
At this sustainable-minded burger joint—where even the to-go containers are biodegradable—the Angus beef is pasture-raised and hormone-free (Sesame also gets raves for its vegetarian-friendly black bean burgers). Toppings range from Brie and sliced apples to roasted beets. Southern-spirited burgers include the South Carolina, with house-made pimento cheese, and the Elvis-conjuring Memphis, with peanut butter, bananas, and bacon. Try them with a side of blue-cheese-dressed sweet potato fries, broiled with prosciutto crisps, scallions, and a red-wine reduction.
Green Chile Cheeseburger, Santa Fe Bite, Santa Fe
Topped with local green chiles, this definitive southwestern burger was reportedly first created at Santa Fe’s Bobcat Bite. This new incarnation, from the same owners, is found inside Garrett’s Desert Inn, on Old Santa Fe Trail. Come hungry: the patties are 10 ounces of house-ground sirloin and chuck, topped with chiles and white American cheese on a house-made, ciabatta-like bun. And unlike some restaurants, Santa Fe Bite lets you order your burger rare, if you like.
Courtesy of Twin Cities Restaurant Blog
Juicy Nookie, Casper & Runyon’s Nook, St. Paul, MN
The Juicy Lucy is Minnesota’s great contribution to burger culture: a cheeseburger with the cheese cooked inside the patty. In Minneapolis, the 5-8 Club and Matt’s Bar have long been the main sources. In St. Paul, we’re partial to this burger joint, thanks to its hamburger buns from the bakery next door and extra-gooey patties. Its selection of stuffed burgers also includes the chorizo-lovers’ Spanish Fly, with a 50/50 blend of beef and spiced pork, and filled with queso.
Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger, Brindle Room, NYC
In a city where the most acclaimed burgers—such as the Black Label at Minetta Tavern, or the DB Burger at DB Bistro Moderne—hover around $30, it’s refreshing to find a worthy competitor for $12. At the East Village’s Brindle Room, this dry-aged burger, featuring deckle (a fatty cut of rib eye) and cooked in a cast-iron skillet, comes with caramelized onions, cheese, and pickles, as well as a side of fries. The only catch: you can get it only at lunch.
Courtesy of Hank's Hamburgers
The Big Okie, Hank’s Hamburgers, Tulsa, OK
How do you get to be a “Big Okie?” Perhaps by putting yourself on a steady diet of these legendary burgers, served in this landmark Tulsa restaurant. The beef alone tips the scales at a full pound, thanks to its total of four patties, four slices of cheese, and onions grilled right into the meat, before the addition of lettuce, tomato, and pickles. While you can order fries, it would be a shame to miss the Tater Tots or fried okra on the side. Assuming you’re stuffed afterward, order your dessert to go; Hank’s other signature item is the chocolate-covered peanut butter balls.
mar'sel at Terranea Resort
Downlow Burger, Mar’sel, Palos Verdes, CA
The gourmet burger has become the essential little black dress of hotel menus. Terranea Resort’s Mar’sel restaurant initially made this burger to satisfy a guest’s request and afterward left it as an off-menu item (hence, you asked for it “on the down low”). But it was so beloved that it finally went public. Expect house-ground Wagyu beef, aged white cheddar, house-made pickles, caramelized onions, and other veggies from the resort’s own garden. The bonus: views, over the resort’s bluffs, of the Pacific.