No topic is sure to inspire more fierce debate and disagreement than who makes the best burger. It is one of the most iconic American meals after all. No matter where you grew up, you know that your local burger joint makes the best one in the country. No one in the food services industry will confuse a burger with haute cuisine, but it is definitely all-American. Whether it’s an upscale Vegas burger bar or a Midwestern drive-in with roller skating servers, great burgers are everywhere. We’ve put together our list of five of the best.
Umami – Los Angeles, CA
How does this sound: house-ground beef, oven-roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, Parmesanfrico, sautéed shitake mushrooms, and house-made ketchup? Does it sound like its namesake, umami, the mysterious fifth taste? We don’t know about all that, but we do know this is truly one of the best burgers around. It is California culinary style to the extreme.
The Black Label Burger
Minetta Tavern – New York, NY
Even some of the best burger makers don’t pay enough attention to the quality of their meat. The Minneta Tavern in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village doesn’t make that mistake with its Black Label Burger. Prime cuts of dry-aged ribeye, skirt steak, short ribs, and brisket are ground in a top-secret ratio to make these sublime burgers. In fact, Minneta Tavern might even take better care of its burger meat than most high-end steak houses. Excellent ingredients will always set you apart in the food services industry. The Black Label Burger shows that Minetta Tavern knows this lesson well.
Ann’s Snack Bar – Atlanta, GA
Maybe it’s named after the workman-like and slightly sloppy ingredients of onions, chili, cheese, and bacon; or maybe it was just a catchy name for the Atlanta neighborhood where it’s made. Either way the Ghetto Burger is a hidden gem in the burger world. Ann’s Snack Bar is literally that with eight seats and a window, nothing flashy except for Ann’s busy hands as she makes all the burgers herself as she’s done for more than 30 years.
The Original Burger
Louis’ Lunch – New Haven, CT
If you had a nickel for every place that claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger sandwich, you’d have enough money to never have to eat hamburger again. Just like all those others, Louis’ Lunch makes that same claim. The difference, however, is that Louis’ just might be the real deal. Their simple burgers, cooked in vertical cast-iron grills that date back to the late 1800s, are served simply with cheese, tomato, and onion. They will not give you mustard or ketchup – not that you’ll need them – so don’t ask.
Double Bacon Cheeseburger
Hodad’s – Ocean Beach, CA
This beachside icon is a must see when visiting San Diego and the opposite end of California culinary style from Umamiburger. Aside from their incredible flavor, what sets a double bacon cheeseburger from Hodad’s apart from its competition is their size. The double with all the fixings is nearly six inches high. Another standout feature are the grilled bacon patties on each burger. Bacon is formed into a patty and grilled to crisp perfection, essentially making the double a triple. It’s just the sort of calorie-rich meal you’ll need after a long day in the surf.
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