When it comes to burgers, is bigger always better?
“I've had everything from foie gras to quail eggs to a breaded and fried thick slice of provolone cheese on a burger,” says the popular comfort food blogger known as Burger Beast. Call it a perk of the job. But when it comes to his ideal patty, Burger Beast believes the best way to make a flavor-packed impact is with "great ingredients prepared with love and knowledge. Now that's a 'Wow!'"
Whether your patty preferences are minimalist or monstrous, here are 10 outrageously good burgers (with some seriously over-the-top toppings) for adventurous eaters across America.
—By Jennifer M. Wood
Restaurant: Bobby’s Burger Palace
Locations: Various locations nationwide
Any burger on the menu at Bobby’s Burger Palace—where celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s love of the grill is on full display—can be “crunchified” by adding chips (Flay himself highly recommends this). But the best way to enjoy all that crunchy goodness is to order up the signature Crunchburger, made simply—and deliciously—with a generous double portion of American cheese and a handful of crispy potato chips.
Restaurant: Umami Burger
Location: Multiple locations in California & Miami Beach, FL
Vegetarians rejoice! California’s famed burger chain, which boasts a cult-like following and a brand-new location in Miami Beach, has got your back with this mushroom and edamame patty, which is served with white soy aioli, truffled ricotta, Cipollini onions, lettuce and slow-roasted tomato.
“We wanted to create a vegetarian burger that is just as hearty and crave-worthy as our beef burgers,” says CEO/founder Adam Fleischman. “We created a patty from mushrooms and edamame to create a nice earthy and substantial base then added elements high in Umami, like truffled ricotta and roasted tomatoes, to create that crave-worthy, Umami taste.”
Restaurant: Boston Burger Company
Location: Somerville & Boston, MA
The genesis of this taller-than-it-is-wide burger, which is topped with American cheese, bacon, a generous helping of beer-battered onion rings and honey barbecue sauce, is rather simple.
“We wanted to do a burger with onion rings on it,” says Boston Burger Company co-founder Paul Malvone. “We stacked the rings and the drizzled honey BBQ sauce down the sides. It looked like a beehive, so we called it the Killer Bee!” Diners responded; the burger was the restaurant’s most popular item last year, with more than 8,000 sold. (That’s a lot of onion rings!)
Restaurant: The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
Location: Charlotte & Raleigh, NC
As if the world’s first sushi burger bar wasn’t interesting enough (the restaurant’s Burgushi menu offers a unique lineup of sushi rolls made with traditional burger ingredients), the folks at The Cowfish in North Carolina had to go and create this crazy good burger, which pays tribute to Elvis Presley’s favorite foods. The one-pound, double-decker sandwich is topped with creamy peanut butter, fried bananas and smoked bacon.
“Elvis Presley's music was so diverse and cutting-edge that he appealed to listeners all over the planet,” says The Cowfish co-owner Marcus Hall. “Even for those who turned a nose up at his work, there was no denying that Elvis was one-of-a-kind, a star that overpowered those doubting voices. Without question, The Cowfish strives to be the Elvis of restaurants! The Hunka, Hunka Burnin' Love is our tribute to The King. Thank you, thank you very much!”
Restaurant: Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Location: Austin, TX
Fresh, all-natural ingredients are the thing at Austin’s Hopdoddy Burger Bar, and few items bring this mission more clearly to the forefront than this sushi grade tuna burger, made with sunflower sprouts, wasabi spread, homemade teriyaki sauce, tempura-fried nori chips and pickled ginger.
“The Ahi Tuna Burger is a play on Maguro sushi, but in the form of a burger,” says chef Larry Perdido. “This particular burger has been a crowd favorite since the beginning and serves as the only seafood option on the menu… We sell around 50 to 75 tuna burgers on a good day.”
Restaurant: Sunshine Tavern
Location: Portland, OR
When it comes to topping the Griddle Burger at Portland’s Sunshine Tavern, executive chef/owner Jenn Louis—one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2012—goes the all-American route. “The basics of Sunshine’s Griddle Burger were modeled after a childhood burger I loved at this coffee shop where my dad would take us three kids to give my mom a break,” says Louis. “Theirs had three pieces of bread and two thin patties—but the same all-beef chuck, brioche bun, Thousand Island dressing and grilled onions.”
But when it comes to the available burger add-ons, things get a whole lot less traditional; daring diners can top their burgers with a slab of crispy pork belly, chicken liver mousse, pickled chilies or spicy house-brined pickles. Order it up with a side of gravy cheese fries, and you’ve got a whole new dimension of burger on your hands (and shirt)!
Restaurant: Urban Stack Burger Lounge
Location: Chattanooga, TN
When it comes to the inspired menu of patties at Chattanooga’s Urban Stack Burger Lounge, it's all about location, location, location. In the case of the Chicago Burger, that means peppercorn bologna, celery-salted tomato, cherry pepper relish, sport peppers, yellow mustard, chopped onion and celery mayo.
“We actually came up with the idea for the Chicago Burger when we created our first appetizer at Urban Stack—Bologna Sliders,” says Mike Monen, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Taylor. “We make our own homemade bologna and were so happy with it that we had to find another application for it to be enjoyed…I have always associated fried bologna with hot dogs, so we came up with the idea that a burger topped with traditional ‘Chicago dog’ toppings plus our homemade bologna we be a good fit.”
Location: New York, NY
Don’t let the straightforwardness of this restaurant’s name fool you: the Signature Burger at New York City’s Delicatessen is no simple affair. Far from it!
“I wanted to create a burger using the best quality meat blend possible—ours is a combination of short rib, chuck and sirloin,” says executive chef/partner Michael Ferraro. “This burger is the ultimate indulgence for the burger lover. From the 12-ounce special blend of meat to the crisp cider-braised pork belly, soft egg, charred tomato and, of course, my special ‘cheese’ sauce, the signature burger covers all bases.” Indeed!
Restaurant: PB Steak
Location: Miami Beach, FL
As the name indicates, PB Steak’s Le Royale is a burger fit for a king. “Our Le Royale with Cheese is topped with three of my favorite things to eat: braised short ribs, truffles and foie gras,” says chef/owner Jose Mendin of this exercise in culinary luxury. “It's Pulp Fiction meets db Moderne's famous burger, a favorite movie and top restaurant choice of mine.”
Location: Chicago, IL
Founded in 2005, Kuma’s Corner in Chicago has two great loves: burgers and heavy metal music. It’s a neighborhood bar with a simple, trifold mission: “Support your community. Eat beef. Bang your head.” Among their impressive lineup of high-quality burgers, Black Sabbath, Metallica and Pantera are all on the menu, as is Goatsnake, a delicious combination of herbed goat cheese, Poblano corn relish, Cholula lemon vinaigrette and buttermilk-breaded frizzled red onion.
“My inspiration came from a lot of different burgers we have had over the years at Kuma’s Corner,” says chef Anthony Lomanto, who now heads up the kitchen at Kuma’s Too. “We have had many burgers with goat cheese on them, but none had herbs, so I thought that it would bring more flavor and freshness to the cheese, along with lemon zest…Southern fried food was the inspiration for the red onions, we have two burgers that have frizzled onions, but none with fried red onions, so I said, ‘Why not?’”
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