Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
As the weather warms up, burger eating is pretty much mandatory. If you’re not working a grill, you’ll probably be standing near someone wielding some patties and a metal spatula. But, I generally look to the professionals for my burgers. I asked the top burger judge I know, Josh Ozersky, for his top 10 burgers around the country. (For a list of the 25 best burgers around the country, look out for Food & Wine magazine’s August issue, which features picks from Josh, among others.)
A little about Josh: He’s the author of the phenomenal book, "The Hamburger: A History." His website, Ozersky.tv, frequently includes entries like “The Burger That Made Me Whole.”
And he only likes hamburgers with squishy, unseeded white buns and American cheese.
Take it away, Mr. Ozersky.
Pie ’N Burger (Pasadena, California)
To me, this tiny, family-owned diner produces the consummate old-school, small-scale, traditionally orthodox hamburger: salted, griddled beef, capped with American cheese and nestled on a squishy white bun. The fact that it is located in the same city in which the cheeseburger was reputedly invented weighs heavily on me as well.
Company Burger (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Company has the highest and noblest aspirations of any burger restaurant I know, and comes closest to attaining them. The young chef learned to make the legendary burger at Atlanta’s Holeman & Finch and transported it to New Orleans, where he is constantly tinkering with it and trying to make it better. Like New York City’s Shake Shack, which I also admire immensely, it represents the best instincts of high modern gastronomy, grappling with something humble and traditional.
Brindle Room (New York City)
The best hamburger in America, in my professional opinion, is served at a small, unassuming restaurant in New York City’s East Village called the Brindle Room. Compact, flat, aggressively seasoned, seared in the flares and flames of an old cast-iron pan and composed entirely of dry-aged rib eye deckle, its simplicity and suppleness and beefy, crusty oomph put it in a class by itself. And, of course, like all great burgers, it is highlighted, rather than hidden, by its white, seedless, enriched bun.
The Fat Cat, Bill’s Bar and Burger (New York City)
Two crispy, greasy patties of rich Pat LaFrieda meat, cheesed, topped with caramelized onions and butter and served on a toasted English muffin: This sandwich isn’t technically a burger, and nobody goes to Bill’s for authenticity or atmosphere, but I don’t care. It’s the only burger in America I like that doesn’t come on an enriched bun.
Keller’s Drive-In (Dallas, Texas)
The quintessential old-school drive-in restaurant, Keller’s serves a thin, flat, wonderfully flavorful patty on a poppy seed white bun. I’m not sure why it’s so good, if the truth be told, maybe there is some MSG in there somewhere? Don’t say it’s the atmosphere, though. This burger would be a great in a Trailways bus bathroom.
Schoop’s (Multiple Indiana and Illinois locations)
Schoop’s takes the best part of the hamburger - the salty, brown crust - and essentially serves it by itself. This is a radical reimagining of the hamburger; it’s like a chicken that’s all thighs, or a brisket that is all burnt ends. I wish I were there right now.
Mar’sel (Palos Verdes, California)
I was completely opposed to this upscale California gourmet burger until I took one bite of it, at which point I became totally in support of it, and found myself doubting my own identity. It was that good.
Au Cheval (Chicago, Illinois)
This wildly hyped burger is so rare, in that it: (A) conforms to what a hamburger is meant to be (griddled, salted, four ounces, squishy bun), and (B) lives up to the hype. I prefer it with the copious mustardy dressing on the side, as one pinky smear on the bun is all anyone needs, but it’s a genuine fabulous burger. I love that they start with preformed patties.
Husk (Charleston, South Carolina)
Husk’s double cheeseburger is just fabulous. The meat, like everything else there, is made from local animals and has its own unique character. But the American cheese bonds it with our great hamburger union.
The Little Owl (New York City)
There’s not much to say about the Little Owl’s bacon cheeseburger (pictured above and recipe below), except that it is perfect in every way. It’s not too big, and it’s not too round, and it’s not oversalted or seasoned (although a whiff of curry and Old Bay add a piquant X factor). My first bacon cheeseburger wife was Veselka, also in New York, but I left it for the Little Owl, to which I have been married for years.
Courtesy Joey Campanaro
More from Food & Wine:
Best Burgers in the U.S.
America’s Most Over-the-Top Burgers
America’s Best BBQ Cities
Ultimate Burger Recipes
Summer Grilling Recipes
Do you agree with this list? Post your favorite burger joint in the comments below.
© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.
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Now I'm here to tell ya,Bubba's Burgers are the best! Not just sayin' that 'cause they're my name sake and all. They can be found in the frozen section of any Top's friendly market here in Western New York state.Fry a patty up in the old skillet,slap some lettuce,tomato,pickle and catsup on that sunofagun and yummy!Can't wait to get my food stamps on the 3rd so me and the misses can go get a box!
Get a job and stop sucking on the public teat.
This is your conscience speaking.
If i ever get to Pasadena California I will make it a point to go to Pie and Burger.
Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.
No mention of Umami Burger? I've eaten at both the Santa Monica and San Francisco restaurants and have been mightily impressed.
On the non-gourmet side, though, I have a torrid affair with The Stub at Digger's Diner (SF Bay Area): Beef, bacon, cheese, a fried egg, on Texas Toast.
You must try the hamburger at One Stop of Texas in Runaway Bay. The meat is ground fresh on the premises and is never frozen. It is cooked to perfection with your choice of vegetables. Ask for grilled onions on a jalapeno bun with lettuce and tomatos. It can't be beat!
Sounds delish, but alas, inside the Texas border. I don't have a "Texas" passport, and I don't plan on getting one any time soon, at least while Perry is in office.
If you really want an awesome burger, head over to the Burger Stand in Lawrence, Kansas. One bite may very well force you to re-do your entire list.
You've obviously never been to the Burger Stand at the Casbah in Lawrence, Kansas. Now those burgers are the bomb. One taste of one of them and you'll have to re-do your entire list.
1 Stop of Texas @ Runaway Bay, TX
Best home made Ground Beef for a Cheeseburger
Try the Jalapeno Hot meat for a Hotter Burger
Just had the best burger ever last night at Lulu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It is is named the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" after Lulu's brother's song. (Jimmy Buffett). Must say the burger was cooked to perfection. Top it off with the dessert Lulu's has made famous "Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Vanilla Custard Sauce."Better yet eat dessert first!
Wonder which chains paid for this article. I personally have had 10 burgers better than anything at in-and-out and steak and shake. In order to write about a topic, shouldn't one be a subject matter expert?
Dusty's Cheeseburger – Wenatchee, WA
3 of the top 10 in New York City? Give me a break.
Grover's in the suburbs of Buffalo NY makes an amazing burger. It's a cash-only hole in the wall that was formerly owned, or frequented (im not that up on History) by president Grover Cleveland. Huge burgers seasoned and grilled perfectly. Since it's Buffalo you can put bleu cheese on it ;)
Best burger in the US, and possibly the world? There is absolutely no argument on this (especially if you have ever had one), ever: It is the Prime Burger at 677 Prime in downtown Albany, NY. There is no way to describe it other than to say that if you've never had a burger made from the best, most high-quality beef around, you don't know what a burger should taste like. It is, hands-down, the most flavorful thing you will EVER sink your teeth into. As the Men's Wearhouse guy used to say on TV, "I GUARANTEE IT.".
.. and where is IN AND OUT BURGER??????????????????????
He has obviously never been to The Habit or Burgers N' Brews in Sacramento.
I have lived in Sacramento over 10 years, and I have dined at both of those. Trust me.....
Sacramento food is terrible. Friends back home in So. Cal think I'm dieting, I just say there's nothing good to eat
Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien is the perfect burger for me. So simple, so tasty.
Le Parker Meridien, and high-end-hotels in general, are often good bets. They get solid, pro chefs who aim for quality more than ego boost. I remember amazing breakfast at Le Parker Meridien.
Certainly Smash Burger makes a great burger. But have you ever tried making a burger at home? The absolute best burger I have ever had, is one I made at home. Fresh ground chuck, seasoned and grilled perfectly. The BEST. It takes some time to prepare. But the end result is worth the effort involved.
I think the person who compiled this list perhaps created the list before they truly explored the burger world. Just in NYC there are two places that crush the others on the list and I have been to 7 of the 10. The burger at Peacock Alley, in the Waldorf is world class as is the specialty of the house at DB bistro on 44th Street in Manhattan. I would also submit the short rib based burger at the Trap Rock Brewery in Berkeley Heights, NJ on the list. Additionally, I just happened to be in Indiana and tried Schoop's. While a reasonable diner burger it has no business on a list or in a conversation about a 10 best burger in the country.
"Burger eating is pretty much mandatory"? Well maybe it is in the USA. No wonder Yanks are so obese. You are eating yourselves to death.
Where you from, John? Have you had a smash sandwich on the waterfront of Toulon, France? Do you even know what you're preaching about? I think not.
do you eat with your ***? this list needs to be printed, shredded, burned, and served to you. it might taste better than the swill listed.
KELLER's? KELLER's in DALLAS??? They produce disgusting food that I wouldn't inflict upon a cockroach!
Good burgers in Dallas come from Burger House, on Hillcrest by SMU or their other location east on Mockingbird Lane. There is a savory spice they add that deepens the delicious flavor but doesn't overwhelm it.
Not sure if Goff's still exists but they were fine back in the day. Harvey Goff was an extreme rightwing poot but he did know the secrets to a fine burger.
Dan's Old Time Dinner in South Oklahoma City is one of the best burgers I've tried.
For you Central Texas folks, here's a solid blindfold competition going on to find the best burger on Facebook, search ATXBestBurger . My favorite down this way so far is both Casino El Camino and Your Mom's Burgers.
Agree with you Casino El-Camino in Austin, Tx is only rivalled by Twisted Root, in Dallas. Two of the greatest burger joints in the world.
ray's hell burger – arlington, virginia
Monkey Burger Tucson, AZ
Live in Dallas and have eating at Keller’s Drive-In for years, good but not even the best in Texas. Out of all the places I have tried my top 6 would be..
1. Burger me (Truckee, CA)
2. Burgers and Brats (Flower Mound, TX)
3. Twisted Root (Deep Ellum, TX)
4. Sam's Old Time Hamburgers (Rogers, AR)
5. Whataburger's ChopHouse Cheddar Burger
6. Empire Burger (Breckenridge, CO)
Top 10 burgers around the country
TRUTHABOUTTHECIA.ORG 'S OFFICIAL RESPONSE:
' Effective Immediately, Kate Krader needs to Go Out To Lunch – MORE '
After 'reading her list on the Top 10 Burgers in the Country, I decided to become a Food Critic'
ARE YOU KIDDING ME is what I said 'after reading her list'
She needs to find places to eat further then 25 min's from the local Airport
Effective Immediately, Kate Krader is 'fired' as a Food Critic and my Career has Just Begun.
You want to know the truth? You did NOT actually read this article. This isn't Kate's personal list. This is Josh Ozersky's list. In either case, they both have far more experience when it comes to food than you plus they can actually read. So please, don't get your hopes up in becoming a food critic.
No way 4 out of the 10 "Best" hamburgers served in the USA come out of New York City. Don't get me wrong, I love NYC, and maybe, even probably (but arguably), the best food in the US is served in NYC. But not hamburgers. No F'ing way. You could tell me Japanese, Chinese, Indian, hell – any kind of food, but Not hamburgers. You didn't get far enough, for long enough, away from NYC, to be objective about this subject. Sorry, but you lost your credibility with me. Maybe you should take up head cheese, or bologna, or lunch meat – even hot dogs. You just don't know your burgers. By the way (and I don't live there), if you've EVER been to Chicago, food everywhere else will pale in comparison. Just my humble opinion. Have a nice day.
Any New Mexico style Green Chile Burger ... is the best.
Yes indeed. Blake's Lotaburger with green chili.
It's chile, not "chili". Red or green CHILE. Chili is that mess that serve in Texas with beansm chili powder and stuff...
FYI, Texas chili does NOT have beans. It is a point of principle.
And the green-chile cheeseburger at the Owl Cafe in Albuquerque is one of the best. Ever.
McDonalds Big-Mac tops them all!
Best burger in San Antonio, TX is at Chris Madrid's. The Porky's Delight "Macho" burger is recommended. Bacon, Beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and enough melted chedder cheese to make you clogged....If you go, you'll go with a smile.
Chris Madrid's Bean Burger- Macho Size is my fav!
I love how NYC always has a number of joints in these lists, but seriously, fancy @ssed burgers in NY don't compare anywhere close to good ole greasy gut bombs out of Kansas City.
Sure you right! Blanc Burgers and Bottles, Swagger, Winstead's! KC represent!
Ooooooh Winstead's! I haven't had a Winstead's in 32 years! I might have to go home for a burger, lol!
Mmmm.... Winsteads! It's been quite awhile, but my idea of food while growing up revolved around that place. I also heard Booches in Columbia, MO is good, but I always forget to go there whenever I'm Mizzou town.
I travel a bit and the best one I've had was recommended to me by my client in Birmingham, Alabama. It's a small mom and pop place called Sammy's sandwich shop. I think it's the bits of green pepper in the grilled onions that really add flavor to the burger. Must try if anyone is in Birmingham.
I tried this burger recipe this weekend and it did come out really good. One word of caution though, the ownership of Kensington's is an Obama contributor, so find another ketchup. Otherwise though, good reporting!
Obama contributor eh? There's someone I want to do business with! By the way...you're a moron!
Pot meet kettle. An Obama voter calling someone a moron is priceless.
And why is that, exactly?
She was cleverly saying that Obama voters are morons. You got that, right? Oh wait, you probably voted for....nevermind. Go see Jeannie Moos's Distraction video. It will make you happy and you'll clap your hands.
Brian – Clearly, you are the one lacking in reading comprehension.
Nah, it's great! And I love what I've been reading on that topic lately.
No mention of Louie's Lunch in New Haven? Supposed creater of the burger? Oh, that's right, they're horrible.
I'm so looking for the ratings for these burgers measured in clogged arteries. :)
I would love to try every place everyone has added to the CNN list.
I just wanted to give a High Five and a thumbs up for
WARD'S GRILL in Whiteville N.C. !!!!! :D
Nice mom and pop place and the burgers are to die for! Dunno what they do to the burgers, but they got it down right!
good burgers that place
I agree that the burgers from Ward's grill are the best. Better than Chargrill's burgers in Raleigh, NC!
Best burger in the US: Bean Burger at Tookies in Seabrook, TX.
Wow, Tookies actually re-opened? That's good news. Too bad I no longer live in the area. :(
There are at least two places in Trenton NJ that have world class burgers, Larry's and Rossi's.
OK, so it’s not in the US but Peter’s Drive-In in Calgary has the best burgers on the planet. They’ve been serving from the same location for about 50 years.
When Hugh Jackman was in town shooting a movie, he went there as often as possible.
“"I also learned quickly Calgary has the best Hamburgers in the world. My driver took me to Peters' Drive-In one day. After that I'd find any excuse I could to go back there."
Also. Boogie’s Burgers in Calgary are incredible as well.
You are bang on I love Peter's
i go there evrytime im in CalgARY
My top 3 (other than homemade) from growing up in California:
1.) Carl's Jr. – Western Bacon Cheeseburger (w/o onion rings)
2.) Wienerschnizel – Double Chili Cheeseburger
3.) Juicy Burger – Super Juicy w/ Cheese & Bacon
Squeezers – I haven't seen one in over 20 years though and only remember they made fresh buns on-site.
Applebee's – A little salty but not a bad burger in a pinch
Worst of the worst:
McDonalds – just a box full of grease and a rubber patty
Burger King – fake grilled taste with a very dry bun
Hardees – nothing like Carl's Jr at all, everytime i've tried eating here it's been undercooked and they don't carry the Western Bacon Cheeseburger (Carl's Jr and Hardees are owned by the same company and share the same star logo, for those that don't know)
You should really try burgers from places that are not fast food chains.
You're an idiot. I've eaten at Carl's Jr. and Hardees...NO DIFFERENCE! They're the same restaurant chain but use different names. By the way, Hardees DOES have the western bacon cheeseburger. You were probably so busy stuffing curly fries in your face that yoiu didn't notice.
"'Whataburger' big and round, and you always get a quarter pound."
Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor MI and of course Five Guys is the best chain.
Best Burger is from the Countries smallest State of Rhode Island. DAVES BAR AND GRILL
THE DAVE BURGER. THEY HAVE NOT ONLY THE BEST BAR FOOD AROUND BUT THE BURGER IS AWSOME.
FRESH MADE TO ORDER IT HAS A SPECIAL BUN,TOP GRADE BEEF,IS THICK AND JUCY BUT HAS A FLAVOR THAT IS OUTSTANDING AND IS SERVED WITH HAND CUT FRIES. YOU TELL THEM WHAT WANT ON THE BURGER.
THEY DO NOT USE LOW END PRODUCTS AND THE ITEMS LIKE MUSHROOMS ARE NO ORDINARY BUTTON MUSHROOMS BUT DARK,OUTSTANDING SHATAKE MUSHROOMS.THE ROLLS ARE SOFT AND TOASTED.YOU CAN NOT GET A BETTER BURGER ANYWHERE. LOCATED ON POST RD.IN WARWICK,RI NEAR THE AIRPORT EVERYONE INCLUDING THE FLIGHT CREWS CAN NOT WAIT TILL THEY LAND AT THE AIRPORT BEFORE THEY ARE OFF TO DAVES BAR AND GRILL FOR THEIR BURGERS AND FRYS.
Check out the Steinbeck(sp?) burger at Universal Joint in West Asheville or Burgermeisters in West Asheville. Juicy Lucys sucks and i have heard bad reviews for the new Farm Burger. Wicked Weed brewing has a great burger as weel.
Not a real foodie, but in my humble opinion, Five Guys, for a chain, make the best burger. For local, here in Asheville, gotta be Tupelo Honey's local beef burger! Just sayin?
Best burgers ever!!!!!!! Yummo
The best burger ever made is made with LAMB which I make myself.
And I'm sure Josh Ozersky has eaten burgers at over 300,000 burger joints in over 260 countries. So he 'Would' know what the absolute best top 10 burgers are on Earth...
Red Robin never 5 stinky guys in VA!
Red Robin?????? You need to experience true burgers that aren't from a nasty chain. YUCK.
The only time I've ever been to Red Robin my wife's burger was served with part of the paper that separates the frozen patties still attached... that was more than enough to make me never want to go back.
Really? A self-professed burger maven who sticks a slice of hyprt-processed cheeze food product on his burger? You lost any credibility right there, mate.
Just because it isn't a slice of gruyere aged on platinum tray in a trappist monk's beer cellar doesn;t mean it doesn;t taste good. Most of us aren't snobs, and can enjoy things that taste good regardless of how processed and unrefined they are. This is an article about burgers, everyman's food, not fois gras and steak tartare. Tell me, which of the three silver forks on your place setting do you eat your burgers with?
Also, and not commenting on the efficacy of using it, American Cheese is not all pasteurized process cheese food product. Some is actual cheese.
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