From diner delights to gourmet stacks, these beloved burgers are worth the drive.
Burger aficionados have been known to drive miles to get their fix. When it comes to a perfectly juicy patty, who can blame them? A bodacious burger, whether no frills or full-on fancy, is hard to beat. Here are a few favorites worth a detour.
Check yourself into Rehab Burger Therapy in Scottsdale, where the creative burgers are sure to cure any craving. They feature a custom blend of sirloin, brisket, and chuck. Enjoy the beef patty smothered in Southwest chili in the hatch burger, draped with barbecued pulled pork in the porkster burger, or blanketed in ghost-pepper cheese in the inferno ghost burger. Each choice comes in two sizes: the 10-ounce “rehab” and the five-ounce “relapse."
With its waterfront setting in the heart of Jack London Square, the flagship Belcampo Restaurant and Butcher Shop in Oakland is the ideal setting to sink your teeth into a truly gourmet burger. Belcampo not only raises its own organic, grass-fed cattle on its ranch at the foot of Mount Shasta, but does its own slaughtering, with its products available only at its own stores and restaurants. The standard Belcampo burger features 28 day–aged ground beef with caramelized onions on a brioche bun. Or spring for the 100 day–aged ground beef burger with gooey raclette.
Owners Amanda and Cameron Lumsden pride themselves on the loyal-to-local pledge at their Fork Restaurant in Boise. It means they go out of their way to source as many ingredients as possible from farmers and producers near their eatery. That extends to the urban burger, a custom blend of local Wagyu and ground chuck, garnished with white cheddar made by Ballard Family Dairy in nearby Gooding and lettuce and tomato grown in the area, all snuggled inside a pillowy brioche bun baked by Gaston’s Bakery in Boise.
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It’s hard to argue with a burger that was crowned champion at the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Burger Bash. The victorious Best of the Bash Burger at The Burger Dive in Billings is a flavor bomb. It starts with blackened seasoning on the beef patty and explodes with goat cheese, bacon, onion rings, garlic-basil mayonnaise, and Sriracha sauce. For more heat, enjoy it with a cinnamon-bear milkshake made with Hot Tamales candies.
What’s better than a bacon burger? A burger that features not only crisp bacon strips but also a thick slather of bacon jam. That’s the signature bacon burger at Michael Mina Pub 1842 in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, which also gets topped with double the cheese: smoked Gouda and "'merican." Named for the year Pilsner beer was invented, the pub features more than 50 brews from around the world, too.
When a James Beard Award–winning, fine-dining chef crafts a burger, don’t expect it to be ordinary. The double Brie burger by chef Gabriel Rucker of Portland’s Little Bird Bistro is anything but that. Two ground-chuck patties each get topped with rich, melted Brie, then sandwiched between a split artisan bakery roll with house-made Dijonnaise, onions, bread and butter pickles, iceberg slaw, and spiced ketchup. Order during early or late happy hours, and the normally $16 burger is only $7.
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When you can’t decide between a burger and a sausage, why not get both in one bun? At the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville, you can. Opened in 1879, it’s the oldest continuously operating watering hole in Utah. The star burger features two beef patties with melted cheese and a Polish knackwurst stacked on top. The place is cash-only: A good reminder is on the ceiling—which is covered with dollar bills.
No doubt, you’ll come for the excellent fried chicken and cocktails at the aptly named Ma’ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey in Seattle. But delve deeper into the menu at this Hawaiian-inspired joint to discover the kimcheese burger. It’s messy, spicy, and irresistible with house-made kimchi-imbued cheese, caramelized onions, and a squirt of Kewpie mayo on a chuck patty that’s ground on the premises.
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This article was first published in September 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.