We're going to cut right to the chase: according to our team of local editors all over the country, these are the best burgers in the USA. And, like the melting pot that is our nation, all of them are different -- some are char-grilled, or griddled, or even smoked. Some are packed with suet or beef made from magic Japanese cattle. Others are just made with, you know, beef. We don't expect you to agree with everything, or even most things, and we want to hear about the ones we missed in the comments. But, if you want to attempt the gloriously American task of trying to eat them all, here's a handy, printable PDF checklist to help you on your journey. Godspeed.
Ray's To The Third, Arlington, VA What you're getting: "The Mack, Big Devil, No Tomato, Add Charred Jalapeños" If William Howard Taft were still alive, he would a) be a terrifying 156yrs old, and B) eat at Ray's every effin' day. Burgers at Ray's mean 100% premium steak cuts aged in-house, hand-trimmed, ground fresh all day, and loosely hand-formed. Get The Mack, kick that beefsteak tomato off, add freshly charred jalapeños, and wash it down with a Black Cow shake. If not for yourself, then for Taft, and America.
Ann's Snack Bar, Atlanta, GA What you're getting: "The Ghetto Burger" Ann Price, aka "Miss Ann" is not to be crossed, son. Since 1973, she's operated this eight-stool Kirkwood storefront and those who wish to enter must abide by her eight rules, or NO BURGER FOR YOU. So make sure you've got a place to sit, then order the bacon chili doublestack "Ghetto Burger" and sit back and wait. She makes every burger to order by hand, so it'll take some time, but, hell, you didn't come here for Pizza Rolls.
Holeman & Finch, Atlanta, GA What you're getting: "The Burger" Unless you're there for brunch on a Sunday (PRO TIP: go to brunch, on a Sunday), the burger isn't even on the menu. On top of that, they only make 24 of them each night, which they serve at 10p during "burger time". But there's a reason it starts to look like a crowded subway train around 945p. Everything's housemade, from the proprietary thin blended beef patties, to the buns, to the ketchup, mustard, and pickles. And everything is glorious.
P. Terry's, Austin, TX What you're getting: "Double with Cheese" P. Terry's is not fancy, or trying to be anything it's not. It's a burger stand. But it's a burger stand with a weird honest streak, as evidenced by their website, where they tell you everything about the meat (all natural Angus beef - vegetarian fed, hormone- and anitbiotic-free), the buns (special from Mrs. Baird), the condiments (Heinz, Hellman's, French's), and even the pay (usually over $11 an hour!). And it doesn't hurt that their delicious double with cheese is less than $4.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Austin, TX What you're getting: "The Primetime" This is all you need to know. Akaushi is a breed of Japanese Wagyu cattle. In 1994, a single herd of 11 Akaushi were brought to Harwood, TX. Over the next 12yrs, while being guarded by off-duty Texas rangers "to protect from interbreeding", they grew to over 5,000 cattle. Their beef is richly marbled and tender. And you can find it in The Primetime alongside Brie, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce. So yeah, get that.
JM Curley, Boston, MA What you're getting: "The Burger" There are many great, classic burgers in Boston, from R.F. O'Sullivan's to Tony Maws' legendary bone marrow-filled patty at Craigie On Main, but the new, popular kid on the block is currently dominating the hype. Get the Grilled 9oz at dinner on the Piantedosi bun and keep it to house toppings: anything more than grilled onions, cheddar, Pop’s Russian dressing, and pickles, and you're going too far.
Au Cheval, Chicago, IL What you're getting: "Single Cheeseburger with an egg" We once took a trip to visit our Chicago editor, and he insisted we go here at 530p. We complained, because we think we're cool and want to show up to places late and act cool, but sure enough, we barely beat the rush. You're going to be tempted by so many things on this menu, but you also need to be cool: get the crispy potato hash with duck heart gravy, and the burger with an egg on it (after all, that's what au cheval means). It will change your life, or at least your viewpoint on early dinners.
Edzo's, Chicago, IL What you're getting: "Double Griddled Burger with bacon and cheddar" This is the deal: fine dining chef named Eddie tires of fine dining, wants more free time, creates a '70s-style burger joint, and crushes it. You want the thin griddled burger made with meat he grinds in-house that day. And maybe some Angry Fries.
Burger House, Dallas, TX What you're getting: "Cheeseburger with grilled onions and jalapeños" Because sometimes you just need a simple easy burger that's been pretty much the same since 1951. Plus Jack's famous fries kick absolute fry ass. Oh, and maybe get a real cherry Coke, too.
Harmon's Lunch, Falmouth, ME What you're getting: "A Cheeseburger, Loaded" You know how awesome Harmon's is? They don't even sell "hamburgers". It's just thin-patty, American cheeseburgers on buttered, soft rolls, served by no-nonsense Mainers. Lactards beware. Everyone else, rejoice.
Halo Burger, Flint, MI What you're getting: "The Beefy Double Cheeseburger" A no-nonsense, no-survivor burger from Flint, this one features two cheese-topped patties, a middle bun, two more cheese-topped patties, and a pile of onions, olives, etc.. Eventually, that middle bun becomes nearly transluscent. It's a thing of fat, fat beauty to witness, and then eventually eat.
Le Tub, Hollywood, FL What you're getting:"Sirloin burger with cheese" As our Miami Editor puts it, "people have been known to wait 90min for this burger, and never complain", despite the fact that they're dining in a wood-benched tiki hut on the Intercoastal outfitted with old bathroom fixtures. And why would they? It's 13oz of 100% sirloin goodness cooked on a tiny, ancient, outdoor grill with the top open, flipped only once and never pressed -- and that sort of meticulous perfection takes time.
Guy's Meat Market, Houston, TX What you're getting: "The BBQ Burger" If you've never eaten a "smoked" burger, well, you're not alone, as we don't know of anyone else doing them. Every day, Brad Dickens (son of Guy) throws 200 ground, round burgs in a BBQ smoker for about an hour. alongside a heap of hickory. Get there early: he starts selling them at 11a, and they're gone by noon. Get it with BBQ sauce, pickles, and onions, and prepare to smell like sweet, sexy BBQ smoke the rest of the day.
Teddy's Burger, Kailua, HI What you're getting: "Teddy's Biggest Burger" Pretty much every Marine at K-Bay eats at this place once a week or more, as it's the only char-grilled, big, meaty burger you're gonna find on the Island that's not at some tourist trap on Waikiki. The 9oz size is a deliciously char-grilled patty topped with Teddy's sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, and combined with fries is generally enough to get most Marines to work through evening chow. The service, if you're a Haole, anyway, is absolutely abysmal, as it's not at all uncommon for a Hawaiian to walk in after you, be behind you in line, and get served first. But that stops exactly NOBODY from ever eating there, as the burger is THAT good.
Burger Stand at the Casbah, Lawrence, KS What you're getting: "The Hamburg burger" Originally started in the kitchen of an Irish pub in 2009, the burger stand has reached cult status in and around the college town thanks to their custom blend of tenderloin, strip steak, and ribeye; their housemade sauces (cherry pepper or chipotle cocoa ketchup, whole grain guinness mustard); and their duck fat fries. If you're feeling bold (and hell, you're in Kansas, why wouldn't you be?!?), get the Hamburg burger -- a German take with braised red cabbage, whole grain mustard, and homemade pickle relish.
Father's Office, Los Angeles, CA What you're getting: "The Office Burger" It's been called the best burger in the country, though purists insist it's not a real burger, but a sandwich. A) It's not on a traditional bun (more like a sub roll), B) the dry-aged beef is flat and narrow instead of wide and circular, and C) the toppings are supposed to conjure up images of French Onion soup, not American childhood. But is it effin delicious as hell? Yes. Yes it is.
The Holding Pen in Hog & Hominy, Memphis, TN What you're getting: "The Prohibition" Basically a "restaurant within a restaurant", the guys at Hog & Hominy are calling their back porch the Holding Pen and serving two things: oysters and burgers. You don't have a choice on your burger, but you won't need one: the Prohibition is a nicely charred, half beef, half caramelized onion patty topped with American, mustard, and pickled lettuce, which, as my friend and Nashville Lifestyles food writer Erin Murray points out, "is way better than actual pickles because the lettuce shreds cover a greater surface area, thereby evenly distributing the pickle flavor. Genius." Indeed it is.
Earnestine and Hazel's, Memphis, TN What you're getting: "The Soul Burger" It's been said to be "where all good people in Memphis end up after a bender". And that's not just because it's in a former brothel and the sign outside calls it a "sundry store". Get The Soul Burger, then go wander around upstairs while it cooks, and see if you can see any ghosts of the ladies of the night. Then come back downstairs and eat that glorious patty with a side of Golden Flake potato chips.
Solly's Grille, Milwaukee, WI What you're getting: "The Solly Burger" Often called "the reason people in the Midwest are generally kind of fat", The Solly Burger is 1/3lb of "juicy" (aka fatty) sirloin, mixed with butter, then fried on a flat grill for extra fat, then topped with onions stewed in presumably MORE fat, then put on an onion roll with -- you ready for this -- MORE F&$%ing BUTTER. If it wasn't so delicious, it might be downright offensive.
Burger UP, Nashville, TN What you're getting: "The Woodstock" If you don't like their local beef topped with Benton's bacon, white cheddar, and Jack Daniel's ketchup, it would make me very sad. And angry. But mostly sad.
Company Burger, New Orleans, LA What you're getting: "The Company Burger" As we said earlier, Atlanta's Holeman & Finch still only serves two dozen of its iconic house-ground patties nightly, but one of their former chefs is now grilling to infinity at The Company Burger, the counter-service cornerstone of Freret St's restaurant row, where every ingredient is made fresh daily, right around the time you come rolling over hungry after time spent at down-the-block drinkery Cure.
Cassidy's, Newport Beach, CA
What you're getting: "The Cheeseburger" A direct, anonymous quote from one of our editors: "Lovingly known as "Catch-a-disease" by Balboa Peninsula locals, Cassidy's kitchen looks like it might be a half step above a frat house in terms of sanitation, but the burger is the best-seasoned patty I've ever had. Throw on a slathering of their special "Cassidy's Sauce", and the thing is so good you can do all the crystal meth and coke they sell in the bathroom and STILL want to devour the things like they're, well, more crystal meth and coke."
Minetta Tavern, New York City, NY
What you're getting: "The Black Label Burger" We didn’t want to pick the Black Label Burger. Everyone picks the Black Label Burger. We were going to pick the Minetta Burger, the $9-cheaper option that’s piled with way more caramelized onions than the Black Label, then seemingly passed through the cheddar cheese version of the thing that glazes Krispy Kremes -- you can’t even see the meat from the top or side. But when you eat them one after the other, you realize that trying to be different would just be succeeding at being stupid. The Minetta is a burger, and a great one. The Black Label is a steak. You can smell the smoke and taste the marbling madness. It's pampered, and kinda perfect. Don’t you dare get it anything but medium-rare.
Brindle Room, New York City, NY
What you're getting: "The Steakhouse Burger" The world needs to talk about deckle a lot more. And so you can do so knowledgeably, we'll now define deckle: it's basically the fat from around the edge of a ribeye cut. And, when worked in with other beef and steak trimmings at the East Village's Brindle Room, it turns a cheeseburger into a steakhouse burger. Have them throw some American and caramelized onions on top while it's getting medium-rare in the cast-iron skillet. Deckle.
Supper, Philadelphia, PA
What you're getting: "The Supper Burger" I'm not even going to do anything but list the ingredients here: 10oz of dry-aged custom LaFrieda blend meat with crispy country ham, cheddar, and "overnight tomatoes", caramelized onions, house pickles, duck fat fried potatoes, and three homemade sauces on the side: truffle mayo, beer mustard, and Thousand Island. The facts sell themselves.
Foster Burger, Portland, OR
What you're getting: "The Foster Burger with American and smoked bacon" Sometimes things in Portland can get too damn precious and adorable and weird. Sometimes you just need a damn-good char-grilled burger with house pickles, onions, and Foster Sauce on a buttery Vietnamese An Xuyen Bakery bun for less than $6. Not Portland enough for you? Don't worry -- they've got house-made squid ink aioli on their Black and White fries.
Chuck's, Raleigh, NC
What you're getting: "The Dirty South Burger" This isn't your traditional burger. This thing is made with pork shoulder, red pea chili, cheddar, crispy tobacco onions, and malted tomato slaw. If you're a burger purist, you should skip it. If you're a person who likes eating awesome things and doesn't set limits on yourself for silly reasons, you should eat two of these suckers.
Feltner's Whatta-Burger, Russellville, AR
What you're getting: "Double Whatta-Burger w/ cheese" Ignore the fact that if you get a full order of fries you can pretty much stand in the bag. Or that their jumbo-sized Coke with shaved ice could fill an above-ground swimming pool. Or that their name sounds very much like a Texas chain of burger spots I used to eat at in elementary school after baseball practice. But don't ignore the double Whatta and its unique structure, which includes putting the cheese on the bottom of the burger and using Miracle Whip in lieu of mayo. Oh, and also, they've got fried peach pies. Get one, if you're not drowning in soda and fries.
Manny's Buckhorn Tavern, San Antonio, NM
What you're getting: "The Buckhorn Burger" If you're near San Antonio, um, New Mexico and you don't stop at Manny's and get one of their famous green chile cheeseburgers that they've been slinging since 1944, well, let me ask you a question: what in the hell are you doing in San Antonio, New Mexico, then?!?
RickyBobby, San Francisco, CA
What you're getting: "The Beef and Bacon Burger" Beef and bacon, ground together. American cheese. House mayo. Ketchup. Sweet potatertots on the side. If not for my narcissistic need to avoid being morbidly obese, I would eat this burger every day.
4505 Meats in the Ferry Building Farmers Market, San Francisco, CA
What you're getting: "The Cheeseburger" Perhaps it's the fact that you can only get it twice a week, or perhaps it's because butcher Ryan Farr is kind of a meat whisperer, but this thing -- which he claims is only seasoned with salt while cooking -- is about as simple and handsome and gastronomically sexy as they come. The Magruder Ranch beef, the Gruyere, and the fresh-baked scallion-sesame bun don't hurt either.
John Howie Steak, Seattle, WA
What you're getting: "The Bacon Cheeseburger" Sirloin, local Beecher's cheddar, Kurobuta bacon, and a "drive-in" sauce, as in: you're going to want to drive your face into this thing and never look up until it's finished.
White Hut, West Springfield, MA
What you're getting: "Two cheeseburgers, fried onions" My favorite burger in the world. I've been eating at the Hut since I was two, when my grandfather, Ray Tuller, who ran the Springfield town hockey rink, would come in and take down two cheeseburgers and a dog standing up while reading The Springfield Republican right before he went to work. You have to get the peppery fried onions on the burger, you can't order just one, and you shouldn't add any condiments, though, if you must, ketchup is the only acceptable move. As my grandfather used to say, "It beats the pants off of Friendly's burger, and I love Friendly's burger." And he did friends, oh, he did.