The 15 Best Places to Get a Burger and a Cocktail in the US
When made right, hamburgers are the perfect sandwich. Picture the fat slab of perfectly cooked patty, charred on the outside with a soft red center, it’s juice absorbed by a well toasted bun. It’s gotta have cheese—and pickles. Their acidic tang balances the tightrope between too much salt, too much special sauce and the gooey mess of Kraft American singles (or Gruyere if that’s how you swing). The only thing that makes the sandwich any better than it is on its own is a cocktail to wash it down. If you like burgers as much as we do, and prefer a well mixed cocktail over a Coke, these 15 burger bars feature drinks that are as outstanding as their meat-heavy counterparts.
Salvation Burger, New York, NY
While NYC is home to plenty of amazing burgers, few places treat the dish with the same dedication to perfection as the burger joint from April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman. The restaurant boasts its own butcher and literally everything is made in-house—from sauces and pickles to their take on processed American cheese. While they have rotating, seasonal burgers, the patty to get is their classic burger. This slab of classic Americana is an elevated version of the ‘50s dinner staple.
The Cocktails:Pre-game your burger with a large, bottled Negroni, and wash it down with a smoky, scotch-laden Rob Roy.
Central Provisions, Portland, ME
The Burger:Known for their tapas-style small plates, inventive foie gras dishes and high-end cocktail program, this hip, downtown Portland, restaurant also features one of the best burgers in New England. Available at lunch only (which also happens to be one of the best times to snag a seat at the bar), the burger is served with a fat slab of bacon, local cheddar, a thick-cut slice of tomato, iceberg lettuce and house-made mayonnaise.
The Cocktails:Pair the ultra meaty burger with the Kentucky Witch made with bourbon, sweet vermouth, Strega, Averna amaro and Aphrodite bitters. It’s the perfect way to start a day (we assume you’re rolling in at noon after a long night of brewery hopping around town).
Clyde Common, Portland, OR
The Burger:While the cocktails are the main draw to this ultra-hip bar and restaurant, the happy hour burger has its own dedicated following. Currently, the sandwich is a take on the Southwest favorite, the rodeo burger. The burger is made with a fat slab of local beef, American cheese, crispy fried shallots (in lieu of onion rings) and Marshall's Habañero Barbecue sauce, and every bite is burger nirvana.
The Cocktails:Bar manager Jeffrey Morgenthaler's house-cocktails and inventive takes on the classics have made this a Portland, institution. Standouts are the Southbound Saurez with reposado tequila, fresh lime, honey liqueur and their house-made horchata, and their perfectly balanced take on an Old Fashioned, made with Elijah Craig single barrel bourbon, sugar and bitters.
Husk, Charleston, NC and Nashville, TN
The Burger:Chef Sean Brock’s meaty masterpiece is juicy perfection. The secret: He grinds smoked local bacon with the beef. Only available at lunch, the sandwich is a mess of American cheese, white onion and special sauce.
The Cocktails:Knock back the hefty swaths of fat and cheese with the CBWS Punch, a heady cocktail made with bourbon, rum, orange, lemon and honey.
Rankin Vault, Asheville, NC
The Burger:This farm-to-table craft cocktail bar and eatery won the first annual WNC Battle of the Burger in 2014 and has held the title ever since. What sets this burger apart is its delectably rich patty, made from 100-percent grass-fed local beef from Hickory Nut Gap. Paired with a thick slice of local bacon, tangy spicy mayo, and the bitter heat of arugula, it’s an award-winning combo (literally).
The Cocktails:One of the first craft cocktail bars in Asheville, the Rankin Vault is known for its Cucumber Martini, a refreshingly simple tipple that features a house-infused cucumber vodka, fresh cucumber and lemon.
Esquire Tavern, San Antonio, TX
The Burger:While you could opt for an exotic bison or lamb burger, the house burger is where it’s at. Made with local, ground chuck and the usual assortment of tomato, pickles and lettuce, it comes with your choice of cheese, like smoked gouda or ultra-oozy, funky French-Italian hybrid Cambozola.
The Cocktails:Nominated for a James Beard Award for outstanding bar program, this beloved local watering hole slings some of the most inventive concoctions in San Antonio. Start with refreshingly quaffable cocktails like the Morning After The Night Before, made with your choice of vodka, gin or blanco tequila, with celery, strawberry, lemon, pastis, and mineral water. Or try the Last of Us, a tiki-inspired gem made with high-proof tequila, mezcal, sotol, tepache (a pineapple beer of sorts), Don's mix, lime and Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters.
Trick Dog, San Francisco, CA
The Burger:Trick Dog’s food is an eclectic mix of everything from pupusas to fried bologna sandwiches to ceviche. Their hamburger is served long and mean on a bun that resembles the lovechild of a sesame burger bun and a hot dog bun. Topped with melty cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce, it’s like biting into a fast food fantasy.
The Cocktails:A mecca for cocktail nerds, Trick Dog doesn’t hold back on the crazy (just check out their website). Drinks like the Tantric Yule Log with rum, Ancho Reyes, Averna amaro, red grape, roasted green tea, mace and lime are on a whole other level.
Petit Trois, Los Angeles, CA
The Burger:This is a fork-and-knife burger. Named the Big Mec, the Petit Trois burger is a bourgeois combination of ground chuck, caramelized onions, American cheese and garlic aioli. It’s topped with a rich, red wine bordelaise with a touch of foie gras.
The Cocktails:Wash down the decadence with a tart tipple like the Grape Expectations, a mix of Calvados, Cognac, green grapes, lemon and orgeat. A glass of straight Cognac works too.
Palace Kitchen, Seattle, WA
The Burger:With a focus on farm fresh, locally sourced ingredients, small batch cheeses and craft cocktails, the Palace Kitchen is the kind of restaurant that you want to visit every time you travel to the Pacific Northwest. Their Palace Burger Royale deserves all the accolades it gets; the hand ground chuck is gamy, funky and fresh, and the bun from their sister restaurant, Dahlia Bakery, is all the right kinds of flaky.
The Cocktails:For cocktails, try whatever Negroni is on rotation. Or get the Bitter Scotsman, a mix of blended scotch, Fernet Branca and Drambuie, which is perfectly suited to all things cheesy, salty and meaty.
Esker Grove, Minneapolis, MN
The Burger:Located in the Walker Art Center, Esker Grove pushes the limits on what a museum restaurant can be. Only available during lunch and weekend brunch, the burger is made with hand ground chuck, American cheese, cornichons and stoneground mustard. Now that’s real art.
The Cocktails:The cocktail menu features two versions of each cocktail: a more traditional variation and bar manager Jon Olson’s contemporary twist. If you’re anything like us, you’ll pair the decadent sandwich with both Martini variations. Start with their more refreshing variation, made with vodka, pisco, Lillet rosé and grapefruit blossom bitters. Then finish with the classic, made with Beefeater, Carpano dry vermouth, Pernod Absinthe Superieure and a super-meaty castelvetrano olive as garnish.
Milkwood, Louisville, KY
The Burger:Chef Ed Lee’s Louisville restaurant pairs Lee’s love of Southern cooking with ingredients from his Korean roots. There are two burgers available on the menu and both are well worth your time. The beef burger is topped with a funky combo of housemade “umami ketchup,” pimento cheese, bacon and buttery bibb lettuce. While the pork burger is topped with napa cabbage kimchi, chicharrón (aka pork cracklins), rémoulade and cilantro.
The Cocktails:Lee is also known for his deep love of whiskey, and the bar program at Milkwood features a selection of cocktails made from the honeyed dram. For the beef burger, order the Smoke and Pickle, a mix of scotch, dry sherry, vermouth and pickle brine. With the more exotic flavors of the pork burger, opt for a refreshingly simple concoction like the Sweet Ruby, which marries Buffalo Trace with peach tea and lemon.
*Be on the lookout for Lee’s upcoming Whiskey Dry, which will feature, you guessed it, burgers and whiskey—the perfect combo.