Boston is a city filled with great hamburger joints -- from classic landmarks to newcomers just trying to put themselves on the map/ in your belly. Everybody knows the big names: the limited run of Craigie burgers, the hometown hero Tasty Burger, the incomparable meatiness at JM Curley -- and they're big for a reason: they're delicious. But there's more out there! Places you won't find on a "Best Burgers" list from Boston Magazine or The Globe.
The Bad Ass
All Star Sandwich Bar, Inman Square
Sure, you can get a really solid hamburger or cheeseburger at this Inman Square staple. Or you could go with one of the ever-fascinating, rotating specials, like the Elvis: cheddar, peanut butter, maple bacon, and grilled banana. But if you really want to be a badass, go for... The Bad Ass. Thick-cut bacon, barbecue pulled pork, and a grilled red onion sit on top of a perfectly cooked patty and, of course, an Iggy’s Roll.
Hamburguesa con Queso
Toro (address and info)
It's not often that cheeseburgers and tapas restaurants collide, but this is far from a standard burger. The Hamburguesa con Queso is a perfectly cooked cheeseburger, optionally served "Messy" with Toro special sauce, pickled red onion, and their famous street corn spread -- garlic aioli, Cotija cheese, and Espelette peppers.
West Bridge (address and info)
The only downside of WB's perfectly sized burger is that it's only available for lunch. A house-ground beef patty sits underneath bacon and munster cheese. While a burger might be the last thing you would expect to find at West Bridge, it should be one of your first picks.
Bronwyn (address and info)
Union Square (Somerville)
The Bronburger: the latest addition to the menu at this meat and beer paradise in the middle of Union Square. A grass-fed burger patty, sauerkraut cabbage slaw, pickled onions, and Comté cheese all sit on top of a soft challah roll next to a nice, heaping side of buttermilk bacon onion rings. More like Bron-WIN! Right guys? Right?
Alden & Harlow (address and info)
One of the city's most buzzed about openings lately, Alden & Harlow has a burger that's already gained a cultish fan following. The Secret Burger is sure to grace the top of everyone’s list of instant city staples: a cheddar cheese crisp, special sauce, onions, lettuce, and pickles on 8oz of House Creekstone Grind and a homemade roll all make for some worthwhile hype.
Bukowski Tavern (address and info)
Home to a lot of taps and a lot of attitude, sometimes there’s no better place to be left alone with your thoughts, a beer, and a damn good burger. Unexpectedly, this arguably salty hole in the wall boasts one of the city's best takes on a West Coast classic: the California Burger is a turkey patty, sliced avocado, bacon, and white cheddar -- just make sure to wash it down with one of their many alternating beer selections.
Root (address and info)
Because everyone has that vegetarian friend that sometimes they have to have lunch with… at least there’s Root. Sitting smack-dab in the middle of Allston’s veg-centric Union Square, Root offers a vegetarian take on classics -- the eggplant caprese, tortas, and most deliciously, the Root burger. A blend of black bean and quinoa, this house-made patty is the next best thing to actual meat.
Silvertone (address and info)
There are places that rely on bells and whistles to sell their burgers and then there are places that don’t need to bother -- at Silvertone, the burger sells itself. Forget the crazy toppings and return to basics from a simpler time: a 10oz patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. It’s like the best backyard barbecue burger you’ve ever had, with the added bonus of not having to talk to your weird uncle.
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1. All Star Sandwich Bar1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge
2. Toro1704 Washington St, Boston
3. West BridgeOne Kendall Square, Cambridge
4. Bronwyn255 Washington St, Somerville
5. Alden & Harlow40 Brattle St, Cambridge
6. Bukowski Tavern50 Dalton St, Boston
7. Root487 Cambridge St, Allston
8. Silvertone69 Bromfield St, Boston
Operating with the ethos that “a good sandwich is like an old friend,” All Star Sandwich Bar offers the ultimate sandwich experience from its post on Cambridge Street. The mounted chalkboard menu is home to all sandwich options on offer: the burger bar (featuring... burgers), classic sandwiches (like a tuna melt, or a chili cheese dog) funky sandwiches (this is where you’ll find house signatures, namely the lauded Mr. Miyagi, a hoisin-glazed pulled pork sandwich with Thai basil, English cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, a fried egg and Sriracha aioli on brioche), and veggie sandwiches. To further the experience, All Star Sandwich Bar knows that nothing goes better with a sandwich -- of any kind -- than poutine, and nothing goes better with poutine than a pitcher of beer. All Star Sandwich Bar has got you covered.
Get yourself to the South End and try some of Toro's Barcelona-style tapas for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch. Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette put a modern twist on Spanish small plates by using regional ingredients to craft favorites like salt cod fritters, garlic shrimp, braised beef tongue, and grilled corn with aioli. Be sure to save room for the paella, made the traditional Valencia way with shrimp, mussels, clams, chorizo, and chicken. A Spanish wine list complements it all.
Housed in the historic former Boston Woven Hose & Rubber Factory and sporting the original name of the Longfellow Bridge, WB's the inaugural eat/drinkery from a couple of Aquitaine alums who wanted to sling tasty 'tails alongside a lineup of modern French sustenance with "a New England perspective" -- so be prepared for your food to grumble suspiciously about this year's unseasonably mild Winter.
This cozy Union Square restaurant serves up modern twists on traditional and authentic German fare (borscht, massive bretzels, every wurst imaginable). And, in true German fashion, Bronwyn offers dozens of beers (by the liter, boot or bucket) from all over central Europe and New England. Owner Tim Wiechmann was aiming to imitate the atmosphere of a European dive or hostel with this location, and he totally nailed it with its nearly medeival look (dark, heavy wooden tables, worn-leather bar stools, rustic red and blue walls).
Alden & Harlow, located in Harvard Square, is serving inventive American cuisine from a constantly changing menu. Aside from unique small plates like chicken-fried rabbit and pickled corn pancakes, the kitchen makes an understated but decadent burger, simply dressed with shredded lettuce, a secret sauce, and a crisp frico. The semi-secret burger is available in limited quantities, so don't be surprised to see people lining up at 5pm for it.
Ditch Newbury and the bastions of distraught twenty-something foreigners asking you what happened to Armani Cafe, and hit up this bastion of barley to take down a peanut butter burger while making a sizeable dent in your Dead Author's Card, a running tally of all the beers you have to drink within six months to earn a spot in their exclusive mug club.
This place might be serving up mainly vegetarian plates and juices, but some of their offerings are darn good: portobello sammies, jalapeño hushpuppies, and legit black bean burgers.