Obviously we don't need to tell you why this is important, because you're literally eating a hamburger while reading this. But while London's burger scene has been taking off insanely (see below, it's heavily represented), the rest of the nation hasn't exactly been slacking off with its beefwiches. From Land's End to John O'Groats to your belly, here are the spots that do them best...
What you’re getting: The River Phoenix
There’s a trend going on in the burger world right now: keep it simple. Do the basics well. Don’t overcomplicate. Manchester’s Almost Famous disagrees. A bit like letting your 14-year-old American cousin host a dinner party for fat camp recidivists, Almost Famous throws everything dirty, delicious, and decadent at its burgers. The cream of the crop is the River Phoenix: two cheeseburger patties topped with bacon, baconnaise (why yes, that IS bacon mayonnaise), and a packet of crumbled Frazzles.
What you’re getting: The Animal Farm
You see this handsome beast? It comes from Manchester's upmarket gastro-diner Solita, and it has a pork loin, chicken breast, a steak patty, Brie, Lancashire cheese, and an entire lamb chop as a garnish. Some burgers are just more equal than others, and this is one of them.
What you’re getting: Cheeseburger with bacon
This is the same cheeseburger that was voted "Best in the US" in the Chicago restaurant of Head Chef Brendan Sodikoff. Order a single and you get two patties. Go for the double and you get three. Presumably there’s a very clever algorithm behind this name-to-patty ratio, but we’ll leave that to the quants: we’re here to eat. Whatever you get, ask for it with a slice of off-menu bacon on the top: what you’ll get is a hunk of sultry pork belly with the heft of a miniature cricket bat. And it's gorgeous.
What you’re getting: Dead Hippie
Designed to perfectly mimic the delicious, yet frustratingly unobtainable In-N-Out Burger, the Dead Hippie features two mustard-fried patties oozing with juices and fringed with a dirty char atop a canopy of shredded lettuce and some crinkle-cut pickles. To this are added two slices of American cheese, calibrated to find their way into every crevice in the beef, and a no-nonsense, super-squidgy bun that’s baked in-house every morning. It's one of the best burgers in California, and thanks to MEATliquor, it's one of the best in the UK, too.
What you’re getting: Double Candy Bacon Flipper
Frequently (and rightly) cited as a king amongst food stands, this simple little joint "smashes" its coarse, free-range patties onto the griddle and serves them with melted burger cheese, some lettuce, and a handful of pickles. The only luxury it allows its patrons is some maple-candied bacon atop the absolutely choice Double Candy Bacon Flipper: an exercise in the importance of doing the basics right.
What you’re getting: The Big Cheese
When you call something "The Big Cheese" you make a promise. People expect more than just curds, they expect greatness. So when Burger Meats Bun, an underground grillhouse in sunny Glasgow, decided to call its flagship cheeseburger The Big Cheese, it had a lot to live up to. And with the chunky-yet-tender steamed patty, a blanket of nutty cheddar, and a paddling pool of house secret sauce, this burger deserves all the praise the ‘wegians are heaping on it.
What you’re getting: The Fat Hippo
Growing into a burgeoning mini-chain up North, Hippo has quickly developed a reputation as having some of the finest beefwiches in the land, and for good reason. It proudly proclaims that it does “the good kind of gluttony,” and it does it all from inside a cool, Brooklyn-esque Newcastle space. Its signature bun contains a pair patties matched by a pair of onion rings, and some streaky bacon thrown in there for good measure. (And it’s one of its more modest creations.)
What you’re getting: The Honest Burger
Honest by name, slightly secretive by nature: Head Chef Tom refuses to tell us which cuts of Longhorn beef he uses in his juicy, steak-like, hand-pressed patties. And as with the meat, so too with the buns: no one will divulge where these freshly baked brioches are sourced from, or what gives them that magical sheen. All we know is that they pull off the remarkable trick of being soft and absorbent, yet sturdy and wholesome, all at once. The eponymous Honest Burger is the pick of the bunch, with its happy marriage of sweet onion jam and salty streaks of bacon. To pinch Stephen Fry’s description of P.G. Wodehouse,“You don’t analyse such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour.”
What you’re getting: The Classic Beef
It’s unclear if the men behind the counter at this tiny Brighton takeout joint really are brothers, but once you take a bite of your Classic Beef, with its baby plum tomatoes, challah bun, and its deeply satisfying, thick, juicy patty, you won’t care.
What you’re getting: 'Ari Gold' Cheeseburger
The cheeseburger at Patty and Bun is named after Entourage’s semi-sociopathic movie agent Ari Gold. On that basis, you’d expect it to be a bitter, neurotic little thing covered in cheese and betrayal. In reality, the Ari Gold is one of the loveliest things you’ll ever sit down to lunch with -- the juicy hunk of a patty is smothered in rich American cheese, topped with crunchy lettuce and a razor-thin tomato, and held in place by a gorgeously pudgy bun. What really makes the Ari Gold sing, though, is the unusual combination of smoky house mayonnaise with beautifully tart pickled onions.
What you’re getting: Literally whatever you want
Taking the mathematical gymnastics of Five Guys and allowing you to create your own burger from a possible 78 million combinations (seriously), TBJ excels in creating both delicious & inventive options: 18+ sauces like tzatziki or Thousand Island hit anything from beef to venison to wild boar before being loaded with chorizo, pulled pork, black pudding, hash browns, fried eggs, or a dozen other toppings. Go nuts.
What you’re getting: Cheeseburger
At first glance, there’s nothing particularly special about Tommi’s cheeseburger: medium-ground chuck beef, super-soft bun, American cheese, and some lettuce, tomato and onion. Yet after a single bite, it becomes clear that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. The rich patty seems to absorb every ounce of the cheese, the cheese flirts with the fresh toppings, the toppings bed down under possibly the most tender bun in the capital. Add a possible 30 sauces (from sweet chipotle barbecue to tangy blue cheese) and it's hard to beat.
What you’re getting: The Outlaw
An “Art Cafe” isn’t the first, second, or 19th place you’d think to find an amazing burger, but as it turns out, that’s exactly what you’re getting here. Folkestone’s own colourfully named diner nails the patty by sourcing the beef from from local, free-range, grass-fed Dexter cows. How can you improve that? How about throwing on some homemade BBQ sauce, a little crispy candied bacon, and some Monterey Jack cheese.
What you’re getting: The Imperial
A burger with a conscience: that’s the brief over at the Troll’s Pantry in Brighton. From fully compostable cutlery to beef from cows on a "wild range" farm in Sussex, this no-frills establishment (set within a brewpub) really cares about the big picture. But the big picture means nothing if it all tastes like cardboard. Thankfully though, the burgers here are sublime: 35-day-aged chuck steak is minced from grass-fed cows and shaped to order, making a rich, fat-marbled patty with a serious texture. Add to this some tangy, sweet house ketchup and a fluffy, yet absorbent homemade bun, and you’ve got a burger you can write home about.
What you’re getting: The cheeseburger
A bath institution, Schwartz Brothers has been alive longer than any of the students who argue in Freshers' Week over who discovered it first. And just as the visual style of Schwartz Bros seems stuck in John Major’s Britain, so too are its prices: £5.25 is all you’ll pay for a gooey and dense little cheeseburger on a freshly baked bun. It's worth every penny, and a lot more.
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This Soho eatery/drinkery serves up fresh cocktails ON TAP, as well as tasty American eats. Pro tip: go for one of its burgers. Order a single cheeseburger and you get two patties. Go for the double and you get three.
By no means do you have to order something that isn't meat off the menu. But if you do, keep in mind you'll have to tell your server you're getting an item from the "Rabbit Food" section. So save yourself the embarrassment and grab a burger or chicken and wash it down with... well, liquor.
Icelandic restauranteur, Tomas Tómasson's burger venture is a feat of excellence between buns. Patties available in meat, chicken, or vegetarian are cooked on an American gas grill to enhance charcoal flavor, and can be dressed in classic ketchup, béarnaise and cocktail sauces. The space itself channels backcountry diners, heavy on wood furnishings, handmade cardboard signs, and entertainment memorabilia.