What it is: ... A steamed cheeseburger
Where it comes from: Meriden, CT
The origin story: The hamburger was most likely invented in the state of Connecticut, but it was Jack’s Lunch in Middletown (most likely in the 1920s) -- and subsequently the entire town of Meriden -- that took the idea and did something kinda weird with it. Generally cooked in a specialized cabinet, steamed cheeseburgers are exactly what they sound like: the burger patties are buffeted with piping-hot water vapor, while the rolls they’re served on are room temperature. Kind of a weird thing to do with the legacy of Louis’ Lunch, but hey, it’s a free country.
Where you can get some good ones: Ted’s Restaurant (address and info) & K. LaMay’s (address and info)
Guber/Goober Burger What it is: A burger topped with peanut butter
Where it comes from: Central Missouri
The origin story: In what is almost assuredly exactly what George Washington Carver had in mind when he invented peanut butter, Central Missouri tavern The Wheel Inn Drive-In started hawking peanut butter-topped burgers (dubbed “guber” or “goober” burgers) in the mid-20th century. Since then, the restaurant has closed, changed owners, and closed yet again, leaving the forecast uncertain for this once-lauded burger.
Where you can get some good ones: My Sister’s Place (address and info)
Frita Cubana What it is: A thin beef patty seasoned with paprika and topped with shoestring potatoes, diced onions, and spiced ketchup
Where it comes from: South Florida (via Cuba)
The origin story: OK, so they aren’t exactly FROM South Florida, but fritas Cubanas (or just “fritas”, which are not just more feminine versions of Fritos) are quite popular there, and are sometimes referred to as “Cuban hamburgers”. They first appeared in Miami in 1962 at Fritas Domino, which is still serving the burgers today. They’re also Obama-approved, as he stopped by Coral Gables’ own El Mago de las Fritas when he was in town.
Where you can get some good ones: El Mago de las Fritas (address and info) & El Rey de las Fritas (address and info)
Adam Lapetina is a food/drink staff writer at Thrillist, and wishes his state had a specialty burger. C'MON MASSACHUSETTS. Read his musings on Twitter at @adamlapetina.