Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Burger Quest: One Man's Mission to Find America's Greatest Hamburger

This article kicked off our National Burger Critic Kevin Alexander's yearlong Burger Quest, which took him to 30 cities and saw him consuming 330 burgers. To see every city he visited and every burger he ate across the country, scroll down, and then read about what he learned along the way, see his final ranking of the 100 best burgers in America, and watch him gleefully eat his absolute favorite.

Every great quest needs a goal. Frodo's was to destroy the ring. Link's was to find Zelda. Mine is to destroy my body while finding the greatest burger in America. 

As our chief burger obsessive and co-writer of our 33 Best Burgers in America articles, I've always longed to do something more comprehensive. So I mentioned the idea of traveling all over the country to find the best burger to my boss. And somehow, instead of laughing at me, he asked me to come back with a more comprehensive plan. And so I did, and here we are.  

The plan is simple: I'm traveling to 30 cities (or, in some cases, regions) across the country, and eating eight to 14 of the best burgers in and around those cities. I am aiming for a mix of old-school spots and modern joints, looking for the best classic cheeseburger in America. It can be a modern update to that concept or a riff on it, but this will not be a list of truffle or bison burgers. 

I'd also like to make something else clear. When I say I'm looking for the greatest burger in the country, quite obviously I mean, according to my tastes. It's all very subjective. So let's get all this out in the open: I like all hamburgers, but I lean towards diner-style griddled patties with American cheese and grilled onions. And I like tomatoes in salads, but not on burgers.  

But look, here's me holding a burger and looking uncomfortable:

Kevin Holding Burger
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

After each city, I shall write about what I've discovered, be it through a ranking of the burgers I tried, or a profile of one particular burger joint or chef I fell in love with. Once I've been to all the cities (and had, um, 300-plus burgers), I will unveil what I've found in a gigantic national ranking of the top 100 and name what I believe to be the best burger in the country, possibly while setting off many legally purchased fireworks.

Why you should keep coming back here: to find new burger stories as I go city to city, and check back on dates when I may be in your area. You'll find the most current list of cities, and my completed city burger rankings, below.

What you should do in the meantime: follow the journey on Instagram (@ThrillistBurgerQuest) and me on Twitter (@KAlexander03) and be sure to send along pictures of amazing burgers you've eaten (using #ThrillistBurgerQuest), as well as burger joint suggestions for places I should hit next. Or, you know, just watch me gain an alarming amount of weight in real time. See you on the other side.

The Burger Quest Tour city stops:

Houston (read it here)
Pittsburgh (read it here)
Portland (read it here)
Austin (read it here)
New Orleans (read it here)
Oklahoma City (read it here)
Cleveland (read it here)
Seattle (read it here)
Minneapolis-St. Paul (read it here)
Dallas (read it here)
Milwaukee (read it here)
Detroit (read it here)
Atlanta (read it here)
Chicago (read it here)
Memphis (read it here)
Nashville (read it here)
Charleston (read it here)
Los Angeles (read it here)
San Francisco (read it here)
Manhattan (read it here)
Boston (read it here)
Philadelphia (read it here)
Charlotte (read it here)
Washington D.C. (read it here)
Brooklyn (read it here)
Kansas City (read it here)
Asheville (read it here)
Omaha (read it here)
Connecticut (read it here)
Sacramento (read it here)


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Kevin Alexander is Thrillist's national writer-at-large and already has the meat sweats. Invite him to stay at your house: @KAlexander03