Parlour (address and info)
The burger: Burger
Well, of course there’s Matt’s Bar and the Jucy Lucy. And it’s hard to pass up the melty, cheesy goodness of a place famous for innovating something so delicious. And we’re big fans of Victory 44’s modestly monikered “Perfect Burger.” But then we had the burger at Parlour bar below Borough. Three types of meat (ground sirloin, ribeye, brisket) and American cheese. Plus a perfectly crispy bun. And some pickles on the side. That’s it. It will change your feelings about condiments forever.
Neon Pig Cafe (address and info)
The burger: Smash Burger
Tupelo’s Neon Pig is part-butcher shop, part-seafood store, part-market, and part-cafe. Fresh fish tacos from the Gulf? Yep. Pies from local orchards? Uh-huh. But don’t lose focus: you’re here for the Smash Burger. The patty’s made with Benton’s bacon (obviously), aged filet, ribeye, strip steak, and sirloin, which is good enough that we’d just eat it with a fork and knife on its own. But its goes on a dense ciabatta bun ready to soak up melted cheddar, a mix of dripping hoisin and comeback sauces, pickled onion, pickles, and, of course, more Benton’s. It’s smoky and savory and rich and you should probably cleanse your palate afterwards with one of those pies.
Westport Flea Market Bar and Grill (address and info)
The burger: Patty melt
The burger at Five Bistro in St. Louis was hard to beat. But Westport Flea Market, which is really less a flea market (check out the wacky cages in the front!) and more of a bar, just managed to take the top spot with their McGonigle’s Market beef burger. I like the patty melt here because it takes 5.5oz of that McGonigle beef and throws it on toasted rye with Swiss and grilled onions. But if you want a challenge, the Super Flea is five 10oz burgers topped with bacon, cheese, and 2lbs of fries. Eat it in 30 minutes and you’ll get a T-shirt, your picture on the wall, AND ALSO MAYBE DIE. Which is maybe why, as I said, we’re fans of the patty melt.
Naps Grill (address and info)
The burger: Bacon cheeseburger
Picking the best burger in a state known for its beef it a pretty tough task, especially considering you can get a good burger at pretty much any roadside stand -- all while looking at your meal’s cousins grazing across the street. But the Bitterroot Valley’s Naps ranks up with the nation’s best, offering a customizable burger that starts with a 12oz patty of locally farmed beef that would be good enough on its own, but gets even better when stacked with bacon, grilled onions, and a pile of tender mushrooms. Naps proves that even a place in a town of 4,500 people can go up against anything in a big city.
Dinker's Bar (address and info)
The burger: Cheeseburger, add sautéed onions
We wanted to pick Stella’s in Bellevue, mainly so I could just write “STELLLAAAAAAA” and be done. But Dinker's in Omaha is the one. Though they’re famous for their Haystack Burger with American, honey-smoked ham, and a fried egg, we’re partial to the normal cheeseburger with sautéed onions on their delicious grilled kaiser bun. Oh, and get the onion rings. Always get the onion rings.
Bachi Burger (address and info)
The burger: Kiki's Burger
This pick was a little outside my normal comfort zone of simplistic, classic burgers, as Bachi makes burgers inspired by “the varied Asian influences of the Hawaiian islands.” And if you know what I like, you may find it strange that I’m then suggesting getting a burger with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized bacon, sweet onion marmalade, Gruyere, and garlic-chili aioli. But if you try the burgers here, you’ll get it. And understand why the talk of Bachi’s legend is growing louder every day.
Gilley's PM Lunch (address and info)
The burger: Cheeseburger
Essentially the White Hut equivalent, but in Portsmouth. Built in 1940 by the Worcester Lunch Car Co., it used to get towed out to the North Church to sell burgers and dogs to the workers late at night. And though it's now permanent, Steve Kennedy’s spot makes the best diner-style burger in New Hampshire, with thin 3oz chuck patties on toasted thin buns that don’t get in the way of that beefy, cheesy flavor. Get the double burger, and a normal cheeseburger on the side, as an appetizer. Ralph “Gilley” Gilbert would’ve wanted it that way.
White Manna (address and info)
The burger: Cheeseburgers, at least four
The Hackensack White Manna -- not Jersey City’s White Mana -- is a traditional burger counter and their $1.25 griddled sliders are precisely what you’d expect: cooks use a spatula to smash sliced onions into the patties as they cook, then flip the burgers and add cheese. A potato roll and pickle finishes the process. No surprises, which is exactly what we want.