Thrillist Editors Reveal Their 21 Favorite Burgers of All Time
Here at Thrillist, there's almost nothing closer to our collective editorial heart than the burger. This makes trips to the cardiologist quite an apprehensive affair, but mere cholesterolic anxiety pales in comparison to the anguish our editors bemoaned when I told them they had to pick JUST ONE burger to name as their all-time favorite. Nevertheless, pick 'em they did, with extreme personal prejudice and no regard for regionalism or fairness of any kind. From classic fast-food hamburgers, to high-piled lamb patties, to a staggeringly robust veggie burger that our resident vegetarian rides hard for, these are Thrillist editors' favorite burgers of all time. What's yours?
Cheeseburger with bacon & egg
The addictive charm of Au Cheval's burger has been well-documented by this site on several occasions. While the contrarian in me was tempted to go for a less-heralded choice, in the end it would just be intellectually dishonest. I love this burger. When people are new in town and ask "what should I eat?", it is reliably my first suggestion. I have waited a seemingly unreasonable amount of time to consume it on several occasions, only to take that first bite and think "I in no way regret this decision." All the components work in perfect harmony: impossibly juicy griddled patties, gooey cheese that blends seamlessly with a just-right portion of Dijonnaise and the runny yolk from the obligatory fried egg, with thin pickle slices cutting through the richness just the right amount. All that said, there's still a magical element I can't quite put my finger on. You know when people say "that's so good they must put crack in it," but it's hyperbole? Well, in all seriousness, I am not willing to rule out the possibility that crack is somehow involved in the making of this burger. - Matt Lynch, senior editor, Thrillist Cities
The Steakhouse Burger
New York, NY
When you bite into the Brindle Room’s masterpiece, you barely want to chew. Because if you do that, the aged beef that’s studded with deckle -- the absurdly flavorful fat trimmed from the outer ring of a ribeye -- will eventually go into your stomach, which means it’s no longer in your mouth. I’d heard about the American- and caramelized onion-topped wonder for years, but when I finally ordered it in the East Village sleeve, I was a little confused. This visually simple, hockey puck-sized thing was what all the underground burger buzz was about? Then the first bite happened, and the world sang. I’m not sure my buddy or I said a word to each other the entire time. The pool of ketchup on my plate remained untouched. - Ben Robinson, editorial director, Thrillist
I've repped this place before, and I'm going to rep it again, because it's important to get a lot of reps: Burger House in Dallas is my favorite burger of all time. The place has been around since 1951, when getting nuked was something you worried about happening to you, not your patty. Back in the '80s, me and my friend George had an impressive streak of grabbing to-go orders every Saturday to eat while thrilling to the televised exploits of Brian Bosworth, who George's brother James totally ran over back in the earlier '80s. I'd get a Double Double, a Chili Cheeseburger, fries, a chocolate shake, and a real cherry Coke, and it didn't even make me fat, because I was in high school, although it's probably somehow making me fat right now. If you visit, you should know that you can order your burger with as many of their thin-but-still-substantial patties as you want (like, 19 patties, or whatever), and if you don't visit, you can still get their seasoning salt online. I would not order a burger online though, because it would arrive Stone Cold. Which was a Brian Bosworth movie. - Dave Blend, executive editor, Thrillist Media Group
Hollywood & Studio City, CA
OK, I'll admit that Carney's is actually my SECOND choice: my editor Grant got to the In-N-Out Double Double before I did, and f'real, I am, and always have been, obsessed with that burger. But growing up in LA, there's no treat like a Carney's meatwich, though, honestly, when you're a kid, the best part isn't the burger itself, it's the setting: a hollowed-out train car-turned-flattop grillery. Returning as an adult, though, you realize it's not just nostalgia driving Carney's business, nor is it the never-ending parade of stumbly 20-somethings on Sunset. Rather, their burger is God: a perfectly crispy-on-the-outside-juicy-in-the-middle patty, fresh veggies, and, of course, that "optional" chili, which may or may not actually be chili at all. Who cares? It's the perfect amount of ooze-and-meat-and-oozy meat, both soul and stomach filling, at the same time. Top it off with one of their snap-worthy hot dogs and call it a day -- you won't have any other choice, since at that point you'll barely be able to walk. - Jeff Miller, editor, Thrillist LA
Newport Beach, CA
Take four steps into this dive on the Balboa Peninsula and you'll say to yourself "Only someone on a four-day tweak bender would be out of their mind enough to eat ANYTHING that comes out of that kitchen." And while that might not be an inaccurate description of a lot of people you'll find at Cassidy's, the burger is better than anything you'll find somewhere that actually posts their sanitation grade. They claim to flame broil it in a mysterious kitchen "in the back," but for all we know they dredge it in addictive substances before smothering it in secret pepper sauce and serving it without fries. There's nothing overly fancy about it, but however the grill is seasoned makes for a unique flavor that pairs perfectly with the topped sauce, and it's equally as good for lunch on a Wednesday as it is at closing time on Sunday. - Matt Meltzer, staff writer, Thrillist Travel
Single with bacon and a fried egg
New Orleans, LA
When I lived in New Orleans, I looked into buying a house specifically because of its proximity to Company Burger. A friend visited me in town for three days, and we went to Company Burger two of those days. I give directions to pretty much any house, bar, or restaurant that’s located in a 15-block radius as its distance from Company Burger. I get at least four of the house-made mayonnaise flavors every visit, and I don’t even like mayo. On my last trip back to town, I got in too late to go and cried, which should be embarrassing, but I’m very comfortable with my burger dependence, so I kept weeping.
What I’m trying to say is that the Single (It's exceptionally important to get at least two sides, which rules out the double-patty namesake burger.) -- with its perfectly sized 3.25oz patty that’s covered in melty American that seeps into the burger and is balanced by biting red onions and house-made bread & butter pickles -- is the best damn burger in America and, if it were a person, it’d probably have a restraining order against me. And I'd be totally okay with that. - Liz Childers, associate editor, Thrillist Food & Drink
New York, NY
There’s no extra patty or secret sauce and I don’t have to order off a hidden menu to get what has been the most consistently juicy, well-seasoned, and perfectly cooked 8oz slab of beef in the 25+ years I’ve been regularly ordering beef slabs.
The Bistro Burger is not made with a fried egg or drizzled in truffle oil, nor does a burger sommelier present it tableside and condescendingly adjust his bowtie if you order it medium. It comes with bacon and cheese and a slice of raw onion and a piece of tomato you should probably take off. It’s served on a paper plate that will disintegrate into the burger juice, forming a pink layer of conquered grease that says, “Hey, you did it, buddy. You ate that burger.”
In the Encyclopedia Burgtannica, the Bistro Burger would be entry #1. It would be the first page of Burgerpedia. Plato would sit in his cave shoving this burger in his mouth... if he wasn’t dead and was more concerned with burgering than buggering. The Bistro Burger is the ur-Burger, and there’s nothin’ better. - Jesse Brukman, senior editor, Thrillist Media Group
Beefy Double Cheeseburger
I’ve had a great burger in damn near every state in the union, ranging in price from expensive to pennies and made with enough different animals to fill a Russell Crowe-piloted ark. And yet, if pressed to pick an all-time favorite, my mind will always go back to a simple, greasy drive-thru favorite from my youth. When a restaurant’s logo is that of a dead animal you’re about to eat, you know you’re in good hands. Flint Town’s Halo Burger’s mascot is a very happy-looking cow with a halo over its head, licking its lips in anticipation of eating... well, itself. But who can blame him? The Beefy Double Cheeseburger is basically four regular burgers stacked together. That’s four patties and four slices of cheese lodged between two buns, with a middle bun serving the purpose of soaking up all the grease and, to the savvy eater, becoming the perfect, flavor-packed last bite of this behemoth (side note: you can see through the middle bun... and maybe into your soul).
Some folks load it up with the chainlet’s famous mounds of green olives. I call shenanigans, as they tend to take over the sheer perfection of the tower. Stack an onion ring on that sucker, bite into its mighty girth, and get ready for your body -- and your car -- to smell like it for days on end. If I had any indication that I tasted as good as this burger, I’d be fantasizing about cannibalizing myself just like that cartoon cow. - Andy Kryza, associate senior editor, Thrillist Food & Drink
The Rocky Mountain Burger
Yeah, I picked a lamb burger. Not because beef burgers aren't delicious, but because there's no other burger I've put in my mouth that's been this tender or delicious. Anyways, they top it with a goat cheese from goats living a few hours away from the restaurant. These goats must be fed the equivalent of goat caviar every day, because there is no better goat cheese. Then they tie it all together with a tomato mint relish that if I were eating alone, I'd probably just shove into my face like a gosh darn toddler. Basically, I'd put this up against any beef burger on the planet. Sorry, cows. - Lee Breslouer, senior editor, Thrillist Food & Drink
Two single cheeseburgers
I've lived in seven different cities in California -- three in Southern California, four in Northern California -- and all seven apartments/houses/fraternities/condos have exactly one thing in common: I can tell you exactly where and how far the closest In-N-Out is. It's a California institution for a reason and that reason is DELICIOUS BURGERS. Look, this job alone affords an opportunity to have lots of the best burgers in the entire country, and alllllllll of the best ones in California, from Spruce's, to Father's Office's, to 4505's, to The Larchmont's, to Trick Dog's, and beyond, so I'm not some fast-food lover who doesn't do fancy burgers (I LOVE fancy burgers), or someone who hasn't tried enough burgers to have a legitimate opinion on them.
I've tried them all, in most cases multiple times, and I keep going back to this one. This classic, toasted-bun masterpiece with the special-est of special sauces, house-made patties that have never seen the inside of an In-N-Out freezer or microwave (because they DON'T HAVE EITHER), half-leafed lettuce, big-ass tomatoes, and just-the-right-amount of everything. Even more impressively, I've been to probably two-dozen different In-N-Out locations all around the West Coast and every single time the burger was just as perfect as the one before it. And yeah, I did the Double Double for years (still love it, no hate here), and have had everything they're willing to make Animal Style done that way, but after 20+ years of eating these things I've finally settled on two single cheeseburgers as the perfect order -- because why have one of the best burgers in the world when you can have two? - Grant Marek, senior editor, Thrillist
Ann Arbor, MI
Blimpy Burger is Ann Arbor's most universally recognized burger, since it is beloved by generations of University of Michigan students who travel the world and sing its praises. But the best burger in Ann Arbor, my hometown, is at Knight's Steakhouse and Butcher Shop. It might be the best ground beef on Earth. The Ann Arbor location has always been better known by townies than UM students, but that's about to change with a new downtown location. The original location is across the street from the dusty old baseball diamond where I played as a young man. The restaurant's about 150ft removed from the diamond, over the right field foul line, and I peppered that poor building with dozens of foul balls. Good thing they had unbreakable windows. I was late on a lot of fastballs.
- Bison Messink, managing editor, Thrillist Media Group
The Mt. Fuji
I'm that guy who almost always orders a burger. I've had so many -- from the gloriously greasy to the legitimately great -- it'd be impossible to pick a favorite, if not for this tiny counter service-style spot in a careworn mini-mall South of Downtown, and the ultimate example of their combination of Japan's juicy Katsu-style fried meats with American-style burgers: this uniquely delicious meatwich boasts fried beef, chicken, and pork patties, plus three types of cheese & bacon, and is presumably called the Mt. Fuji, because it works so well on film (see above!!)... or more likely because of its remarkable size. What's most remarkable about it though, is that the size never seems like the point -- it's just the only way they could put so much awesome in one sandwich. - Bradley Foster, associate senior editor, Thrillist
The Hendrix veggie burger
New Paltz, NY
The Main Street Bistro in the the lovably weird hippy town of New Paltz not only served me plentiful brunches during college, but also serious volumes of veggie burgers. They’re beastly, and all delicious, but the best one is without a doubt the Hendrix. Boasting, like, half an avocado, grilled portabella mushrooms, sprouts, and SMOKED MOZZARELLA, all on top of a hearty-ass made-in-house patty and accompanied by fresh fries, I dare you to find better. But the best part? You will take half of this thing home. You will forget about it until later. You will eventually remember. And you will finally know true happiness. - Rachel Freeman, editorial assistant, Thrillist Food & Drink
Double with cheese, grilled onions & grilled jalapeños
I'll take your dry-aged, your brisket/bacon/chuck blends, your fancy cheeses, and raise you a classic drive-thru double that blows all of those away. You could say P. Terry's is like the In-N-Out of Austin, but frankly that's not giving them enough credit. Find another double never-ever burger for under 4 bucks, I dare you.
But it's not just the beef quality. It's that they really care. They're in the business of supplying the perfect everyman burger, and the overall attention to detail is as close to fine dining as you're going to find from someone wearing a silly paper hat. Employees are paid well, the complaint number on their bags goes straight to the founder's cell. The cashiers actually smile.
And so will you if you eat this burger, especially after a dip in Barton Springs or a surprisingly competitive game of pick-up soccer at Zilker Park. Adding grilled onions and grilled jalapeños just puts it over the top, mixing with the cheese and turning this thing into a sloppy party that's going to be on your breath for the rest of the day. - Dan Gentile, staff writer, Thrillist Food & Drink
The Piggy Smalls
London, England, UK
I first ate this work of art at a "burger marathon," an event that is (probably) just as difficult as a regular marathon, and just as damaging to your body, and therefore worthy of the same esteem. It's held yearly at a brewery in London, and each brave entrant has to eat six hamburgers between beers, and then rate them, with the eventual winner receiving a gold, burger-shaped trophy. The Olympics truly beckon.
By my fifth burger, I was praying that I would develop a sudden, fatal allergy to burgers, and would be mercifully euthanized before having to eat a sixth. My stomach was painfully engorged. My taste buds no longer worked. Everything tasted like a 10th-generation photocopy of its former self. Just to reiterate, I had eaten five hamburgers immediately prior to this one. And yet, when I sunk my unwilling teeth into it, something magic happened. It was like seeing through the burger Matrix. Beef, confit pork belly, crackling, and hot sauce were all seductively tied together in brioche, and for a moment, I forgot all about my imperiled digestive tract, and gratefully ate the entire, stunning thing.
Rockaway Beach, NY
I eat a lot of burgers, like occasionally an I'm-uncomfortable-for-a-few-days lot of burgers, so I was thinking truly picking the BEST burger I've ever had would require extensive revisits, note taking, and preparing myself to be uncomfortable for a few weeks. But I settled on the Hardbody at Rippers in Rockaway Beach. Nothing encapsulated the pure joy of summer and made me forget how embarrassingly not-tan I was than when I was out on the boardwalk eating that burger. And ultimately, if you still remember a burger years later as the highpoint of a specific day, it's a good bet that's your actual favorite burger.
Anyway, the Hardbody is really nothing special conceptually, just great ingredients cooked perfectly. It's two beef patties from Brooklyn's Meat Hook topped with American cheese, pickles, and grilled onions on a potato bun. At the risk of sounding pornographic, it's one of those burgers whose juices rush into your mouth, and make you want to linger on each bite, kinda like biting into an exceptional piece of fruit, but, you know, meat. The flavors from the cheese and meat and onions and pickles and sauce all meld together perfectly in every bite. I could go on and on about honorable mentions here but I won't. The Hardbody is what everyone should go get if they can. - Andrew Zimmer, editor, Thrillist NYC
Some restaurants claim to be "authentic." Others don't have to, because their venerable status is so self-evident it'd be sort of silly to bother. Riverside Lunch is the latter. A few miles East of The Corner (UVA's de facto main drag), and past Charlottesville's historic Downtown Mall, this simple, squat brick luncheonette stands in humble testament to the staying power of a truly delicious hamburger. Perfectly soaked in griddle grease and smashed relatively thin by present-day standards, the beef patty would be a pleasure on its own, but when doubled up and covered in cheese, it's nothing short of a revelation. Wait, no. That's far too precious praise for this yeoman's bounty. But you get the point: the grease soaks into the basic bun, the cheese oozes onto your fingers, and for just a moment, you are transported back to a time when "artisanal" & "handcrafted" were used to describe artisans who worked with their hands, instead of restaurant menus full of "interesting updated takes" on leeks. It doesn't get much more authentic than that, my friends, and that's why this basic double cheeseburger is forever my paramour. - Dave Infante, senior writer, Thrillist Food & Drink
The patty melt
It was my first patty melt and it will be my only patty melt because there is no logic when it comes to these things -- you just know when it's right.
The toast? Thick-cut and of a sourdough origin, with a salty, salty griddle sear. The cheese? Cheddar, and on both sides of the bread, oozing into the luscious and thick, but not dense, patty. The condiments? Spicy mayo's on the side and if you even so much as consider the ketchup you're a crazy person. It doesn't slip apart like your Corner Bistro variety, it doesn't end in soggy, congealed chaos. All elements endure until the last exquisite bite.
To some, it's a just a sandwich, but not to me. Maybe, you think, sometimes I'd just prefer a limper, rounder, more basic burger iteration because that, and this patty melt, are just two different things. Apples and oranges be damned. When I want a chopped beef patty, I want this one. Now and forever. - Carrie Dennis, associate editor, Thrillist Food & Drink
The British burger
A good burger should be four things: juicy, simple, delicious, and a vehicle for child prodigy Kel Mitchell. A great burger, however, needn’t concern itself with the fatuous subjectivity of man, nor child prodigy Kel Mitchell. It exists as a capital-T Truth, something universally recognized as mouthwatering and irrefutably delicious. Such a burger exists at Shakespeare’s British Pub in Sarasota, Florida. And no, the irony of my favorite American food being British isn’t lost on me.
Impeccable beer selection aside, Shakespeare’s serves up nine noteworthy burgers, each made with 8oz of pure ground black Angus beef wedged betwixt two rosemary kaiser buns, complemented by the requisite lettuce, tomato, and onion. My personal favorite happens to be what they've dubbed “The British,” a very common, tried-and-true mixture of bacon, Stilton blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and onion. It’s the Will Hunting of cheeseburgers. Seemingly simple on the outside, but infinitely deep and complex when you pull the layers back.
The Scibek Sizzler
Online research and the polling of former locals told me plenty about the Burlington food scene. But actually being there and hearing residents spin tales of burgers “as big as your head”? That’s the real deal. It sounded dangerous. Intriguing. A challenge. I remember feeling kinda like Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws, except I was the one that was going to be doing the eating.
By all accounts, The Shopping Bag is -- even within a town 45 miles from the Canadian border in the second least populous state in America -- off the beaten path. It’s a corner store housed in a nondescript, barely windowed brick building in a remote neighborhood far North of where tourists usually venture (i.e. the Ben & Jerry’s). But their legendary burgers are more than worth the schlep.
The best and most beloved option, called the Scibek/Scibec/Scibeck Sizzler (after a former Burlington cop), is a giant, gloriously untidy stack of smashed, Montreal steak seasoning-spiked beef, bacon, shredded lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes, and both American and provolone cheese on a sesame seed bun. Nobody quite remembers how to spell the cop’s name, but I guarantee you’ll always remember his legacy. - Adam Lapetina, partnerships editor, Thrillist
Two cheeseburgers, grilled onions
West Springfield, MA
Members of my family have been going to this venerable Western Mass institution since Edward J. Barkett opened on Memorial Avenue in 1939. It’s the meeting spot. The place I went after a soccer game against Springfield College, or before going to the Basketball Hall of Fame or Riverside. Where I sat down to eat when I wrote my Grandfather’s eulogy. Where I would have had my wedding, if it could’ve only fit 30 more people and a band. The burgers are grilled in the classic diner style with white American cheese and grilled peppery onions. Don’t you dare put lettuce or tomato on it, or tarnish the mix of meat, cheese, and onion with more than a smear of ketchup. Just order two with grilled onions, sit up at the counter with a bottle of root beer, and a copy of The Republican, and tell them Ray Tuller sent you. They’ll know what you mean. - Kevin Alexander, executive editor, Thrillist Food and Drink