It's been months since we wiped the ketchup off our faces and shared our 33 Best Burgers, those meaty, cheese-topped examples of burger excellence. Since then, new spots have opened in Thrillist Cities across the country and they're plating their own renditions. From a burnt end-topped order in Portland to a raclette & red onion jam beaut in NYC, these 15 newcomers might just be able to knock off some of our favorite American cheese-covered burgers in 2015.
Reverend's BBQ (address and info) Portland, OR When the team behind Portland’s steakhouse/butcher shop Laurelhurst Market turned their focus to smoked meats at the beginning of 2014, we knew the barbecue would be stellar. But their burger? Well, it’s topped with burnt ends, which everyone knows is the best part of ‘cue, plus pimento cheese, iceberg lettuce, and crispy onions.
Smoke Ring Burger
Smoke Ring (address and info) Atlanta, GA Despite quickly earning one of Atlanta’s best BBQ reps since it opened at the end of 2013, Smoke Ring doesn’t put ‘cue on its burger... and it’s still our favorite in the city, thanks in no small part to the way melty Fontina cheese and rich caramelized onions dance together with bacon and Smoke Ring’s signature steak sauce that oozes into the English muffin bun.
Little Barrel and Brown (address and info) Austin, TX This unassuming beast looks like a classic burger with melty white American, thick bacon, lettuce, tomato, and red onion. But it ditches that boring mayo you’ve been reluctantly lathering up your burgers with and opts instead for ridiculously rich marrownaise that throws it over the top. And since this South Congress spot ramps up quite the happy hour, it's only $8 from 5-7pm, which is absolutely enough time to have two. Or three. And just as many $5 Old Fashioneds.
The HUSK Cheeseburger
Husk (address and info) Nashville, TN When Sean Brock opened the Nashville outpost of Husk, he didn’t just bring upscale Southern plates. He -- and this might just be the most important thing -- brought Tennessee one of the best burgers in the country, which comes with Benton’s bacon ground into the damn patty and is topped with not one, but three American slices that coat white onions and bread & butter pickles, all between a browned bun.
Libertine (address and info) Minneapolis, MN What with their sub-zero weather and easy references to Game of Thrones, Minneapolis deserves its over-allotment of hearty meat meccas, so Libertine’s summer opening and its pork chops the size of Hodor’s head were well-received. And their solid touch with anti-veggie foods extends to the burger, which gets dressed up in only white cheddar and sweet bacon jam for a tangy, sweet, gooey mess. Eat up, MSP... winter is coming, or something.
The Gangnam Burger
BRGR Bar (address and info) Seattle, WA Seattle’s divey, but well-loved Dome Burger ditched its vowels, got a Korean-esque makeover, and reopened at the beginning of 2014 as BRGR Bar. Amongst a solid lineup of classics and creatives, we keep going back for the Gangnam Burger: the patty gets a Kalbi-style marinade bath, then that umami-packed flavor is balanced with creamy slaw and roasted garlic aioli. It’s so good, it’s actually worth getting that song stuck in your head for the first time since 2012.
Distill (address and info) Las Vegas, NV Distill: A Local Bar has a surprising lack of giant buffets given that its a neighborhood spot in Vegas. But it makes up for all that with a girth of burgers, including our favorite Sin City newcomer, The Cure. The patty is a combo of beef AND pork, and hits so many flavor notes with Fontina, spicy-sweet jalapeño jelly, a hot mayo, and crisp-fried parsnips layered on with a heavy hand. It’ll put all those dreams of all-you-can-eat Alaskan king crab legs out of your mind.
Pork Roll Burger
Blue Duck Sandwich Company (address and info) Philadelphia, PA Blue Duck Sandwich Company has added yet more reasons for us to love Philly: one more BYOB spot in a city already loaded with them and a burger that’s a vast improvement over its namesake, Jersey’s processed pork-roll staple. The pork and beef patty comes topped with a runny egg, cheese, and a beautiful zig-zag coating of Sriracha mayo. Ask for extra napkins with this spicy, yolky mess, because the only thing that pairs better with a burger than beer is beer you get to bring for free from your personal stash.
Grind Burger Kitchen (address and info) Louisville, KY Some might call this burger pick cheating. But I’ll just call it a rightful celebration of never again having to track down the best burger in Louisville in its mobile ‘straunt. Grind’s food truck is still on the streets, but the oozing Brie, thick-crisp bacon, and spicy habanero jam-loaded B&B, plus all their other burgers and sandwiches, is now also available in a brick-and-mortar spot. And it has beer.
The New Englander Burger
Plan B Burger Bar (address and info) Washington, DC If you’re a CT-based burger spot, and you plan to open your first non-New England location, you better pay homage to the place from which you came by adding Maine lobster, smoked Gouda, caramelized onion, and a tomato-corn spread. And also maybe by calling it the New Englander or whatever.
Bowery Meat Co. (address and info) New York, NY Josh Capon (five-time Burger Bash champ, guy behind Lure, etc.) didn’t go for tricks here. His burger is so simple, and yet so damn delicious with dry-aged beef, raclette, red onion jam, and tomato-garlic aioli.
Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar (address and info) Houston, TX Don’t let the name of the place prevent you from going with the burger. Just knock back a dozen raw oysters, so you can settle in for this soon-to-be masterpiece from Chef Mark Holley with Wagyu, bacon, Pale Horse mustard, Texas Gold cheddar, and bourbon ketchup.
Tipsy Cow (address and info) Los Angeles, CA After consuming the burger from this Valley gastropub, you will in no way want to Jump, Jump, because it is topped with mac & cheese AND pork belly. Also, that was a Kriss Kross reference.
Causwells (address and info) San Francisco, CA The Marina restaurant is currently making a serious play for best burger in SF with this glorious Double Double-esque move featuring two dry-aged fatty meat patties, American cheese, a house-made secret sauce (part Worcestershire, part Thousand Island, part magic potion), 21-day lacto-fermented pickles, and a Petit Pain bun.
Parts and Labor (address and info) Chicago, IL We love griddle burgers. And so it only makes sense that Russ Grant’s Classic Double from Parts and Labor -- which pays homage to his Father’s Wonderburger joint, but adds the fancified, house-made stuff we’ve all come to expect nowadays -- is the perfect tribute, with two griddled patties, American cheese, onion, lettuce, pickles, and mayo. Get a side of Fried Giardinara too, because you’ve earned it.
Liz Childers is the associate Food/Drink editor and chose her last apartment based on its proximity to her favorite burger spots. Follow her to genius real-estate choices in 2015: @lizchilders1.