The Best Burgers You'll Find in the 'Burgh
There's nothing better than the first bite of a truly spectacular burger... except maybe every other bite after that. Here in Pittsburgh we take our sandwiches seriously, and burgers are technically sandwiches, so by the transitive property, we take our burgers seriously, too. From fresh-ground local beef burgers to lean turkey burgers, we’ve scoured the city to find the best ones in town.
The Tap Burger
The Tap Burger is a hulking creation combining locally sourced beef, red onion, and garlic aioli. The burger achieves a flame-grilled taste. Urban Tap strives for a fresh take on American gastropub fare, and the menu’s side dish options are solid evidence of that success. Order a side of crispy Brussels sprouts or butternut squash risotto.
Known as much for its delicious meats as it is for its line around the block, this elegantly rustic Penn Avenue restaurant has become a staple since its recent expansion. For the steak burger, it’s definitely worth the wait. The meat is cooked to just the right temperature on a wood-fired grill. The burger is juicy, pairing well with caramelized onions and portobello mushrooms all tucked between two slices of ciabatta.
If the words “asiago fondue” are enough to induce salivation for you, Station’s burger is a must-eat. This 6-ounce patty is a mix of chuck, brisket, and short rib, and gets topped with red onion jam, a crispy buttermilk onion ring, and creamy asiago fondue. Enjoy it in the dining room, or at the bar with one of Station’s many impressive cocktails, like the “Partisan”: a hearty drink featuring rye, Montenegro, orange and walnut.
BRGR’s gourmet burgers are a handcrafted blend of Angus, chuck, and New York strip. The Shrooms Burger adds forest mushrooms, caramelized onions, Brie cheese, and mustard aioli to the sandwich. Wash it down with an adult root beer float -- root liqueur, local seltzer, and vanilla bean.
This burger is all about its local ingredients. The 5-ounce patty is from Butcher on Butler, just down the street from the restaurant. The brioche bun comes from Pittsburgh’s Mediterra Bakehouse; the bread-and-butter pickles are made in-house. All that, plus white Cheddar cheese, tomato mayo, and greens for good measure.
A testament to their heft, the burgers at Stinky’s are pierced with a steak knife through the middle, rather than a toothpick. Stinky’s Southwest Burger is a great pick, served with thick bacon, onion rings both inside the sandwich and on top of it, American cheese, and plenty of smoked BBQ sauce. It’s prepared just right from the kitchen, no ketchup or mustard required.
Kaya specializes in “island cuisine” with bold flavors. The burger is no exception. The Kaya Burger is stacked with sliced pickles, avocado, bacon, tomato, Chihuahua cheese, a sunny-side egg, and Kaya sauce. Kaya’s drink menu is known for its long list of tropical refreshers, from sangria to Mai Tais to mojitos, all of which taste great next to a burger.
The burgers at Tessaro’s, on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, have been beloved by Pittsburghers for decades. Order a classic hamburger at this longtime establishment. Each burger is a half-pound mix of choice cuts and freshly ground beef, achieving the coveted smoky, just-off-the-grill flavor reminiscent of summer no matter the season. They’re cooked over a wood-fired grill stocked with oak, maple, ash, and hickory woods, all which add to the burger’s flavor -- and to the aroma of burgers wafting through Bloomfield. On a warm day, ask for a seat on the open-air deck behind the restaurant.
When a new crop of chefs rolled into restaurant incubator Smallman Galley earlier this spring, we were more than a little bummed to say goodbye to some of our favorite dishes from the inaugural class -- like Provision PGH’s out-of-this-world burger. But, as we ate our way through each concept, we found that we had nothing to worry about, especially when it came to finding an incredible new burger at the Galley. The burger at Ryan Peters’ brunoise is a simple affair, topped with lettuce, thinly-sliced pickles, white Cheddar, dijonnaise, and tomatoes (when they’re in season). What makes it outstanding is the Mediterra Bakehouse challah bun, which is buttered and grilled, giving each bite just a hint of a buttery crunch.
The chefs at Meat & Potatoes know a thing or two about meat (also, potatoes), and the burger is unsurprisingly top-notch. The Plain Jane starts with a house-made bun, then adds a burger with all the traditional fixings -- lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. The Pub Burger, featuring pastrami belly, is another popular choice.
The Whitfield Cheeseburger
Yes, one of the most delicious burgers in the city is served at a hotel restaurant. Starting with a dry-aged, grass-fed Jubilee Hilltop Ranch beef patty, Whitfield's burger gets topped with a mild Cheddar, thinly sliced fried onions, a mustard-mayo mix, and a touch of pepper jam. It’s available for both lunch and dinner, and is the perfect accompaniment to one of the badass cocktails on offer, like the Fourth River Mule (made with Boyd & Blair vodka, ginger, turmeric, honey, and lime).
Fancy Burger of the Day
Butterjoint is the full-service bar within Legume restaurant in Oakland, a dressed-down and amazingly delicious alternative to the formal dining room. Its famous burgers are made from Western Pennsylvania beef that’s ground in-house, then stacked with a variety of house-made toppings, from cave-aged Gruyere to smoked rhubarb catsup. It also offers a rotating Fancy Burger of the Day, which usually includes a topping or two from their house canning cellar. And don’t even think about leaving without trying the pierogies, filled with grass-fed cottage cheese -- they're some of the absolute best in the city.
Kentucky Bourbon Burger
If you’re going to a place with "burger bar" in its name, you probably have some pretty lofty expectations, right? Well, Benjamin’s Western Avenue Burger Bar will exceed them. There are 10 specialty burgers on the menu (including a make-your-own option), all of which start with a custom blend of sirloin, brisket, and short-rib; the meat's ground daily and hand-formed into patties that get cooked to order on a steel griddle. The Kentucky Bourbon Burger is a house favorite, topped with Applewood-smoked bacon, bourbon sweet onions, and provolone cheese.
For the better part of a decade, The Thick has been the best-selling burger at OTB on the South Side -- and for good reason. The patty (choose from ground beef, ground turkey, grilled chicken, or veggie) is brushed with BBQ sauce, then decked with melted Cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and a heap of beer-battered onion rings on top. And, as the name suggests, it’s one of the thickest-stacked burgers around.
Block 292, a butchery, market, and café located in Mt. Lebanon, has a small menu that changes regularly with the seasons. One dish that’s always available, though, is the Block Burger: a massive, meaty sandwich made with fresh-ground beef, and topped with bacon, onion jam, bleu cheese, fresh tomato, and a bit of arugula, which beautifully cuts the sweetness of the onion jam with a tangy crunch.
Piggy Butter & Jelly
Nothing about this burger should make sense, but it does. The Piggy Butter & Jelly at Burgatory starts with a spicy, Cajun-dusted patty, made with equal parts ground beef and ground bacon. Then, it's topped with melted white American cheese, sweet candied bacon, bread-and-butter pickles, and a generous spread of peanut butter and habanero jelly. Still not feeling it? Wait until you try a bite to pass judgment; it’s an incredible mix of sweet and spicy, with some saltiness from the peanut butter thrown in for good measure. While you’re there, be sure to get one of Burgatory’s "Heavenly Shakes," which can be made into an adults-only boozy treat by adding bourbon, vodka, and Kahlúa.
If you’re lucky enough to find the PGH Sandwich Society food truck (and you can usually be pretty lucky since the location's announced daily on social media and the weekly schedule's listed on the website), be sure to try their classic burger, the In-N-Aht. It’s two massive beef patties, melted American cheese, onion jam, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and PGH's very own "Animal Sauce," all piled into a butter-toasted bun.
The organic meat at Winghart's is ground in-house daily, providing a fresh base for nearly a dozen burger-topping creations. The Nad-alie is one of our favorites: it’s topped with a homemade three-cheese potato pierogi, then covered in caramelized onions and doused with some burgundy au jus for good measure. Add a slice or two of cheese if you’re feeling totally, completely indulgent. Winghart’s is also a whiskey bar, so look for an ever-changing selection of distillers on the menu.
Burgh’ers' new outpost in Lawrenceville has been super busy since it opened earlier this year, and for very good reason: all of the burgers are made using locally sourced beef from Jubilee Hilltop Ranch, and ground fresh each and every day. And they’re seriously good. Each burger is named after a different Pittsburgh neighborhood, with the exception of the Maggie’s Farm -- that one is topped with smoked Gouda, horseradish, caramelized onions, roasted chili, and a rum aioli made with (you guessed it) Maggie’s Farm rum.
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