The 14 Best Burger Joints in Seattle
From old-school to high-end.
The unbridled joy of chomping into the perfect combination of beef patty, bun, and fixings keeps Seattle diners on the constant lookout for a better burger. They search for versions with Lao, Filipino, and Pakistani flavors on menus, peer into seafood shops, food trucks, and high-end restaurants to see how cooks around the region draw inspiration from their own heritage, riff on the old-school drive-in burger, and find new ways to improve on the beloved hamburger.
The city's seemingly endless stream of incredible burgers means that you could spend the whole summer searching and never run out of amazing options. But we'll save you a little bit of time with this list of classic dive bar burgers, swanky chef stacks, and innovative pop-up creations.
8oz Burger & Co.
This decade-old burger shop tends to fly under the radar: somewhere between the fast-food style burgers and the fancy chef burgers, not yet old enough to be a classic but around too long to stay top of mind. But for ten years it has consistently managed to put out both a strong standard burger and almost-over-the-top signature versions like the espresso-rubbed patty on the Union that comes with candied bacon, fried shallots, gorgonzola, and peppercorn aioli.
Bold and bright describes both the color scheme for this new Kirkland food truck and the burgers on their menu of Pakistani street foods. The Zalmi chappli burger puts the round, spiced kebab patty onto a burger bun, while the rangeen bun kebab offers a vegetarian option with lentils and potatoes.
It's not that the crab, salmon, and rockfish sandwiches at this seafood shop aren't great (they very much are, as is the shrimp toast, dover nuggets, and clam chowder). It's that they also do an impeccable job at executing a classic smashburger with a bit of a pork twist in the patty and a griddled brioche bun. So you'll just have to come hungry enough for all of it.
Only Musang chef Melissa Miranda and friend Jeff Santos could get everyone to cheer on zucchini as a burger topping—it helps that it's house-pickled. The pair's pop up brings Filipino flavors all over the city with its lumpia burgers that translates the favorite food into shrimp and pork patty form with banana ketchup, and the bomburger, which winks at Jollibee's Yum Burger (and comes in a vegetarian "Beyond" version). You'll want to try them both, but save room for the ice cream, supplied by Kryse, which is otherwise tough to snag and usually sold only in pints.
Housed in a former garage that opens up to give it an enormous patio, Uneeda Burger cooks up an enormous menu of burgers, most featuring patties made with all-natural beef. Even if variety is the spice of life, the steal of a deal and best move here is always The Classic: a quarter-pound of beef, romaine lettuce, and fresh tomato, pickles, and the house sauce all for just $5.50. Then you still have plenty of spare cash to customize it by upgrading with cheese, bacon, a fried egg, gluten-free bun, or adding extra patties or subbing in bison meat for beef as you please.
Katsu Burger, which combines Japan's juicy Katsu style fried meats with American-style burgers in brightly colored counter service style spaces, was a huge sensation when then-Mashiko-owner Hajime Soto first opened in Georgetown. Luckily, through new ownership and expansion to eight locations, the joy of a deep-fried burger remained unchanged, and Katsu still serves—among other more manageable options—Seattle's most ridiculous (in a good way) burger: the Mt. Fuji with beef, chicken, and pork patties, plus three types of cheese, an egg, bacon, and three different sauces.
Half the fun of Li'l Woody's is exploring the can’t-miss specials every week like the Hulk Smashburger with verde mayo, ranch Ruffles potato chips, jalapeños, Derby Sage Cheddar, and bacon, and after a pandemic-pause, the creative concoctions are back on the menu. But if this week's wonder doesn't whet your appetite, work your way through the dozen or so equally incredible mainstays of the menu—starting with the BBQ sauce and onion ring topped Pendleton—all served on incredibly buttery buns.
When Thrillist then-Chief Burger Critic Kevin Alexander called the Tavern Burger the fourth best burger in America, it caused something of a stir at this out-of-the-way dive. Suddenly, people who'd never heard of the place showed up en masse to try this utterly simple, but simply perfect combination of cheese, raw white onions, a pale special sauce, and pickles on a soft white bun. With the crowds finally tempered by time, head in for the full experience of Loretta's quintessential dive bar excellence.
Seemingly nothing ever changes at this North Seattle gem: not the unironic throwback carpet, not the sassy servers, not the menu full of relics like liver and onions, and definitely not the retro salad that comes with Cheez-it crackers and sliced, chopped salami. Okay, except that the pandemic finally inspired them to create a usable website. But the signature steaks stuck around, and that means so, too, did the burgers they grind in-house from the scraps, giving them the kind of big meaty flavor that seems to have otherwise gone out of fashion with leisure suits and pet rocks.
The Ruby Brink
If you happen to be on Vashon Island on a Wednesday and happen to need a truly incredible burger, The Ruby Brink, a combination restaurant and butcher shop, has your back. The restaurant celebrates cheeseburger Wednesdays (as we all should) with a constantly evolving masterpiece, like version eight, made from Kurtwood Farms's Vashon-raised beef, Swiss cheese, and an herb sauce, and they've got a delightful new courtyard seating area in which you can enjoy it.
The best of Southeast Asian flavors have long graced this tiny spot on Madison, first in the form of Little Uncle's superb Thai food, and now as a Laotian restaurant infused with the character of the Pacific Northwest. The Lao burger best exemplifies that cross-continent combination, while also just being a really great burger. Two smashburger style patties come dressed with "jaew bong mayo," reflecting the Lao condiment made of fried galangal, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and chili. Meanwhile, taro stems emulate lettuce but don't get soggy.
Seattle once waited in endless lines for Renee Erickson's seafood, then scheduled several weeks in advance to get a seat for her steaks when Bateau opened. Now, the Boat Bar at Bateau takes over the former Bar Melusine space and serves as the meatmonger's casual sibling and the burgers that buoyed Bateau by takeout now live here. They come with the same grass-fed, dry-aged ground beef, but dressed in green goddess and frisee on a sesame seed bun.
Harry's Fine Foods
In an old dimly lit storefront or on its sweet patio, the hum of excitement at all times at Harry's bar provides Seattle with the precise ambience needed for gossip with old friends, a first date, or a solo night out. All of which is best done over the big, messy burger with their signature spread on a brioche bun.
Rough Draft Burger Shop
When industry veterans who have spent the last decade working under Seattle's best known chefs (Maria Hines, Tom Douglas, the McKracken Tough team, Scott Staples, Jason Stoneburner) commit themselves to creating the ultimate smashburger, sparks fly. After more than a year of pop-ups, the traveling team is settling down and opening soon on Queen Anne to serve their stacks of thin crisps of ground brisket on buns with pickles, onions, American cheese, and their signature sauce.