Food & Drink

The 20 Best Burgers in Virginia

Chris Schwalm/Thrillist

The burgers you’re about to meet are anything but boring. Some come with a side of history, while others are so gut-busting that you’ll require a week to feel hungry again. But enough jibber jabber, there are 20 amazing Commonwealth burgers just waiting for you to eat them! Get to it.

Sam Dean/Thrillist

Texas Tavern

Roanoke
What you’re getting: Cheesy Western
You only have one decision to make at Texas Tavern: Cheesy or Cheesy with. The latter means your Cheesy Western will come with onions in addition to the standard fried egg, melted cheese, pickles and sweet relish. Matt Bullington runs the place these days -- he’s the great-grandson of the original owner, who opened the shop in 1930. The counter and the bar stools are original, and the prices haven’t moved much since then. “A Depression era diner with Depression era prices,” Matt says after describing it as “Cheers without the alcohol.” Cheesy Westerns ring in at $2.60, and you can get one 24/7. Harry Connick Jr. popped in for one recently, as did Kevin Costner.

MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers

Leesburg
What you’re getting: Cheeseburger!
Skip the fancy proteins like lump crab, lamb, and ahi tuna, because MELT’s standard cheeseburger is enough to make you weak in the knees. Char-grilled Angus just needs the sando holy trinity of lettuce, tomato, and onion to shine, plus whatever’s in the special house sauce. TELL US. Actually, don’t tell us. If you do want to walk on the wild side, ask for the burger of the month -- that’s where they get weird. Obviously, you’re also getting sweet potato fries, because they come with a side of Marshmallow Fluff.

Holy Cow

Alexandria (Del Rey)
What you’re getting: The popper
Erase all memories of the oft-frozen bar snack and replace it with Holy Cow’s far more posh version: The Popper. An Angus beef patty comes with a smear of cream cheese, bacon, fried jalapeños, chipotle ketchup and garlic aioli. Celebrate being civilized, and also the fact that you get to contribute 25 cents to your charity of choice because you bought a burger at Holy Cow.
 

Shelton’s Big Grill

Virginia Beach
What you’re getting: Zombie Burger
This pile of food is a Project-X-level party on a plate. Two quarter-pounders hide under a pile of fries, homemade chili, onions, melted cheddar jack cheese, and bits of bacon. They claim it’s named after The Cranberries' 1994 hit, but let’s be honest -- this thing kills you and then brings you back to life. And, it costs less than $8. Pro tip: their website is a must-see, especially if you own 3D glasses.

80/20 Burger Bar

Norfolk
What you’re getting: The Miss Thing or The Nanny
Grass-fed geeks will dig the burgs at 80/20 Burger Bar, because they pound out patties made from Virginia beef that only ate the green stuff. You're ordering The Miss Thing if you’re only somewhat adventurous when it comes to burgers, because it comes with pimento cheese spread, braised pork belly and fried onions. If you want to impress your dining companions, order The Nanny smothered in house-made bacon peanut butter, pepper jelly, and more bacon. Because, bacon.

Burger Bach

Richmond
What you’re getting: The Hangover Cure
Burger Bach’s Hangover Cure could fix a night that involved not one but TWO ex-girlfriends, a mechanical bull, and all the shots. A patty made from New Zealand beef wears a fried egg, uncured bacon, American cheese, caramelized onions, tomato, mayo, and a swirl of hot sauce and green chile sauce. We know what you’re thinking: New Zealand + meat usually = lamb. There’s certainly lamb at this Kiwi country inspired gastro pub, but they also bring in cheese and grass-fed beef. Tack on some fries to your order: they come with your choice of 18 different dipping sauces.

{Ra} Bistro

Lynchburg
What you’re getting: Funnel Cake Burger
This dish can divide a crowd into those who grew up going to state fairs and those who have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Hint: State fairs means fried EVERYTHING. Embrace this notion at {RA} Bistro by trying the Funnel Cake Burger. They roll a cheeseburger in funnel cake batter before flash frying it and coating it in powdered sugar. If you’re no fun, play it safe(er) with The ‘Merica Burger topped with mac & cheese, an all-beef hot dog, BBQ pulled pork, and coleslaw. Just don’t end the meal with that “guess your weight” game.

Chris Schwalm/Thrillist

Big Buns

Arlington (Ballston)
What You’re getting: Sea Salt N’ Peppa
Tell whoever is nagging you about your diet that bison is a healthy red meat, then order the Sea Salt N’ Peppa at Big Buns. The generously seasoned bison burger comes with blue cheese, apple-smoked bacon, house-brined pickles and Frank’s Hot Sauce. Buffalo is little leaner and full of nutrients, leaving you room for the gut-busting accoutrements. Those riding the gluten-free tidal wave can opt for a burger bowl instead. Their slogan “damn good burgers,” might be brazen, but it’s also true.

Cuban Burger

Harrisonburg
What you’re getting: El Vaquero
You should probably sit down for this one. That’s because Cuban Burger has the cojones to cook the El Vaquero burger, which starts with a juicy puck of a patty made of 80% beef and 20% pork shoulder ground together with smoked paprika. Then they top it with super crispy flank steak, rum caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and spicy-smoked aioli. Don’t call it a burger though; call it a “frita.” That’s what Cubans called their signature street food served out of carts in Havana along with matchstick fries.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Citizen Burger Bar

Charlottesville & Arlington (Clarendon)
What you’re getting: The Executive
This Wolf of Wall Street between bread has layers upon layers of big money flavor. A Timbercreek beef patty forms the base of a pyramid containing foie gras, Nueske’s bacon, black onion, a fried farm egg, and garlic aioli on truffled brioche. It’s $24, but you deserve it. Maybe you’ll like it so much that you’ll ask to borrow their bun branding iron after a few craft beers.

Caliente

Richmond
What you’re getting: Bender Burger
Owner Dave Bender has been perfecting this brisket-topped beast for 25 years. In addition to smoky brisket, the Bender Burger is bettered by onion rings, smoked Gouda, and BBQ sauce. It’s a smoke bomb that should remind you of campfires at sleep-away camp. Honorable mention to the The Luther Burger that subs Krispy Kreme donuts in for buns -- a trick we’ve seen before, but never gets old.

Kyle Schmitz/Thrillist

2941 Restaurant

Falls Church
What you’re getting: The Daffy
The Daffy is the Pretty Woman of burgers. 2941 Restaurant took the humble, eager-to-please American staple and dressed it up in REAL fancy clothes so it could hang out on a bar menu that also boasts tuna tartare, sea scallop ceviche, veal carpaccio and the like. Chef Bertrand Chemel grinds duck breast, leg, and foie gras, forms it into a patty, and then, just for good measure, tops it with MORE foie gras followed by sweet and sticky onion agro dolce.

Viking Burger

Newport News
What you’re getting: Thor Burger
Enter an A-frame shack a mere man and exit a Viking after tackling the Thor Burger -- especially if you forgo the sven (single) and bjorn (double) sizes and make it a magnusson (you guessed it, a triple) instead. Don’t you feel like Chris Hemsworth just saying the word magnusson? All the Thor burger needs to satisfy is some cheese and a nest of grilled onions. It tastes a little like a cheesesteak, but in the best possible way.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Ray’s to the Third

Arlington (Courthouse)
What you’re getting: The Dogcatcher
When presented with this two component meal, don’t you dare eat them separately. Use your knife to extract marrow from the bone of an undisclosed species and spread it like mayo on your top bun -- that’ll guarantee each bite gets a rich blast of god’s butter. The name is a bit curious since the only dog you’ll be in contention for catching after finishing this burger is an elderly Basset Hound with a name like Roscoe or Walter.

Market Burger

Purcellville
What you’re getting: The Market Burger
You don’t want to over-complicate these patties, because beef is the star thanks to a little circle of life thing they have going on in Purcellville. Catoctin Creek Distillery across the street provides Oakland Green Farm up the road with spent grain to feed their cows, which then become hella fresh ground beef for Market Burger whenever possible. Stick to their namesake burger with cheddar, egg, bacon, herb mayo, lettuce, and tomato, plus a side of sweet potato fries and a really thick seasonal shake.

Burger Bar

Bristol
What you’re getting: The Big Cheese
The Burger Bar was born in 1942 -- one of the toughest years in history for America and its WWII allies. Thank goodness we pulled through AND that the Burger Bar lives on today in the hands of Joel and Kayla Deel. That’s partially because they put The Big Cheese on the menu: a half-pound patty embraced by a grilled cheese sandwich on either end instead of a boring bun. In case you’re wondering why the other burgers on the menu are named after Hank Williams’ songs, legend has it that’s where the singer was last seen alive.

FOODE

Fredricksburg
What you’re getting: Tonight’s Burger
Anyone who needs convincing that Virginia is indeed part of the South should order Joy Crump’s burger. She spreads housemade pimento cheese and chow chow (a zesty relish with Southern roots) on a monster hunk of beef from Virginia’s Auburnlea Farms. A bun from Alexandria’s Lyon Bakery will help you get all that good stuff to your mouth. Try really hard to save room for a slice of buttermilk pie.

Northern Neck Burger Co.

Kilmarnock
What you’re getting: Porch Burger
Virginia Living Magazine readers voted Northern Neck the best burger in Virginia 2015 for good reason. They thoughtfully dress wood-grilled burgers with cool combinations of flavors like The Porch Burger, which was inspired by Co-founder Jay Wolfson’s afternoon snack. The patty gets a red wine reduction bath before putting on Brie cheese, house made apple chutney, and mixed greens. Live music and pitchers of beer add to the experience.

Pok-E-Joe’s BBQ

Lynchburg
What you’re getting: Fiesta Burger
Poke-E-Joes may have a storefront, but their mobile operation that posts up in parks is what truly impresses. Wrap your head around an 11,000lb smoker on wheels capable of smoking 600lbs of meat, plus a 10-burner grill. Now THAT'S a food truck. You’re getting the Fiesta Burger, which is a 1/3lb Angus patty topped with a Cinco de Mayo party: refried beans, corn chips (Fritos), onions, salsa, cheese, mayo, and fresh pico de gallo.

Riverside Lunch

Charlottesville
What you’re getting: Double Cheeseburger
This greasy spoon's been slinging burgers since 1935. All that practice proved there’s a lot to gain from flattening patties -- it allows for greater surface area to kiss the pan and crisp up. Did we mention their double cheeseburger is $3.15? That pocket-change price includes the eau de burger you’ll leave wearing on your clothes and in your hair.

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