Food & Drink

The 20 Best Burgers in All of Maryland

Published On 05/13/2015 Published On 05/13/2015
Courtesy of The High Spot
Abbey Burger Bistro
Flickr/Longhorn Nation
Burger Bros.
Courtesy of Chesapeake Grille & Deli
Courtesy of City Burger
Jess Mayhugh/Thrillist
Courtesy of Dogfish Head Ale House
Courtesy of Family Meal
Jess Mayhugh/Thrillist
Courtesy of Hooked Restaurant
Courtesy of the Iron Rooster
Courtesy of Kooper’s Chowhound
Courtesy of Phoenix Emporium
Sunshine Store
Jess Mayhugh/Thrillist
Courtesy of The Dizz
Courtesy of Vagabond Sandwich Company
Courtesy of Wag's Restaurant 
Burger Days
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1. High Spot 305 High St, Cambridge, MD 21613

The High Spot takes traditional Southern fare up a notch. Focusing on fresh and local seafood, this gastropub isn't for friends with sensitive stomachs. The oysters have blue cheese. The pickles are fried. The burger is seared in duck fat. You will leave happy, if you can leave at all.

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2. Abbey Burger Bistro 12601 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, MD 21842

This burger haven has two locations, in Downtown Baltimore and Ocean City, but we like the more laid-back beach spot, which still has the make-your-own burger options (with exotic choices like elk, bison, and kangaroo). Try not to skip over the appetizers. Alligator bites and waffle fry nachos are particularly enticing.

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3. Alewife 21 N Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201

You’re coming to this old bank building that dates back to the 1800s for two things: the curated list of 40 craft beers on draft (plus bottles) and the Smoke Burger. Picture a stack of smoked Gouda, Gruyère, Applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and chipotle aioli atop a patty of local beef on a brioche bun. Alewife’s motto is simple: "We don’t serve any sh*t." That’s Bar Manager Leila Ghandi’s philosophy, and she’s referring to not serving certain popular beverages you may see advertised during sporting events. Alewife's beer list is updated online, and favors breweries like Terrapin, Victory, Smuttynose, and Yards.

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4. Burger Bros. 14 Allegheny Ave, Towson, MD 21204

Fries. Onion rings. Hot dogs. Burger Bros. sticks to the classics, and does them better than anyone. But the burgers obviously reign supreme. Forgoing the outrageous burgers of late which are topped with quail eggs and couldn't fit into the mouth of a shark, the bros at Burger Bros. keep it simple, and you'll be happy they did.

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5. Chesapeake Grille & Deli 10092 Southern Maryland Blvd, Dunkirk, MD 20754

It's not clear just how many canisters of Old Bay seasoning Chesapeake Grille & Deli goes through on a given day, but the spice is used on everything from shrimp, soup, and wing apps to crab cake, chicken, and rockfish entrees. However, the best use is on the Bay-Sized Burger, which is a whopping 12oz steak patty, bay fries (of course), shredded lettuce, and tomato on a seeded Kaiser roll. This massive burger was actually Chesapeake’s first order when it first opened up in Southern Maryland in 2008. Considering its size, that first customer may still be working through it.

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6. City Burger 7015 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20815

The owners of Food Wine & Co. and Fish Taco have now set their hands on a classic: the hamburger. In this 15-seater they hand churn their own custard, and serve up patties with pineapple and ham (Hawaiian), or cheddar, pepper relish, onion, smoked bacon and BBQ sauce (Pit Stop). Make sure to grab the Rooftop Fries sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary.

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7. Clark Burger 5904 York Rd, Baltimore, MD 21212

Move over, popcorn & milk duds: the newest movie snack may just be burgers & poutine. It might sound strange, but that’s the mission of Clark Burger, adjacent to the historic Senator Theater in the Govans neighborhood of Baltimore. There are many variations of Black Angus beef patties, but it’s wise to stick with the titular burger with Tillamook sharp cheddar, smoked bacon, onion, lettuce, pickles, and CB sauce (a spicy Thousand Island). The bun is grilled and the burger is slightly charred, giving the whole sandwich a great crunch. And don’t forget the poutine, in which hand-cut fries are doused in rich brown gravy and squeaky cheese, which is a meal in itself. Plus, there’s a full bar with drinks you can bring into the next-door theater.

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8. Dogfish Head Alehouse 800 W Diamond Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

The burgers are almost as big of a deal as the beer at this massive restaurant licensed by Delaware-based brewery Dogfish Head. Famous for its experimental beers, it’s no wonder that the brewery’s take on burgers is just as unique. The restaurant features a "burger of the week" with creative toppings like bratwurst, hummus, or fried shrimp. The alehouse even recommends a beer which pairs well with the culinary concoction. And don’t sleep on the hand-cut beach fries. (Hint: add vinegar to really make them "beach"-style.)

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9. Family Meal 880 N East St, Frederick, MD 21701

Bryan Voltaggio is known for a lot of things: having a brother who’s a fellow chef, turning out amazing food at Volt, and coming in second-place a lot on Top Chef. But Family Meal might be his crown jewel. Never before has unapologetic indulgence been so gourmet. We're talking beer and cheddar soup. We're talking fried chicken salad. We're talking cheesecake made with goat cheese. High-brow meets high-cal and the result is magical. It's fun for the whole family.

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10. Hamilton Tavern 5517 Harford Rd, Baltimore, MD 21214

This dimly lit bar has a few rules, including discouraging patrons from talking about religion and politics, and its TVs only come out during Orioles games. But one thing that’s always constant is the incredible Crosstown Burger. By far the most popular menu item, this burger is made with Monkton-based Roseda Farms beef, lettuce, onion, and horseradish cheddar. Adding the sticky-sweet bacon and an over-easy fried egg brings it to the next level. Pair your burger with delicious greens or onion rings battered in Natty Boh.

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11. Hooked Restaurant 8003 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, MD 21842

Ocean City and fine-dining aren’t exactly synonymous, but Hooked is the exception. Located on the bay side of 80th St, this seafood restaurant ticks all the boxes: great crabs, extensive wine list, and excellent service. One other major plus is the Truffle Burger with shiitake mushrooms, bacon, chopped leeks, and creamy Gruyère sauce all on a brioche bun. The burger comes with delicious (and unique) fries sprinkled with pesto. Don't forget happy hour (Just kidding You'd never forget happy hour).

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12. Iron Rooster 12 Market Space, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Iron Rooster was built for breakfast. From homemade pop-tarts to down-and-dirty shrimp 'n' grits, the hour of the day is irrelevant to this comfort food king. Even the cocktails will turn you into a morning person: from the "Iron Rooster Bloody Mary" to the "Cock-A-Doodle-Doo" to the "Morning Glory" to the "Breakfast Bomb" (yes, these are all names of drinks), it's always five o'clock at the Iron Rooster.

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13. Kooper's Chowhound Burger Wagon 1702 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231

Kooper’s Tavern has a couple brick-and-mortar locations in the Baltimore area -- where it features its famous burgers and dog decor. However, Kooper’s Chowhound burger wagon was the first official food truck in the area and deserves praise for the burgers it's grilling in its tiny mobile kitchen. Whether you’re at a music festival, beer garden, or charity 5K, there is nothing more satisfying than an Elvis Got the Blues burger with Creekstone Farms Black Angus beef, Maytag blue cheese spread, and thick slabs of Applewood-smoked bacon, all on a sturdy grilled bun. Also recommended: a side of 50-50 Fries (an even split of sweet potato and regular) and keeping track of the wagon with its website’s handy Google Calendar.

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14. Phoenix Emporium 8049 Main St, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Marylanders flock to Phoenix Emporium on Ellicott City’s quaint Main Street for its expansive beer selection: 160 bottled microbrews and imported beers in all. But they stay for the food, which includes burgers made with meat from J.W. Trueths butcher shop, just a mile away from the restaurant. But what most impressed us was how satisfying the meatless version is. The Portabella Burger is made with the grilled mushroom, melted provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, sauteed red onions, pesto spread, and a roasted red-pepper mayo, all on toasted focaccia bread. Guess what? It's open until 2am.

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15. Sunshine General Store 22300 Georgia Ave, Brookeville, MD 20833

The word "unassuming" gets thrown around a lot, but it's so apt when describing Sunshine General Store, a burger joint hidden in an old Howard County gas station. The cash-only diner harkens back to a simpler time, where regulars fill up the lunch counter and the same women prepare their burgers day in and day out. Customers can watch as their meat gets grilled on the flat-top, then placed on a hearty sesame seed bun with standard toppings like lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo. Be sure to get yours with American cheese and ask for pickle chips on the side. Bacon is an option too, but why complicate things? Sometimes a simple cheeseburger, eaten at a diner counter, is everything.

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16. Swallow At The Hollow 5921 York Rd, Baltimore, MD 21212

Though this dive bar’s name has been the butt of many jokes, it’s also remained a North Baltimore institution since it opened in the 1940s. And, seemingly, not too much -- besides the lack of cigarette smoke and a now-digital jukebox -- has changed. But when new management took over, the pub-grub got even better, and the best example is the cheeseburger (which is half-price on Wednesday nights). Your group can wash it down with a cheap pitcher of domestic beer, just like patrons have been doing for decades.

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17. The Dizz 300 W 30th St, Baltimore, MD 21211

The Dizz’s slogan is "Baltimore in a bar," which is pretty accurate, considering it’s the ideal setting for taking in an Orioles or Ravens game or sharing a crab cake dinner with friends overtop a plastic tablecloth. It also has nearly 20 varieties of burgers to choose from on the menu, but our go-to is the Black & Bleu Burger, which has a patty rubbed with blackening spices, a bleu cheese spread, and two crispy pieces of bacon all dusted with Old Bay on a kaiser sesame seed bun. The burger is served simply with a pickle spear and original Utz chips. Just goes to show that a place doesn’t have to be fancy to make amazing food.

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18. Vagabond Sandwich Company 111 Thomas St, Bel Air, MD 21014

Vagabond Sandwich Shop in Bel Air is known for a wide array of delicious sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Be sure to try the crab-cake-topped McHenry Burger; the 6oz Angus burger from nearby Hickory Chance Farms is topped with bacon, melted cheddar, tomato, green leaf, Old Bay remoulade and, yes, a 2oz lump crab cake on a toasted brioche bun.

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19. Wag's Restaurant 24 S Market St, Frederick, MD 21701

Walking down the steps into Wag’s Restaurant in Frederick, you feel like you’re about to enter someone’s basement club room -- which is actually pretty accurate. With a long wooden bar, mirrored walls, a fireplace, and sports on TV, Wag’s has all the comforts of home. Including delicious homemade burgers. What makes this one so unique is that toppings are stuck under the cheese, the quarter-pound patty is grilled so the cheese melts, and it's then placed on a toasted Kaiser roll. Our favorite version is the Philly Burger with onions, green peppers, and mushrooms under melted provolone. All the taste notes of a famed cheesesteak in a cozy-basement setting.

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20. Z-Burger 8145 Honeygo Blvd, Nottingham, MD 21236

Every once in a blue moon (or hangover), we crave the grease of a Five Guys burger and, luckily, Maryland has its own mini-chain to answer those hunger pangs. Z-Burger has a brightly colored location in The Avenue shopping complex in White Marsh and has a lot of advantages over its quintet competitor: twice as many toppings, deliciously breaded onion rings, and uniquely flavored shakes. We recommend getting a double (since it’s only 3.5oz per patty) with the "works" and adding any of the 31 toppings or sauces you desire -- favorites include the fried egg, guacamole, and banana peppers. The blend of ground sirloin, chuck, and brisket isn’t overly greasy but still fatty enough... plus the soft sesame seed bun is the perfect envelope for squishing together all your ingredients for that first, juicy bite.