Is there a more American meal than a burger and fries? It is so ingrained in the culture that we almost take the delightful dish for granted. Spread across all 50 states lie diners and bistros that aim to make the most artistic and delicious meal made from beef and bread.
We’ve highlighted some of the best burgers from the west coast to the east – each one bringing their own unique taste and look to the staple dish. Which is the number one?
Ben’s Chili Cheeseburger, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington, D.C.
Lying deep in America’s swamp is one of their greatest burgers the country has ever seen. With its walls filled with pictures of celebrities and presidents (sometimes both!), their delicious burgers often attract lines around the corner. The quarter-pound patty is never frozen and can be topped off with chili, lettuce, mayo, and cheese. The establishment is 50 years old and attracts anyone from college kids to senators. Barack Obama famously ate there on January 10, 2009, 10 days before he became President.
The Cadillac, P.J. Clarke’s, New York City
P.J Clarke’s has seven locations around the world – including two in Sao Paulo – but it’s their New York Third Avenue location which is home to ‘The Cadillac’. It’s a pub-style burger with smoked bacon and American cheese dripped over the lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. The name was earned after Nat “King” Cole ate one in the 1950s and declared it “the Cadillac of burgers.” Since then, its recipe has hardly changed and people can enjoy the same meal the singer did way back when.
Le Pigeon Burger, Le Pigeon, Portland, Ore.
When Le Pigeon was opened in 2006, its chef Gabrial Rucker only served five of these burgers a night! Thankfully, they became so acclaimed that he has since expanded the supply to reach the high demand. The grilled square patty is topped with white Cheddar cheese, handmade ketchup, and placed with salad in a ciabatta bun. It’s the slight differences in this conventional meal that make this Portland burger such a delight to eat.
The Original DB Burger, DB Bistro Moderne, New York City
Another New York establishment to make our list belongs to DB Bistro. This invention from its chef, Daniel Boulud, perfectly mixes American and French cuisine with its grilled beef and braised short rib. It has a foie gras center that reaches as tall as it is wide. The French mustard and other juicy flavors make it a truly unique eating experience to be enjoyed in the Big Apple. While many chefs demand their own twist on a burger, this credit is well-deserved.
The Prime Meats Burger, Prime Meats, New York City
This burger was created by ‘The Franks’ – Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo. This duo has been behind other establishments such as Frankies 457 and Frankies Spuntino. Here at Prime Meats, they serve a half-pound patty of beef made with dry-aged Black Angus trimmings. Many visitors claim that the burger is enough on its own – but no meal is complete without the bun and some accompanying salad. The added juiciness of the lettuce and pickles made it almost perfect.
Hickory Burger, The Apple Pan, Los Angeles
The Apple Pan stands high and proud all the way across the country in Los Angeles, California. It hasn’t changed much since 1947, and its signature burger is no exception. The Hickory Burger is an infused beef patty accompanied with tasty mayo and its ‘secret sauce’ which adds a slight spice. With a layer of Tillamook Cheddar melted across its top and garnished with pickles, this burger is a must when traveling to the west.
The Original Burger, Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, Conn.
According to urban legend, The Original Burger at Louis’ Lunch was created in just a few rushed minutes. In 1900, a man asked for a quick meal he could eat on the go: and with ground streak trimmings toasted between two slices of bread, the burger was born! It’s designed to incorporate five cuts of steak trimmings and lettuce, tomato, and cheese. You have to ask for specific condiments when ordering, but with juicy meats like that, who would want extras?
Bash Style, Burger & Barrel, New York City
For people not in the know, ‘Bash Style’ burgers have onion, bacon jam, pickles, American cheese, ‘special sauce’ and medium-rare meat. In New York City, Burger & Barrel have all but perfected the brand with its take on the burger. The chef, Josh Capon, have made it an award-winning burger four out of the last five years. The SoHo spot attracts thousands of people from all across the country dying to taste the bash.
Double Cheeseburger, Holeman & Finch Public House, Atlanta
This burger makes its famous appearance each night at 10pm, which 24 burgers are brought out from the kitchen. They’re not listed on the dinner menu, but chef Linton Hopkins ensures you can order the staple dish ahead of time. It was the only thing he could eat while he battled cancer: a double patty with brisket, American cheese, pickles, ketchup, and onions. If you would rather eat in the day, you can order the Double Cheeseburger from its weekend brunch menu.
Build-Your-Own Burger, Burger Bar, Las Vegas
Burger Bar, in Las Vegas, gives its clientele to create their own dream burger. For an affordable price, visitors can choose between 50 different toppings to include on their Angus beef patty. Various choices include guacamole, jalapeno bacon, Gouda, shrimp, and black truffles. With a variety like this, there’s no wonder the establishment is often featured on lists like this – when you can design your own burger, why wouldn’t it be the world’s best?
Green Chile Cheeseburger, Santa Fe Bite, Santa Fe, N.M.
Located on the Old Las Vegas Highway (previously Route 66), Santa Fe Bite is home to one of the greatest green chile cheeseburgers in the country. Designed in 1953, it’s a 10-ounce house-ground, boneless patty cooked with green chilies blankets with a large slither of American cheese. Once cooked to perfection, it’s laid onto a ciabatta bun and ready to eat. Some things remain the ‘all-American’ staple, and this is one of them.
The Father’s Office Burger, Father’s Office, Los Angeles
Father’s Office has been named as the home of LA’s greatest burger due to the complete lack of pretentiousness. Unlike many establishments in the surrounding area, the place is a modest restaurant offering a solid patty with Gruyere, bacon, caramelized onion, and arugula. The less-is-more approach attracts people who wish to escape the pomposity of California – offering a delicious treat along the way. It’s juicy, fresh, and flavorful – with more character than some of the actors in the area.
Black Label Burger, Minetta Tavern, New York City
There are plenty of reasons to visit Minetta Tavern. Their French cuisines include roasted bone marrow (yum!), cote de boeuf (huh?), and potato chips (ok!). It’s Black Label Burger, however, takes the prize for its most desired dish. The Prime dry-aged beef is aged for seven weeks and cooked on a plancha with butter – scientifically proven to make anything taste better. The burger will set you back $28, but it’s worth it when it’s from one of the country’s best steakhouses.
Luger Burger, Peter Luger, Brooklyn
This has been officially labeled as New York’s greatest burger – despite being all the way in Brooklyn. Peter Luger has been working with beef since 1887 and so it’s no surprise its burger is practically perfect. The half-pound Luger Burger is made from porterhouse and prime trimmings, molded into a coffee cup and cooked until they reach a dark crust. It’s a lunch-only item, so make sure to arrive before 3:45pm to enjoy the city’s best burger!
Kuma Burger, Kuma’s Corner, Chicago
It’s official – the country’s best burger is located in Chicago. Kuma’s Corner is not exactly known as a quiet place to enjoy your food: its motto is “Support your community. Eat beef. Bang your head.” However, once you try the Kuma Burger, you won’t even care. It involves bacon, sharp Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and a fried egg. The addition of a popped yolk dripping across the beef is simply perfection on your taste buds. It’s no wonder this place earned the title for Best Burger in America.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that US Presidents eat for free at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which is incorrect. This has been changed.