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50 States, 50 Burgers

By Zagat Staff
October 23, 2013

From Juicy Lucys to deep-fried patties, the United States is stacked with countless regional variations on that beloved all-American staple, the burger. In honor of Burger Week, check out a featured option from each state.

  • Alabama: The Penn Burger at C.F Penn Hamburgers in Decatur

    Briefly popular during the Great Depression, doughburgers were developed to get the most bang out of the limited meat people had. The Southern delicacy consists of a beef and pork mixture, plus a cheap extender like breadcrumbs or soybeans. The entire hybrid patty is then deep-fried and topped with classic toppings like onions and pickles. Although there's obviously less reason to skimp on the meat these days, the recipe lives on in select pockets of Northwest Alabama. 

  • Alaska: The Lord Baranof Burger at Arctic Roadrunner in Anchorage

    Since 1964, Alaskans have loved Arctic Roadrunner as much for its booth-lined, quirk-filled dining room as for its masterful patty-on-bun creations. This beaut of a burger, called the Lord Baranof, is topped with the greatest hits from the deli case: salami, bologna, ham, mozzarella and American cheese. A final flourish of housemade onion rings gives the whole concoction an addictive umami crunch.

  • Arizona: Lodge Burger at The Lodge in Scottsdale

    With its antlers and faux-log decor, this Scottsdale joint certainly feels more Wisconsin than Arizona, but the burger offering is a major score with locals. Our pick: the signature burger made with Black Angus beef, fried onions and bacon, all smothered in cheese. More adventurous eaters should be pointed to the "Sasquatch" - a 2000-calorie monstrosity that uses two grilled cheese sandwiches as the bun. Not for the faint of heart.

  • Arkansas: Burger at CJ's Butcher Boy Burgers in Russellville

    The mashed, griddled patties and homemade fries at this Russellville, AR, patty-slinger has made it an instant classic in the area. Gussy yours up with grilled mushrooms, onions or jalapeños and wash it down with a shake. There are only three items on the menu, which is exactly how a burger joint should be, in our humble opinion.

  • California: The Johnny Bleu Cheese at The Escondite in Los Angeles

    About two years ago, The Escondite tried to sneak onto the Downtown LA scene as an off-the-radar bar with a speakeasy feel. But its reputation for nightly live music and deliciously deranged burger options have pushed it right into the spotlight. On Tuesdays only, indulge in this blue-cheese-stuffed burger that's battered, deep-fried and shellacked in buffalo sauce, then drizzled with Ranch dressing. A few Pringles on top make each bite a noisy sensation.

  • Colorado: Buffalo Burger at City Grille in Denver

    In a state known for buffalo and burger lovers who crave bison over beef, it’s only fitting that the Buffalo Burger is a favorite of the Centennial State. Bison, or American buffalo, is often leaner, less fatty and some say sweeter - though many also claim the taste isn’t much different than a beef burger. Over at local favorite City Grille in Denver, they serve up a hefty buffalo burger: a half-pound patty, charbroiled to perfection. Much praised, the healthy low-fat, low-cholesterol burger can be topped with a variety of cheeses, a fried egg or guacamole.

  • Connecticut: The Original Burger at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven

    Rumor has it this tiny red-brick building in New Haven, Connecticut, invented the “hamburger sandwich” in 1900, when a customer walked into the restaurant needing a quick sandwich to go. The restaurant’s owner, Louis Lassen, assembled ground steak trimmings between two pieces of toasted bread, and the rest was history. Today, Louis’ Lunch still serves its signature burgers, a five-meat blend cooked to order on grills that date back to 1898. Cheese, tomato and onion are the only add-ons allowed - the restaurant does not offer condiments.

  • Delaware: State Fair Burger at 2 Fat Guys in Hockessin

    BBQ pork. Cheddar cheese. Onion rings. BACON. Need we say any more? Those are the toppings on 2 Fat Guys’ sirloin State Fair Burger. Originally started as a catering company in 2004, the family-friendly duo in Hockessin and Greenville offers a full American menu, but insiders know it’s all about the burgers. And while the enormous signature 2 Fat Guys Burger may get most of the glory, it’s the newer State Fair Burger that gets our vote.

  • Florida: Frita at El Mago De Las Fritas in Miami

    Because Cuban influence is deeply woven into Florida’s culture - and even more so in Miami - some of the best burgers in the state come packed with authentic Latin flavor. The "Frita" at El Mago De La Fritas in Little Havana is proof. It’s a Cuban take on the classic burger: a seasoned ground beef patty on Cuban bread with shoestring potatoes, diced onions and spiced ketchup.

  • Georgia: Burger at Holeman & Finch in Atlanta

    Not every burger has an alarm rung in its honor, but Holeman & Finch’s does. Like feeding time for cattle, a bullhorn sounds at 10 PM when it’s burger time. Only about two dozen are made each night, so you've got to hustle if you want a taste. Grass-fed, freshly ground beef is topped with Kraft American cheese, red onion, bread-and-butter pickles, mustard and ketchup. It’s not even listed on their dinner menu, so we guess you could consider it a secret… until the horn sounds, that is.

  • Hawaii: Blue Hawaii Burger at Honolulu Burger Co. in Honolulu

    Honolulu Burger Co. goes extremely local with its ingredients, which makes sense since Hawaii is separated from any other state by over 2,000 mi. of sea. Made with 100% Big Island beef, the Blue Hawaii, one of 15 specialty burgers, is topped with crumbled blue cheese and bacon, a classic combo. You can also add pineapple salsa if you’re trying to make it as Hawaiian as possible.

  • Idaho: Bacon Cheeseburger at Big Jud's in Boise

    This Boise favorite has been featured on shows like Man Vs. Food for its larger-than-life 2-lb. patty. In fact, if you finish one (following these rules), you'll be heralded on the joint's wall of fame and walk out with a free meal. But if you're not up to the challenge, you'll do just fine with the simple bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard. Come for the spectacle, stay for the burgers.

  • Illinois: Single Cheeseburger at Au Cheval in Chicago

    At this Windy City spot, a single is a double (and a double is a triple), stacked with thin beef patties cooked to medium. The beef is topped with processed cheddar cheese, slices of housemade dill pickle and dijonnaise, all sandwiched between a soft, lightly toasted bun. 

  • Indiana: Bourbon Burger at BRU Burger Bar in Indianapolis

    BRU Burger is a local favorite with locals, and it’s all about burgers and beer. The Bourbon Burger is just as wet as it sounds: bacon, peppercorn-bourbon glaze and horseradish havarti top the beef on this one. Juice from the glaze and meat oozes out over the sides, so you’ve got to devour it before it gets soggy.

  • Iowa: Boomstick Burger at Zombie Burger + Drink Lab in Des Moines

    One of the more intense options on the menu of burgers with zombie-themed names, the Boomstick (it's an Evil Dead reference) is topped with American cheese, onion and pickles. Oh, and a big chunk of deep-fried chili. Scariest of all? Getting on a scale afterward.

  • Kansas: Smoke Burger at The Burger Stand in Lawrence

    Even in a sea of pulled pork and ribs, the burger reigns supreme in the self-proclaimed barbecue capital of the U.S. Ever since chef Robert Krause opened up The Burger Stand in an Irish pub in 2009, carnivores have been taking the pilgrimage from all over to Lawrence to lay their hands on his uniquely familiar fare. The kitchen pays homage to its hometown with the Smoke Burger, which is topped with Applewood smoked bacon, smoked Gouda and Krause’s signature chipotle-cocoa ketchup.

  • Kentucky: Mega-Ho at Tolly-Ho in Lexington

    If the most fun part of eating this burger is saying the name, it’s probably still worth it. Choose one, two or three quarter-pound patties - the Tolly-Ho, Super-Ho and Mega-Ho, respectively - and if you opt for the triple, you can top it with three different cheeses. The spot is open 24 hours and right by a university in Lexington, making it perfect for a hefty late-night snack. 

  • Louisiana: Cajun Shrimp Burger at Mason’s Grill in Baton Rouge

    An edible lesson in Louisiana Cajun Country, this burger features an 8-oz. ground beef patty stuffed with jalapeños, then flame-grilled and topped with a spicy mixture of Gulf shrimp, Jack cheese, peppers and finally...more jalapeños.

  • Maine: Surf & Turf Burger at East Ender in Portland

    When in Maine - eat all the lobster you can pry open. This neighborhood gem prides itself on supporting local fisherman and farmers, and co-owners Mitch Gerow and Meg Schroeter have clearly embraced their nautical side with this creation. It’s as decadent as it sounds - a beef burger topped with Brie, chive mayo and a hearty serving of lobster meat atop a toasted brioche bun.

  • Maryland: Baltimore Burger at Abbey Burger Bistro in Baltimore

    Around since 2008, this unassuming hangout (with a newer Ocean City sequel) is known for its exhaustive build-your-own-burger list, with everything from black Angus and Kobe beef to kangaroo and wild boar patties plus more than a dozen cheeses and too many toppings to count. Luckily for the decision-challenged, there are also a number of house specialties to choose from. Since you’re in Bawlmer, Hon, where crab is king, we suggest the aptly named Baltimore burger made with locally raised Roseda beef, bacon, cheddar cheese and the piece de resistance, housemade crab dip. Have it with a Berger shake (Berger cookies, vanilla ice cream, vodka) for the full Maryland experience.

  • Photo by: Michael Piazza

    Massachusetts: Burger at Craigie on Main in Cambridge

    The burger at Craigie on Main is a hybrid of classic-meets-contemporary. Chef-owner Tony Maws turned to his Massachusetts roots for inspiration: the relatively simple grass-fed beef patties are sandwiched between a homemade bun topped with sesame seeds. But in staying true to the restaurant’s elegant aesthetic, he dresses the burger with mace ketchup in lieu of Heinz.

  • Michigan: Big Chief at Duggan’s Irish Pub in Royal Oak

    The Big Chief is another mile-high kinda burger, with two beef patties, special sauce (made with curry), lettuce, cheese and sweet pickles on a sesame seed bun. The recipe is from the Totem Pole drive-in on Woodward, which no longer exists. Inside tip for high rollers: you can order with a bottle of Dom Perignon for $155.01.

  • Minnesota: Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis

    Yes, the "i" should be left out of the first part of the name of this burger, at least according to Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis, where many say the recipe originated in the 1950s. Now often imitated, the current owners remind customers today that if the name is spelled correctly, they may be eating a knockoff. Think of it as an inside-out cheeseburger: American cheese is folded into the center of the patty, which is cooked until slightly charred, resulting in a messy, piping-hot diet-buster.
     

  • Mississippi: Catfish Burger at Moss Creek Fish House in Pearl

    Catfish doesn’t just belong in po’ boys anymore. Mississippi prides itself on aquafarming and likes to showcase its unofficial state animal by any means possible. At Moss Creek Fish House in Pearl, the kitchen fries two delicate fillets of catfish and places it on top of a cheeseburger. How’s that for Southern comfort?

  • Missouri: Benny Burger at Blanc Burgers + Bottles in Kansas City

    Blanc Burgers + Bottles is all about variety: the menu ranges from blue-cheese-stuffed beef to a curried lentil patty. But one they have is truly breakfast in burger form. The Benny Burger’s coffee-encrusted beef patty is topped with shaved ham, a fried egg, red onion and hollandaise aïoli on a potato bun - it practically begs to be downed first thing in the morning.

  • Montana: Bison Burger at Montana Ale Works in Bozeman

    Consider that, in the 1800s, humans nearly drove bison to extinction. Fortunately, preservation efforts since then have helped the animal's number rebound, and now it's a serious staple on Montana menus. At his Bozeman joint, ground Western Plains bison meat makes for one tasty, healthier alternative to your regular burger.

  • Nebraska: Western Burger at The Cellar Bar & Grill in Kearney

    Any burgers that have something fried on top are going to be intense. This one has thick-cut bacon, two homemade onion rings, American-Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, making a super-high stack. Signature BBQ sauce is served on the side, so you can decide just how intense you want your burger's flavor to be. The ground chuck beef is fresh, never frozen.

  • Nevada: Banh-Mi Burger at Bachi Burger in Las Vegas

    Las Vegas has no shortage of great spots to grab a greasy, late-night burger, but there’s one local chain that truly stands out, serving gourmet burgers with an Asian fusion twist. For the popular Banh-Mi Burger, an Angus beef, pork and shrimp patty is topped with lemongrass pork pate, fresh herbs, curry aïoli, pickled vegetables and fish sauce. FYI, it’s best served with a glass of chilled sake and an order of sea-salt fries with pineapple ketchup.

  • New Hampshire: The Mac Daddy Kobe Burger at Hanover Street Chophouse in Manchester

    Manchester’s Hanover Street Chophouse is known for its fine-dining experience, but the lunch burger menu is where the place lets its hair down a bit. The “Mac Daddy” Kobe burger, named by a sous chef, is good enough to get burger lovers from neighboring states to make a road trip. Two thin patties are layered with shaved lettuce, tomato, pickles, American cheese and housemade Thousand Island dressing and stuffed between a homemade potato bun.

  • New Jersey: Sliders at White Manna in Hackensack

    The Sopranos and turnpikes aren't the Garden State's only claims to fame. It's also renowned for its classic diners, including White Manna in Hackensack. Its traditional no-fuss sliders are remarkably simple - a smashed ground-beef patty, American cheese and onions on a potato roll.

  • New Mexico: Green Chile Burger at Bert’s Burger Bowl in Santa Fe

    New Mexico is home to something called the green chile cheeseburger, and we doubt you can find it many other places. Bert’s Burger Bowl has been making theirs since 1954. The New Mexico tradition comes topped with green chiles and American cheese, adding up to some seriously spicy Southwestern flavor. Take it to the next level by requesting Kobe beef.

  • New York: Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern in NYC

    There’s no burger that says “New York” quite like this one. For starters, NYC restaurant royalty - Keith McNally - is behind the restaurant. Next, there's the very-much-New York price tag: $26. But it’s worth every penny. Served on a brioche with caramelized onions, the patty is a mix of prime dry-aged beef cuts and weighs in at just over 8 ozs.

  • Photo by: Pop Rock Photography/Tonya Russ Price

    North Carolina: White Trash Burger at Pinky's Westside Grill in Charlotte

    In Charlotte, a heated conversation about fried pickles isn’t an uncommon thing. So at Pinky's Westside Grill, it's no surprise that locals rave about the White Trash burger, a juicy 5-oz.-er with provolone, fried pickles, onion rings and spicy ranch sauce. Folks, it’s $4.50 for one. Treat yourselves to a few.

  • North Dakota: The Humpty-Dumpty at JL Beers in Fargo

    Popular Fargo-based chain JL Beers specializes in America’s favorite combination: beer and burgers. One of the most popular burgers on the menu is the Humpty-Dumpty, a classic cheeseburger that comes topped with a fried egg - perfect for soaking up a flight of local brews.

  • Ohio: Thurmanator at The Thurman Cafe in Columbus

    The Thurman Cafe - a German Village landmark since 1942 - is adorned with kitschy Americana in the form of license plates and vintage beer ads. But diners don’t flock there for the ambiance. They come for the restaurant’s Thurmanator burger, an indulgent monstrosity that includes lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana peppers, bacon, cheddar, sautéed mushrooms and onions, ham, mozzarella, American cheese and two 12-oz. burger patties. It was created to fuel athletes competing in the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition. Go figure.

  • Oklahoma: The Buster Burger at Ron’s Hamburger & Chili in Tulsa

    This is the kind of burger that dreams are made of. Ron’s has been in business since 1975, and while the actual Ron has retired, his kids are running the show and have since expanded to over 10 locations throughout Oklahoma. It’s the Sausage Cheeseburger that’s put these dives on the culinary map, but the Buster Burger takes it up a notch. The patty is made from half beef and half Owens Hot Sausage for an intense flavor combination. If that’s not enough, it’s then topped with a thin slice of ham and bacon bits, and lightly dressed with mustard, grilled onions, lettuce and tomatoes.

  • Oregon: LePigeon Burger at LePigeon in Portland

    The signature burger at Portland’s LePigeon oozes with local flavor. Just about everything comes from Oregon-based producers: the ciabatta bun (Ken’s Artisan Bakery in the Alphabet District), the square patty (a local Oregon farm), the cheese (Tillamook cheddar) and even the ketchup, which is made in-house.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Pennsylvania: Breakfast Burger at the Lucky Old Souls Food Truck in Philadelphia

    Finally, a very decent excuse to eat a burger in the morning: Lucky Old Souls’ breakfast burger sandwiches one Lancaster County grass-fed Black Angus patty with bacon, two fried eggs, habanero cheddar cheese and blueberry jam on a freshly baked challah roll. All of the burger’s ingredients are either made in-house or sourced from local producers, helping to ward off its cholesterol-induced shame spiral of sweet-spicy-fatty flavor. When you’ve found the burger truck with jazz-blasting speakers mounted on the roof, you’re in the right spot.

  • Rhode Island: Sliders at Harry's Bar and Burger in Providence

    If you’re from Rhode Island, it’s likely you’ve heard of Harry’s in Providence, a place that lives up to the hype. Harry’s specialty is sliders, and you’ll want to order M.O.A.B., which features freshly ground Hereford beef, cheese, bacon, mushrooms and fried onion strings with special sauce.

  • South Carolina: Tell-Tale Heart Burger at Poe’s Tavern in Charleston

    Poe’s, a serious burger spot with local clout, is named after Edgar Allen Poe, who was stationed in Charleston during a stint in the army. Naturally, the go-to menu item is the Tell-Tale Heart burger - juicy, ground-in-house Angus chuck beef, layered with a fried egg, Applewood bacon and cheese.

  • South Dakota: Wild West Buffalo Burger on Texas Toast at Bob's in Sioux Falls

    In Western South Dakota, it’s all about the bison burger. At Bob’s Cafe, a classic diner in Sioux Falls, you can order a Wild West Burger, which features a third-pound buffalo patty topped with grilled onions, American cheese, pepper Jack and A1 sauce on two thick slabs of Texas toast. Yee-haw!

  • Tennessee: Tennessee Burger at Burger Republic in Nashville

    Burger Republic might be a relative newcomer to Nashville’s famed burger scene, but it's managed to embody the essence of an entire state between a nice set of buns. Nothing says Tennessee quite like the Tennessee Burger, loaded with maple-glazed Benton’s Bacon, American cheese, crispy BBQ onions and smoked ketchup, and topped off with a Jack Daniel’s honey glaze

  • Texas: Bean and Frito Burger at Bracken Store Cafe in San Antonio

    With a tin roof, red-and-white checkered tablecloths and nostalgic Americana adorning the walls, this San Antonio burger joint has the feel of an authentic country cottage. In true Tex-Mex style, Bracken Store Cafe’s half-pound Bean and Frito Burger comes stuffed with crunchy corn chips and is covered in refried beans, chopped onions, pickled jalapeños and an American-cheddar-cheese blend.

  • Utah: Bacon Bleu Cheeseburger at No Name Saloon in Park City

    Located near the top of Park City’s main drag and set in a historical building dating back to 1903, this local favorite is known for two things: bison burgers and booze. Inside the no-frills, memorabilia-strewn space, its signature half-pound burgers are served in throwback red plastic baskets with salsa and housemade potato chips. It’s a tough call, but our pick is the bacon blue cheeseburger. The tangy blue cheese and crispy bacon give the lean buffalo patty more kick, and garlic aïoli seals the deal.

  • Vermont: The Turducky Burger at Worthy Burger in South Royalton

    Yes, this is the burger world’s answer to a Thanksgiving turducken, but you can get it all year-round at Worthy Burger, a beer and burger bar housed in a barnlike space in Vermont’s Upper Valley area. The patty is top-notch, crafted on the premises from pasture-raised turkey and rich duck confit. Get it with aged cheddar cheese and one of the bar’s excellent New England beers from the likes of Smuttynose and Freighthouse Brewing Companies.

  • Virginia: Classic Burger Seared Inside and Outside at Carytown Burgers in Richmond

    At Carytown Burgers & Fries in Richmond, the burgers are grilled to order using a special process where the patty is seared both outside and inside, allowing for great flavor throughout. Burger lovers can get extra beef with the Pounder, featuring three patties, or the Quinto, which comes with a whopping five patties - totaling almost 2 lbs. of meat.

  • Washington: Dick’s Deluxe at Dick’s Drive-In in Seattle

    This fast-food restaurant chain is a Seattle institution - the first location opened in 1954 - and so is its signature “Dick’s Deluxe” burger. Dick’s has expanded to six locations throughout the Northwest Washington area, but the simple concept for the burger remains the same: fresh (never frozen) patties, lettuce, mayo and chopped pickles. It also comes with a simple price: $2.70.

  • West Virginia: Black and Bleu Burger at Fat Patty's in Huntington

    Some of the best burgers in West Virginia can be found at Fat Patty’s, which has four locations around the state and specializes in big, juicy burgers with loads of toppings. We particularly like this Cajun-spiced burger absolutely smothered in blue cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, mayo and ketchup.

  • Wisconsin: Port & Blue Burger at Jake’s Burger in Brookfield

    The foundation of every burger at Jake's is a custom grind of brisket, short ribs and sirloin. And since a trip to Wisconsin without local cheese would be blasphemy, the Port & Blue tosses in some Wisconsin blue cheese, as well as slow-cooked port caramelized onions. The joint also offers several local beers to show some Midwestern pride.

  • Wyoming: The Buffalo Buffalo Burger at Big D’s Country Burgers in Farson

    A no-frills burger joint in Farson (population 836), right in the heart of Wyoming ranch country, Big D’s Country Burgers serves up In-N-Out-esque burgers with a swirly script “C” branded onto every soft bun. The Buffalo Buffalo comes with a half-pound of locally pasture-raised buffalo meat and a side of sublime beer-battered fries.

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