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The Best Burgers in 20 U.S. Cities

By Zagat Staff
October 23, 2013

Burger Week rolls on and today we bring you a list of our #1s - the top burger joints in 20 U.S. cities, according to our local surveys. Check them out in the slide show below. How do our picks stack up to your local favorites? Let us know in the comments.

  • Atlanta Area: Vortex Bar & Grill

    Food: 24
    Decor: 22
    Service: 20
    Cost: $19

    Expect “no b.s.,” “no one under 18” and “tats galore” at this “one-of-a-kind” Midtown-Little Five Points duo known for its “amazing selection” of beers and single-malts, along with “mouthwatering,” “food coma”-inducing burgers; “vintage Goth” decor, a “sexy biker vibe” and the “customer-isn’t-always-right” service from a “punk-rock” staff are all part of the gloriously “wacky” package.

    Multiple locations

  • Photo by: Matt Lankes Photography

    Austin: Hopdoddy Burger Bar

    Food: 25
    Decor: 20
    Service: 17
    Cost: $17

    It’s “simple, but they really get it right” at this SoCo burger bar turning out “juicy, flavorful” patties on freshly baked buns backed by “heavenly” floats and shakes made with house-churned ice creams (with spiked versions for the grown-ups); it’s “always packed” with “crazy lines” for ordering at peak hours, though most find it worth the wait.

    1400 South Congress Avenue; 512-243-7505

  • Baltimore Area: Linwoods

    Food: 27
    Decor: 26
    Service: 27
    Cost: $56

    Chef-owner Linwood Dame brings “interesting nuances” to his “impeccable” “modern” American cuisine at this “serene” spot in Owings Mills that’s been “charming” “sophisticated” diners for around a quarter-century; a “contemporary, elegant” room with an open grill, patrolled by a “first-rate” staff, enhances an experience that’s worthy of a “special occasion” or any time “you’re feeling plush.”

    25 Crossroads Dr., Owings Mills; 410-356-3030

  • Boston Area: Mr. Bartley's

    Food: 26
    Decor: 18
    Service: 18
    Cost: $15

    Burger buffs “can’t leave Harvard Square” without “squeezing in” “elbow-to-elbow” at this “charm”-heavy “landmark” for “amazing,” “sloppy” patties with “ironic names that make the daunting task of choosing” from the “mind-boggling” variety of toppings a “laugh”; even with no bathrooms, a cash-only rule and what some would say is “spotty” service, it’s “too much fun” - and a “bargain” to boot.

    1246 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-354-6559

  • Chicago: Kuma's Corner

    Food: 27
    Decor: 17
    Service: 18
    Cost : $22

    “All hail” this “legendary” Avondale “dive” (with a newer Lakeview double) where “gigantic, inventive” burgers “named after Judas Priest, Slayer and Metallica” come in “unusual” yet “well-balanced” combinations alongside “excellent beers on tap,” “good whiskeys” and a side of “loud heavy metal blasting”; yes, service can be a “bit lacking,” and “boy should you expect a wait,” but fans say “who cares” when the “payoff” is that “rockin’.”

    2900 West Belmont Avenue; 773-604-8769 and 666 West Diversey Parkway; 773-472-2666

  • Dallas: Maple & Motor

    Food: 25
    Decor: 14
    Service: 19
    Cost : $14

    “Be ready for a line” because “the word is out” about what fans are calling the “coolest burger joint around,” this budget burgertory in a renovated Love Field gas station slinging “greasy, cheesy, amazing burgers,” “must-try” onion rings and “tater tots that make you think you’re back in elementary school”; it’s counter service only, and even though it’s “mega-busy at lunchtime,” all agree the wait is “worth it.”

    4810 Maple Avenue; 214-522-4400

  • Denver: Crave Real Burgers

    Food: 26
    Decor: 19
    Service: 24
    Cost: $17

    This “humble” Castle Rock “joint” (with a Colorado Springs sib) “takes the burger to an entirely new level” with “creative” combinations featuring “unique toppings” that result in some of the “most delicious” sammies around; it also vends “delicious” chili cheese fries, “awesome” “adult shakes” (“talk about crave”) and more, and with so many options, fans are glad the “friendly” staff is there to “help you make the right selections.”

    3982 Limelight Ave, Castle Rock; 303-814-2829

    7465 N. Academy Blvd., Colorado Springs; 719-264-7919

  • Ft. Lauderdale: Le Tub Saloon

    Food: 21
    Decor: 15
    Service: 11
    Cost: $23

    In a “crummy old” former “gas station” in Hollywood festooned with “driftwood,” “old tubs and toilets” you’ll find what some (e.g. Oprah) say are “the best burgers ever”: “artery-clogging beasts” worth ditching your “diet” for; a bit of advice: “have patience” (“throw back a few brews” and soak up the Intracoastal view) because these “bad boys take time to cook,” and expect occasionally “rude service.”

    1100 North Ocean Drive, Hollywood; 954-921-9425

  • Houston: Hubcap Grill

    Food: 27
    Decor: 13
    Service: 21
    Cost: $13

    Some of “the best burgers in Houston” turn up at this diminutive, no-frills counter-service American Downtown offering a variety of toppings, from kalamata olives to Cheetos, with cheeky names like the Quadruple Heart Clogger (with hot dogs, bacon, chili and cheese); some say “overrated,” although the Heights branch pleases with lots of microbrews, two patios, a jukebox and flat-screen TVs.

    1133 W 19th St.; 713-862-0555 and 1111 Prairie; 713-223-5885


  • Las Vegas LBS: A Burger Joint

    Food:  25
    Decor: 21
    Service: 22
    Cost: $20

    Although “a bit of a drive” from the heart of Las Vegas, this Summerlin American in the Red Rock Resort is “worth every mile” given its “mouthwatering” burgers and “excellent” service (there’s also a roving food truck mainly geared toward catering); some find it “a little pricey” for the genre, but overall most are “pleasantly surprised.”

    11011 West Charleston Boulevard, Summerlin South; 702-835-9393

  • Los Angeles Area: Golden State

    Food: 25
    Decor: 13
    Service: 21
    Cost: $19

    Go for the “revelatory,” “amazingly made” burgers and “keep the pig-out ball rolling” with sweet potato fries and Coke floats at this “tiny” storefront on Fairfax where the “cool owners and staff” also “know their beer”; despite “standing in line” for counter service and “waiting for tables to open up,” diehards declared it the “hands-down best” around; P.S. Let’s Be Frank hot dogs are on the menu too.

    426 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; 323-782-8331

  • Photo by: LoKal

    Miami: LoKal Burgers

    Food: 27
    Decor: 20
    Service: 20
    Cost: $19

    The “yummy” burgers are made from “high-quality” ingredients (e.g. grass-fed Florida cattle) yet manage to be “reasonably priced” at this “great little local hamburger joint” newly debuted in Coconut Grove; a “relaxing” vibe is abetted by an “excellent” selection of beers, “attentive” service and a “cozy,” casual space done up in reclaimed materials.

    3190 Commodore Plaza., Coconut Grove; 305-442-3377

  • New Orleans: Company Burger

    Food: 25
    Decor: 19
    Service: 21
    Cost: $15

    Buffs boast that chef-owner Adam Biderman achieves the "platonic burger ideal" at this "quick," "family-friendly" "stop on remade Freret Street" Uptown, where American cheese, onions and "homemade" "butter pickles" go on top of two "locally raised beef" patties that you dress yourself at the "magical," "exotic" condiment bar; the "hip," "modern" space draws a "young crowd," and if some find it a "bit pricey" for a "super-casual" meal, "your mouth will thank you."

    4600 Freret St.; 504-267-0320

  • New York City Area: Burger Joint

    Food: 24
    Decor: 13
    Service: 14
    Cost: $17

    Probably NYC’s “worst-kept secret,” this burger “speakeasy” hidden behind a “giant curtain” in the Parker Meridien draws “crazy lines” for its “damn fine” patties - voted “tops” in NYC - offered in “tacky” digs with “lacking service” quite at odds with its “luxurious” hotel setting; for those seeking elbow room there’s now a roomier Village outpost, which also pours liquor.

    33 W. Eighth St.; 212-432-1400 and Le Parker Meridien 119 W. 56th St.; 212-708-7414

  • Philadelphia: Sketch

    Food: 28
    Decor: 20
    Service: 24
    Cost: $15

    “Super‑messy burgers” and other “comfort‑food” classics are “worth the hike” to this Fishtown “joint” where diners doodle while they wait and seating options include “vintage church pews”; Kobe beef and even vegan patties plus sauces that add “the right amount of sloppy, fatty goodness” are a testament to the kitchen’s “creativity,” and while it all “might cost a few bucks more,” “personal, passionate” service seals the deal.

    413 E. Girard Ave.; 215‑634‑3466 

  • Portland: Killer Burger

    Food: 27
    Decor: 21
    Service: 25
    Cost: $13

    “Fun twists on the old-fashioned burger” draw meatheads to these Hollywood-Sellwood patty places, where the “affordable,” cardiologist-worthy lineup includes a “crazy-but-delicious” option with peanut butter sauce, pickles and bacon, plus the “addictive” “bottomless” fries come gratis; the “small” Sandy Boulevard outpost can be “standing-room-only”, but “peppy” service keeps tables turning.

    4644 NE Sandy Blvd.; 971-544-7521 and 8728 SE 17th Ave.; 503-841-5906

  • San Diego: Hodad’s Burgers

    Food: 26
    Decor: 20
    Service: 21
    Cost: $15

    Adored for its “life-changing” burgers “stacked high with fixin’s” and “kitschy,” “off-the-wall” atmosphere, this affordable Ocean Beach “icon” and its Downtown twin offer “laid-back” service to the “omnipresent” “surfers and wannabes” (and “tourists”); the “only drawback” is “out-the-door” lines during peak hours.

    945 Broadway; 619-234-6323 and 5010 Newport Ave.; 619-224-4623

  • San Francisco/Bay Area: 900 Grayson

    Food: 24
    Decor: 18
    Service: 21
    Cost: $22

    “Prepare to confess” after meeting the “Demon Lover,” this “funky” Californian’s “sinful” version of chicken and waffles from a menu of “classics with a twist,” plus an “outstanding” burger; sure, the place is in the “hinterlands” of Berkeley, and Saturday brunch lines are “out the door,” but it’s “worth squeezing” in for such “comforting” fare and “warm,” “efficient” service; P.S. closes 3 PM weekdays and 2:30 PM Saturday.

    900 Grayson St., Berkeley; 510-704-9900

  • Seattle: Broiler Bay

    Food: 26
    Decor: 12
    Service: 22
    Cost: $13

    Bellevue gets its burger on at this beloved “local hole-in-the-wall” serving up “fat, juicy” patties plus “tasty” subs and sides with “no pretense” for “super-low prices“; “is it the most pristine place or high-brow institution? no,” but for fans “that's part of what makes it fun.”

    10636 Main St., Bellevue; 425-646-3474 and 15226 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline; 206-367-1210

  • Washington, D.C. Area: Ray’s Hell Burger

    Food: 25
    Decor: 14
    Service: 22
    Cost: $31

    “Ray’s a toast” - with a glass from the “superior-for-a-neighborhood place” wine selection - to Michael "Ray" Landrum’s “bistro version” in Courthouse that features steak frites “done very well” at prices that “can’t be beat”; its unassuming premises are also home to his Ray’s Hell Burger menu (now that that concept has closed) as well as “excellent” shrimp and chicken, and decadent shakes.

    1650 Wilson Blvd. (bet. Pierce & Quinn Sts.), Arlington; 703-974-7171


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