With its simple ground beef and bun formula, it’s easy to see a burger as a blank canvas just waiting to host all sorts of topping combos ranging from bacon and cheese to more over-the-top additions like glazed donuts and crab cakes. But for those days when you’re looking for a no-bells-or-whistles burger, here are five that keep it simple.
This South Philly bar has a beer list that outweighs the food menu by miles, and their $5 burger is one of the best and cheapest in town. A perfectly charred, medium patty sandwiched on a squishy bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles and cheese is small enough (and tasty enough) to warrant going back to the bar to order another.
1601 S. 10th St.; no phone
Marc Vetri’s Navy Yard spot has a menu that’s worthy of plenty of exploration (especially during happy hour), but don’t let their burger get lost in the shuffle. Made from ground brisket, this super-juicy burger ($14, pictured at top) is served with crisp iceberg, ripe tomatoes and house-cured bacon on request. You can find this guy for just $10 during happy hour and even less when the Eagles are playing.
4503 S. Broad St.; 215-282-3184
Although there are some that might argue, a thin patty is a virtue in perfect burger architecture. This Pennsport hang takes quarter-pound Le Frieda patty and layers it with thinly sliced red onion, cheddar, iceberg and tomato before finishing it off with a pickle mayo. It’s available as a single ($9), double ($11) or triple ($12.50) if you’re feeling wild.
1401 E. Moyamensing Ave.; 215-271-9500
This Fishtown fave might be a taco destination, but their fast food–style burger is a can’t miss. Located on their vaquero (cowboy) menu, it’s loaded up with shredded lettuce, special sauce and jalapeños, and comes with a side of waffle fries for $7.50.
2401 E. Norris St.; 267-886-8061
Situated in a part of town that’s most commonly known for Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown, this Florida-based chain serves a solid selection of burgers ($7.76) made from hormone- and antibiotic-free beef dressed with the classic trifecta of toppings: American cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Bonus style points for the branded potato buns.
44 N. 12th St.; 267-928-3882