2021’s Best Cities for Burger Fans

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Group of friends sitting on a mountain top, eating burgers and laughing

Burgers are as American as apple pie, but there is a whole menu of options with this grilling mainstay: rare, medium, well done — not to mention the plethora of toppings and, these days, even buns. 

So where can you get a standout burger? 

Lawn Love ranked nearly 200 of the biggest cities in the U.S. to determine the Best Cities for Burger Fans. We looked for cities with an abundance of highly rated establishments that serve burgers, including Michelin-starred restaurants.

Use our rankings, in-depth analysis, and expert tips to get the most out of your next quarter pounder. 

Need a reason to grab a fresh hot burger? Here are two: Sept. 15 is National Double Cheeseburger Day, while Sept. 18 is National Cheeseburger Day. Whether you’re a vegan or a self-proclaimed carnivore, these are holidays all Americans can dig into.

In this article

  1. City rankings
  2. Results in depth
  3. Expert take
  4. Burgers by the numbers
  5. Methodology
  6. Final thoughts: Have it your way

City rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

infographic showing the best and worst cities for burger fans
Note: A total of 197 cities were ranked for Points for Michelin-Rated Establishments Serving Burgers. However, the lowest-ranking position for this metric is 13 due to a significant number of ties for “0 points.”

Results in depth

Here’s the Beef: Quality Over Quantity

Give your compliments to the chef in our top 10 Best Cities for Burger Fans, where high-quality burgers are king. 

Our overall top 10 includes big cities like Washington, D.C. (No. 1), Chicago (No. 4), and New York (No. 7). Orlando, Florida, lands in eighth place, while a handful of California cities, such as San Francisco (No. 2), Pasadena (No. 3), and San Diego (No. 5) dominate the rest of the top spots. 

Besides the natural abundance of options in the large metros, quality pushed nine out of our top 10 cities to the top.

Local tip: Burger aficionados in the Capitol can find high-quality bites at Michelin-distinguished restaurant Blue Duck Tavern, where you can try their cheeseburger for lunch, featuring a secret sauce. Other unique burger spots include Lucky Buns, Le Diplomate, and Slash Run, where you can get toppings ranging from pork rinds to finely ground coffee.

Many of these cities honor the hamburger through regionally themed festivals. Washington celebrates twice a year with D.C. Burger Week and Washington’s Bud and Burger Battle. Every year, San Franciscans can check out a variety of their best local hamburgers at the Burger and Brew Fest. Pasadena honors its place as the home of the cheeseburger by hosting an annual Cheeseburger Week. You can also take a tour of Chicago’s best during the annual Roscoe Village Burger Fest

Why not add some more Michelin-rated restaurants to your burger bucket list? Book a lunch reservation at Ai Fiori in New York to try their White Label burger, or head over to Acadia in Chicago to get a vamped-up whopper. 

Looking for variety? While Orlando, Florida, might not have as many fancy burger restaurants as other cities in our overall top 10, this city is ready to cater to burger fans of all kinds. Orlando ranked first in Access, meaning there are plenty of burger joints strewn across the city to appease locals and tourists alike. 

Following Orlando in the Access ranking is Savannah, Georgia (No. 2), St. Louis (No. 3), Fort Lauderdale, Florida (No. 4), and Las Vegas (No. 5). 

Local tip: Orlando celebrates burgers every summer during Orlando Burger Week. Orlando also recognizes their top hamburgers through the Best Burger distinction at the Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards. The 2021 winner was Russell’s Royale with Cheese at Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe

In Savannah, burgers are so accessible you can easily get one on the water with The Burger Boat. You can taste a variety of St. Louis’ affordable offerings during their St. Louis Burger Week, where more than 40 restaurants offer a burger for only $6. 

Golden Arches in The Golden State

California is no stranger to hamburgers. Famous burger chains McDonald’s and Big Boy both originated here, and Pasadena native Lionel Sternberger is purportedly the first to add cheese to his burger, thereby inventing the cheeseburger. 

No wonder it isn’t hard to find a tasty burger in The Golden State. Five cities in California had the highest median rating for burger establishments: Torrance (No. 1), Moreno Valley (No. 2), and Huntington Beach, San Diego, and Oceanside all tied for third place.

Local tip: Sunny SoCal boasts numerous beachside burger dives, making it an easy treat to get after an afternoon of surfing or tanning on the beach. A local favorite in Torrance is Burger City Grill

In Moreno Valley, try the Cowboy Burger at Angelo’s Burgers. If you’re in Huntington Beach, you can have a burger with a view at SeaSalt Beachside Burger

Steer Clear

Texas cities Midland (No. 197) and Laredo (No. 196) burn to the bottom of our ranking, earning the titles of Worst Cities for Burger Fans. They’re followed by Sioux Falls, South Dakota (No 195), Clarksville, Tennessee (No. 194), and Worcester, Massachusetts (No. 193). 

These cities fell to the bottom of our Access category, meaning that burger fans would have a hard time finding a good double cheeseburger around these parts. Additionally, they all ranked poorly in the Quality section — the few burger spots around haven’t impressed many diners.

Expert take

We asked the experts how to level up your cheeseburger game. Where’s the beef, you might ask? Check out their answers to our burning burger questions below:

  1. What makes a quality burger?
  2. What makes a quality veggie burger?
  3. What kinds of cheese will level up your burger?
  4. Any tips on finding good ground beef in the grocery store?
  5. What kind of beef makes the best burger?
  6. What’s the best burger you’ve ever had?
  7. What burger toppings are overhyped? Which ones deserve the hype?
  8. Do you have any tips for avoiding soggy burger buns?
David Tiner, CCE, CEC, CCA
Director
Jason Fridrich ED.D MBA CEC CCE
Associate Lecturer, Foodservice and Lodging Management, Rosen College of Hospitality Management
Milos Bujisic, PhD
Clinical Associate Professor, Integrated Marketing and Communications, Division of Programs in Business, School of Professional Studies
Zach Weston
Teaching Faculty, Chef, Dedman School of Hospitality, College of Business
Michael McCauley
Adjunct Professor, Manfred Steinfeld School of Hospitality
David Tiner, CCE, CEC, CCA
Director
Louisiana Culinary Institute

What makes a quality burger? And what makes a quality veggie burger?

To make a quality burger, it’s all about the bun. You can have well-seasoned meat, fresh vegetables, and lively condiments, but without a good bun it’s all lost. I am partial to a jalapeno sourdough bun.

For a veggie burger, I always go with black beans. The umami flavor of the beans and their ability to take on bold flavors make them the perfect ingredients. I don’t stop with beans, I add in hearty mushrooms like crimini, oyster, shitake, and portabella. These flavors re-enforce the umami flavors.

What kinds of cheese will really level up your burger?

A sharp cheddar is good, but I like to go a bit bolder which is why I love limburger or taleggio on my burgers.

I love introducing students to washed rind cheeses and seeing their faces when I prepare a Limburger grilled cheese to try. My students are amazed at the flavor.

Goat cheese is a great choice because of its sharp citrusy notes. I also love a good blue cheese like buttermilk blue or stilton on burgers as well.

Ground beef? Ground chuck? Any tips on finding good ground beef in the grocery store?

For the meat, I always go for ground chuck. The fat content is just right for making a burger juicy and full of flavor. I prefer buying a chuck roast and grinding it myself instead of buying pre-ground beef. You can purchase a chuck roast in the store and ask the butcher to grind it for you.

I stay away from ground beef simply because I don’t know what cuts of beef are used. For me, ground chuck (choice or higher is my preference for a good burger).

What kind of beef makes the best burger? What’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

To pick the best burger is like picking my favorite child; it’s impossible. However, I will give you my top burgers.

  1. The cheeseburger at BRQ restaurant in Baton Rouge, LA is my go-to burger at home.
  2. The Francis Smokehouse in Saint Francisville, LA has a great burger which I get after hiking in the area.
  3. Margaritaville Casino in Shreveport, LA is good, especially if you add fried jalapeno peppers.
  4. Jack Daniels in L’Auberge Casino in Dulac, LA is a good choice. I like all 12 different burgers on the menu.

What burger toppings are over-hyped? Which creative and/or adventurous toppings should you try on your next burger?

For me lettuce, tomato, and pickles are a mainstay for burgers. I don’t feel any toppings are over-hyped since everyone’s taste is different.

I like to put avocado, fresh or candied jalapeno peppers, sriracha, and an over-easy fried egg on my burgers.

I’ve tried peanut butter and grape jelly on a burger, it was good but weird. I like fried mac and cheese on a burger and even had fried shrimp with pepper jack cheese.

Do you have any tips for avoiding soggy burger buns?

To prevent the soggy bottom, brush a little butter or mayo on the bun and toast it on a griddle. The fat will form a barrier, preventing the moisture from soaking into the bread.

Are plant-based burgers that taste like real meat the future? Or are they a foodie fad like quinoa or avocado toast?

I like avocado toast so I will still eat it even if it goes the way of the dodo. With so many people conscious about eating meat, I think the plant-based burgers are here to stay. They have always been here; they have just gotten better.

Almost everyone likes a good tasting burger plant based or not; enjoy what you like.

Jason Fridrich ED.D MBA CEC CCE
Associate Lecturer, Foodservice and Lodging Management, Rosen College of Hospitality Management
University of Central Florida

What makes a quality burger? And what makes a quality veggie burger?

  • A good quality burger is simply a well-seasoned beef patty, cooked the right way on a fresh bun. It’s better if the meat has never been frozen. The burger should be moist and juicy.
  • The veggie burger should have similar qualities, with a nice smoky flavor.

What kinds of cheese will really level up your burger?

I really enjoy blue cheese on my burgers, the tartness of blue cheese works really well with the meatiness of the beef. One of my favorite burgers is a “black and blue burger” with caramelized onions.

Ground beef? Ground chuck? Any tips on finding good ground beef in the grocery store?

I always use ground chuck 80/20 when making a burger. Ground sirloin also works well but will be more expensive, and there will not be much difference in flavor.

What kind of beef makes the best burger?

Ground chuck. Some chefs mix chuck with brisket. I do not see the need.

What’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

That’s a tough question, I have had so many good burgers. There was a pub in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn called Minskys that I used to frequent, and the burgers there were always fabulous. I always ordered the Mushroom Swiss burger, which is my second favorite burger.

What burger toppings are over-hyped? Which creative and/or adventurous toppings should you try on your next burger?

I have never been a fan of chili burgers. It seems redundant. Also a fried egg on a burger is not a topping I would order.

To me it’s about the beef. I would be interested in sampling avocado, not guacamole, on a burger. I think the texture would be complementary.

Do you have any tips for avoiding soggy burger buns?

Sear the burger over high heat and create a good crust to avoid a lot of the juiciness from leaching out of the meat onto the bun.

Another trick is to have lettuce and tomato on the bottom to keep the bottom bun dry.

Are plant-based burgers that taste like real meat the future? Or are they a foodie fad like quinoa or avocado toast?

I do think there is a market for plant based burgers, my preference is to have a real beef burger, but only once in a while, in moderation.

Milos Bujisic, PhD
Clinical Associate Professor, Integrated Marketing and Communications, Division of Programs in Business, School of Professional Studies
New York University

What makes a quality burger? And what makes a quality veggie burger?

Though some would argue that a high quality burger is primarily about the quality of meat, this does not match with taste tests. Customers are more likely to notice the quality of the bun and the diversity of toppings, and those can even disguise the taste of a burger patty. Thus, a high quality burger is about the balance of the ingredients.

Regarding veggie burgers, there are two schools of thought.

On one end some evaluate the quality of a veggie burger based on how closely it mimics the taste of real meat.

The second approach is about the taste of the veggie burger itself, without trying to replace meat flavor. For example some would even argue that a good, large falafel is a better replacement for a burger patty because of its unique flavor instead of something like impossible meat patties.

I tend to believe that a veggie burger should not replace the taste of meat and should have a unique flavor, but it should try to have texture and shape that most resembles a real thing.

What kinds of cheese will really level up your burger?

Traditionalist approach is to use only american cheese but any cheese that melts well can be used. Some of the best cheeseburgers use higher quality cheeses such as délice de bourgogne, though with this type of cheese you risk overwhelming the flavour profile and hiding the taste of beef, which is usually not desired.

Ground beef? Ground chuck? Any tips on finding good ground beef in the grocery store?

Most commonly ground chuck is used because of the good balance between fat and lean meat but some of the better blends add other fatty parts to the mix, such as brisket and short rib.

Customers should try to avoid purchasing ground beef in grocery stores or as premade patties, and instead should ask a butcher to freshly grind meat for them. Ideally they could try to use a blend of a few parts, but chuck or brisket with a high fat content can serve well.

What kind of beef makes the best burger?

It is more about parts of the animal that are used, but if customers have a choice, some of the best burgers are made with dry aged beef, though they tend to be on a more expensive end and have a flavor that might not be enjoyable by everyone.

What’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

One of the best burgers I had is a burger with gorgonzola in The Pearl in Columbus, OH.

If we expand the definition of a burger to include some more ethnic versions, in that case Serbian style burger AKA “Pljeskavica” from “Cirino Drvce” in Belgrade, Serbia, is the best burger based on the quality and taste of meat patty, type of bread used, and the amazing list of toppings one could choose from.

What burger toppings are over-hyped? Which creative and/or adventurous toppings should you try on your next burger?

Avoid ketchup, it has no place on a burger. If you use high quality patties you want to go light with toppings. Often with a high quality burger, less is more. Having a good thick beef patty and a more adventurous cheese, like cambozola, on a toasted Bavarian pretzel bun is often more than enough.

Do you have any tips for avoiding soggy burger buns?

Buns should be toasted before the patty is placed in them. One advice is to put lettuce under the patty to keep some of the fluids from soaking up the bottom layer. Alternatively you can even put cheese on the top and bottom bun and slowly melt them under a broiler. This would help seal buns a bit and prevent them from soaking up juices once patty is added.

On the other hand, a soggy bun is not always considered to be a bad thing. You may want to try an Istanbul style steamed burger called Islak burger. An Islak burger bun is very wet and soggy, but it is still one of the best late night snacks.

Are plant-based burgers that taste like real meat the future? Or are they a foodie fad like quinoa or avocado toast?

With the increase in the number of vegans and vegetarians, plant based burgers have certainly found their place in the marketplace. On the other hand, some of the mass produced ones are fairly complex products with a long list of ingredients that make them more similar to processed foods and therefore limit their perceived health advantages over traditional beef burgers.

I believe that hand made plant-based burgers should be perceived as a separate type of product and not an alternative to meat based burgers. Good plant based burgers have their own unique flavor and with the correct recipe they can become extremely popular.

Zach Weston
Teaching Faculty, Chef, Dedman School of Hospitality, College of Business
Florida State University

What makes a quality burger? And what makes a quality veggie burger?

The best burger chefs understand synergy and balance, and they use quality ingredients. It is true in the entire culinary world that quality ingredients are the first requirement of quality food.

The goal is not just to create a bunch of great components (though you do need great components). The goal is to create perfect bites, and perfect bites are all about harmony. Harmony across the bun, toppings, sauce, and bread.

Many burgers have moments of greatness, but few create seamless perfection across all components. The patty should be cooked (to a perfect medium), with a strong sear or grill mark on the outside. The toppings should be contained within the bread and not overshadow the patty. The bread should be robust enough to contain the burger without getting soggy. The sauces should complement the burger and not squeeze out the sides each time you take a bite.

The overall salinity of the entire burger is also an important thing to consider – patties and toppings should be seasoned in relation to each other. Nothing in the culinary world should be blindly seasoned without respect for what it’s being paired with.

What kinds of cheese will really level up your burger?

This, again, is all about context and harmony.

The best kind of cheese for any given burger is the one that pairs most appropriately with the toppings, patty, and bread.

For example, if we served a grilled beef chuck patty with pickled red onion, roasted mushrooms, tomato jam, Worcestershire sauce, on a brioche bun, then white American cheese would not contribute to the huge flavors and textures of the other components. We’d want something stronger, maybe a slice of provolone piccante, or even a slab of sweetgrass dairy asher blue.

We could also use the cheese to shift the entire flavor profile of the burger, as would be the case with smoked gouda.

On the other hand, if we had a patty that was blended 50-50 with pork sausage and topped with a fried egg, jalapenos, and bacon, then sharp cheddar would be a homerun.

Ground beef? Ground chuck? Any tips on finding good ground beef in the grocery store?

I prefer a blend of ground chuck and ground sirloin. The best way to be sure you have the best ground meat is to grind it yourself from larger cuts. Commercially ground beef loses freshness faster than large cuts due to the increased surface area and processing.

If grinding your own is not an option, then look for the classic signs of quality ground meat: vibrant color, no residual moisture (moisture will prevent the sear from developing properly), clear labeling, and secure packaging.

What kind of beef makes the best burger?

There’s no absolute, profound truth to be discovered here. The best beef for your burger is the kind that is most desirable to you.

Some people like a leaner, denser burger (go with sirloin), while others like a fattier, juicier burger (ground chuck, ground brisket). Some prefer grass-fed, while others prefer grain-fed.

The best way to answer this question is to experiment bravely and often.

What’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

Like many people, I love burgers and eat them regularly – at least once a week. However, I am not always looking for the same burger experience. Sometimes, I’m crunched for time and opt for a quicker burger experience. Other times, I want to relax and enjoy a handcrafted burger made by true culinarians. So, my answer to this would again be contextual.

With all of that said, I believe Vertigo Burgers & Fries understands the artsy side of burgers better than most. It’s a locally owned burger joint where I live in Tallahassee, FL. Their burgers are delicious and I’ve been known to order 2 when I’m there.

What burger toppings are over-hyped? Which creative and/or adventurous toppings should you try on your next burger?

I don’t pay much attention to what’s “hyped” in the food world. At the end of the day, what matters is flavor, texture, aroma, mouthfeel, presentation, and overall execution – this is the bigger picture of the culinary world at large.

The foods that appeal broadly to the dining public do not change dramatically from one year to the next – trends do. The fundamentals of the culinary world are the climate we exist in; trends are the local weather patterns. It’s important to understand both.

Burgers are an infinitely variable template. They could be as mundane or experimental as you like.

Don’t eat beef? Make a turkey patty and serve it with goat cheese, cranberry ketchup, and arugula.

Don’t eat meat? Experiment with making patties from beans, grains, and vegetables.

Want to get crazy? Make your patty out of ground duck and top it with champagne mustard, foie gras, candied onion jam and Maldon salt.

Do you have any tips for avoiding soggy burger buns?

Understand gravity. 99% of the time that I order a burger, the first thing I do is flip it upside down. This redirects the flow of juices towards the top bun, rather than letting it all soak into the bottom bun.

If you’re making burgers at home, the best way to avoid soggy buns is to rest the patty on a wire rack after cooking. Resting the patty (or any meat) after cooking allows juices to settle back into the meat after being exposed to aggressive heat.

If you skip the resting phase, juices will spill out of the patty as soon as you cut it in half and/or take a bite. Spilled juices = soggy bun.

Fast-paced burger joints generally won’t have time to do this, hence the flipping upside down.

Are plant-based burgers that taste like real meat the future? Or are they a foodie fad like quinoa or avocado toast?

For me, no. For others, quite possibly. Again, I don’t pay much attention to fads because it’s so easy for us to get caught chasing our tails as we try to anticipate where one fad ends and the next begins.

For example, it’s weird for me to imagine that quinoa is a fad given its prominence in several international cuisines. It’s more productive to focus on culinary fundamentals.

If plant-based burger producers figure out how to make burgers that are unquestionably delicious, widely appealing, approachable, and affordable, then there’s no reason to think that they won’t stand the test of time.

However, plant-based burgers will always play second fiddle to meat-based burgers if they can’t make a compelling, obvious, and delicious case to sway the dining public away from meat-based burgers.

Michael McCauley
Adjunct Professor, Manfred Steinfeld School of Hospitality
Roosevelt University

The Golden Age of Burgers

This is the golden age of burgers for sure. What was once simply a fast-food staple, or key offering at a “burger joint” has suddenly been accepted in fine dining restaurants and all manner of gourmet circles.

In fact, some of the best chefs in this town (Chicago—a true burger town) will always brag about their burger. Not long ago, a friend, who is one of the best chefs in Chicago, was telling me about his new restaurant. I casually asked about the burger, and he became instantly impassioned and without solicitation, began espousing every nuance of his burger: “It’s a double patty, fried,” he described, “we cook it fast on a super-hot grill so we get just a hint of char, but still juicy inside…” And on and on. I cut to the chase and pointedly asked, “Is it the best burger in Chicago?” He paused, became very serious, put hands in front of his face and said “I will tell you this. Very few restaurants can compete with our burger…it is right up there…”

Everyone, it seems, has “the best burger in Chicago.” Right at this very moment, a number of national magazines have rated some of our restaurants as having The Best Burger in America. Au Cheval and Smith and The Lawson, have been rated as two of the top five burgers in the country. To me this is highly, highly debatable.

But let’s just talk about what makes a great burger, to me, a kid who grew up in a burger town eating all manner of burgers, from local hotdog places to chains, to now, eating super fine dining. Heck, I order burgers with Red Wine—I did just yesterday at RL, the fancy Ralph Lauren restaurant downtown.

What makes a quality burger? And what makes a quality veggie burger?

Keys to a great burger come in 3S

l. Symphony:

I teach my students that all elements of hospitality must work together, and no detail is unimportant. Like an orchestra, if just one instrument is off key, it blows the whole thing.

Whatever you put on a burger, many ingredients or just a few, make sure they are all the very best and work well together.

As an example, some places spend all this time on the quality of the meat…wagyu, grass fed, or whatever, but then all the other elements are just ok. When in fact, the cheaper cuts like chuck, have a higher fat content and make a juicier burger. Grass fed sounds great in marketing, but any butcher will tell you it’s too lean and the burger will be like a hockey puck.

And on that note, I will say, no fighting. The bun can’t fight with the burger as the star of the show. The bun and burger have to be balanced where one does not outshine the other. Like if you had a flimsy, overdone patty with a beautiful brioche bun, it’s a conflict.

Also, so many places believe more is more and load toppings on to a burger—no. Then it’s like eating a landslide and you can’t get the whole thing in one bite which defeats the whole purpose.

2. Simplicity:

Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

This is the heart of it with a great burger. Once you’ve got it down to its essence—it’s perfect.

Don’t add to it OR strip anything away. A place I always love is IN and OUT Burger in LA. I absolutely love the burger here. The way the bun and beef are balanced, that slice of iceberg lettuce, the mayo sauce—I love it. Perfect. If they loaded that thing up with Kimchi this or that or a trendy fad topping—forget it.

3. Satisfaction:

Do you know why burgers are so universally loved? They are so damn satisfying. When you bite into a burger—any burger—you must feel instant gratification. Not like a nuanced multi-course dinner that I actually do love. But a burger? One bite. That’s it. You get the whole thing in one: Juicy, savory, sweet, tangy, chewy, crunchy all in one bite.

What burger toppings are over-hyped? Which creative and/or adventurous toppings should you try on your next burger?

The places that have it down for me in Chicago:

Guildhall: Wonderful bistro in the very affluent village of Glencoe, just north of Chicago. Rich, rare, juicy prime beef, havarti, grilled onion, house pickles, garlic aioli, toasted brioche. Not too much of one or the other—perfect balance, the flavor combo, consistency, textures..wow.

Charley Beinlich’s: A Northwoods-looking tavern that only started serving burgers in the 60’s because customers were drinking too much. Super simple, super satisfying. Fresh meat delivered every single day, they add raw egg and proprietary seasonings. Pan fried, American cheese and grilled onions. The buns are also super fresh. The burgers melt in your mouth.

Bistro Campagne: Prime beef patty, bacon, Brie cheese, mushrooms, heirloom tomato, Dijon-rosemary aioli, Brioche bun. It Is fried, perfectly cooked, the brie melts into a kind of sauce. It is amazing, rich, chewy and satiating.

The Wiener’s Circle: An infamous late-night, drive up hot dog shanty on the northside. It is known for its surly and insult-hurtling workers, but the quality is top notch. A large, thick, beef patty char grilled on an open flame, topped with a large, soft, rich egg bun, and grilled onions. Thick, crock-warmed gooey cheddar with tomato and ketchup. Satisfies your soul after an evening of revelry and cavorting.

Edzos Burger Shop: Fresh blend of meats hand ground each morning right at the shop. Griddled double patty, slice of American on each, thick, fresh bun, simple toppings. This burger is dense, chewy, gooey and perfectly seasoned. It’s gooey like a slice of Chicago pizza.

National Chains:

In and Out:

Not big on chains because in Chicago there is a burger joint in every neighborhood, but I absolutely love In and Out. It might be the best burger in the country. So simple, but delicious. Love their special sauce (thousand island dressing), the slice of crispy lettuce, tomato, onion and lightly toasted bun. So full of flavor and perfectly complementary flavors and textures. Fantastic.

Shake Shack:

Not as flavorful as In and Out, but great quality, chewy, juicy, great cheese, bun, perfectly cooked and prepared. Simple, good, satisfying.

Burgers by the numbers

Methodology

We ranked the 197 biggest U.S. cities from best to worst (1-197) based on their overall scores (out of 100 points), averaged across the weighted metrics listed below. 

Access

  • Establishments Serving Burgers per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 2)

Quality

  • Median Rating for Establishments Serving Burgers (Weight: 3)
  • Total Points for Michelin-Rated Establishments Serving Burgers per 100,000 Residents (No Stars/Awards = 0 Points, Michelin Plate = 1 Point, Michelin Bib Gourmand = 2 Points, 1 Star = 3 Points, 2 Stars = 4 Points) (Weight: 4)

Sources

Michelin Guide and TripAdvisor

Final thoughts: Have it your way

Grilled, smoked, or flame-broiled, hamburgers always have a way to hit the spot when you’re hungry. They can be made of meat or vegetables, and there’s an infinite number of toppings and sauces to combine and try on your quest for the perfect burger.

Hamburgers are not only a staple of the American diet — they’re a significant cultural symbol, a part of our national (and regional) identity.

Get in the mood for some patties with Bob’s Burgers, or become a burger expert through The Burger Show. If you’re feeling nostalgic, pull out your VHS player and be welcomed to Good Burger (1997), or join along as Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004). 

You can also get crafty and make fictional burgers come to life, such as the Big Kahuna Burger from Pulp Fiction (1994) or a Krabby Patty from Spongebob — someone managed to snatch the secret ingredient from Mr. Krabs after all.

Let curiosity reign, and try a regional burger style that’s foreign to you:

Midwest

  • Butter Burger (Wisconsin): Butter is an essential ingredient for burgers in Wisconsin. The Butter Burger can have a buttered bun, a buttered burger, or a burger filled with butter. Now try to say that three times fast. 
  • Juicy Lucy (Minnesota): a burger with melted cheese cooked inside the patty
  • Guber Burger (Missouri): a burger topped with warm peanut-butter sauce

Northeast/Mid-Atlantic

South

  • Carolina Burger: a burger with chili, slaw, onions, and sometimes mustard
  • Luther Burger (Georgia): a burger with bacon and cheese in between glazed donuts instead of burger buns
  • Texas-Style Burger: a burger with mustard and occasionally jalapeños
  • Onion Burger (Oklahoma): a burger with thinly sliced yellow onions smashed in

Southwest/West

  • Green Chile Burger (New Mexico): a cheeseburger topped with chopped green chiles and, occasionally, an egg
  • California Burger: a burger with avocado or guacamole and sometimes bacon
  • Slopper (Colorado): an open-faced burger smothered with red or green chile
  • Pastrami Burger (Utah): a burger topped with pastrami, cheese, and Thousand Island dressing

Pacific

  • Loco Moco (Hawaii): Most people think of a Hawaiian Burger as a burger patty topped with pineapple and teriyaki sauce, but burger scholar George Motz shares that locals like their burgers drenched in gravy on a bed of rice and topped with a fried egg. 

Don’t want to wait for eternity in the drive-thru? Outdoor grilling is a safe way to spend time with loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s always important to take time to ketchup and relish in the memories you make with each other, no matter the occasion.

Does your lawn need sprucing up before your next backyard burger cookout? Reach out to a Lawn Love pro for all your lawn maintenance and landscaping needs.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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