The burger is to America what pasta is to Italy. In fact, renowned broadcast journalist Charles Kuralt said, “You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.” But everyone has that one burger joint they say is The Tops. So we’ve cut the fat and rounded up 5 of America’s best burgers — a handful of juicy patties worth checking off your must-eat list when visiting these cities.
Seattle – Li’l Woody’s
For everything that Super Duper is, Li’l Woody’s isn’t, and that’s a good thing. You can build your own burger (and add toppings like onion rings and peanut butter) or choose from any number of specialties, my favorite of which is the “Fig and the Pig,” featuring pickled figs, bacon, mayo and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (are you drooling yet?). Their fries are some of my favorite on this list, though if you want to go big, order the housemade queso fries or hand-cut fries with a side of a Molly Moon milkshake — a Seattle ice cream institution — to dip it in.
Where to Stay: Hotel Monaco, Hotel Vintage, Palladian, Alexis Hotel
Los Angeles – Stout
Burgers and beers go hand in hand, yet you won’t find this particular combination at many burger joints. Stout, however, features an impressive beer list at each of its three locations. Most of the beer comes from small, craft breweries, but they also feature well-known brews such as Belgium’s Duvel. Stout’s menu also offers several unique burgers, from those topped with crispy prosciutto to a quinoa-and-bean veggie burger with chutney mayo. What’s more, they recommend which beer pairs well with each burger.
Where to Stay: Hotel Wilshire, Hotel Palomar
New York City – Corner Bistro
Narrowing down New York City’s extensive roster of great burger joints is no easy task. Corner Bistro wins out because of its West Village location, late hours, and the fact they’ve got McSorley Ale — from the oldest Irish pub in New York City — on tap. They just so happen to have a pretty delicious (and massive) burger, too. Your options are slim, though: plain, cheese, chili or bistro (cheeseburger topped with bacon). Fries are extra, and all are served on paper plates. Ask for extra napkins — these bad boys are messy.
Where to Stay: Eventi, Ink48, The Muse
San Francisco – Super Duper
Normally when a place has to tell you how great it is by putting superlatives in its name, it usually doesn’t live up to expectations. But that’s not the case with Super Duper in San Francisco. It’s fast, it’s greasy, and — surprise, surprise — it’s organic (because this is, after all, San Francisco). Unlike a lot of contemporary burger joints, Super Duper doesn’t inundate you with burger choices. You choose either mini (one 4-ounce patty) or super (two 4-ounce patties). They get bonus points for offering a veggie burger served with hummus, as well as a variety of milkshakes with local, organic ice cream from nearby Straus Family Creamery.
Where to Stay: The Buchanan, Sir Francis Drake Hotel
Chicago – Au Cheval
The Food Network has named it the best burger in the country, Thrillist has championed it, and bon appétit has called it “just about perfect.” So who are we to argue with the magnificence of the Au Cheval single cheeseburger? The first thing to know is that a single actually has two patties and a double has three (must be that new math). Secondly, you’ll want to make sure it’s topped with a fried egg to go along with the maple-glazed bacon, housemade pickles, and Dijonnaise. Move over, deep-dish pizza — looks like Chicago has a new food icon.
Where to Stay: Hotel Allegro, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Monaco, Hotel Palomar
— Spencer Spellman
Photos: The Big Woody Burger – Lil Woody’s; Corner Bistro – Alan Turkus/Flickr; Super Duper – Super Duper Burger; Stout Burger –L.A. Foodie/Flickr; Au Cheval – Au Cheval/Flickr