It's too hot to grill at home - go grab a burger
July 2nd, 2012
10:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

Americans are the world’s burger experts. If you doubt this for one minute, consider the way they do things at Burger King Japan.

Novelty burger options include a pizza-sized burger that’s almost nine inches and costs $33.

In April, BK Japan offered a deal, where, for $1.37, you could add 15 strips of bacon to your burger, at which point your burger disappears. One customer took things way too far and added 1,050 bacon slices to his Whopper (spoiler alert: He didn’t finish it).
The newest BK Japan special is a five-patty Whopper. You can’t help but wonder if that same guy will try to order a 1,050-patty burger.

As I was saying. Americans are the burger experts, and our top ones are the best of the best. Here are some of the country’s (and therefore the world’s) most outstanding burgers.

Holeman & Finch Public House - Atlanta, Georgia
This gastropub has one of the country’s best bars; it’s also one of the country’s great late night burger spots. At 10 p.m. every evening, the bullhorn blast signals the start of burger time (generally, people start arriving at 9 p.m.; by 9:50, the place is full). H&F sells only 24 burgers nightly; some nights they sell out by 10.01.

To make their double patty cheeseburgers, chef Linton Hopkins uses freshly ground grass-fed chuck and brisket, topped with melty American cheese served on house-baked buns; condiments include house-made ketchup, mustard and pickles. The accompanying fries are destination-worthy as well.

Get the recipe for Holeman & Finch's famous cheeseburger

B Spot Burgers - Cleveland area
Michael Symon isn’t just the winner of Iron Chef America. He’s also won the Best Burgers in America title from the South Beach Wine & Food Festival an astonishing three years running. To check out why he’s king, go to B Spot Burgers, which has five locations in the Cleveland area, including the Horseshoe Casino. If you’re winning, you probably want an awesome burger. And if you’re losing, you probably want an awesome burger.

Symon is expert at meat-on-meat burgers:  the Yo! (topped with fried salami, coppa, hot peppers and provolone); Symon Says (topped with bologna, coleslaw, whip sauce and American cheese); and Symon’s personal favorite, the Fat Doug (topped with pastrami, Swiss and coleslaw). Football fans can rejoice that Symon is opening up a B Spot in Browns stadium later this summer.

The Spotted Pig - New York City
April Bloomfield’s burger is outstanding in its simplicity. Here’s how the description reads on the menu at the Pig: “Char-grilled burger with Roquefort & shoestrings.” The divinely juicy, two-handed burger on a baked-in-house bun is a secret blend created for Bloomfield by celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda. LaFrieda told New York Magazine, “We must’ve come up with 25 different blends before she chose one. Twenty-five! First she wants more short rib, then less, then more.” (I believe the mix is brisket, rump and chuck.)

There used to be a firm no substitutions rule in place; now you can order the burger without the layer of blue cheese topping. But don’t try to sub in another cheese - that’s strictly prohibited.

Father’s Office - Los Angeles, California
There are two places to get chef Sang Yoon’s outstanding burger: Santa Monica and Culver City, in Los Angeles. The Office Burger is topped with applewood bacon compote, caramelized onions, both Gruyère and Maytag blue cheese (why aren't more places brilliantly combining two kinds of cheese on a burger?), and, because this is California, arugula. Yoon uses a blend of dry aged beef for his burgers, which ups the meatiness quotient; that bacon compote helps too. Yoon is another chef who doesn’t believe in burger substitutions: There’s a no-ketchup policy in place.

If you visit their website and click on the Office Supplies tab, you can find F.O. skateboards for sale as well as F.O. Periodic Table Beer T-shirts. “We feel that great beer is an essential element of life,” they explain.

Shake Shack - New York City; Miami; Washington, DC; Westport, Connecticut; Philadelphia; and other locations
It’s kind of hard to believe that lines have been forming at the original Madison Square Park kiosk since 2004, or before that if you count the time before the “shack,” when it was just a cart. Now you can use the website’s real-time Shack Cam to see just how long that line is.

Depending on the location and the cooker, some burgers will be better seared than others, but at their best, a single patty Shack Burger - made with hormone-free beef with melted American cheese spilling over the top of it, plus crisp lettuce, tomato and the all-important Shack Sauce - is a great thing. The newest location in Philadelphia is the only one to feature the new SmokeShack: a cheeseburger topped with Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and, of course, that Shack Sauce.

More from Food & Wine

Best Burgers in the U.S.

America’s Most Over-the-Top Burgers

Best Pizza in the U.S.

America's Best Bars

Summer Grilling Recipes

All National Cheeseburger Day coverage

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: April Bloomfield • Burgers • Celebrity Chefs • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Linton Hopkins • Michael Symon • Restaurants • Sang Yoon

soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. artbrew

    In Fort Worth, Texas Fred's Texas Cafe has the Diablo Burger, I love the flavor and the sauce, Pop's would be my next choice

    July 3, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  2. nobody

    In & Out burgers is missing.
    This list is incomplete KATE!!!

    July 2, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  3. maty

    Mr.Bartley's Burger Cottage, Harvard Square. No joke.

    July 2, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  4. Jerry Sandusky

    I think Anderson Cooper knows great burger joints where they brown the meat quite well.

    July 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  5. Rob

    Not even close! The best burger is from Local Dive in My Town, USA! Hands down!

    July 2, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Jerry Sandusky

      Really- you need to try my "special" seasoning. Just give me some young meat, I'll season it just right with the perfect amount of mayo.

      July 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  6. Vegan Surfer Dude

    Did you know that it takes 52 gallons of water to produce ONE 1/4 lb. hamburger? That's from the feedlot to your fat stomach. Think about it.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Ethan

      Don't care. Meat taste damn good and I will always eat it. I don't care what they do to the animals (to a certain extent) or what you say. By the way, my wife is vegan.

      July 3, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  7. Heather

    Hands down...In n Out!

    July 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  8. brian Monosso

    The best Burger in America is mine, I make it the way I want and love it. People, cook for yourselves.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Fritz

      Absolutely! I too am my own burgermeister! Grilled chuck with a grilled Italian sausage pattie with fried bacon strips all dripping with melted monterey jack and extra sharp cheddar topped with lettuce, onion, tomato, tiny strips of jalapeno with yellow mustard with a touch of mayo and horseradish sauce on a baked sesame seed sour dough bun made from my bread machine. I call it my Ozark Bigfoot Burger. Then there is my Ozark Bigfoot Burrito!.........

      July 3, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  9. RZ70

    What an amazingly arbitrary list. No apparent unifying criteria. No particular interest in portion. I'm sure these are all fine burger places, I'm just not certain this is much of an article. Maybe my 8 year old would be interested in writing an article called 'the best weekly menu.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  10. Welshwind

    The best hamburger deal going is the $5 burger at Zest in Downers Grove, IL. Neiman Ranch beef, truffled mayo, $5!!! with fries. Check it out if you are in the neighborhood.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Welshwind

      Oops ... forgot to say it is Monday nights. Otherwise, it is $9... still a good deal, but not the steal it is on Monday nights!

      July 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  11. Don

    The bacon Bomb burger is the best...

    July 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  12. Pat Gray

    I have eaten burgers at a couple of these places; but the best burger I have ever eaten was at the Teepee Restaurant in Talkeetna, Alaska. Should I have the choice to eat burgers the rest of my life: This is where I would choose to eat them.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  13. Fiona

    Just ate a delicious veggie burger for dinner (Dr. praeger's brand from Trader Joe's). Who needs meat?

    I've seen people chewing down those humongous burgers at The Spotted Pig and I thought they looked disgusting.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Dave

      Go away.

      July 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Randy

      Go away.

      July 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Mark


      July 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Homer S.

      Salad? Salad isn't food, salad is what food eats!

      July 3, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Ethan

      They may look disgusting to you, but they taste damn good!


      July 3, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  14. Jason Deter

    Best hamburger around is the 5 dollar double star combo at Carl's Jr.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Ethan

      LOL! You have a lot of living to do still my friend....

      Carl's Jr? In and Out? I've been to EVERY fast food place for burgers and they are just overproduced and generic.

      Are they good? Sure. Are they the best? Heck no.

      July 3, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • JoeD

      Ethan- your "foodie" is showing. It's not necessarily how many different flavors ["layers"] or the highest quality of ingredients used, it's often how tasty something is when using "the least of" ingredients... I say this as someone who has eaten in great restaurants all over the world

      July 3, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  15. Algonquin J. Calhoun

    Saw this exact same list last year. At least CNN isn't screwing up like the Supreme Court decision on Health Care. Thanks CNN! You got it right two years in a row, especially since all the places you mention are where you have bureaus in the US. Wonder why Atlanta is first? Check out Coyote Bluff in Amarillo. Get there early.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  16. skwirrl

    Not impressed. Sacramento has like 10 different burgers that could be on a best burger list. Meh.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

      My favorite was always Ford' good! Messy but wonderful! I miss Sac!

      July 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  17. Roger


    July 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  18. Derrick Johnson

    The White Castle in Detroit. Between the liquor store and the chicken and pizza spot, right across the street from the check cashing place. Best burgers I've ever had, that's why I eat them every day. I chase them down with some Hennessy and I'm good to go.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Ethan

      White Castle!! LOL! Another fast food place (included Carls Jr and In and Out) that people keep mentioning.

      I'm sorry, it doesn't hold a candle to some of the burgers I've had from the good places in cities.

      White Castle is nothing but generic drive-thru fast food.

      July 3, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  19. ungroov

    cookout?? no love? only in NC.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  20. Mr. Morgan

    Wineburger in Phoenix, AZ is my fav. Cooked with Sangria Wine, these burgers are sooo juicy and flavorful... Damn, I'm making my self hungry thinking about it!

    July 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  21. Markham

    Father's Office isn't even in the top 10 in LA.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  22. Joe Falone

    White Castle fries only come in one size!!!!

    July 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  23. Donnie

    To all of those voting for What-a-Burgers and In-N-Out burgers...

    You need to go to a real burger joint. Those places are only a half-step above Burger King. Seriously, do yourselves a favor and go to a good $12 burger joint... You'll thank me later..

    July 2, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • bgg1175

      You can buy microwavable burgers that are better than Burger King. Burger King is horrible!

      July 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Heather

      Just because In N Out is cheap doesn't mean it's not the best...because IT IS! :)

      July 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
      • Ethan

        I've been to In-n-Out a million times and they are good... but the BEST? Come on! They are drive-thru fast food at best. I agree with the above comment... they are just a few steps above places like Burger King.

        July 3, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  24. Ted Wu, Los Angeles

    For us non-cheese eaters, or non-cheese lovers, all the burgers pictured with the oozing yellow substance are so unappetizing. Yech!

    July 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Dave

      WHY? Because the vast majority of burger eaters like cheese on their burger, is that difficult? A very small fringe group minority don't like cheese. I can't wait for the non-bread eaters to pipe in complaining that they had to look at a bun. We already had one moron vegetarian complain about meat in an article about BURGERS! (see above)

      July 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Ian

      See Dave's reply to Fiona, Ted. You're in the same porous boat, weakened by lack of flavourfully awesome heart-stopping artery-choking slobber-inducing shirt-wrecking so-good-it-makes-me-weak fat. Mmmmmmmm, fat.

      Love to see people touting their town's best, too, it's just like Triple D – makes me wanna go there! Next up for us is going to be Austin, Texas – where's the best place to eat there?

      July 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  25. Bburger

    Dutch's at TCU is much better than Kincaid's, sorry.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  26. WEEZY21

    MIGHTY FINE BURGER......AUSTIN, TX.....hands down the best burger I have ever eaten!!

    July 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  27. Mike

    ShakeShack is waaaaaay overrated.
    Ray's Hellburgers in Arlington, VA makes ShakeShack burgers look like McDonald's cheeseburgers.
    As a matter of fact they need to be on this list.

    Hands down..

    July 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  28. JungleQueen

    Why was Whataburger not listed?

    July 2, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Donnie

      Because it's basically McDonalds.

      July 2, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  29. Traveler

    Hodad's. San Diego. Done. =)

    July 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  30. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Grilled on Sunday in 94 degree heat. Best chicken and steak I ever made. Proud of that one.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  31. w2lucky

    Helvetia Tavern – 20 minutes west of Portland, Oregon makes the best burger this world-traveling military guy has ever tasted.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Reenie

      Hell Yeah!

      July 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  32. SixthTaste

    Umami burger!

    July 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  33. Galaxy Prime

    If it's not flame/charcoal grilled, it's not worth eating.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Agreed. George Foreman grill meat = garbage.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • stereotype killer

      false, the 2inch thick steel grills that have been seasoned for decades are the best, nothing else forms a crust as good as an old commercial grade steel top

      July 2, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  34. 68 Wildcat

    The Owl Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico - fantastic Green Chile Cheeseburger!

    July 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  35. tokuiten

    Burger Island in Dallas should be on this list. Nothing else compares.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • mojojo

      Humor me...where is it and what's so special about it? I have never heard of it, but am willing to listen should you be convincing enough.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
      • Pat

        Your condescending, arrogant remark is humorous to me. Get over yourself.

        July 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  36. PantyRaid

    CNN needs to cover the new zombie attack that just happened in China! A bus driver went out of control and ripped off a woman's face with his teeth!

    July 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  37. Adam

    They ran this exact same article a year ago. Even had the same pitcure

    July 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Dave

      You are having a flashback from the mushrooms on your burger......

      July 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  38. Jodi

    If anyone lives in the Panhandle of FL, I would recommend Tucker Duke's Lunchbox in Destin and Niceville, FL. They make THE BEST burgers, and I have lived everywhere...

    July 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  39. FATAmerican

    OMG, this explains all the overweight, obese American. You people are an embarrassment when you travel abroad. Most of you can't even fit in airplane seat. You should eat less!!

    July 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Jodi

      Not necessarily eat less, but everything in moderation. I'm American. I run 40-80 miles a week. I enjoy chocolate, beer, wine, and hamburgers. I just enjoy them in moderation. Meaning 1-2 times a month, I will go to my favorite burger joint and have a hamburger and sweet potato fries. The problem with many modern Americans, they don't practice MODERATION.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        I have been known to dine on Taco Bell, Burger King, and drink only beer for weeks. Many thought I went to the gym everyday. Never made a run further than for beer. Everyone is built differently.

        July 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
      • skwirrl

        You should probably try running in moderation. You'll die faster than a lot these fat people if you're clocking 80 miles a week. 40 is reasonable.

        July 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
      • Jodi

        Well, my doctor tells me differently. She says I'm pretty healthy for a 36 year old.

        July 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  40. Idaho Steve

    One more Idaho spot – CK'S Real Food in Hailey Idaho (Sun Valleyish) – the best!

    July 2, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  41. JL

    it begins and ends with 5 Guys!

    July 2, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Justin Bieber agrees.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
      • Dave


        July 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Scott

      5 Guys and a Burger is the best out there for a chain.

      July 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
      • Ethan

        Agreed. But they are far from the best from a local or non-chain place. People keep saying chain places on here.... STOP!

        STOP with the Carl's Jr, In-n-Out, 5 Guys, White Castle, etc..... they are NOT the best. I have eaten at ALL of them and had better burgers than that.

        July 3, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  42. M.E.

    Interstate at least has the best I've found in Denver. It's about the only place I go and pick a burger off a full proper menu. I mean really, how boring is it to go out to a nice place and order a lump of ground meat? Grow up to the good stuff, kids.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  43. john

    I live and work in Cleveland and I must say the B-spot is a fantastic spot. The Burgers are wonderful and the quality of meat is better than most steaks. Also the beer selection is great and the rosemary fries are to die for. Finish it off for one of the best milk shakes in town and you can't lose (weight).

    July 2, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  44. Anomic Office Drone

    Hahaha. The burger from California uses Gruyère and Maytag blue cheese, and the author singled out the arugula as pretentious part. Really?

    July 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  45. Izoto

    No In n' Out Burger?

    July 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Ethan

      No. There are MUCH better.

      July 3, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  46. Jerry

    What no In N out Burgers by far the best fast food burger you can get.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • varun

      Compared to what? Have you ever been out of SoCal? Tired of all these more ons calling In n out the best burger. I call it a thousand island salad in a bun.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
      • deb

        I have to agree. Before In-n-Out became a big chain it was pretty good. Now it's just "okay". I prefer Red Robin! Actually, I prefer bbq'd in the backyard! Better all around! You can add anything you want to the burger!

        July 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
      • skwirrl

        He did note fast food burger. I think it warrants discussion for that.

        July 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Ethan

      WRONG. If you are talking strictly "fast food" burgers, then 5 Guys beats In-n-Out.

      July 3, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  47. Jon

    Once again, you missed Hudson's burgers in Coeur d'Alene, Id. 100 year tradition by the Hudson family. People come from all over the country for them. I even took 3 to Michigan by request-no matter they were cold!!! Come on people-get with the program!!!

    July 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      And all the Skin Heads one can handle. No thanks.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
      • skwirrl

        Keeps the town nice. Nobody wants to eat with people that stink like feet and talk over everybody's conversation. Seriously it's one of the best reasons to move there.

        July 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
        • Ethan

          And nobody wants you here either. FOOL.

          July 3, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  48. Kari Kaur

    In-n-Out grilled chesse burgers!!

    July 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  49. Patrick

    Not very good reporting....the Miami Beach Shake Shake location does have the SmokeShack....I know because I had it yesterday!! It is the best!!

    July 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  50. BurgerFreak

    Mooyah Burger: Dallas, Texas. Best burger on the damn planet.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • mojojo

      Mooyah doesn't do anything for me. Sorry. Kincaid's in Fort Worth everytime. Should I find myself in Dallas, I will go with Burger House.

      July 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
      • BurgerFreak

        Burger House is good, but there is nothing like a Mooyah with cheddar, raw onions, tomatoes, bacon, pickles and extra A1. Jakes has awesome burgers too and Scotty P's has the best onion rings...Dang, I'm getting hungry!!!

        July 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
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