The All-American burger is more than just a patty of ground beef, it’s the perfect sandwich – and restaurants that take the time to transform this humble meal into something spectacular are getting more attention than ever. From crazy burgers like the Fat Elvis at the ROK:BRGR burger bars in Florida, to the famous whiskey burger at the Flying Saucer in Memphis, restaurateurs are offering up unexpected delights from Maine to California. Here are a few of our favorites:
ROK:BRGR, run by executive chef Robbyns Martinez, has already received numerous awards, including Top 50 Restaurants in South Florida from the Miami Herald. Chef Robbyns’ Fat Elvis is a twist on Elvis Presley’s trademark favorite sandwiches, with creamy peanut butter, smoked pepper bacon and locally-sourced strawberry jam, on top of a carefully grilled 10-ounce patty. The patties themselves aren’t just ordinary ground beef, and they don’t come out of the freezer pre-formed. They are hand-crafted, and feature a blend of Angus beef and American Wagyu beef.
It’s no surprise that folks over in Texas know a thing or two about beef. At Cannon + Belle in Austin, Texas, we see locally-sourced beef in the Belle Burger, which is 50 percent chuck, 25 percent brisket and 25 percent short rib, creating a taste that is pure Texas and tastes better than any hamburger has a right to taste. For that little extra zing, it’s topped with house-made pimento cheddar cheese, habanero bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion, on a fresh pretzel bun. What’s even more special about Cannon + Belle is it’s right in downtown Austin just a block away from 6th Street.
There must be something in the air in Austin, because there are so many great restaurants with spectacularly unique burgers. Launderette’s Plancha Burger was also named in Thrillist’s 100 Best Burgers in America. Named after the Spanish word for “griddle,” the ground beef has a nicely finished crust, is exquisitely juicy, and placed on traditional challa bread. It’s one of the restaurant’s favorites, and chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki are both James Beard Award nominees in the category of Best New Restaurant.
Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nellysford, Virginia has a great story to go with their great burger (and beer, too!). It’s not unusual for breweries to send their spent grain to local farmers to use as feed, but Wild Wolf takes it a step further. Their grain feeds local cows, and then they buy back the cows to turn into burgers! Those burgers are hand-grown every day, and to make it even more interesting, the buns are made fresh also using the brewery’s spent grain. Served with local greens and tomatoes, it’s truly an experience not to be missed, at this beautiful restaurant right at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in Nashville deserves to be on the list for the creative name alone, but their burgers are truly out of this world. Every single thing on the menu is praiseworthy, but two burgers stand out – the San Miguel, and the Whiskey Burger. The San Miguel blends grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free cattle from Texas with chorizo sausage, an usual combination that gives this one a unique flavor. It’s topped with queso fresco, pico de gallo, tobacco mayo, avocado, and a sunny-side-up egg. Try breaking the egg yolk when you get it, and let it combine with the mayo and avocado – it’s a combination that can’t be replicated anywhere else! The Whiskey Burger is a perfectly balanced mix tangy and sweet, with grass-fed beef with whiskey cheddar, mustard, lettuce, and candied bacon and blackberry compote.
Another win for Nashville is the Capitol Grille, located on the Hermitage Trail. The restaurant dates back to 1910, and is the epitome of true Southern simplicity. Their burgers – as well as their steaks – are locally sourced from the Double H Farm, and the beautiful Capitol Grille Burger includes white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, and their special Hermitage Hotel sauce, with a bun topped with benne seeds. It’s some of the best in Southern cuisine the great state of Tennessee has to offer.
We really love the Landmass Burger at MGM Resorts International’s Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Beau Rivage is a sister property to the Bellagio – one of our favorite destinations in Las Vegas! Executive Chef Kristian Wade takes social responsibility seriously, and is active in creating more sustainable food offerings. Chef Kristian created the Landmass Burger after attending a conference no food sustainability, where it was noted that if we continue current food production practices and consumption habits, we won’t be able to feed the world’s population. Landmass Burger blends 25 percent cremini, button, and portabella mushrooms with 75 percent angus beef, then tops it off with American cheese, sweet onions, Mississippi tomato fondue, and his signature Landmass sauce.
Some of the best burgers in America come with the most creative names, and at The Rabbit Hole in San Diego, you can enjoy a Ground Chuck Norris for a real kick in the face. The Ground Chuck Norris takes the burger concept to the next level, with their wonderful Louie dressing, and a delightful little addition with a bacon-wrapped, smoked, chicken-stuffed jalapeno on top. You can even get a “Ground Chuck Norris” tee-shirt while you’re there!
One of the best toppings ever for a burger is freshly-roasted green chile, and Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to the “Mother of All Green Chile Cheeseburgers” at the Cowgirl Santa Fe. Located in a hundred-year-old building in the historic Guadalupe district, the Mother of All Green Chile Cheeseburgers is made anti antibiotic and hormone-free, grass-fed, grain finished, custom ground beef, with locally-raised buffalo and Applewood smoked bacon, in a pretzel bun with melted brie, plenty of green chile, some heirloom tomato and a bit of truffle oil, served up with hand-cut truffle fries. It’s an intensely-flavorful burger, a frequent award-winner, and a must-try when you’re traveling through New Mexico.
San Francisco is known for some of the best restaurants in the world, and the Bluestem Brasserie downtown shouldn’t be missed. Their Bluestem Burger tops a grass-fed beef patty with hash browns, a breakfast sausage patty and bacon, white cheddar, rosemary grilled onions, and you can even add a fried egg and avocado. Be sure to come hungry! The restaurant is located right on Market Street, and it received three stars last year from the San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer. To make it even more special, you can enjoy this gastronomic delight on the rooftop terrace of this wonderful restaurant.