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The 20 Best Burgers in the World

by Our Editors

Bring your appetite...these are the best burgers in the world.

With the amount of buzz given to a presidential and VP visit to this unassuming hamburger joint across the river from D.C., you’d expect Ray’s Hell Burger to have its own poster by Shepard Fairey. A bit of a dive in all the best, classic, retro ways, the place is tucked into a mini mall that never has enough parking for the lines of people. Every other business sharing the lot has a hand-lettered sign saying some version of “No Burgers Here” plus a helpful arrow pointing to Ray’s. You’re not visiting the large, basically unadorned, tin-ceilinged room for ambiance—the tables are long, communal picnic style with trays of condiment bottles and rolls of paper towels you’ll ask to be passed several times to staunch the juicy flow. Stand in line, step up to the counter, order, and take your number back to the table. Your share of seared decadence is on its way. The basic “Hell Burger” is 10 oz. of carnivore heaven: hand trimmed, freshly ground, seasoned, aged beef cooked to order (the recommended temp maintains a warm, red center) on an oversized, toasted brioche. Lettuce and tomato are standard, a variety of pickle choices and other vegetal toppings come at no charge, as does the fiery “Piranhha Sauce” if you want some extra kick. The cheese selection starts at the usual suspects like cheddar or Swiss, and sashays through an international list including double cream Brie, Danish Bleu, and even Époisse de Bourgogne. Add truffle oil, applewood smoked bacon, cognac and sherry sautéed mushrooms, “au poivre” peppercorn crust, or roasted bone marrow if you’re feeling fancy, but leave the nice clothes at home and roll up your sleeves like Obama and Biden—a Hell Burger will definitely be dripping down your wrists. Fries (sweet potato or original), homemade coleslaw, and seven-cheese mac are all on offer, but prove extraneous, as you’ll have a hard time finishing the burger itself. 1713 Wilson Blvd. Tel: 703-841-0001.
Andrew Mersmann

Say “Bravo” and the gays will come. Well, that’s what happened when Top Chef Chicago’s runner-up, Richard Blais, gave Atlanta something completely different to offer rather than the city’s famous fried chicken. Located on the emerging Howell Mill Road, Flip, a modern “boutique” burger joint, delivers slider-sized burgers of a creative variety: there’s everything from the signature beef burger using short ribs, hanger steak, and brisket, to the Korean BBQ burger with kimchee ketchup or the chorizo with spicy pork sausage and fried egg. The scene is something Atlanta hasn’t really seen: an upbeat mix of in-the-know hipsters, gays on a date, families on a night out, local Tech students, and everything in between. If you’re not sugar drunk off of their popular milkshakes (banana pudding to pistachio with white truffle), you can wash down the inventive burgers with Atlanta’s finest local beverage: Coca-Cola. 1587 Howell Mill Road Northwest. Tel: 404-343-1609. www.flipburgerboutique.com
Jimmy Im

If you are looking for an incredible experience to go with your delicious burger, you can’t do better than the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. The hotel’s outdoor dining option, The Verandah, overlooks the River of Kings and offers breathtaking views of Bangkok, especially at night. Guests are surrounded by landscaped gardens and can hear the subtle, yet calming, sound of water as it trickles from a nearby fountain. The burger itself is juicy, hearty, and tender—everything that a great hamburger should be. Unsurprisingly, it’s served with perfectly seasoned, crispy French fries, which complement the beef. If you need anything else, the hotel’s flawless staff will appear (seemingly out of nowhere) bowing slightly and addressing you by name. For those that feel guilty about ordering something so Western in Asia, ask for the mango sticky rice for dessert. You’ll be glad you did. 48 Oriental Avenue. Tel: +66-2-659-9000. www.mandarinoriental.com
Nikki Dowling

If there’s one place where you can look good behind bars it’s at The Liberty Hotel in Boston, housed within the iconic 19th-century Charles Street Jail (a hot spot for celebrities, politicians, Red Sox players, and local socialites). At CLINK, Liberty’s signature restaurant, vestiges of original jail cells create cozy nooks for experiencing executive chef Joseph Margate’s masterful burger, considered one of the best burgers in New England. Served only at lunch, the CLINK Beef Burger features the state’s best grass-fed beef and is dressed up in Vermont cheddar cheese and Basque peppers with a side of skinny fries and—we hope—a nail file. 215 Charles St. Tel: 617-224-4000. www.libertyhotel.com
Jimmy Im

For the best burger in the Big D, book a table at celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s Craft Dallas. Located in W Dallas-Victory, Craft’s vibrant atmosphere and delicious food make it the place to visit on your next trip. The high-ceilinged, spacious dining room makes for an enjoyable, intimate experience, while the brown hues and the teardrop pendant lighting give the room a cozy vibe. People may come for the atmosphere, but they stay for the food. All the ingredients are fresh and local, which is essential for a delicious hamburger. The burger here is monstrous. It’s hard to take a bite of the whole thing, but try. The layers work harmoniously. The large patty is blanketed by melted white cheddar and decorated with crispy applewood bacon. The whole package is nestled between two gorgeously toasted buns. After you lick the last glob of ketchup off your face, you may think you can’t stomach another bite of food, but Colicchio’s French fries will keep you nibbling. The hand-cut potatoes are seasoned with roasted garlic and salt. Be warned: quickly eat these fries before your dinner companions grab them all. 2440 Victory Park Lane. Tel: 214-397-4111. www.craftrestaurant.com
Joseph Pedro

Gallo Pinto, smashed red beans and rice, is Nicaragua’s national dish and an inexpensive staple of most family meals, but eating it in burger form? At the new, super green, Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Chef Calley Prezzano creates a protein powerhouse with her Gallo Pinto burger. It is a favorite offering of the all-inclusive meal and beverage plan at this secluded island hideaway. The beans and rice are seasoned with cumin and garlic, molded into a patty using eggs, then quickly seared and placed on a warm bun and topped with sautéed onions. Organic Nicaraguan cheese can be added, but don’t look for the Heinz. Instead, Prezzano offers tangy banana ketchup made with banana vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon. Bonus: the side of ginger coleslaw is so crunchy, you don’t miss French fries. Your meal is served in the resort’s small, open-air, cedar-wood dining room, with views across the water. The only sounds diners hear are forks scraping plates and birds chirping as they fly over Lake Nicaragua. Isletas Lake Granada. Tel: +505-2552-6353. www.jicarolodge.com
Chanize Thorpe

At 25 Degrees, the more reasonably priced relative of the Roosevelt Hotel’s Dakota steak house, hamburgers not only take center stage, they are every bit as captivating as the stars that frequent the place. The burgers at 25 Degrees stand out for one simple reason—the ingredients. You start with a high quality, 9 oz. sirloin burger served on an airy, brioche-like bun and from there you make the burger you want your way by choosing from an extensive list of toppings that includes boutique palate pleasers like arugula, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, and Portobello mushrooms, as well as a wide range of unusual cheeses like Prellibato Gorgonzola from Italy, Red Hawk and Mezzo Seco Jack from Northern California, and Benedictine from Wisconsin. Then, top the meaty goodness off with one of the restaurant’s twelve different sauces ranging from tarragon remoulade or garlic aioli to gallego and horseradish cream, and you’ve got an award-worthy burger. The only downside to 25 Degrees is actually the eatery’s upside as well. The place is so hot, everybody wants in, and parking in Hollywood can be tough, especially on weekends. The other slightly problematic issue at 25 Degrees is that reservations aren’t accepted, which can at times translate into long lines for the relatively small burger bar at peak hours. That said, it’s worth the wait for a burger that redefines this American classic. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd. Tel: 323-785-7244. www.25degreesrestaurant.com
Duane Wells

Just after checking into my hotel in Bangkok during a recent visit, my local expat friend, Stuart, suggested we meet at MOS Burger, a Japanese chain slowly spreading across Asia, in the upscale CentralWorld mall. Fast food for my first lunch in Thailand, Stuart? Really? “You’ve got to try one!” he enthused. Perusing the menu, this indeed was no McDonald’s (to which MOS is second most popular). Several offerings came served between two slabs of rice instead of a bun, plus pork, chicken, seafood, “katsu,” spicy, and teriyaki variations. I ordered the signature “MOS Burger,” and after about ten minutes’ worth of people watching, from the bright and clean venue’s front section, it arrived: not quite as petite as a slider, yet more compact than full-sized burgers, in an unfolded paper wrapper—almost drive-in style. Chopped raw onions, an admittedly unattractive off-red “Bolognese” sauce, and a bit of mayo bulged between a chunky tomato slice and the meat patty. The burger’s texture was unique, unlike the ground beef we’re used to, nicely balanced by the crispy onions and sauces. A messy affair barely contained by the paper, it’s tasty, different, and addictive, without that typical greasy, fast food linger. A week later, in Taipei, I was back for more. I keep making time for MOS whenever I’m in Asia as something new and inventive, like chopped octopus and “Three Prawn” burgers entailing three fried shrimp, always awaits my return. www.mos.co.jp/english
Lawrence Ferber

Chef Laurent Tourondel’s Las Vegas outpost is a multi-leveled, always hopping place with amazingly friendly service and just-at-the-right-level Rock ‘n’ Roll music. The most interesting choice on a menu that ranges from juicy “regular” burgers to lamb Tandoori and spicy turkey burgers is the Atlantic salmon burger, in which Tourondel spins off the classic in an entirely new direction. With a slightly crusty exterior and rich, melt-in-your-mouth center, the salmon burger has a hint of spice from the cayenne tartar sauce and a texture enhanced by smooth avocado slices and a crunchy touch of watercress. Wash it down with one of their amazing milkshakes: Twinkie Boy (adorned by a mini-Twinkie), Campfire Marshmallows (you can actually taste the toasted marshmallows in it), or sinful Mocha Mudslide. Mirage Resort, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Tel: 702-792-7888. www.bltburger.com
Rich Rubin

Situated on London’s main gay drag, the original Balans is practically a Soho institution. The generous opening hours (from 8 A.M. till 5 A.M. on weekends) makes this the perfect pit stop for a traditional English breakfast, a chi-chi lunch, pre-theatre cocktails, or a post-clubbing food fix. The menu, like the clientele, is eclectic and international, but the signature Balans Burger is the choice option. Weighing in at 10 oz., it’s one of the biggest burgers in London, and comes topped with bacon and cheddar cheese, plus fries and a salad garnish for £10.50. It’s sure to satisfy your British beef cravings! Boasting cute and friendly waiters, nightclub-style décor, a booming sound system, and an eye-catching crowd, Balans is not just a place to eat, it’s a place to be seen eating. Which perhaps explains why the likes of Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse have been snapped here recently. 60 Old Compton Street, Soho. Tel: +020-7439-2183. www.balans.co.uk
Stuart Haggas

Moments from the hustle of London’s famous Camden Market, Haché is a little bite of hamburger heaven. Suzie and Berry Casey opened this homely, bistro-style burger restaurant in 2004, aiming to produce the best and most innovative burgers. They’ve since received accolades from renowned chef Marco Pierre White, five-star reviews from newspapers like The Sunday Times and The Guardian, and currently hold Time Out magazine’s “best burger restaurant in London” award. As the name suggests, Haché’s 100% Scottish beef steak isn’t ground or minced, it’s chopped in the French style, grilled to order, and served in a soft ciabatta bun. The unadorned 6 oz. version is £6.95, or for £8.95 there’s a world tour of toppings that include “Catalan” (chorizo sausage and chilli jam), “Sicilian” (parma ham and mozzarella cheese), and exotic “Le Raj” (coated in curry spices, and served with an onion bhaji and mango chutney). There are also chicken, lamb, and fish versions, while vegetarians can enjoy gigantic Portobello mushrooms or falafel burgers. Visiting on a busy Sunday, the “All Day Breakfast” burger, dressed with bacon, Portobello mushroom, and a fried egg, was a popular and perfect brunch choice. 24 Inverness Street. Tel:+020-7485-9100 (there’s also a new branch on Fulham Road in Chelsea). www.hacheburgers.com
Stuart Haggas

Take a break from the ‘roo with one of the most talked about burgers in Melbourne. Australia’s hippest city (young and international with a growing culinary scene) is home to the $15 wagyu burger at Rockpool Bar&Grill at Crown Casino. While mostly a hot spot for tourists, locals remain dedicated to this restaurant that was, in fact, inspired by the great steakhouses of North America. The wagyu beef is sourced directly from the farmers and dry aged on premises so the Rockpoolers have total control of the meat (it is perhaps the most “authentic” with no growth hormones or antibiotic feed supplements involved). Juicy and fresh with bacon, Gruyere cheeses, and Zuni pickles, this burger will have you amped up for a long night out in Melbourne’s creative nightlife scene. 8 Whiteman St. Tel: +03-8648-1900. www.rockpool.com.au
Jimmy Im

Yale University, deemed “The Gay Ivy” by the Wall Street Journal, offers plenty of undergraduate allure, but New Haven’s most tempting hunk of beefcake resides just off campus: the Original Burger at Louis’ Lunch. Louis’ is a tiny, squat, red brick hobbit hut of a luncheonette, with a major claim to fame. Four generations of the Lassen family have run the business since Great Grandpa founded it in 1895, and when they call their burger “original” they’re not kidding. Lore has it that America’s first hamburger was served here when a harried regular rushed in and asked for his normally plated ground steak “to go.” At that less hurried, pre-styrofoam-box time, Louis himself is said to have improvised by placing the meat between two slices of white toast, inadvertently altering the American diet forever. That toast, offering a light, dry crunch of resistance to the teeth before yielding to a moist, intensely beefy patty is part of what makes this burger so memorable and craveworthy. The beef, carved and ground on-site every day and cooked medium rare, is loosely packed, so it crumbles on the tongue, adding another remarkable layer of texture to the experience. So proud are the Lassens of their burgers that condiments are kept to a minimum. Ask for ketchup and you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a hostile squirt of bright red string from a joke shop squeeze bottle. Except on Fridays, when tuna sandwiches are available, $5 hamburgers are your only entrée option. Also, no fries, ever. As the sign over the counter says: “This is not Burger King. You don’t get it your way. You take it my way.” Bossy, beefy, and delicious: The Original Dom-Burger! 261-263 Crown Street, New Haven. Tel: 203-562-5507. www.louislunch.com
Jim Gladstone

Night owls revel in the notorious Meatpacking District of Manhattan but when it comes to late-night dining, options have always been lackluster. Enter the new Bill’s Bar & Burger (opened October 2009 in the former Hog Pit). A new concept by Stephen Hanson of B.R. Guest Restaurants, the comfortable, no-frills burger joint is open until midnight during the week (til 2 A.M. on Thursdays) and 4 A.M. on weekends. Don’t expect diner food. The special blend beef (by Pat LaFrieda Meat Company) was in creation for two years and is nothing less than the perfect burger any time of the day: juicy and flavorful and messy and fun. While families head to the restaurant during the day, a diverse range of clientele shacks up at the gingham tabletops at night. Expect local fashionistas, international travelers (the restaurant sits between Gansevoort, Soho House, and Standard hotels), and, above all, burger lovers. Burgers range from $6.50 to $8.95 and they go great with their hand-dipped, premium, ice cream shakes. 22 9th Ave. Tel: 212-414-3003. www.brguestrestaurants.com
Jimmy Im

This bustling eatery, located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, attracts a mix of Broadway show audiences as well as locals, who come for the array of creative, juicy burgers—nearly all of which require, as you might guess, more than one napkin. The namesake Five Napkin hamburger is a joyously messy affair, drowned in Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and rosemary aioli. Creative alternatives include the Italian turkey burger, which is draped with melted mozzarella and spicy, thick tomato sauce, and the lamb kofta burger, a Mediterranean-influenced creation adorned with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and onions. Freshly made French fries round out the meal. The ambiance at the original Hell’s Kitchen location features gleaming white tiles that line the walls, and spotlessly clean meat hooks hanging from the ceilings. A second location, which has opened on the Upper West Side, makes it that much easier for uptowners to get their fix. 45th Street and 9th Avenue. Tel: 212-757-2277; Broadway and 84th Street. Tel: 212-333-4488. www.fivenapkinburger.com
Mark Chesnut

On anything even remotely resembling a nice day, the line snaking through Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, diagonally across from 23rd Street’s Flatiron Building, always leads to one place: Shake Shack. Word got out a while back that restaurateur Danny Meyer’s unassuming, tree-surrounded snack stand concocted the city’s best burger, and after a year of walking past hour-long queues, I isolated an off-peak period on weekday afternoons. After placing an order, an electronic pager was handed over, and maybe five minutes later it vibrated. The Shack Burger is a spin on the Americana drive-through classic, served in paper with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a special sauce, but what truly distinguishes it is a potato bun and ground sirloin-brisket beef combination. Frankly, it’s incredible: juicy, savory, perfectly grilled, the true incarnation of an icon, as if yanked from our collective dreams. This is exactly what a burger should taste like, perhaps better. The Shack is where I bring, or direct, every international visitor in search of the perfect American burger. Lines are profoundly shorter at Shack’s second, indoor, Upper West Side location, although it means sacrificing the joy of sitting at a small park table or bench while consuming your delectable booty. Madison Square Park. Tel: 212-889-6600; 366 Columbus Ave. Tel: 646-747-8770. www.shakeshack.com
Lawrence Ferber

The best thing about the vegan burger at Philadelphia’s Mi Lah Vegetarian: it doesn’t try to imitate meat. Rather, this intriguingly delicious burger, made from marinated, ground seitan (a wheat gluten product), has a uniquely satisfying character; deep, smoky, and barbecue-y, with a smooth, slightly chewy texture that’s somewhere between clams and chick peas (but better than either). From its late 2008 opening, Mi Lah has been a hit with Philadelphia’s non-carnivorous crowd and an increasing number of meat-eaters as well, presenting vegan cuisine in a proud, never-apologetic manner. Asia’s certainly present here, from the Eastern statuary and Indian Buddhist name denoting nature, harmony, and happiness, but the menu travels the globe, from Moroccan peanut stew to black bean-stuffed yucca tarts. Best of all is the chef’s reinterpretation of the classic American dish: the burger. Toss in some chunky, spicy, and amazing sweet potato fries, and it’s a satisfying, creative, and multi-layered piece of perfection. 218 South 16th St., Tel: 215-732-8888. www.milahvegetarian.com
Rich Rubin


It may be surprising to some that one of the best burgers in the world can be found in this northern capital. Nestled between whale watching ships and an old sailor hangout along Reykjavík’s harbor, you will find a low-key building with over-the-top decorations, a street sign that says “Burgerjoint,” and a soulfully delicious hunk of beef. Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar is an experience. The 50s-style eatery is a feast for the senses. Christmas lights cover the ceiling, posters of classic movies and musicians dominate the walls, old magazines, books, and toys lay about the few tables, and throngs of people cram the tiny space. Though different types and sizes of burgers are offered (3 oz. to 6 oz.), most people come for the simple cheeseburger and fries, which is enough greasy goodness to keep you nice, full, and warm. They have mastered the correct blend of herbs and spices to make the beef really stand out. The meat is perfectly cooked each time, the buns are lightly toasted to give it the right crunch, the lettuce is crisp, and neither the tomato nor ketchup dominates the other flavors. After tasting Reykjavík’s best burger, it is easy to see why locals have no problem lining up outside for this Icelandic favorite. Geirsgata 1, 101. Tel: +011-354-555-1430. www.bullan.is
Manny Santiago

Those prone to indecision might easily be daunted by the endless choices at Custom Burger. The understated décor is retro, and the menu lets you custom build your own burger. After selecting one of several bun options, choose from a half-dozen patties: lamb, turkey, chicken, Kobe beef, salmon, or veggie. The hard part is choosing the toppings from an enticing array on offer; grilled pineapple, roasted green chilies, black olive tapenade, sautéed mushrooms, sweet yellow onions, bacon, fried egg, etc. (Hint: include at least one “solid” topping such as tomato slices, arugula, or lettuce, etc. otherwise things get a bit sloppy.) Sauce it up with a half-dozen choices of Chipotle mayo, garlic aioli, peppercorn ranch, etc. Sides of regular and sweet potato fries, onion rings, and dessert choices fill out the meal. Oh yeah, because it adjoins Custom Lounge, you can order wine or create a custom cosmo, margarita, or martini…Ah, more unlimited choices! 121 7th St, Tel: 415-252-2634. www.jdvhotels.com
Bill Strubbe

I consider myself a burger connoisseur and believe the mark of a great restaurant is its ability to create a great burger. My favorites usually feature grass-fed beef with bacon and blue cheese, so when a friend suggested I try the burger at Veggie Grill, a new vegetarian chain in LA, I was skeptical. Halfway through one of the best “burgers” I’d ever tasted, I was asking about franchise opportunities. “The Stack” is a grilled, marinated veggie-steak, with tangy Thousand Island dressing, pickles, crisp lettuce, and tomatoes, topped with crispy onion rings and served with a side of cabbage slaw, sweet potato fries, or steamed kale. I would never have known it wasn’t made with beef—it was that tricky and delicious. Veggie Grill has built an entire menu around nutritious calories, healthy fats, and plant-based proteins like marinated tempeh and veggie protein blends. The concept may not sound sexy, but the finger-lickin’ good result is a guilt-free meal that doesn’t require a nap to digest. It’s no wonder Kelly Osborne gave a shout out to Veggie Grill when discussing her recent weight loss in Us Weekly. While the menu includes many other veggie hits, the “American Stack” is the one that makes me lie in bed drooling at the thought of it. A fifth Southern California location is opening later this year in a space formerly occupied by Sizzler—a sure sign of the growing preference towards healthy organic and plant-based nutrition. I’m happy to report that nothing on the menu is more than $10, and the West Hollywood location also just started serving beer and wine. If you’re looking for healthy eating, Veggie Grill may very well be the next big thing. Four locations in West Hollywood, El Segundo, and Irvine. www.veggiegrill.com
Paul Horne

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