The Best Burgers In The US, According To Tasting Table Staff

Over a decade ago we witnessed the dawning of the gourmet burger era and its enduring legacy has proved to be both a blessing and a curse. Of course, that hefty price tag for what was once viewed as a strictly inexpensive item can be hard to swallow. But on the flip side, the acceptance of the burger on menus of all stripes has fostered welcome innovation from high-quality beef blends to innovative protein substitutes and an endless array of accouterments.  

Thankfully, the market hasn't gone all in on luxury offerings. While you can drop a Jackson and a Franklin for a wagyu patty topped with stilton, onion jam, and a slab of pepper-crusted bacon, there are plenty of budget options at your disposal. If you're hankering for a thick and juicy specimen at a high-end restaurant, get your napkins (and wallet) ready. Prefer a plant-based alternative? Those are now in abundance. And if you're simply in the mood for a cheap and quick classic meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato combo, you can stick with the classic fast food or local greasy spoon route. With so many options to choose from, we put a call out to the Tasting Table staff and had our writers and editors share their picks for the absolute best burgers across America.  

Melanie Smashburger from Melanie Wine Bar — Allie Lebos

Los Angeles is home to several iconic burger spots that specialize in no-frills, classic preparations. However, the Melanie Smashburger puts a French twist on the American staple, and it never fails to put a smile on my face. Melanie Wine Bar is a charming and locally-loved spot situated in Beverly Grove. Though there are plenty of solid options on the menu, I can never pass up on the smashburger.

Rather than the standard toppings of American cheese and pickles, this burger is instead dressed with rich Gruyère cheese, a sweet onion jam, a fresh bed of arugula, and the decadent housemade "Melaoili." The burger comes with a side of fries, but I recommend swapping them out for the crispy tater tots. That said, my favorite way to enjoy the Melanie Smashburger is to pair it with a half-priced bottle of wine on Mondays.

Smash Burger at Bored & Hungry — Ayomari

Nowadays, there's no shortage of plant-based hamburger options. Some protein alternatives veer far outside the realm of the familiar, while others choose to remain faithful to traditional beef burgers, serving as a gateway to curious carnivores. Picking the latter approach, Beleaf Better Burgers is a pop-up fast food spot that's filling the bellies of hungry southern Californians. Cozily sandwiched between two buns is their signature Beleaf Smash Burger. To say it's loaded is to put it lightly. It comes with two smashed Impossible patties, sliced pickles, caramelized onions, and house sauce while melted cheese cascades down the sides. 

We think you will agree that it's a delicious excursion worth experiencing. If you still need convincing that plant-based patties can rival the real thing, this burger is bound to change your mind. You can sink your teeth into one by visiting the world's first Bored Ape-inspired restaurant "Bored & Hungry" in Long Beach, CA, where it comes with a side of fries.

Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern — Brendan McGinley

Listen, I dream of Emmy. I've been delighted by Donovan's, crept into Burger Joint when it was still secret, and found out the hard way why it's called Five Napkin Burger (still worth the lost shirt). I'll argue why Shake Shack objectively beats In-N-Out. I cast my vote to help Jeepney (RIP) win Battle of the Burger. All of which is to say: buddy, I know my NYC burgers, and best is a hard pick.

If you think it's easy to name the Black Label as the city's best burger, you've never lined up at Raoul's or RH. Yet, it's a universal candidate, winning the ranked-choice voting of our guts. For a burger to have effectively the same ingredients as a White Castle slider but elbow all competition offstage means one thing: the patty is the best.

Squeeze yourself into Minetta Tavern, and order meat so good its funky flavor sings its own praises. The Black Label is simplicity refined to perfection: a beef blend aged and cooked to a hot breath past rare, a thick bun sopping up juices that would be a sin to waste, and butter-caramelized onions. Is $38 a lot to spend on a burger? Sure. But it's well worth the hefty price tag — and it comes with fries!  

Burger at Little Donkey — Catie Duckworth

This pile of decadence courtesy of Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette's Little Donkey in Cambridge, Massachusetts is as delightful is it was perplexing. The dry-aged beef patty is piled high with buffalo pickles, onion soup mayo, foie gras, jalapeno chips, and cheese. While the burger toes the line between fine dining and bar food, there is no mistaking how this signature dish has gained such a fandom.

There's something amusing about it being simply labeled as "burger" on the menu since it's so much more than that. Layered with a multitude of flavors and textures, it's so rich that I couldn't have eaten it after the other small plates we ordered if I didn't have two other people with me. A third of this burger was more than enough to satisfy me, and this has to be the most perfect last bite of a memorable meal.

Patty melt at Whataburger — Crawford Smith

The Whataburger patty melt epitomizes everything that's great (and ridiculous) about the state of Texas. The chain is the most Texas fast-food place out there. Its 700+ outposts in the Lone Star State dwarf its presence in all other states combined. Even the bread the sandwich is served on is pillowy, thick-cut Texas toast.

I don't want a fancy East Coast patty melt with Swiss on rye. I'll take Monterey Jack, the most yeehaw cheese option. Whataburger griddles its Texas Toast to make it crispy on the outside, but the interior still has the marshmallowy softness of Wonder Bread. Everything's bigger in Texas, so you know this automatically comes with two burger patties. It's almost half a day's worth of calories even before adding fries and a drink. Do you want lettuce and tomato? What is this, California? Leave the salad-topped burgers to In-n-Out. The closest thing to a vegetable on the patty melt is the greasy layer of grilled onions.

This sandwich is a fat bomb in the most glorious, excessive way. The salty seared beef, buttery bread, melty cheese, savory onions, and creamy pepper sauce combine to create the Platonic ideal of a fast-food gut-buster. It will leave your hands and lips slick and shiny after you consume it. Pro tip: I always add pickled jalapeños. Not only do they bring more Texas flair, but the acidity and spice cut through the oil a little bit.

Holy Aioli burger at Dog Haus — Dave McQuilling

The Holy Aioli really lives up to its name, as trying one is akin to a religious experience. The patty itself is thin, tender, and crispy, kind of like a large smash burger. It's served on a block of four Hawaiian rolls and comes with a gooey coating of white American cheese. On top of that, you get a generous portion of caramelized onions, and a couple of strips of smoked bacon, before it's all topped off with the fancy mayo that gives the burger its name.

In terms of flavor and texture, everything is well-balanced when you take a bite. There's a mild hint of garlic peeking through, but you'll mainly taste the beef balanced against the sweetness of the onions and bun. The saltiness and smokiness of the bacon are just enough to take the edge off the sweet onions and Hawaiian rolls. The garlic aioli really comes in afterward, coating your mouth and serving as a reminder you just ate something special. The Holy Aioli is an absolute pleasure on almost all occasions — just don't order one on a first date.

One Night Stand Burger at Slutty Vegan — Jenessa Abrams

Slutty Vegan started in Atlanta when CEO and Founder Pinky Cole began selling the aforementioned burger via Instagram. Since 2018, they've moved from social media sales to a successful food truck and multiple storefronts in Georgia, Alabama, and New York. One of the glories of Slutty Vegan is that it's an all-vegan establishment that centers on the idea that eating is about pleasure — everything is sumptuous, deeply satisfying, and unbelievably delicious. And it all happens to be vegan.

For a sublimely indulgent burger, Slutty Vegan's One Night Stand is your answer. Behold, a plant-based patty smothered in cheese, topped with glorious strips of bacon, shredded lettuce, tomato, and a generous portion of caramelized onions—all covered in signature Slut Sauce and nestled in a light and fluffy Hawaiian bun. As a recent vegetarian, I have a weakness for burgers and the One Night Stand not only satisfies that craving, it's become my all-time favorite. In the One Night Stand, Slutty Vegan has achieved the impossible: the perfect ratio of grilled patty to velvety cheese to tangy sauce. The flavors complement each other and each of the toppings gets equal billing. Leaving you with gooey, smoky, spiciness in every bite.

Farmhouse Burger at Gordon Ramsay Burger — Jessie Molloy

When I heard that Gordon Ramsay was bringing his eponymous burger restaurant to Chicago (the flagship is in Las Vegas), I had to wonder if something with a focus so simple could live up to the hype of having a notorious restaurateur's name attached to it. As a longtime fan of Ramsay's TV empire, I'm happy to say, I was not disappointed! The burgers at Gordon Ramsay Burger are easily the best I've ever eaten at a restaurant. They're a good size, flavorful due to the mix of brisket, short rib, and chuck sirloin beef used, incredibly juicy, thanks to Ramsay's indulgent use of butter in his recipes, and come on a soft but sturdy bun.

My favorite is the Farmhouse Burger, which is topped with bacon, sharp cheddar, and a fried egg. I typically like to add some bibb lettuce to the burger as well to give it more of a fresh crunch, but it is delicious both ways. The cheddar and bacon are wonderful additions to the burger and the egg takes the juicy, rich goodness to the next level. Fries are a la carte at Gordon Ramsay Burger but they're definitely worth adding, especially since they come in a funnel big enough for two. (Pro tip: You don't need to upgrade to the truffle fries to get the special truffle aioli dipping sauce. Just request it with your regular fries for a delicious dinner add-on.)

Cheeseburger with onions at White Manna Hamburger — Joe Virgilito

Do sliders belong on a "best burgers" list? If they're from White Manna, they certainly do. Not to be confused with the Jersey City eatery of the (nearly) same name, White Manna in Hackensack, New Jersey has been serving up classic sliders since 1946. It's situated beside the Hackensack River in an ancient, tiny diner car lined with chrome and red siding. The lunch counter wraps around the "kitchen," where an expert grill man plays the role of host, waiter, expeditor, and, of course, cook. Watch in awe as he directs customers, takes orders, and handles cooking 10, 20, 30 burgers at a time, making space on the hot griddle for the pre-portioned patties and their requisite buns. At some point between squeezing your way into the packed crowd, getting your order off, and trying to find one of the few seats available, you realize not standing in at a dingy little lunch counter watching someone fry a bunch of meat; you're watching food service excellence and efficiency at its absolute peak.

Naturally, that excellence extends to the burgers themselves. The all-beef sliders are cooked to greasy perfection before being slotted between potato buns and presented on white paper plates. If you want the true White Manna experience, though, make sure you ask for onions, which are grilled with the patties, infusing their pungent flavor into the meat as they carmelize. Their sweetness and slight crunch elevate already great burgers into legendary ones.

Slagel Farms beef burger at Owen & Engine — John Tolley

In Chicago, Irish pubs are a-dime-a-dozen, but British pubs are few and far between. British gastropubs, those whose focus is just as much on the food as it is on the beverages, are even rarer, which is what makes Owen & Engine so special. Opened in 2010 in the happening Logan Square neighborhood, this cozy, two-story eatery is resplendent with dark wood accents and rich leather, and serves as a mecca for Chicago's vibrant community of beer aficionados who flock there for the 20 draft lines, four authentic beer engines, and extensive bottle list. In the back-of-the-house, chef and owner Bo Fowler plates creative takes on British pub fare, including fish and chips, bangers and mash, bubble and squeak (mashed potatoes, root vegetables, and cabbage topped with sharp cheddar), and a full English breakfast.

Owen & Engine's signature dish, though, is a decidedly-American one that pays homage to Chicago's history as the meatpacking capital of the U.S. The burger is a ground in-house mixture of brisket, chuck, and short rib sourced from Slagel Farms, which provides beef and more to many of Chicago's top restaurants. The combination of cuts produces a burger that is abundantly juicy and rich. That's why it comes standard on a hearty potato bap with nothing more than caramelized onions, chips, a house pickle spear, and malt vinegar aioli, though diners can plus it up with cheddar, cured in-house rashers, and a Slagel Farms egg sunny-side-up if they please.

BBQ Burger at Chickie's and Pete's — Julia Collins

When you go to Philadelphia-based sports bar/restaurant chain Chickie's and Pete's, it's understood that you're always getting crab fries (which are a Philly staple you need to try). But while you're watching the game, or perhaps game (there are so many televisions!) you need sustenance beyond french fries and Old Bay seasoning, and I prefer mine in the form of the BBQ burger. While the other burger options are worth considering, this one should be your priority.

Absolutely loaded with barbecue sauce, American cheese, bacon, and fried onions, the BBQ burger hits the spot every time. It has the perfect ratios of crunch from the bacon and fried onions, to the smokey flavors of the actual burger (cooked to your preference) and the BBQ sauce. If you want to amp up the flavor even more, you can always toss a few crab fries on top of the burger for the ultimate flavor-bursting bite. Pair that with a cold drink and the latest game, and you're set for the perfect night.

Getting Figgy Wit It at Park Burger — Sarah O'Phelan

At one time, the phrase "burger joint" conjured up images of neon-sign diners, greasy dives, and drive-up restaurants with servers on roller skates. These days, it means something entirely different. Restaurants specializing in a variety of gourmet, upscale burgers have become extremely popular, and Denver's Park Burger is a perfect example. Park Burger's owner and Executive Chef, Jean-Philippe Failyau, cut his teeth in the fine dining world in NYC and quickly realized that using higher quality ingredients meant better food overall. With this philosophy in mind, Failyau opened Park Burger in Denver in 2010, and the fact that three additional Park Burger locations have opened in years since is a pretty solid testimony to his success.

Park Burger serves salads, chicken wings, loaded fries, chicken sandwiches, and (in classic diner fashion) milkshakes, but their prowess lies in the chef-inspired burgers ... and one burger stands apart from the crowd. The Getting Figgy Wit It features a patty loaded with sweet, creamy brie cheese, tart fig jam, smoky bacon, peppery arugula, and a hint of fresh rosemary to bring it all together. This knockout combination is more than enough to make your mouth water. The richness of the brie pairs brilliantly with the burger and bacon, while the fig jam contributes an unexpected pop of sweetness to the whole combo. (Add a fried egg for extra indulgence.) Enjoy it with a side of Park Burger's famous truffle parmesan fries and a cookies and cream milkshake for maximum ROI.