Can you smell that? It’s burger heyday in Philadelphia right now.
For starters, May is National Burger Month and, well, it’s kind of perfect timing. Not only is the weather getting better and better for grilling with each passing day, just last week, Travel + Leisure named Philadelphia the #2 Best Burger City in the entire country.
So we’ve got that going for us.
Plus (as if we have to remind you), Shake Shack is opening its doors at 2000 Sansom Street in the next few months (or, ahem, weeks…). Psst: you can get your first taste of the New York transplant at the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, this Saturday, May 19, (at which they’ll have a booth selling custard).
And last week, you all had tons of great suggestions for your favorite burgers in the city, which we’ve taken into account here.
So in honor of this burger bonanza, we’ve revisited our burger list from last year to bring you this brand new, highly curated, taste-tested roundup of the best burgers in Philadelphia right now.
Uwishunu’s Best Burgers in Philadelphia 2012:
Burgers With Panache
• Pub & Kitchen: The Churchill Burger and the newer Parliament Burger both boast a custom meat blend from the acclaimed La Frieda Meats of New York City that was tested and refined for more than two months before being introduced last fall. Try either burger alongside the fries, served with irresistible truffled dijonnaise dip.
• Village Whiskey: Celebrity chef Jose Garces has put his talented spin on classic American eats at Village Whiskey. The eight-ounce angus burgers come with toppings like maple bourbon-glazed cipollini, Rogue bleu cheese, foie gras and applewood bacon. They’ve been featured everywhere from the South Beach Wine And Food Festival, to the Food Network. Diners who want to indulge even more can have their duck fat fries topped with shortribs and sly-fox cheddar.
• Rembrandt’s: The burger at Rembrandt’s in Fairmount is something of a work of art. Its beef patty is crowned with a wealth of sophisticated ingredients: crispy pork belly, smokey blue cheese from Rogue Creamery, homemade onion agrodulce, and a farm-fresh fried egg.
• The Dandelion: The burger at the Dandelion is surprisingly straightforward — straightforward, and near perfect. The beefy wonder is topped with lettuce, tomato, cheddar and a horseradish-tinged sauce, with each high-quality ingredient shining bright. Plus it comes with a sidecar of amazing fries, thick-cut and crispy, with delicate potato centers.
• Butcher & Singer: At Stephen Starr’s Old Hollywood-themed steakhouse Butcher & Singer, the lunchtime burger (a hefty patty served with English cheddar and fried onions) is a standout.
• Hickory Lane: This new Fairmount spot is brought to you by the former Rouge chef Matt Zagorski, a man who obviously knows how to serve up a mean burger (see both Rouge and 500° below). The Hickory Lane Burger with made with exclusive MPZ Burger Grind on a challah roll, topped with aged cheddar, garlic aioli, tomato, Bibb lettuce, pickles and a side of Pommes Frites. Bonus: it’s BYO (for now).
Below, we’ve got the details on Good Dog, PYT, Squareburger and more.
• The Swann Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel: This place piles its burgers high with Sottocenere cheese, onion, mushroom, and truffle aioli on a brioche roll — and serves ’em with a side of sophistication.
• Barclay Prime: Visit Stephen Starr’s swanky Barclay Prime for the dry-aged mini burgers made from New York strip, Kobe and ribeye, served on homemade rolls with a slather of Russian dressing and aged cheddar, plus a side of tater tots.
• 10 Arts: The 10 Arts Cheeseburger is made from Pineland Farms ground sirloin, topped with pickles, lettuce, tomato onion, ketchup and mustard. The restaurant also offers mini fish burgers, made from striped bass and topped with fennel and a roasted tomato-saffron aioli.
• Kennett: This well-kept Bella Vista secret offers three kinds of out-there burgers: beef with bone marrow, pickled onion and anchovy mayonnaise; lamb with smoked paprika, cucumber-yogurt slaw and toasted cumin; and a housemade veggie burger with wheat berries, red bean, walnuts and sunflower seeds, served up with onion marmalade and a spicy thousand island.
• Smokin’ Betty’s: Though barbecue is its namesake specialty, Smokin’ Betty’s also happens to have an impressive lineup of burgers, including the Food Network-spotlighted Tur-duck-en (duck rillette surrounded by chicken and turkey, with cranberry orange relish topped with crispy sweet potato ribbons).
• PYT: Diners can wash down that Fat Boy Monster (two patties, cheddar, bacon, onion rings and special sauce on a potato roll) or Cheesesteak Pretzel Roll Burger (exactly what it sounds like) with a milkshake cocktail or Yuengling lager at the quirky PYT at the Piazza in Northern Liberties.
• Oyster House: The Oh Burger is “Oh” so good (sorry). Think grass fed beef, blue cheese, fried oyster, grilled onions, served with hand cut fries.
• Barbuzzo: Chef Marcie Turney brings Spanish flavors to the table for Barbuzzo’s burger, offered at lunch and on its late-night menu. The succulent beef patty is topped with sherry onion jam, almond-hazelnut romesco and calabres cheese for a transporting and delicious eating experience.
• Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant: In honor of National Burger Month, Iron Hill has concocted 31 different burgers that will be offered up at all Iron Hill locations throughout May, one per day. The Napa Valley Burger has Cabernet onions, black pepper chevre, tomato and arugula; the Jammin’ Marley Burger has pineapple chutney, bacon, sharp cheddar and Jamaican BBQ sauce… we could go on.
• Square Peg: Chef Matt Levin is doing all sorts of wacky things in the kitchen of his new Market East restaurant, like tacos in a Fritos bag, or fried chicken with Kool-Aid-pickled watermelon. His burger is unique as well, with pancetta, roasted onions, aged cheddar, and the option to add one of Levin’s favorite ingredients: foie gras.
• Monks Cafe: The mussels are the claim to fame at this Belgian beer emporium, but the burger is not to be missed. As one uwishunu commenter put it, “Blue cheese with caramelized onions on a fresh ciabatta roll = heaven.”
Better For You Burgers
• Standard Tap: It set the bar high for local burgers when it opened more than 10 years ago, and Standard Tap continues to wow the beer-loving crowd with its seven-ounce, all-natural grilled patty topped with lettuce, tomato, sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions and the guest’s choice of cheese.
• Sketch Burger: Fishtown’s art-themed Sketch has the burger bases covered with sirloin, Kobe, turkey and vegan options, plus the signature smashed onion beef burger. Inventive toppings like horseradish cheddar and salsa verde make it a burger-lover’s dream.
• Varga Bar: Chef Evan Turney serves up a cult-favorite veggie burger at his Washington Square West joint. It’s topped with english cucumber, heirloom tomato, cheddar and truffle aioli, and comes with a side of balsamic-dressed organic greens from local favorite Blue Moon Farm.
• Great Burger: A choice of more than 20 free toppings (honey mustard, sweet peppers, potato chips) crown the trans-fat-free patties at Willow Grove’s strip mall eatery Great Burger; diners also get a choice of burger (veggie, turkey, beef) and sesame, whole wheat or white bun.
• Half Moon Saloon: The choices at Kennett Square’s Half Moon Saloon astound. There’s the spiced vegetable and wild rice Harvest Moon; the organic grass-fed beef Half Moon; the all-natural buffalo Full Moon (97% fat free!) and a daily selection of wild game specials. Tasty toppings and more than 27 beers on tap make it a true burger and beer destination.
• HipCityVeg: It’s only been open a few weeks, but the burger-flippers at this Rittenhouse Square spot serve up their veggie burgers like pros. They’re large and meaty (despite being meatless) with a supremely delicious secret sauce and fresh veggie toppings on a giant sweet-tasting bun.
• Lucky Old Souls: Delicious burgers on a mobile food truck; what could be better? LOS serves up grass-fed beef, housemade veggie burgers, hand-cut fries and thick milkshakes, simple food made with fresh, locally produced ingredients. Plus they’ve got great music playing through their roof-mounted speakers. Check out their rotating schedule to find them.
• 500°: The famous Rouge burger is the draw at the quick-service 500°, and it’s served with special sauce and bacon on fresh-baked rolls. Shakes and fries (plain, spicy and truffle) round out the offerings. Late-night weekend hours (3 a.m.) are an added bonus.
• Zac’s Hamburgers: A mini local empire built on simple, tasty burgers and hot dogs, this place draws a loyal clientele for its old-fashioned fare and distinctly Philly attitude. There are locations in Folsom, Crum Lynne, Aston and Media.
• Good Dog: The Roquefort-stuffed, onion-fringed burgers at Center City’s Good Dog tavern are so powerful that they’ve inspired a song by Inquirer critic Craig LaBan — this, in addition to out-the-door crowds.
• Royal Tavern: A sandwich with a swagger is the only way to describe the Royal Tavern burger, which is eight ounces of Angus dressed up in caramelized onion, pickled long hots, bacon, smoked Gouda and chile mayo on a brioche bun.
• Grace Tavern: Choose from five delectable burgers, including the traditional Grace Burger (lettuce, vine-ripe tomato, red onion and swiss cheese) and South Street Burger (sautéed onions & bleu cheese).
• Misconduct Tavern: This nautical-themed bar and eatery is a favorite Rittenhouse Square spot for burgers and sophisticated bar food. Its “burger extreme” melds the two genres, boasting caramelized onions, foie gras, house-smoked bacon and a runny fried egg.
• West Tavern: The Dirty Burger at West Tavern has gotten silver screen fame thanks to Fox Good Day Philadelphia’s “Ya Gotta Try This!” segment. There are six varieties, all topped with two special sauces (red and white), all equally delicious.
Burgers With A Side Of Scenery
• SquareBurger: Stephen Starr’s seasonal stand in Franklin Square got a revamp this season, with double-patty burgers and a signature “SquareBurger” that comes with American cheese, chopped pickles, diced onions, ketchup and mustard on a beautifully toasted potato bun. Sides of new crispy crinkle fries and the famous Tastykake milkshakes, plus a pleasant park setting, sweeten the deal.
• Frankford Hall: Starr’s Fishtown beer garden has more than just German beer and brats. Last fall Starr brought in Chef Jim Davidson to oversee a delicious new menu featuring six brand new, seriously impressive burgers, all of which are served on Hudson Bakery soft buns with crispy French fries. There’s a turkey burger, a Colorado lamb burger, a tomato tartare vegetarian raw “burger,” a sustainable Atlantic salmon burger and some awesome dry-aged beef burgers made from custom LaFrieda blends.
• Rouge: Overlooking Rittenhouse Square, Rouge is a longtime favorite for people-watching and burger-eating. Its zaftig challah roll-encased patty with caramelized onions and gruyere is a mainstay of best-of-Philly lists and also has landed national praise.
• Lacroix: Double-smoked local bacon, Cabot white cheddar and a maitake-horseradish spread bring a decidedly foodie slant to the burgers at the Rittenhouse Hotel’s Lacroix. A table overlooking Rittenhouse Square brings the glamour.