The best burgers in Boston you need to try

The best burgers in Boston range from faithful classics to modern luxuries; devour them all at these local spots
Schlow burger at Tico
Photograph: Courtesy Tico Tico
By Eric Grossman and Time Out contributors |

As comforting as a hearty bowl of pasta from one of the best Italian restaurants in Boston, there is something to be said about the burger, perhaps the ultimate comfort food. From classic, no-frills patties to creative gourmet versions, the best burgers in Boston are sure to rock your culinary world. Some are served at casual, wallet-friendly eateries, while others can be found at the city’s priciest restaurants. True aficionados consider a top-notch burger the highlight of their night, while others seek out some meaty goodness for a solid base before heading out to the best bars in Boston or one of the incredible Irish pubs in town.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best burgers in Boston

Craigie burger at Craigie on Main
Photograph: Courtesy Craigie on Main
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Craigie on Main

icon-location-pin Central Sq

Chef Tony Maws spent half a year perfecting the recipe for his Craigie burger: a blend of three different cuts of beef, suet, bone marrow and dehydrated miso, topped with Shelburne Farm cheddar and a homemade mace ketchup. He serves just 18 a night, so get there before the 5:30pm opening —or keep your eye peeled for the burger’s occasional appearance on the Sunday brunch menu.

Creamy blue cheese burger at RF O’Sullivan & Son
Photograph: Courtesy R.F. O’Sullivan & Son
Restaurants, Hamburgers

R.F. O’Sullivan & Son

icon-location-pin Cambridge

The bare-bones tavern is an old friend to carnivores who crave straight-up delicious patties made from lean ground beef. Juicy burgers come in dozens of varieties; the creamy blue cheese burger is topped with spreadable blue cheese and bacon, while the Dirty Bird is topped with a fried egg and homemade BBQ sauce.

Secret burger at Alden & Harlow
Photograph: Jennifer Chef
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Alden & Harlow

icon-location-pin Harvard Sq

Alden & Harlows “secret burger” is sold in limited quantities and sells out just about every night. (It’s easier to acquire during weekend brunch service.) Chef Michael Scelfo starts with a mix of Creekstone Farms ground brisket, short rib and beef, tops it with a parmesan crisp and his secret sauce, and encases it in a homemade roll. 

Gallows, Bars, Boston
Photograph: Chris Bourn
Restaurants, Contemporary American

The Gallows

icon-location-pin South End

The Gallows bills its burgers - a custom blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib - as west coast, flat-top patty style.” The Maverick burger features confit pork belly, a sunny egg, American and cheddar, truffle aioli, and onion strings, while the chile relleno burger features cheddar cheese, cotija, pickled jalapenos, charred poblano, and jalapeno aioli.

Bristol burger at the Bristol Bar and Restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy Bristol Bar and Restaurant
Restaurants, American

The Bristol

icon-location-pin Back Bay

The Bristol burger has long been a city standard-bearer, winning many a burger competition. A half-pound of ground chuck is topped with Grafton cheddar, cognac-bacon and onion jam, and Thousand Island dressing on a brioche bun. Head to the lounge on Wednesdays for Burgers & Burgundy: four variations of the Bristol burger to choose from, paired with two tastings of Burgundian-style wines for $35.

Schlow burger at Tico
Photograph: Courtesy Tico
Restaurants, Latin American


icon-location-pin Back Bay

Once upon a time, local kitchen legend Michael Schlow plated one the city’s most famous burgers at his flagship restaurant, Radius. When the restaurant closed in 2013, gourmands mourned the burger’s assumed demise. Today, Schlow serves his signature burger at Tico; topped with cheddar, crispy onions and a horseradish-black pepper sauce, the burger hasn’t skipped a beat.

jmC burger at JM Curley
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/AdamChandler86
Restaurants, Contemporary American

jm Curley

icon-location-pin Downtown

jm Curley's glorious, half-pound burger is made from grass-fed beef, and then topped with cheddar, grilled onions, pickles and a homemade Russian dressing. Regulars tend to go all in, adding a fried egg, house-made slaw and, sometimes, an additional patty.

Eastern Standard, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Eastern Standard

icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore

The Standard Burger, like Eastern Standard itself, is sometimes taken for granted. It’s the ES curse: they’ve been doing so many things right for so long that its excellence can become overshadowed by the Next Big Thing. But it’s high time to revisit this classic, a hearty blend of chuck, brisket and ribeye underbelly buffed with Vermont cheddar, all contained inside a sturdy brioche bun.

Mr Bartley’s Burger Cottage
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Luiza B.
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage

icon-location-pin Harvard Sq

A boisterous Harvard Square landmark since 1960, Mr Bartley’s gets as many points for its celeb-inspired burger naming as it does for the concoctions themselves. The menu changes constantly—we’re guessing the Melania Trump won’t be on there forever—but the Triple D is a mainstay, and a Guy Fieri favorite: a massive double burger groaning under the weight of bacon, cheese, barbecue sauce and grilled onions.

Burger at Drink
Photograph: Courtesy Barbara Lynch Gruppo
Bars, Cocktail bars


icon-location-pin Seaport District

One of the citys top-rated bars is known for its customized cocktails, but many customers leave raving about the burger. Formerly an off-menu cult order, the Big Mac-inspired entry is still as coveted as ever, a Colorado Wagyu beef double cheeseburger topped with American cheese, Bibb lettuce, house pickles, shaved red onion, black pepper mayo and ketchup, piled on a toasted Hi-Rise Bread Company bun.

Hojoko cheeseburger at Hojoko
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/David C.
Restaurants, Japanese


icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore

Don’t be distracted by the bacon-wrapped hot dog—the Hojoko cheeseburger is the star of the show at this Japanese tavern in the Fenway. Yet another paean to the fast-food burger, the burger is an umami-forward blend of Snake River Farms Wagyu chuck and short rib. Slathered in American cheese and a special sauce, the sandwich gets texture from red onion and dashi pickle chips.


Shojonator at Shojo
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mike C.
Restaurants, Pan-Asian


icon-location-pin Chinatown

The potent Shojonator™ takes its inspiration from the Wendy’s Baconator, though in a far smaller package (this is more slider than burger). The patty is topped with a pile of smoked bacon and kimcheese (that would be kimchi velveeta) and, in a nod to Shojo’s Asian menu, encased in a steamed bun.

Bronburger at the Bronwyn
Photograph: Courtesy Bronwyn
Restaurants, Contemporary European


icon-location-pin Somerville

While many chefs play with umami to upgrade their burgers, chef Tim Wiechmann sticks with salt—specifically, a pretzel roll bun that adds just a little something extra. The bun plays bookend to a blend of beef brisket and bacon adorned with comté cheese, ketchup and mustard. A farm-fresh egg is an optional add-on.

Bancroft burger at The Bancroft
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Linda R.
Restaurants, Steakhouse

The Bancroft

Turns out a suburban steakhouse houses one of the best patties in the Greater Boston area. Available at lunch and on the bar menu, the Bancroft burger is eight ounces of juicy prime chuck topped with an excess of melted cave-aged cheddar and house-made ketchup, served on a brioche bun.

Sin burger at the Blue Ox
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Anthony D.
Restaurants, Contemporary American

The Blue Ox

Most local foodies head to the North Shore for fried clams, but there’s another reason to drive north of the city: The Blue Ox’s burgers. The limited-edition Sin burger is an award-winning concoction of applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese and truffle aioli.

The Automatic
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jonathan C.
Restaurants, Eclectic

The Automatic

icon-location-pin Kendall Sq

With connections to two dearly-departed nearby hangouts (the East Coast Grill and B-Side Lounge), The Automatic sports strong bloodlines. Perhaps the most popular item off the eclectic menu - which includes everything from Sichuan-style beef jerky and buffalo-fried sweet plantains to a frito pie from hell” - is the Flat Patty burger. Topped with American cheese and a “super secret sauce,” the burger pairs well with several of the shot-and-a-can drink specials.

Upper Classic at Charlie’s Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Charlie’s Kitchen
Bars, Beer bars

Charlie’s Kitchen

icon-location-pin Harvard Sq

When you simply seek a juicy, drippy, timeless burger, this Harvard Square institution should be your go-to. The “ultimate prime burger” menu is justifiably revered. Some exotic choices abound, including the deep-fried, beer-battered burger. But the Upper Classic, with double bacon and cheddar cheese on a bulkie roll, makes a strong case for keeping it simple.

See the best burgers in America

Holeman and Finch Public House
Photograph: Gina Hopkins
Restaurants, Hamburgers

The best burgers in America

From prime no-frills patties to exotic Juicy Lucys, our pick of the best burgers in America is appropriately diverse