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Craigie Burger at Craigie on Main Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Craigie on Main/Michael Piazza Craigie Burger at Craigie on Main Bar

The best burgers in Boston

The best burgers in Boston range from simple, juicy classics to indulgent, over-the-top versions

By Eric Grossman and Time Out Boston Staff
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The burger just might be the ultimate umami bomb. While most can be eaten in the traditional manner, some require a knife and fork. From classic, no-frills patties to creative gourmet versions, the best burgers in Boston are sure to both satisfy and wow your tastebuds. Some are served at casual, wallet-friendly eateries, while others can be found at the city’s priciest restaurants. If you can't be bothered to leave your home, check out our guide to the best burger delivery options in Boston. For other works of hand-held culinary art, check out the best lobster rolls in Boston, the best sandwiches in Boston, and the best tacos in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

A new burger concept we love so much that we welcomed it into Time Out Market

Nu Burger
Photograph: Nu Burger

Nu Burger

Restaurants Hamburgers Fenway/Kenmore

You'll be the talk of the table when you introduce your foodie friends to this new, innovative approach to burgers from Chef Nina Festekjian of anoush'ella. If you’ve tried Chef Nina’s take on the exotic flavors of her hometown of Beirut, Lebanon, buckle up for another taste explosion by way of her innovative beefy concoctions. Festekjian and her team have partnered with local purveyors like A&J King Artisan Bakers, Little Leaf Farms and Maitland Mountain Farm. Burgers are made using Angus beef — free of antibiotics, steroids and hormones — sourced from the best ranches. If beefy, 'Gram-worthy options like the Artisan (boursin, roasted tomato, pickled onion) and the Umami Truffle (pecorino, truffle, fried egg, arugula, aioli) don’t strike your fancy, the spicy cauliflower burger might just change the way you view veggie burgers forever.

Best burgers in Boston

Craigie on Main
Photograph: Courtesy Craigie on Main/Michael Piazza

1. Craigie on Main

Restaurants Contemporary American Central Sq

Very few viral burgers stand up to the hype but Craigie on Main's certainly does. Local “snout-to-tail” pioneer Tony Maws remains at the top of his game at his flagship operation. The chef-proprietor uses the best local and organic ingredients for his culinary creations. Locals and culinary tourists fill the dining room, where only a four course prix-fixe menu is served. The casual, welcoming bar area, now known as COMB (Craigie on Main Bar), offers an a la carte menu and monthly-rotating burger specials, along with the classic, grass-fed Craigie on Main Burger. Arrive early if you’re craving one of the burgers, as they’re sold in limited quantities and often sell out.

R.F. O'Sullivan & Son
Photograph: Courtesy R.F. O'Sullivan & Son

2. R.F. O’Sullivan & Son

Restaurants Hamburgers 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.

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Bristol burger at the Bristol Bar and Restaurant
Photograph: Bristol Bar and Restaurant

3. The Bristol

Restaurants American 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.

Secret burger at Alden & Harlow
Photograph: Jennifer Chef

4. Alden & Harlow

Restaurants Contemporary American 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. 

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

5. Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage

Restaurants Hamburgers 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.

jm Curley, Boston, burger
Photograph: Courtesy jm Curley/Joe Green Photo

6. jm Curley

Restaurants Contemporary American 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.

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Gallows, Bars, Boston
Photograph: Chris Bourn

7. The Gallows

Restaurants Contemporary American South End

The Gallows bills its burgers—a custom blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib—as “a 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.

Burger at Drink
Photograph: Barbara Lynch Gruppo

8. Drink

Bars Cocktail bars 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.

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Hojoko cheeseburger at Hojoko
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/David C.

9. Hojoko

Restaurants Japanese 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.

10. Shojo

Restaurants Pan-Asian 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.

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Bronburger at the Bronwyn
Photograph: Bronwyn

11. Bronwyn

Restaurants Contemporary European 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.

Back Bay Social Club Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jennifer Y.

12. Back Bay Social Club

Bars Back Bay

The beef in the Social Burger is allowed to shine, as it should, with minimal toppings. Pat LaFrieda grass fed black Angus, ribeye, and short rib are blended to form an outstanding patty. Caramelized onions, Vermont Cheddar, and Grillo's pickles and sweet potato roll complete the package.

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Boston Burger Company
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero

13. Boston Burger Company

Restaurants Hamburgers Somerville

This homegrown mini-chain has a lengthy list of over-the-top burger varieties. Try unique options such as the Artery Clogger (deep fried, beer battered burger topped with bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce), the Hot Mess (bacon, sweet potato fries, homemade thousand island dressing, pickles, jalapeño, red onion, cheese), or the Mac Attack (4-cheese mac & cheese, bacon). As if you won't be stuffed already, burgers come with a choice of cole slaw or baked beans.

Tasty Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Tasty Burger

14. Tasty Burger

Restaurants Hamburgers Fenway/Kenmore

The original location of this homegrown burger joint is in Fenway. The retro vibe, reasonable prices and late hours have made it a local favorite and earned it the designation of official burger of the Red Sox. You’ll find the standard burgers and fries plus turkey burgers and veggie burgers. Try a refreshing, house-made lime rickey and a mini pie or a shake for dessert. Tasty Burger even has doggie treats for your canine friends, and plenty of outdoor seating where they can join you.

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Upper Classic at Charlie’s Kitchen
Photograph: Charlie’s Kitchen

15. Charlie’s Kitchen

Bars Beer bars 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.

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Barbara A.

16. Roxy’s Grilled Cheese

Restaurants Sandwich shops Allston/Brighton

Roxy's is known for its killer grilled cheese sandwiches, but it does a flavorful, grass-fed burger too. Try the Justin's Burger—enhanced with house-made pimento cheese and creamy chipotle mayo—or the Muenster, topped with a scoop of creamy house-made guac.

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Lincoln Tavern
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Peter D.

17. Lincoln Tavern and Restaurant

Restaurants American South Boston

Located in the heart of South Boston, this modern American tavern serves comfort classics and wood-fired pizzas alongside a variety of rustic, wood-grilled items, including the ever-popular Lincoln burger, topped with bacon aioli, sharp cheddar and caramelized onions. The well-stocked bar serves as a go-to hangout for a cross-section of Southie residents. The nostalgic space, in what was once the area’s only department store, features tiled-floors and original tin ceilings.

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

18. Eastern Standard

Restaurants Contemporary American 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.

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