As comforting as a hearty bowl of pasta from the best Italian restaurants in Boston and all the very best hot dogs in Boston are, there is something to be said about the burger, the ultimate comfort food. From classic patties to creatively topped gourmet versions of the delicacy, the best burgers in Boston are sure to rock your culinary world. These burgers will give you a great base before heading out to the incredible Irish pubs in town.
Best burgers in Boston
A few years back, the secret burger at Alden & Harlow had every food writer in a tizzy. But just because the press has died down a bit doesn’t mean that this is anything less than the best burger in the city. Proof? The half-pound wonder still sells out every single night, and quickly (that would explain the lines before the restaurant opens). So how did chef Michael Scelfo corner the burger market? He 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. Oh, and PS: the regular on-menu house burger is nothing to sneeze at either.
There’s a cover model in our mix. The Craigie burger graced the cover of Bon Appetit back in 2010 and changed the city’s dining reputation in the process. Chef Tony Maws spent half a year perfecting his recipe: 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 lunchtime appearance (Maws has been known to host a pop-up or two).
Back in 2016, JM Curley suffered a wintertime flood that left burgermongers adrift. The reason why: the jmC burger, a glorious half-pound order that almost overshadows the restaurant’s award-winning cocktail program. The Angus beef patty is burnished with cheddar, grilled onions, pickles and a homemade Russian dressing ("Pop’s Russian"). Regulars tend to go all in, adding a fried egg, house-made slaw and, sometimes, an additional patty.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/AdamChandler86
A night at The Gallows always brings befuddlement: which burger to order? The Carpet burger is for maximalists (buttermilk-fried oysters are the toppers!) and the basic-but-not Our Way Burger satiates fast food fans. Yet, we always return to the Maverick. This burger teeters on excess, enhanced as it is with confit pork belly, a sunny-side fried egg, American and cheddar cheese, and truffle aioli. This is more of a once-a-year treat, to be sure, but, if not now, then when?
You’ll come for the customized cocktails, but you’ll leave raving about the burger. Formerly an off-menu cult order, the Big Mac-inspired entry is still as coveted as ever, a Wagyu beef double cheeseburger topped with American cheese, Bibb lettuce, house pickles, shaved red onion, black pepper mayo and ketchup, sheathed in a toasted Hi Rise Bread Company bun.
The Bristol burger has long been a city standard-bearer, winning many a burger competition, yet its simplicity might initially disappoint newbies. No deconstructed toppings or secret sauces here, just a half-pound of chuck in a brioche bun topped with Vermont cheddar, lettuce, Bermuda onion, tomato and house-made pickles. Longtimers head to the lounge on Wednesdays for the Burgers & Burgundy special: three variations of the Bristol burger to choose from, each paired with two wine tastings.
Once upon a time, local kitchen legend Michael Schlow plated the city’s burger standard-bearer at his flagship restaurant Radius. When the restaurant closed in 2013, gourmands mourned the burger’s assumed demise. But then last year, Schlow quietly began serving the food on his late-night menu at Tico; now it’s front and center on his otherwise Latin American-influenced dinner offerings. Topped with cheddar, crispy onions and a horseradish-black pepper sauce, the burger hasn’t skipped a beat—former fans and newbies will be equally satisfied.
Don’t be distracted by the bacon-wrapped hot dog—the Hojoko cheeseburger, one of the newer entries on the scene, is the real star of this menu, anomalous though it may be on a menu of sushi and kimchi bowls. It’s another paean to the fast-food burger, a umami-forward blend of Snake River Farms Wagyu chuck and short rib slathered in American cheese and a special sauce and crisped up with red onion and dashi pickle chips.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/AdamChandler86
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 comte cheese, ketchup and mustard. This cult fave isn’t always on the menu, so pounce on it when it is.
When its name is trademarked, you know it has to be good. 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mike C.