Best burgers in Boston
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.
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.
Alden & Harlow’s “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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the city’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.