The Cliff, £10
The Burger & Beyond boys pride themselves on using the best meat (well, they do run their own farm). All beef is hung, aged and butchered by the B&B team. Try it in The Cliff for maximum phwoar – the patty contains 90-day-aged chuck and brisket, pancetta and a tarragon mayo for a touch of gourmet. Trust us, there’s not much room for anything ‘beyond’ this bad boy.
The Advisory, named after the Asian Women's Advisory Centre formerly on this site, is so popular with Hackney locals that it's been known to run out of the brioche buns (and, for that matter, the stand-in brioche hot dog buns), having to serve its patties in the next day's brunch muffins instead. No matter, the three varieties (beef, bacon and veggie) are far better than you'd expect for the £6 price tag, while moreish sides (cauliflower mac and cheese; chilli greens) seal the deal.
Venue says: “Heading to the theatre in Covent Garden this month? Our tapas menu of small plates is perfect for a quick pre-theatre or post-theatre meal!”
Mini Ibérico pork and foie gras burger, £8
From the same stable as Salt Yard and Dehesa, this smart and attractive tapas bar – once a Covent Garden boozer – might not be an obvious place to go looking for a burger. But the Opera Tavern mini-burger (if this was a Yankee-themed joint you’d probably call it a ‘slider’) is well worth seeking out. It layers a rich and supremely moist patty (fashioned from top-notch Ibérico pork meat and foie gras) with melted manchego and a crunchy battered onion ring, adds in the gentle hum of red onion jam against aioli and finishes with a few pieces of soft lettuce. Divine.
It’s a pity that this branch of Honest Burgers doesn’t have quite the same bohemian feel as the Brixton original, but on the plus side, the prime Soho location will make it easier (for most people) to get to. And, let’s face it, we’re here for them burgers: patties fashioned from 35-day dry-aged British chuck steak – courtesy of posh butchers Ginger Pig – topped with the likes of smoked bacon, sweet pickled cucumbers and slices of lip-smacking cheddar. Chips are hand-cut and salt-crusted and there are some not-too-shabby options for veggies, such as the sweetcorn, cauliflower and shallot fritter-in-a-bun.
'Grizzly Bear' bacon cheeseburger with bacon jam, £10
The burgers are uproariously good, but so is the atmosphere at this fun food joint. Service is smiley and personal, and the soundtrack flips between Studio 54 floorfillers, gay anthems and Italo piano classics. Order the Grizzly Bear burger served with wrong-sounding-but-right-tasting bacon jam. And wash it all down with beer provided by the East Dulwich Bear Hug Brewery (run by the same people behind Stokey Bears).
'Dead Hippie' burger, £8.75
Burger God Yianni Papoutis (who first wowed us with his creations from the back of a van) opened this grill-and-booze bar in 2011, but the sloppy, juicy burgers are as knock-your-socks off as ever. There’s ground chuck steak in each one, and all manner of toppings available: chilli, bacon, mushrooms… you get the picture. But our out-and-out favourite remains the ‘Dead Hippie’, where two thin double-stacked patties are anointed with melted cheese, tangy gherkins, finely diced onions and a ‘secret sauce’ so addictive that, if you didn’t know better, you’d think had crack in it.
Beef burger with Korean pulled pork, £16.50
In the Big Smoke, chef Neil Rankin has become one of the high priests of barbecue. What better to sample his skills than by chowing down on one of his burgers at Smokehouse? Here it comes smothered in a heavily spiced Korean sauce and topped generously with pulled pork of the highest standard. This one's for the meat lovers.
'Smokey Robinson' burger, £8.75
As you’d expect from the name, the burgers here come both with a properly cooked ‘patty’ and a rich brioche ‘bun’, but the real star turn is the use of own-made mayos and relishes. The ‘Smokey Robinson’, made with ‘smokey P&B mayo’, jammy caramelised onions and crisp bacon, is so good it deserves to be in a burger hall of fame. Fries are of a rustic ilk: skin-on, hand-cut thin chips with flecks of rosemary salt. Perhaps the only downside is that, surprise surprise, it doesn’t take bookings, and gets seriously busy. Our top tip: go on a dreary Tuesday afternoon, and get a bit of burger-shaped sunshine in your life.
Bacon cheeseburger, £7.95Forget about the French dips and dive deep into the burger list. The bacon cheeseburger holds a beautifully charred-on-the-outside, pink-on-the-inside patty in its middle, topped with molten cheese and crisp smoky bacon, not to mention long slivers of gherkin, burger sauce and shards of raw cabbage (a smart move: crunchier than lettuce, but with a peppery note). This is all snuggled into a rich, of-the-moment brioche bun. Ooh la la.
It’s already got a cult following, and not just because ‘dirty’ has became synonymous with ‘sexy’. DB actually has a rocking formula: cool junkyard chic interiors courtesy of ultra-slick owner Soho House, reasonable prices and exceptional cooking. A blend of carefully selected cuts goes into each patty, for a depth of flavour that when combined with pickles, cheese, lettuce, tomato and condiments, makes for a seriously good bite. But don’t forget the sides: the triple-cooked hand-cut chips and terrific tempura-battered onions rings deserve equal billing.
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Dirty Barbie, £10
Flippin’ ’eck, these burgers are good. Juicy, roughly chopped patties of 28 day aged chuck beef comes perfectly cooked and properly seasoned. Ball-shaped meat mounds are squished down while on the grill, giving patties those delicious seared edges. The buns are soft, bouncy brioche. Toppings, meanwhile, run from the classic (pickles, lettuce, slices of processed US cheese) to the inspired (crisp pieces of streaky bacon ‘candied’ in brown sugar, or slices of hot-and-sweet pickled red jalapeños). But it’s the Dirty Barbie with candied everything – bacon and onions – that we keep coming back for.
‘Frenchie’ burger with cheese, £19
Well before ‘sliders’ became the burger du jour, Bar Boulud was creating spectacular ‘petite’ burgers with plenty of va va voom. This contemporary bistro, set beneath the Mandarin Oriental hotel (and sibling to the equally A-list NYC original) offers four different versions, including the ‘Yankee’ (the most classic), the Southern-themed ‘Piggie’ (featuring pulled pork and fresh slaw), and the decadent ‘BB’ (with foie gras and braised rib meat). All are worthy of a place on this list, but our favourite is the ‘Frenchie’, where the juicy patty is topped with mellow tomato compote, a slice of soft morbier cheese, and shredded confit of pork belly.
'Royale Wit Cheese', £8.95
The nomadic Lucky Chip is currently at buzzy Islington spot the Old Queen’s Head, appropriate since each bite of one of these burgers is like a party in your mouth. Look out for specials on the menu named after famous faces. But of the regulars, the 'royale wit cheese' gets our vote for simply making such a happy mess. It's stacked tall with salad, a tangy special sauce, bacon and American cheese and it beats McDonald's, hands down. Speaking of hands, bring some napkins.
Venue says: “Wild Brunch Club, Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-4pm. Bottomless brunch cocktails.”
It’s a double patty party at Highland-loving restaurant Mac & Wild, but not like you’d find anywhere else in town. A beef patty and a venison patty cuddle up together between brioche for one hell of a meaty mouthful. Melted cheese and pickles add to the flavour invasion, while those who want even more meat for their money can add candied bacon for £1.70. Let the game begin.
Double cheeseburger, £9
There are just a few tables at Bleecker St's Spitalfields Market home, so don’t expect much in the way of comfort or ambience. But what you will discover is a stripped-back but hugely satisfying formula for the all-American burger. Show-stopping dry-aged beef cooked pink is complemented by Bleecker’s ‘secret sauce’ that tastes every bit as peppery as McDonald's’ Big Mac mayo (but more upmarket, obvs). Maximise on that meat with a double cheeseburger. Seeded buns are toasted to perfection, mopping up those excess patty juices without ever compromising your vice-like burger grip.
Fancy a veggie version instead?
With the burger trend still going strong, and more people than ever opting to cut out meat, London has seen an explosion of creativity when it comes to veggie burgers. Though plenty of places are still dishing up dry bean burgers or overpriced portobello mushrooms, others have seriously upped their vegetarian game. Whether you’re a committed herbivore or just trying it out, here are the seven best veggie burgers that London has to offer.
Spelling might not be a strong-point here but grilling British chickens – most of which are sourced from small farms in East Anglia – apparently is. They take inspiration from street food stalls from across the world. The menu is surprisingly broad. Expect options ranging from pieces of breast fillets, wings and chicken livers served in a freshly-baked roll to chicken burgers, pittas and wraps, platters and various salads. Sides include fries, fire-roasted new potatoes, coleslaw, corn on the cob and spicy rice. There's a short wine list too, as well as a few beers by the bottle and fruit juices.
Venue says: “Quote 'Time Out Tuesday' and receive 50% off your food every Tuesday! in Feb”