Melbourne's best burgers
Order the: Chilli cheeseburger
Price range: $10-$18
The creators of Changz Hot Sauce are now slinging burgers after making it big in burger joints around Australia. Tom Jacobson is naturally laid back, full of personality and all about doing things properly, which also seems to be the theme at Changz Canteen. Burgers aren’t crazy monstrosities that make for impossible eating, but perfectly charred, medium-rare and without tomato and lettuce adornments, letting the Changz sauces and house pickles do their own magic between the Casa Dolce buns. Upgrade your cheeseburger to a chilli cheeseburger for a complex, sweet and lingering version of the house standard.
X-Factor: Vegetarians need not miss out. The fried black quinoa, pumpkin and chickpea cake make for one of the most interesting and satisfying veggie burgers we’ve had on our quest.
Order the: Patty’s Signature
Price range: $9.50- $22 (from child sized to double everything)
A relative newcomer to the burger game is Andy Gale of Duchess of Spotswood offal-for-breakfast fame. After selling shop and stepping away from breakfast venues altogether, Gale stuck true to his suburban fan base and opened up a burger bar featuring the highest quality free range, grass fed and organic meats in Mentone. Meet Patty has proved deliciously successful and in less than a year, they’re set to open their third outpost. The construction of this burger sits between a soft, toasted, house made brioche bun covered in sesame seeds. The burgers themselves are always properly seasoned and a touch pink in the middle to leave you with maximum juiciness without falling apart in your hands from too many ingredients or unnecessary over-saucing. You may be tempted with add-ons and condiments, but we assure you that Gale’s burgers need no extra adornment.
X-Factor: A chef who has done the hard yards is behind the grill making sure every burger is up to scratch. Extra points for using Berties Butchers and McClure’s pickles.
Order the: Cheeseburger
Price range: $9.50- $14.50
Where in Melbourne can you get a premium burger made with a mix of full and half blood Robbin’s Island wagyu, 24 hours a day? Butcher’s Diner, that’s where. This is the newest offering from the Con Christopolous empire where there is a focus on all things meaty. This particular burger comes with a thick, juicy and cooked-to-medium 160g patty made up of different cuts each day, melted aged cheddar that gives the burger considerable depth, expertly made house made pickles that rescue this burger from over-richness, tomato, a leaf of the much under-loved but refreshing iceberg lettuce, onion and just enough sauce and mayo. The cuts used to make the burger may change according to what they have daily, which means that the burger will not have a chain-restaurant like consistency, but it maintains the perfect balance of fat and flavour. Plus, at $12.50, it’s a steal.
X-Factor: The fact that you can order this burger for breakfast is enough X-Factor for us, but aside from having it with a filter coffee, you can also slam back a can of craft beer to make dawn seem like dusk.
Order the: Double Patty Smash
Price Range: $15- $21 (with bacon)
Named after the act of smashing the patty on the grill, the Double Patty Smash at Fitzroy’s favourite American-influenced bar has had a cult following since their doors opened in 2012. Chef Casey Wall sought out to make a burger that wouldn’t fall victim to the seasons, so did away with the lettuce and tomato altogether and built his burger on melted Kraft singles, two liberally seasoned patties and a cornichon-spiked secret sauce. Go for gold and add some crisp bacon, because you’re worth it.
X-Factor: They’re constantly releasing special burgers and trying to outdo themselves. Don’t be a victim of habit and deviate!
Order the: Shroom burger
Price range: $7- $12 not including add-ons
Betty’s has been the quiet achiever sneaking through the back door to claim some serious burger cred over the last year. Things are more fun than fancy, which only adds to the deliciousness of Betty’s burgers. The low price point means that Betty’s is always full, but their product certainly doesn’t suffer from demand. The beef burgers come straightforward with the usual suspects and pickle-free, so the serious eaters may need to play with some extras. We recommend going for the Shroom burger which sees the main attraction as a slab of melted gouda and gruyere sandwiched between two field mushrooms, crumbed and fried inside a sweet, toasted brioche bun and kicked up a notch by a mustardy secret sauce studded with chopped white onion. Tomato and lettuce make guest appearances, of course. Warning, it will induce food envy amongst your beef-eating friends.
X-Factor: For eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach vibes, add a loaded soft serve, which they call a 'concrete' for dessert.
Order the: Regular with a bacon weave
Price range: $13- $20.50; we’re pricing for the bacon weave
South Melbourne’s self-appointed frat bar has given us more than cheers and jeers for the last couple of years, it’s given us some damn fine bar eats. They allow you to pimp whatever snack you order, whether it be spicy wings, gravy-laden tater tots or a mac and cheese waffle, and their burger is a hand-held piece of life-saving art. It makes no apologies and doesn’t try to up the ante by using fancy cheese, upgraded lettuce or naturally risen gentrification buns. Instead, you’ve got yourself a white burger bun, a single wagyu beef patty with a slice of American cheese melted to it, pickles and a secret sauce. Tomato and lettuce are on the side, so if you want to feel healthy, you can slide it in yourself. A bacon weave will definitely upgrade up your meal and comes highly recommended by everyone. The handful of crisps are token, but always appreciated.
X-Factor: Much like the bar, the burger is take-it-or-leave-it as it comes, and that’s the beauty of it. The product is good and they know it.
Order the: Thunderburger
Price range: $9- $13
A 1090 burger is not for the faint of heart- quite literally and figuratively. The patty is 10 per cent fat, and 90 per cent meat, hence the name. This rule has followed owner Son Nguyen from his burger truck an through to a bricks and mortar restaurant in Richmond. While Nguyen uses Angus beef in his burgers, unlike his competitors, he seasons the burger mix richly with a tightly held nine-ingredient recipe. This is what gives the 1090 burger more edge, more umami and satisfaction despite (on appearance) its size. The buns here are from Breadtop, Asia’s answer to the brioche bun, and the way to go here is the Thunderburger; a double burger with cheese melted over each of the patties to form a creamy mix with the chipotle mayo and ketchup, offset by the vinegary pickle. You may need quite a few napkins to help you complete the task.
X-Factor: The menu here is short and sweet, which means the burgers come up without compromise every time.
Order the: Hawaiian Five O
Price range: $9.50- $14
Long before we jumped on the burger trend train, we had the humble corner shop grilling the good, old, Aussie burger with ubiquitous add-ons of egg, beetroot and pineapple and not giving a stuff what the rest of the world thought of us. This home-grown burger style has become a niche, and is all the more reason to seek out the guilty pleasure of a crusty white roll encasing a super-caramelised, well-done patty with canned pineapple and beetroot giving punch and sweetness next to a grilled molten tomato, shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped white onion and bottled tomato sauce. Set aside your pretention and support the guys who have been doing it since 1939.
X-Factor: Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia!
Order: The King
Price range: $9.90- $14.40
If you’ve ever been to the US, you would have heard of a little burger chain called Shake Shack. Dani Zeini has taken some inspiration from Danny Meyer and isn’t afraid to admit Melbourne’s burger culture has something to borrow from its American friends. Zeini ensures quality control at Royal Stacks with his 100% Australian grass fed, GMO, hormone and antibiotic free beef and proudly uses local products across the board. Go for The King; a gut-busting burger that proves that bigger is better with an incredibly cheesy mac and cheese croquette wedged amongst a single patty with the right amount of char, the smack of American mustard and a secret sauce under a cap of butter lettuce and tomato. You may wish you had a bigger mouth.
X-Factor: Double down on the fried stuff with some potato gems and get a milkshake made with 7 Apples frozen custard, which is churned in-house.
Order the: Cheeseburger
Price range: $17 including fries
Arbory’s arrival as an all-day diner and drinks destination running along Flinders St Station, overlooking the Yarra and the Arts Centre, has always been an ambitious one, but they must be doing something right if they’re packed from dawn to dusk. The burger is a feature here, with countless orders constantly on the pass, acting as a solid building block to a good night out. Our money’s on the cheeseburger, which comes as a double with bacon, pickles and tomato relish in between a toasted milk bun. The flavour profile is reminiscent of something the famous golden arches would produce, just with much better ingredients. Crinkle cut chips may come straight out of the freezer bag and into the fryer, but we all know they are the best and come with the price of the burger, so who are we to complain?
X-Factor: Take advantage of the well-considered drinks list. Have no shame in ordering an Aperol spritz on tap.
Order the: Cheese
Price range: $9.50- $14.90
St Collins Lane may be one of the quietest food halls in the city, but it does mean speedy service of your self-branded “slow food” burger. The ethos of this burger is from the core of its produce-driven creator, Neil Perry; beef is from Cape Grim and the chickens are Lilydale – we wouldn’t expect anything less. So how does it stack up against those who don’t disclose the provenance of their produce? Pretty well, most of the time. BP claims to serve its patties medium, which in turn, produces a pretty juicy burger fixed with house made pickles, white onion and the freshest lettuce we’ve come across, under a foil of sweet, secret sauce. However, consistency is an issue. We would recommend you eat the burger at the venue as the bun has the risk of becoming gummy with travel.
X-Factor: Go for the cheeseburger, as it comes with not one, not two, but three slices of melted cheese.