By Kelly Dobkin
While everyone has their favorite local burger joint or homemade backyard burger, there are also superlative out-of-town patties that might actually be worth a road trip. We asked you last week for input, and we were bombarded with suggestions ranging from obvious classics to more under-the-radar finds. Check out the slideshow for 10 burger joints across the U.S. that are worth some travel time. Which joints would you spend your precious gas money on? Let us know in the comments.
Pie ‘n’ Burger, Pasadena, CA
This off-the-beaten-path Pasadena burger joint is certainly trek-worthy, whether you’re coming from LA or just about anywhere. The quarter-pound patties, similar in style to that of In-N-Out’s, are griddled and topped with Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, tomato, pickles and cheese. The crunchy, charred exterior balances perfectly with the soft bun and the flavors of the other simple ingredients. Take it from surveyors, who call this 1960s-style California burger “superior.”
In-N-Out Burger, Multiple locations
While this iconic California-based chain is probably the most well known on our list, it’s also usually the first thought on any burger lover’s mind the minute they step off the plane on the West Coast (well, it’s our first thought anyway). The decades-old In-N-Out is still all about using high-quality beef – in fact, the chain owns and operates its own meatpacking plant in Texas. The top-notch, never-frozen beef, combined with the other super-fresh ingredients, comes on an old-fashioned bun to make the drool-worthy double-double cheeseburger – two thin, delicious patties layered with American cheese. If you order it “animal style” (which you should), it’s then smothered in caramelized onions and Thousand Island dressing. The not-so-secret “secret” menu adds an aspect of intrigue for first-timers, but the taste of the patties here is what seals the deal and quickly turns neophytes into lifetime devotees.
White Manna Burger, Hackensack, NJ
This 1930s relic, just a train ride away from New York, has been serving up its greasy old-school sliders the same way for decades, and those in the know pony up to its 12-seat counter for a taste. The cooking process goes as follows: the pre-balled up patties are thrown down on the griddle and topped with a heaping pile of sliced onions, and then the bun is placed on top – so the onion flavor seeps into the bread and the onions lightly steam. Then the whole thing is flipped over and topped with cheese before serving. This joint is a true slider hall-of-famer – just ask anyone from Northeast Jersey.
Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger, Ann Arbor, MI
This classic slider joint located on the campus of the University of Michigan has been serving up greasy goodness since 1953. Its single-, double-, triple-, quad- and quint-patty burgers are made with meat that’s ground up daily on-site and topped with everything from a fried egg to bacon and salami. Lines here can get super-crazy (especially during football season), so there’s even a specific ordering procedure that diners must follow. If you know anyone graduating from the university soon, you’re gonna need to book a little extra time for a stop here.
Image via Flickr/JSmith Photo
Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Austin, TX
No doubt the trendiest burger joint in Austin at the moment, commenters praised this spot’s patties, which come in seven beef varieties as well as bison, turkey, lamb, tuna and veggie options. The high-quality Angus beef is ground daily on-site, and the buns are baked from scratch, which add to the burgers’ super-fresh flavor. Combos range from the “classic” – lettuce, tomato, onion and “sassy” sauce – to the incredibly rich Primetime, made with Texas Akaushi beef, Brie, truffle aïoli, arugula, caramelized onions and steak sauce. Hopdoddy presently has two locations in Austin, with a Dallas outpost coming soon.
Image via Flickr/professor evil
Ray’s Hell Burger, Arlington, VA
Just across the bridge from Georgetown University lies one of the tastiest (and Obama-approved) burgers in the land. The place is perpetually mobbed with lines out the door,with fans coming for the chargrilled 10-oz. patties, simply served on sesame-seed buns with melted cheese and a choice of toppings. The Mack is one of the most popular options, piling on American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, red onion and Ray’s secret “Heck” sauce.
Image via Flickr/roboppy
Chris Madrid’s, San Antonio, TX
The drool-worthy tostada burger at this San Antonio favorite is the stuff of legend. An all-beef patty is topped with housemade refried beans, chips, onions and creamy cheddar cheese, offering a Tex-Mex spin on the American classic that Zagat surveyors can’t stop raving about. It’s a combo that makes sense, especially considering that the restaurant originally served tacos as well as burgers when it opened in the historic Midtown neighborhood in 1977.
Image via Flickr/LauraFries.com
Bobcat Bite Burger – Santa Fe, NM
This legendary roadside burger joint has been slinging burgers since 1953 and still does things the old-fashioned way – hand-grinding its patty’s blend of chuck and sirloin on-site. The secret-recipe green-chile sauce is what gives the burger the addictive kick that has fans making the trek out to the joint off the Old Las Vegas Highway year after year. Not surprisingly, the infamous green-chile cheeseburgers here have been featured on many a food TV show – most recently on Ludo Bites America. Whether you’re doing some sight-seeing in Santa Fe or hitting up the slopes at Taos, this spot is definitely worth a detour.
Image via Flickr/lifeontheedge
Gabby’s Burgers and Fries, Nashville, TN
Winner of countless local awards, some describe Gabby’s thin, well-cooked patties as similar in style to Five Guys. The “Seamus” consists of a grass-fed 5-oz. single patty topped with your choice of cheese and toppings, while the “Gabby Burger” is a double patty option. The perfectly charred exterior of the thin patties combined with the high-quality ingredients has burger fans coming from far and wide to get a taste of one of the best burger spots in Nashville.
Image via Flickr/revrev
The Nook, St. Paul, MN
The infamous Twin Cities “stuffed burger,” also known as a “Juicy Lucy,” is the specialty at this 75-year-old St. Paul dive. The stuffed burgers here come in a few different varieties – but the classic “Juicy Nookie,” as it’s called here, is two thin beef patties with American cheese stuffed in between. The restaurant claims to serve an exclusive butcher cut of Black Angus chuck that can’t be found elsewhere, which might explain why the patties here are some of the most flavorful around. More ambitious stuffed-burger fans can also opt for the Spanish Fly – a 50/50 blend of beef and chorizo stuffed with “queso.” Yum.
Image via Flickr/edkohler
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