7. For carnivorous game geeks
Seattle continues its culinary invasion of Redmond with the first beefed-up outpost of the cheerfully anarchic Full Tilt Ice Cream—and by “beefed-up,” you know what we mean. At Highscore the burgers come as five- and three-ouncers, served not so much as patties but big balls of meat against which wimpy white-bread buns don’t stand
Take the Boss Level Burger, a startling two-chunk behemoth with thick slabs of cheese (you pick cheddar, swiss, blue, jack, or smoked Gouda) melting down their formidable sides, along with chewy bacon, sweet sauce with a fruity tang oozing out the sides, and—and!—a little mess of fries, balanced right atop the beef. (Genius!) The beast arrives pretoppled on the plate, which takes a good deal of the pressure off, and goes down ridiculous with a root beer float (of course there’s a case brimming with Full Tilt’s full complement of glorious ice creams) and a raging round of Ms. Pac Man.
Yup, just like at the Tilts, the place is lined with arcade machines. This, along with the all-around retro-gamer aesthetic of the place—down to a staff of merrily disaffected youth who will take whatever time they need to make your burger, thank you—lends strip-mall Redmond just the swag it needed.
Want fries with that? Yeah you do: The slim and crispy sweet potato fries are really good. Ice cream in some permutation is also part of the equation, but so far shakes have been disappointingly milky.
See also Zippy’s Giant Burgers (zippysgiantburgers.com) in White Center, with its old-school video games and menu of underpriced burgers
8440 160th Ave NE, Redmond, 425-556-5400; highscoreburgers.com
8. For vegetarians
Hillside Quickie, with its comprehensive menu of hefty vegan sandwiches and spicy soul food with a hippie comfort food bent, was the go-to place for the best veggie burgers in town. Sadly, the U District gem closed earlier this year. Fortunately Plum Bistro—HQ’s fancier Capitol Hill cousin, owned by vegan mastermind, Makini Howell—has a jerk tofu and creamy yam burger on the menu (right next to the oven-broiled lentil burger, tangy pepper seitan burger, and the buffalo portobello burger). It lives up to the standards of its defunct compatriot, which was owned by Howell’s brother and sister. It’s piled high with grilled onions, tomato, and tangy pickled cabbage on a toasted bun. The peppery Jamaican seasoning blackens the tofu patty and soaks through every messy bite. Neither the classy digs at Plum nor the hippie tofu can diminish the fact that this is one of the hardiest burgers in the city.
Want fries with that? The default side for this burger is a serving of russet fries with chipotle sauce, but see if you can swap in the yam and beet chips, which come with a spot-on vegan aioli.
1429 12th Ave, Capitol Hill, 206-838-5333; plumbistro.com
9. For Fans of unusual meat
8oz. Burger Bar
So an ostrich burger is never going to boast the primal crave appeal of, say, an eight-ounce slab of juicy natural beef in a brioche bun heaped with balsamic onions, Hempler’s bacon, Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, and truffle aioli. The latter, 8oz. Burger’s namesake swooner, is why we adore the Broadway outpost of this national chain. But the ostrich burger, and other of 8oz.’s novelty meats, is why we admire it.
Because the beef burgers in this unlikely house of terrific eatin’ would be quite enough: beef that’s hormone free or even grass fed, crafted into creations like an espresso-rubbed patty with fried shallots and Gorgonzola and peppercorn aioli; or a fancy-pants version, the patty crowned with braised short rib, the whole embellished with white cheddar, horseradish Dijonaise, and a good demiglace. Damn, they’re good.
But 8oz. goes us one better, offering not just a token but an array of healthier patties—Diestel ranch turkey, housemade veggie, Anderson Valley Ranch lamb, Durham Ranch wild boar, even a rotating selection of burgers like ground ostrich or venison—that hauls old fattie into leaner territory. The best of these, in our opinion, is the wild boar, whose sweetish, elegantly gamey flavor is winningly offset with bacon, aioli, and a smoky poblano relish. Enjoy it (or anything) in this brisk and buzzing storefront in less than 90 minutes, and your underground parking’s free.
Want fries with that? Sides are across-the-board solid here, but our very favorites are the vanilla malt and the perfect Kennebec potato fries. That’s right, perfect.
See also Uneeda Burger (uneedaburger.com) features elk and emmer burgers, while Lunchbox Laboratory (lunchboxlaboratory.com) offers churken* and dork**, in South Lake Union and downtown Bellevue locations.
1401 Broadway, Capitol Hill, 206-466-5989; 8ozburgerbarsea.com