WHY SO MANY new burger joints in Seattle’s northerly latitudes? (We’re looking at you, Ballard.)
1. The Counter
The schtick of this So Cal chain is the exhaustive list of choose-it-yourself toppings—(bacon cheeseburger: $9.25)—served by collegiate hotties. But the calling card is the third-pound ball of beef on every burger, all-natural and veggie fed. Hint: This one has a full bar. 4609 14th Ave NW, Ballard, 206-706-0311; thecounterburger.com
This East Coast chain has perfected delish cheap burgers (bacon cheeseburger: $5.99) and amusing self-promotion (“Voted Best Burger in Scranton!”). This popular operation even lists what farm town grew that day’s potatoes. Hint: At $3.59 and 480 calories, the Little Hamburger delivers great bang for the buck. 311 NE 103rd St, Northgate, 206-729-5028 and 910 N 10th Pl, Renton, 425-228-2286; fiveguys.com
With its sports-bar vibe and long menu of long-cooked thousand-islandy burgers (peanut butter–bacon anyone?), this family-run chain enshrines the soul of blue-collar Ballard. The price is up there (bacon cheeseburger: $10.79), but burgers include all-you-can-eat fries. Hint: A newer location just opened in Edmonds. 2409 NW Market St, Ballard, 206-297-8000 and 610 Fifth Ave S, Edmonds, 425-776-6666
This chipper independent is the most modest of the bunch, with American its default cheese, lemonade from a machine, and pocket-change prices. Burgers (bacon cheeseburger: $5.99) are tasty and smoky but no great shakes. Hint: Onion rings are crispy wonderments. 2008 NW 56th St, Ballard, 206-973-1970
Find more dining recommendations on our Eat and Drink page.