A water buffalo burger is never going to surpass 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 this duo of homegrown burger shops. But the buffalo burger, and other of 8oz.’s novelty combos, is why we admire it. Throw in that the beef is hormone free and grass fed, the vanilla malt shakes are perfect, the fries are made with uberflavorful Kennebec potatoes—and you have a local find, in two locations that do the Great American Meal proud.
Tom Douglas brings his intelligent brand of comfort food to the burgeoning South Lake Union headquarters of Amazon, in a classic wood-rafters-and-vintage-signs beer hall above his Cuoco Italian restaurant. The deal is 30-plus tap beers (including a locally brewed Brave Horse signature ale) with burgers and fresh pretzels for ballast. Burgers are on the diminutive side, but crafted of Painted Hills chuck, ground in house, and topped with applewood bacon, perhaps, on terrific Dahlia bakery buns. Better yet are the malt-boiled, hearth-roasted pretzels—fresh, buttery, yeasty testimonials to the Douglas empire’s baking savvy—that you dip into toppings from cheddar-pimento to smoky peanut butter-bacon. The former warehouse is as exuberant as spring break, with young adults playing darts and shuffleboard and a crowd of dashing young tech titans.
Nothing soaks up an evening’s intemperance better than a Dick’s deluxe burger with fries and a shake, served till 2am every night of the week. The original Wallingford drive-in debuted in 1954 and has since hatched six more locations, each with the same streamlined menu, eye-catching signs, and 5-cent surcharge for ketchup.
Scott Staples’s family-friendly burger chainlet wields big flavors (caramelized onions, blue cheese and watercress, a turkey burger with surprising personality) with skill, but the classic Feed burger borrows its special sauce from sibling gatropub Quinn’s, and is a steal at just $5. Fries aren’t included with the burgers, but that gives you license to choose from sides like sweet potato fries, tempura seasonal vegetables, or fried cheese curds.
Grass-fed meat, house-made pickles—there’s much to admire in these faux-lowbrow burger joints recently sold to restaurateur Renee Erickson. But OMG these fries: crinkle cut, genuine flavor, perfect crunch. And, man, those Parfait Ice Cream milkshakes. There’s the OG location in the Denny Regrade, another in Laurelhurst, but two newer walkup windows—one in Chinatown–International District, another downtown on Third Avenue—promise the same full menu and a swift lunch trip.
From the same husband-and-wife duo behind Central District Ice Cream Company as well as Nate’s Wings and Waffles (in partnership with NBA baller Nate Robinson) comes Happy Grillmore. And this isn’t your satisfying-yet-typical burger joint, oh no. Think third-pound patties topped with spicy chorizo or kalua pork, truffle french fries, salted caramel shakes, and more. Then there’s burgers injected with Filipino flavors. An ode to a beloved Filipino morning meal—garlic fried rice, longanisa sausage, runny egg—the longsilog burger at Happy Grillmore layers the magical umami properties of Maggi mayo with a beef patty, flattened longanisa, and finally an egg—a gut-busting “breakfast” of champions.
If restaurateur Gary Snyder hadn’t had such screaming success peddling french toast and bloody marys at Geraldine’s Counter by day, he might never have imagined a quality, family-friendly spot to stuff those same appetites with burgers and Manhattans by night. The midcentury-stylish Heyday takes its job as dinnertime default for its Mount Baker–Leschi Ridge neighbors very seriously, offering affably snappy service, intelligent cocktails (adult milkshakes!), appealingly vegetal sides, fine Kennebec fries, and a lineup of eight-or-so original burgers, like a bison burger with bitter-sweet interplays of radicchio, red onion, maple syrup, Beecher’s sharp cheddar, and mustard seed sauce. If you can’t taste every element every time, come back tomorrow and you will.
Japan’s panko-crusted deep fried pork cutlets meet Americans’ love of enormous, flavor-packed burgers, now in four locations around Seattle and the Eastside. It’s truly a brilliant mashup, even before you factor in the black sesame milkshakes and fries dusted with nori flakes.
Some joints stay new forever; some are old souls from the moment they blow the foam off the inaugural pint. That’s King’s Hardware—formerly a hardware store—which has Ballard Avenue to thank for its dinged wood and vintage brick, but credit Linda Derschang and her partners for its blazing authenticity. You remember Derschang, the one who single-handedly launched the identity of Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine corridor by opening Linda’s Tavern. Now she and her partners have created another soul-drenched haunt—there’s the jukebox, the really long list of burgers, the skee ball, the deer head on the wall, the huge back deck to make you pine for summer, the really delish list of burgers, the black-and-white photographs of somebody’s grandma…and did I mention the burgers? Yep, there’s great beer (maybe 14 on tap, 22 in bottles) and real booze, three salads, and sensational sweet-potato fries. But it’s those burgers—one-dozen-plus, crafted of entirely virtuous Painted Hills beef and topped with such splendors as goat cheese and beet relish or grilled onions and swiss—that’ll have you plotting ways to move to Ballard.
The newest of Seattle’s spate of burger joints boasts Painted Hills beef signatures and a few less signature ones, a buttermilk fried chicken burger, hand-cut Washington fries, and handmade Full Tilt malts and shakes.
Scott Staples built his burger bona fides at Quinn’s, then turned an old Fremont auto garage into a casual burger joint. Here, all-natural patties might be topped with gruyere and two kinds of mushrooms, or watercress, blue cheese, and caramelized onions. Customers might be budget-conscious food geeks or the sort of families who try to avoid family-geared restaurants. Both camps love the covered patio.
New York’s obsession-inducing burger chain has finally made its way to Seattle, bringing with it an army of crinkle-cut fries, concretes, single and double burgers, and a mean fried chicken sandwich. Our first Shake Shack location, a picturesque wedge of a building in the heart of Amazonia, sports a large outdoor seating area—and insane crowds.
Bacon has descended into gimmick territory—you can find it elsewhere dipped in chocolate, battered and fried, or on top of an ice cream sundae—but at West Seattle’s most charming temple of exalted carnivory, it’s practically an essential element. The butcher shop’s prepared food menu keeps growing, but the bacon burger remains the standard, a dripping good example of what happens when the most carefully crafted of bacons meets a hand-formed, grass-fed patty.
Sure, there are Wikki Stix and Etch A Sketches at the pint-sized kids’ counter, but the intelligent burger lineup and 20 microbrews on tap keep this place firmly outside of Chuck E. Cheese territory. The burgers, which range in price from a $6 classic to a $16 "420 burger," are all made with locally sourced antibiotic- and hormone-free beef. But if you're in the mood for something else (no judgment), also see the small selection of hot dogs and sandwiches. And, for the kiddos, a simple kids' menu.
Menu items at Wallingford’s new retro-western burger joint have names like Chili Nelson and Folsom Prison Bleu; the décor and soundtrack follow suit. But owner Gary Reynolds (the guy behind Revolver Bar) also appreciates a good SpongeBob reference: The Dirty Dan is a fiery-tart roar of fried jalapeños, torrential queso, and spicy lemon sauce, all within a traditional sesame bun cheeseburger.