Boston’s Best Burgers
(All photos by Sam Kaplan)
Best Splurge: Radius
There are plenty of high-end eateries out there that slap a $20 price tag on a mediocre burger and call it upscale. Radius is not one of them. Chef-owner Michael Schlowâ€™s bar-only creation, dubbed simply â€śThe Burger,â€ť boasts a well-seasoned patty; flowing, sharp Vermont cheddar; crispy onion strings; and, to top it all off, tangy, creamy horseradish sauce. Itâ€™s those premium components that make it worth the money â€” and the calories.
$19, 8 High St., Boston, 617-426-1234, radiusrestaurant.com.
Best Turkey: Trina’s Starlight Lounge
Trading a juicy beef burger for the turkey version is like trading a Cadillac for a Kia, right? No matter how much you dress it up with fancy extras, itâ€™s just not the same. Well, take this top-notch model at Trinaâ€™s for a spin. A moist, hearty patty tricked out with a sweet and savory blend of Swiss cheese, mustard, apple mostarda, and peppery arugula, itâ€™s a screaming ride.
$10, 3 Beacon St., Somerville, 617-576-0006, trinastarlitelounge.com.
Best Sliders: Lucky’s Lounge
Sliders, are, in essence, designed for convenience â€” great for pairing with a stiff drink at the bar, sharing with the crowd, or holding you over till the main meal arrives. The luxe versions at Luckyâ€™s Lounge, however, are more than a mere snack: With rich Kobe beef, Muenster cheese, Applewood-smoked bacon aioli, and petite fried quail eggs, theyâ€™re a mini-me indulgence that pack the same punch as their full-size counterparts.
$15 for three, 355 Congress St., Boston, 617-357-5825, luckyslounge.com.
Best Hangover Cure: Grass Fed
J.P.â€™s new burger emporium offers the ultimate next-day remedy for that long night out: its already-terrific bacon cheeseburger, made morning-after appropriate with the addition of a fried farm egg and the requisite grease (in the form of a healthy smear of house mayo). Order a heap of garlic-truffle Parmesan fries on the side to obliterate what ails ya â€” and make your stomach incredibly happy.
$10.50 (with egg and aioli), 605 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-553-2278, grassfedjp.com.
Best Fast-Food Style: Tasty Burger
Our favorite way to experience Tasty Burger is still the way we first fell in love with it: at 1 a.m., in need of a fast â€” and delicious â€” way to soak up those few-too-many brews. Weâ€™ve tried? â€™em all here, from the brutally rich deep-fried â€śBlue Collarâ€ť burger to the spicy, cheese-slathered jalapeĂ±o variety. But when weâ€™re looking for a bite of classic Americana, we go for the â€śBig Tastyâ€ť: chopped pickles and onions, lettuce, tomato, special sauce, and a griddled, just-thick-enough patty. Itâ€™s a late-night savior that also satisfies at the table â€” or on the fly from the takeout window â€” any time of day.
$4.95, 1301 Boylston St., Boston, 617-425-4444, tastyburger.com.
Best Classic: The Gallows
When weâ€™ve had one too many fancy-pants burgers, thereâ€™s nothing we crave more than the simple pleasure of meat and produce packed onto a toasted bun. And thatâ€™s exactly what we get with the Gallowsâ€™ â€śOur Way,â€ť an expertly seasoned, flavor-packed patty topped with lettuce, pickles, American cheese, and grilled onions â€” nary a cream sauce or deep-fried pork product in sight.
$10, 1395 Washington St., Boston, 617-425-0200, thegallowsboston.com.
Best Patty Melt: Park
Essentially a Reuben, grilled cheese, and hamburger packed onto one glorious rye-bread vessel, the retro patty melt is woefully? underrepresented in this town. Thankfully, Harvard Square newcomer Park has come to the rescue, offering a version that boasts crisp bread on the outside and terrifically oozy Cholula-spiked sautĂ©ed onions, Russian dressing, and American cheese inside. Order it at the spacious bar with a tall beer, and youâ€™ll thank us later.
$9, 59 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-491-9851, parkcambridge.com.
Best Gourmet: Craigie on Main
Chef? Tony Mawsâ€™s legendary creation is a rare species, indeed: a perfectly medium-rare, umami bomb of a patty punched up with bone marrow, suet, miso powder, subtly sweet mace ketchup, and nutty, fonduelike cheese, then nestled on a buttery, griddled house-made bun. Only 18 of these precious sammies make it out of the kitchen each night, so be sure to get your order in before 6:30 (or head over for brunch) for the chance to try one for yourself.
$18, 853 Main St., Cambridge, 617-497-5511, craigieonmain.com.
Best Double Cheeseburger: Charlies Kitchen
With a divey jukebox atmosphere and a classic double that promises to erase even the worst dollar-menu memory, Charlies is the place to satisfy a beefy craving. We love the bare-bones version â€” just lettuce, tomato, pickles, and creamy American cheese â€” though enhancements like guac and grilled pineapple are available if you want to get creative. Pair with a side of the addictive beer fries for cheap-eats nirvana.
$5.25, 10 Eliot St., Cambridge, 617-492-9646, charlieskitchen.com.
Best Mess: Boston Burger Co.
Juice dribbles down your chin and onto your lap. Your hands? Covered in condiments. But when the sandwich is as delicious as Boston Burger Co.â€™s â€śHot Messâ€ť â€” topped with Thousand Island dressing, chopped pickles, bacon, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeĂ±os, and, yes, sweet potato fries â€” youâ€™ll hardly mind. Pro tip: Hold your burger over the pile of accompanying potato chips as you take each bite â€” the gooey toppings taste even better on spuds.
$8.95, 37 Davis Sq., Somerville, 617-440-7361; 1100 Boylston St., Boston, 857-233-4560; bostonburgerco.com.
Best Wrapping: Russell House Tavern
We have to hand it to Russell House Tavern chef Michael Scelfo for thinking outside of the bun, especially with so many burger purists out there whining about using an English muffin in place of a traditional roll. Theyâ€™ve got it wrong, of course, especially when it comes to Russell Houseâ€™s exceptional burger. Here, the muffin lets the fillings â€” local beef, bacon, and caramelized onions â€” shine, while doing a handy job of mopping up all the juices in the process.
$12, 14 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-500-3055, russellhousecambridge.com.
Best Veggie: Sam’s at Louis
The veggie burger at this waterfront restaurant is so tasty, you might find yourself questioning whether itâ€™s vegetarian at all. Chef Asia Mei is just that good, transforming tofu and shiitake, cremini, and portobello mushrooms into a firm, peppery patty that holds its shape â€” unlike the countless fall-apart, gluey black-bean varieties that weâ€™ve choked down elsewhere.
$16, 60 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-295-0191, samsatlouis.com.
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