Best Burgers in Boston
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 sautéed onions, Russian dressing, and American cheese inside. Order it at the spacious bar with a tall beer, and you’ll thank us later.
$9, 59 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-491-9851, parkcambridge.com.
Best Gourmet: Craigie on Main
Chef Tony Maws’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 — just lettuce, tomato, pickles, and creamy American cheese — 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.’s “Hot Mess” — topped with Thousand Island dressing, chopped pickles, bacon, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeños, and, yes, sweet potato fries — you’ll hardly mind. Pro tip: Hold your burger over the pile of accompanying potato chips as you take each bite — 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. They’ve got it wrong, of course, especially when it comes to Russell House’s exceptional burger. Here, the muffin lets the fillings — local beef, bacon, and caramelized onions — 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 it’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 — unlike the countless fall-apart, gluey black-bean varieties that we’ve choked down elsewhere.
$16, 60 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-295-0191, samsatlouis.com.