Five New Riffs on the Burger in Boston

Whether it's a ramen shop's sweet sandwich, a sushi bar's stoner-friendly maki roll, or a pizzeria's kid-friendly pie, these are not your backyard hamburgers.

Little Big Diner flat patty

Little Big Diner / Photo provided

Little Big Diner Flat Patty

A compact, high-energy noodle shop—an “East Asian soul food diner” is how chef/owner David Punch first billed it—is not only home to this year’s ultimate bowl of ramen, but also one of the most satisfying new burgers in the area. The char-grilled, “LBD flat patty,” on a sweet, King’s Hawaiian Bakery bun, doubles down on the island vibes with spicy pineapple sambal. But before veering too deep into saccharine territory, crispy onion strings and slick of mayo balance with irresistible umami.

1247 Centre St., Newton, 857-404-0068,

Saltie Girl Burger

Saltie Girl / Photo provided

Saltie Girl Burger

The MET Restaurant Group’s latest is a narrow, nautical nook full of seafood in all forms—tins, toasts, crudo, smoked, sandwiches, fried, baked, etc.—and yes, there’s a burger. Chef Kyle McClelland’s rendition is a stunner: a prime beef blend topped with Gruyere, avocado, a slick of spicy “angry sauce,” thick slices of pork belly, and a fried lobster tail.

281 Dartmouth St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-267-0691,

The White Castle makimono roll at Uni

The White Castle makimono roll at Uni. / Photo by Andrea Merrill provided

White Castle Makimono at Uni

It wouldn’t be enough for Ken Oringer and Tony Messina to roll up just any cheeseburger maki. At the freewheeling sushi bar, the chefs don’t hold back. All the stoner-friendly components of a real White Castle slider are there (and then some)—the craveable patty, a sprinkle of cheddar (though it is clothbound here), lettuce, tomato, quick-pickled cucumbers, sesame seeds. Wrapped in sushi rice, it’s drizzled with a souped-up sauce and topped with crispy fried potato sticks.

370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200,

Little Donkey burger

Little Donkey / Photo by Andrea Merrill

Little Donkey Burger

Restraint is not something that went into the burger at Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s newest hotspot. The dry-aged beef patty is not only spread with onion soup mayo, it also has seared foie gras, caramelized onions, and jalapeño potato chips on top. Even the pickles are marinated in Buffalo sauce. Unlike at Coppa and Toro, the chefs’ other collaborations, which are rooted in Italian and Spanish cuisines, Little Donkey’s inspiration is the diverse neighborhood around it—and a little “chef stoner food,” Bissonnette has said.

505 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-945-1008,

Stoked cheeseburger pizza

Stoked / Photo provided

Stoked Cheeseburger Pizza

It’s not just kids who gravitate toward this fusion pie when it’s on special from the pizzeria on wheels or at the Washington Square brick-and-mortar. With Angus beef sauteed with onions, honey mustard, grape tomatoes, diced dill pickles, and gooey American cheese, it’s a fun and delicious indulgence. It’s so popular, in fact, that co-owners Toirm Miller and Scott Riebling have put it on the new, regular menu, which debuts at the restaurant this weekend.

1632 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-982-FIRE,