Where to Find the 18 Best Burgers in Boston

Sometimes, nothing else will do–so here's a perfect patty for every taste.


Edited by Jenna Pelletier, with additional reporting by Liz Bomze, Spencer Buell, Courtney Hollands, and Scott Kearnan

Back Bay Social burger. / Photo by Jennifer Y via Yelp

Back Bay Social

When you’re using beef this good, it’s a sin to cover it up with gobs of toppings. Modestly adorned with a thin layer of caramelized onions and a slice of aged Vermont cheddar, the burger at this beloved Back Bay haunt is all about the pedigreed meat: namely, Pat LaFrieda’s buttery blend of grass-fed Angus, dry-aged rib-eye, and short rib. Maybe that’s why the restaurant hasn’t taken it off the menu since it opened. 876 Boylston St., Boston, 617-247-3200, backbaysocialclub.com.

The Bar Mezzana double cheeseburger is available nightly in the bar and lounge

The Bar Mezzana double cheeseburger is available nightly in the bar and lounge. / Brian Samuels Photography

Bar Mezzana

Next time you’re heading to this sleek Italian seafood spot, you may want to stop right at the bar. That’s where chef/co-owner Colin Lynch serves his double cheeseburger, which reads like an ichthyophobe’s safety net but is executed with as much precision as his off-the-hook crudo program. Simply put: This is one of the best burgers in Boston, packaged up with classic, thoughtful fixings— crispy onions, gooey Taleggio and American cheeses, shredded iceberg, pickle chips strategically anchored under the beef—and a soft griddled bun that soaks it all in. 360 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-530-1770, barmezzana.com.

Photo provided

Boston Burger Company

Indulgence is venerated at this local, multi-link chain. And that’s probably best exemplified by the munchies-inspired 420 Burger,  piled high with mozzarella sticks, fried mac ’n’ cheese, onion rings, fries, and bacon. Its signature vinegar-tart dressing deftly cuts through the salty fat of the fried toppings, allowing the smoky, juicy beef to shine as it should. Balance is key, and even with all the extras this counter-service stalwart heaps onto its patties, it always sticks the landing on the right side of the line that divides craveable burgers from made-for-Instagram gimmicks. 37 Davis Sq., Somerville, 617-440- 7361; and other locations; bostonburgerco.com.

Bristol Burger / Courtesy photo.

The Bristol

This emblem of the Old Guard has still got it. The Bristol lounge at the Four Seasons is famed for its simple but spectacularly juicy burger–and it still doesn’t disappoint. The luscious patty blend of NY strip, short rib, and brisket does the heavy lifting, but this Boston Brahmin of burgers is enhanced by toppings like Fresno jam and bacon aioli. Proper perfection. 200 Boylston St., Boston, 617-351-2037, fourseasons.com.

Bronwyn

The Bronburger at chef Tim Wiechmann’s German-inspired beer hall is topped with crispy pork belly and studded with bacon—and that’s not even the best part. What really ties the thick patty, rich Comté cheese, and tangy kraut together is Wiechmann’s unusual, yet preternaturally delicious, pretzel roll: Plush and chewy, it has just enough heft to support the decadent contents. Another twist on the tried-and-true formula? Golden home fries rather than the typical shoestrings. 255 Washington St., Somerville, 617-776-9900, browynrestaurant.com.

The iconic burger at Craigie on Main. / Photo provided Craigie on Main

Craigie on Main

It’s a modern classic for a reason. Almost a decade after chef Tony Maws first put his Craigie Burger on the bar menu, local carnivores still line up to nab one of the 18 umami-packed patties produced every night. (And now it’s joined by a monthly-rotating second burger.) Often sold out by 6 p.m., the coveted burger is everything you want in the form: perfectly cooked local beef (a blend of brisket, short ribs, hanger steak, bone marrow, and suet for maximum flavor-fat ratio) sprinkled with miso as a flavor booster and accompanied by house-made, well, everything— from the pickles to the ketchup.  853 Main St., Cambridge, 617-497-5511, craigieonmain.com.

The Drink burger. / Photo by Brian Samuels Photography

Drink

Bring up the burger at Barbara Lynch’s craft-cocktail den, and your bartender’s eyes may light up in the same way they would if you’d ordered a rare scotch. Buttery, juicy, and rich as can be, the luxed-up spin on a Big Mac— featuring a perfectly grilled Colorado Wagyu patty (make that a double) and melted American cheese—pairs beautifully with a couple of Old Fashioneds. Add an order of the bar’s thick-cut fries with malt-vinegar aioli to make this the happiest of happy meals. 348 Congress St., Boston, 617-695-1806, drinkfortpoint.com.

Photo courtesy

Hojoko

There are flashier, funkier plates at this playful Fenway-side izakaya from chef Tim and Nancy Cushman’s crew, also behind downtown’s glittery O Ya. But the burger is the not-so-secret star (even Julian Edelman is a vocal fan). Topped with American cheese, dashi pickles and a tangy “special sauce,” it’s a slightly sloppy thing of beauty. 1271 Boylston St., Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com.

Burger at jm Curley. / Photo provided

JM Curley

When your server at this Downtown Crossing eatery asks if you want the only burger on the menu “Filthy Andy–style,” just say yes. You’ll be rewarded with a cheddar-topped 5-ounce patty, pickles, griddled onions, and house-made Russian dressing served open-face on a seeded bun and absolutely smothered with zingy coleslaw and fries. Smoosh it all together for a sloppy symphony of sorts, with rich, salty notes from the perfectly seasoned beef and sweet heat from the mustard seeds and chipotle mayonnaise in the Louisiana-style slaw—extra points for the bun, which stays intact till the last glorious bite. For the animals among us, the filthier “Cody Style” variation adds a second patty, fried egg, and bacon (#savage). 21 Temple Place, Boston, 617-338-5333, jmcurleyboston.com.

Little Big Diner. / Photo provided

Little Big Diner

It’s all rice bowls and ramen at this Newton Centre noodle den, save for a handful of bang-up small plates, including its LBD Flat Patty. Here, the kitchen plays a solid game of contrast, dressing the grill-charred chuck with a hot ’n’ sweet pineapple-onion sambal; cool, creamy mayo; a tender leaf of Bibb lettuce; and crunchy batter-fried onion strings. And what better way to enhance this burger’s tropical profile than by sandwiching the whole thing on a plush King’s Hawaiian bun? 1247 Centre St., Newton Centre, 857- 404-0068, littlebigdiner.com.

Little Donkey / Photo by Andrea Merrill

Little Donkey

Leave it to the Ken Oringer–Jamie Bissonnette team to play fast and loose with the fast-food-burger formula and deliver a brilliant, ordinary-be-damned mash-up of haute cuisine and guilty pleasure. On the one hand, you have dry-aged beef gilded with foie gras; on the other, Buffalo-sauced pickles, yellow American, and fried jalapeño “chips”—not to mention Lipton onion-soup-mix mayo. The ultimate guilty pleasure, indeed. 505 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-945- 1008, littledonkeybos.com.

The burger at the Longfellow Bar is messy and marvelous. / Photo by Michael Scelfo

Longfellow Bar at Alden & Harlow

Chef Michael Scelfo is officially a burger king. First, his “Secret Burger” at Alden & Harlow became a well-known hit. He followed it up with the WP Burger, topped with tonnato (tuna sauce) to reflect the seafood focus of Waypoint. But Longfellow’s Burger, found at this recently-opened cocktail den housed above his Harvard Square flagship, might be his best yet. It’s loaded with fermented Nardello peppers, grilled onions, and a Tillamook cheddar spread spiked with pickle brine. It’s an insanely delicious napkin assassin. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-864-0001, longfellowharvard.com.

Mr. Bartley’s

If it’s good enough for Jackie O, Robert Plant, and Charlie Baker (just a few of the many notables who have eaten here), it’s good enough for us. Hard-core culinary snobs may scoff at its touristy reputation, but this family-run Harvard Square institution wins us over every time with its quirky atmosphere and over-the-top creations that playfully salute politicians, sports stars, and other celebs— like Beyoncé “Hot” covered in hot sauce, jalapeños, and bacon. While the toppings change as fast as pop culture, the patty remains the same: choice chuck, ground daily and griddled on the well-seasoned flat top. 1246 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-6559, mrbartley.com.

R.F. O’Sullivan & Son

To fully experience this laid-back Somerville institution, you simply have to get a little messy. The dozens of burger options on the menu—from the Paddy-O-Melt with sautéed onions and cheddar to the black-pepper- crusted Black & Blue—may have different fixings, but they always have one thing in common: the same thick-as-can be, succulent yet expertly charred sirloin patty. Don’t worry—we won’t tell anyone you have meat drippings on your chin. 282 Beacon St., Somerville, 617-491-9638, rfosullivans.com.

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese

It’s almost midnight and you’ve got a hankering for something savory. Will it be a burger, grilled cheese—or both? Slathered with fiery house-made pimiento cheese, the Justin’s Burger from this queso-focused quick-service spot offers the best of both worlds, with an extra kick from creamy chipotle mayo and Grillo’s pickles. For the avo-obsessed, the equally perfect Muenster features a grass-fed chuck patty adorned with a big scoop of house-made guacamole. 292 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-945-7244; 485 Cambridge St., Allston, 617- 202-5864; roxysgrilledcheese.com.

The Shojonator / Photo by Danh Nguyen and Andrew Kubica

Shōjō

It’s not much larger than a slider, yet the Shojonator packs more flavor into its petite package than many burgers twice the size. Spice, smoke, and umami—from ingredients including a Velveeta-like “kimcheese,” smoked hoisin barbecue sauce, sriracha aioli, and grilled Applewood bacon—mingle together gloriously between the beef and halves of a fluffy house-made bao bun. Think it sounds like too much? Rest assured that it’s actually just right. In fact, you’ll probably want two. 9A Tyler St., Boston, 617-423- 7888, shojoboston.com.

Tasty Burger / Photograph by Kelsey Cronin

Tasty Burger

What makes the Big Tasty a winner? The griddled patty is crisp but juicy. The salty American shingle doesn’t just sit on the patty; it seeps into it like a well-seasoned condiment. The requisite veggies—lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles—are fresh and crisp. The fromscratch sauce tastes particularly “special.” And the house bun is appropriately squishy. With smart sides—a combo of fries and onion rings!—killer drinks (don’t miss the housebrewed raspberry-lime rickeys), and hometown charm, this local chain is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. 1301 Boylston St., Boston, 617- 425-4444; and other locations; tastyburger.com.

Wheelhouse breakfast burger. / Photo by Jim Brueckner for “The Best Breakfasts in Boston”

Wheelhouse

There’s not a dude in the bunch at this Financial District burger bar, open only into  afternoon. Not for the faint of heart, Wheelhouse’s gloriously greasy Breakfast Burger piles everything you love about the morning meal— right down to the coffee grounds—into a bun. Chef Jon Chase dusts earthy dark roast and a garlicky-sweet spice rub onto the sandwich’s two Kinnealey Meats chuck patties, then throws bacon, American cheese, and a gooey fried egg on top for the ultimate indulgence any time of day. Warning: may be nap-inducing. 63 Broad St., Boston, 617-422- 0082, wheelhouseboston.com.