Adam Kuban over at A Hamburger Today asked me if I would submit a list of my favorite burger places, in honor of National Hamburger Month. Always willing to put my reputation on the line, I submit to you my somewhat slanted, but Bi-Coastal burger list, in no particular order of preference, with a few wildcards thrown in.
A. White Manna (Hackensack, New Jersey)
photo by "Daniel" on eG Forums
Got to have it as a double with grilled onions and cheese with extra pickle. Your stomach is going to rumble big time after eating four or five of these, but the indigestion and heartburn is well worth it. They look unattractive, lopsided and smooshed up. But they'll kick the crap out of you if you disrespect them. Kind of like most people from Jersey.
B. Louis Lunch (New Haven, CT)
They got weird rules, and they claim to have invented the burger (with the real possibility of it being true) The burger is bizarre, both in preparation and presentation, using a baroque gas grilling apparatus that dates back to the nineteenth century and held together with dining forks. It doesn't matter, it all seems to makes sense, in an almost proto-evolutionary Cro-Magburger way. It's like eating the missing link in burger anthropology.
C. O'Rourke's Diner Steamed Cheeseburger (Middletown, CT)
Connecticut is home to the esoteric burgers. While Ted's in Meriden is the steamed cheeseburger everyone has heard about, O'Rourke's really is the original. Make this place part of your lifetime burger pilgrimage.
D. NationWide Meats (Sacramento, CA)
Sacramento is hot as hell, but its also got one of the best burgers anywhere. The beef they use here is top quality, there's plenty of it, their burger dressing is outstanding and their super thick cut fries made from mutated huge Nevada potatoes are magnificent.
E. Burger Joint (San Fransisco, CA)
The menu is minimalist. The neighborhood is weird. Don't miss this place.
F. Blue Smoke/Jazz Standard Burger (New York, New York)
Before there was Shake Shack, there was the Blue Smoke Burger. Can't think of a better burger to have when listening to Jazz and having a cold beer.
G. Shake Shack (Madison Square Park, New York)
Yes, the place is hyped beyond belief and the lines are infuriating. Doesn't matter. Go, go, go. Even if you have to camp outside overnight to get a place in line the next day. Make sure you get a Concrete.
H. McSorley's Old Ale House (Greenwich Village, New York)
photo from nycbeer.org
It's cheap, but its beefy, topped with raw onion, and it's the perfect accompaniment to some of the best ale (light or dark!) in town, in the oldest, surliest Irish Bar in the city.
Something about the Red sauce they put on this thing, combined with the thin-style burger with crispy edges makes this one unique and worthy of mention, edging out the other Micro-chains.
J. White Castle (Numerous Locations)
Perhaps I have saved my favorite for last. In the eighty or so years before Harold and Kumar were even a bong dream, college and high school students have been making late night inebriated treks to the Castle. It's the ultimate working class burger, eaten in mass quantities due to its diminutive size, which proudly features grease as an ingredient. Don't forget the extra pickle, it brings everything into Zen-like balance.