Pros: It can hold up to the meat.
Cons: It can get a bit tough.
Chicago favorite Kuma's Corner serves all their burgers on pretzel buns, and while George Motz might find that some pretzel buns have a leather, "car seat" sort of feel, Kuma's does have one he likes.
Kuma's buns are made with the addition of milk and shined with an egg wash, and with the heavy meatiness of their burgers, the pretzel buns make sense.
"I'm sure we could get away with serving our burgers on almost any kind of bun, but nothing holds up the way a pretzel bun does," chef Michael Jarvis told The Daily Meal. "I am a fan of brioche buns, but they tend to be very light, which doesn't hold up well with the combinations of ingredients we use, nor the fact that are burgers are extremely juicy. With the pretzel bun you get a very dense product that can hold up to the juiciest of burgers."
Pros: The bun is soft, durable, and just slightly sweet.
Cons: It can get a bit starchy.
"Potato buns are good but sometimes you can get a very starchy taste depending on the potato to flour ratio used," Jarvis said. Still, when done right, it's almost perfect for a burger. "Give me a nice potato bun any day, especially Martin's," Ed Hardy, chef de cuisine of Bistro Vivant in McLean, Va., said.
So what's so great about them? They're soft, but durable, and "they can wrap around the meatiest burger you can make, and won't fall apart in your hands," Greg McCarty of Washington, D.C.'s NoPA Kitchen + Bar said.
Pros: The burger is flat enough to not have to squish into your mouth.
Cons: Thin toast is more likely to get soggy.
Before the hamburger bun, there was toast, and thus, the hamburger sandwich. Some places have kept on with the tradition. Connecticut's Louis' Lunch has been doing it for at least 100 years.
So while sometimes the toast may get soggy, the hamburger sandwich might just work. Not only does it up the nostalgia and novelty, but it makes it easier to eat quickly. "One of the benefits is you don’t get so much bread for one thing, says Sally Landri of Hackney's, who serves their burgers on dark rye toast. "Bread is filling and it also takes up a lot of the flavor of the bite, and bread is not as flavorful as the meat I would say. So you wouldn’t want tons of dough with your meat."
Pros: It's a classic.
Cons: You'll be the boring one on the block.
Sometimes, you just have to stick to a classic. "Some people say, 'Ew why would you go put this great steakhouse burger on a white squishy bun?' but it really is the classic way to go," Motz says. "The reason why the white squishy [bun] works so well is because it’s not complicated. It's job is to deliver the hamburger." And if you have great meat and toppings, that's all you need.
Pros: The bread is extremely buttery and soft.
Cons: The bread may be too buttery and soft.
Brioche, while a favorite for French toast, might be a bit too much for something meaty and juicy. "Brioche is like a dating a girl who starts out attractive, but after a couple drinks she turns into a hot mess and ruins the evening," Hardy says.
Of course, with smaller patties (that cook quickly), brioche may work just fine. "I like pairing our Grille Prime Cheeseburger with a brioche bun because of the soft texture and rich, buttery flavor," chef Scott Kroener of Del Frisco's Grille says. "In addition to the flavors and texture it adds, the brioche bun also holds up well and absorbs the juices making it easier for our guests to eat, especially if they're headed back to work or off to a show."