America’s 10 Best Burgers for Under $10
May 10, 2019
These burgers aren’t just legendary, they’re downright cheap
Many would argue that a burger, by nature, should be inexpensive. But as with just about everything else on this planet, prices have crept higher and higher over the years, and some restaurants’ offerings are now considered luxury items. Thankfully, there are still plenty of spectacular burgers out there that won’t cost you more than 10 bucks, and we’ve tracked down the top 10.
It’s actually pretty easy to understand why some burgers’ price tags have hit stratospheric levels in recent years: It comes down to the ingredients. Just take a look at the Black Label Burger served at New York’s Minetta Tavern, for example. This isn’t just made with your standard ground chuck: It’s made with dry-aged beef, all USDA Prime and sourced from Creekstone Farms in Kentucky. Few who’ve tried it would argue that the $33 price tag is excessive, but there’s a big difference between a burger of that caliber and the simpler fast-food-style burgers of our youth, which can be just as satisfying and delicious in their own right. Mercifully, these burgers are still very cheap, and plenty of restaurants around the country, including some that are included in our ranking of America's 101 best burgers, serve legendary burgers that cost less than 10 bucks.
Cheap food sometimes signifies low quality, of course, and there are plenty of cheapo burgers that are made with the lowest quality meat available and defrosted to order. The following burgers, however, are definitely not low-quality. Not only are these burgers cheap, they’re also legendarily delicious, and they should definitely be on your must-try list.
#10 Jucy Lucy, Matt’s Bar (Minneapolis, Minnesota): $7.75
Yelp/ Margie A.
Legend has it that shortly after Minneapolis, Minnesota, institution Matt’s Bar opened in 1954, a hungry customer came in and asked for two burger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle. He took a bite and proclaimed it to be “one juicy Lucy!” — and an icon was born. Only fresh-ground beef goes into each hand-formed burger, and the first bite yields a river of molten, gooey cheese. These burgers are much more difficult to make than they may appear, and the one at Matt’s Bar is absolute perfection and will only set you back $7.75.
#9 Char Burger, Edzo’s (Evanston, Illinois): $9.00
Edzo’s founder Eddie Lakin is a former line cook who worked in high-end kitchens around the world before settling back on his home turf of Evanston, Illinois, to flip burgers for a living. But what burgers these are: made from choice chuck, hand-cut and ground on the premises every morning, handled gently, and given a shake of salt and pepper as they cook. Burgers are available in two preparations: smashed flat on a griddle or grilled over an open flame. We suggest ordering the latter, an 8-ounce beauty topped with ketchup, mustard, onion, pickles, lettuce and tomato and costing nine bucks.
#8 Bacon Cheeseburger, Hodad’s (San Diego, California): $8.50
Yelp/ Stephen S.
Now with multiple locations in the San Diego, California, area, including several inside Petco Park and another inside the Sycuan Casino, Hodad’s has been serving seriously good burgers to thankful locals since 1973. The secret to Hodad’s success may be the bacon; instead of just adding plain ol’ strips to the burger, they boil the entire belly until it falls apart, then fry up a patty on the grill before adding it on. It’s nothing short of brilliant, and when a patty is topped with mayo, mustard, ketchup, onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato, cheese and that bacon, it’s burger heaven, all for just $8.50.
#7 Dirty Love Burger, Love Shack (Fort Worth, Texas): $7.50
Yelp/ Mary Ann C.
The menu at chef Tim Love’s Fort Worth, Texas, destination Love Shack is full of jokes and puns: Consider the Amore Caliente (hot love) burger and the section called “Love on the Side.” But there’s serious flavor here, too. The way to go is the Dirty Love Burger: lettuce, tomato, pickles, “Love Sauce,” American cheese, bacon and a fried quail egg. The patty is on a fresh bun with an excellent cheese-to-meat ratio, and this whole glorious mess only costs $7.50.
#6 Original Solly Burger, Solly’s Grille (Milwaukee, Wisconsin): $4.89
Yelp/ Joy B.
In business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since 1936, Solly’s claim to fame is the butter burger, which was once far more common but is now all but impossible to track down. Fresh-ground sirloin is delivered daily from a local butcher, and even though about 15 toppings and burger varieties are available, but the trademark Original Solly Burger is the way to go. Each 3-ounce patty gets cooked on a large flat-top griddle and is topped with stewed onions and a pat of butter — at least 2 or 3 tablespoons’ worth — before being placed between two halves of a soft white bun. The butter melts into the meat and into the bun, and it’s unlike any other burger you’ll experience. It’s a hard-to-find throwback to those halcyon days before cholesterol was a thing, and sampling it costs just $4.89.
#5 The Original Burger, Louis’ Lunch (New Haven, Connecticut): $6.25
Yelp/ Koichiro H.
Supposedly, one day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly told Louis’ Lunch proprietor Louis Lassen to make him “something he could eat on the run” and was sent on his way with a blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast. Thus, as legend has it, the hamburger was born. That same exact sandwich is still what’s being served at this New Haven, Connecticut, must-visit today, and it’s one of the most iconic dishes in America: a 6-ounce flame-broiled burger made in a vertical hinged-steel wire gridiron that cooks the burgers on both sides at the same time, served on white toast with your choice of cheese, tomato and onion (no condiments offered). It’s a culinary pilgrimage that’s definitely worth making, and it’ll only cost you $6.25.
#4 The Company Burger, The Company Burger (New Orleans, Louisiana): $8.75
Yelp/ Lauren F.
Company Burger is renowned in New Orleans, Louisiana, largely because chef and owner Adam Biderman has created what’s essentially the perfect double cheeseburger. He starts with two 3.25-ounce patties from Creekstone Farms, which are given a light crust on the flat-top before being topped with red onion and American cheese and then stacked. A couple of pickle chips and a toasted house-made bun complete it. And best of all, this double-patty beast only costs $8.75.
#3 Cheeseburger, Maple & Motor (Dallas, Texas): $8.25
Yelp/ Kimberly J.
Maple & Motor has a big presence in Dallas, serving some fabulous burgers along with other now-legendary creations like their fried baloney sandwich and flat-top-seared brisket. That burger is a masterpiece, though: a half-pound of griddled beef and melted American, Swiss or pepper jack; topped with mustard, red onion, lettuce and pickles; and tucked into a toasted, buttered bun. Without cheese it’s just $7.75, cheese adds an additional 50 cents.
#2 Hickory Burger, The Apple Pan (Los Angeles, California): $8.10
The Apple Pan is a legendary West Los Angeles lunch counter that hasn’t changed much at all since it opened in 1947. The restaurant’s signature Hickory Burger is a juicy round of hickory-smoked ground beef on a reasonably standard bun anointed with mayonnaise and a secret sauce that tastes like slightly spiced-up ketchup. Pickles and lettuce complete the $8.10 package; melted Tillamook cheddar bumps the price up to $8.85.
#1 Cheeseburger, Burger Joint (New York, New York): $9.42
Yelp/ burger joint
A dive bar tucked into the corner of fancy hotel, accessed by passing through a (very) tall curtain, Burger Joint has scribbles on the wall, signs asking you not to scribble on the wall, bare booths and some of the absolute best burgers in New York City. These burgers are simple perfection, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, mustard, mayo and ketchup, and while it may be no-frills, it’s absolutely worth waiting in line for.
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