It wasn’t so long ago when burgers, by definition, were cheap. A small puck of ground beef of dubious origin — cooked until… cooked, and plopped on a white bun with some lettuce and tomato — was a staple of fast food restaurants, diners, and cookouts, and not much else. But fast forward to 2018 and not only are some of America’s best chefs featuring upscale burgers on their menus, they’re charging an arm and a leg for them. Out of all the burgers in America, these are the 10 most expensive.
When you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense for some burgers to be outrageously expensive. The higher-quality the ingredients are, the more expensive the final product is, and many chefs are using top-notch beef in their burgers, like trimmings from dry-aged steaks or custom blends from renowned butchers like Pat LaFrieda. Top it with some shaved truffles and a slab of seared foie gras and you’ve got the makings of a super-expensive burger.
Burgers are nothing if not democratic, however, so thankfully we’re still living in an era when someone in Atlanta can spend $1.89 on a burger at The Varsity or $14 on one at Holeman & Finch. But even though they’re just ground beef and cheese on a bun, a fast-food style burger and a high-end one are worlds apart.
While every so often news will spread of a gimmicky new limited-time-only burger commanding exorbitant prices, the following burgers aren’t off-menu or seasonal specials, monstrosities big enough to feed 50, or custom-order luxuries that you need to reserve a week in advance. These are all on the everyday menu (some only during lunchtime), and can be yours if you’re willing to shell out for them. Some are decidedly gimmicky, some are among the most delicious burgers on the planet (and worth every penny), but they all have one thing in common: They’re not cheap.
Gramercy Tavern is one of New York’s finest high-end restaurants, but most people don’t realize that it’s actually two restaurants under one roof: the Michelin-starred, prix-fixe main dining room, and the more casual, à la carte front “tavern.” Pull up a chair in the tavern and you’ll encounter one of the city’s finest (and most expensive) burgers: a thick house-chopped patty of 50 percent chuck and 25 percent brisket and short rib, grilled over hardwood, topped with melted Cabot Cheddar and three slices of crispy house-made bacon and served on a potato roll (also homemade). This one’s worth every penny.
Quite possibly New York’s most famous (and in-demand) burger, the $32 Black Label Burger sold at Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern starts with a custom blend from Pat LaFrieda (more than a dozen were auditioned) that’s comprised of prime dry-aged New York Strip, skirt steak, and brisket from Creekstone Farms. The griddled 8-ounce-plus patty is topped with sautéed onions before being placed onto a custom-made brioche bun. It’s essentially like eating a dry-aged steak in burger format.
When Daniel Boulud opened DB Bistro Moderne in 2001 with this insane burger on the menu, it gave chefs all across the country permission to add their own burgers to their menus. It subsequently changed the way we think about burgers forever. And it’s a doozy: A huge ground sirloin patty is stuffed with red wine-braised short ribs, foie gras, and black truffle, and is served on a Parmesan bun. And during the winter months, you can add shavings of black truffle to the top, which boosts the price tag to about $120.
The 21 Club’s burger is what you might call the OG upscale burger — it cost $2.75 when it debuted in 1950, at a time when the going rate for a burger was about 10 cents. Originally, it was mixed with fennel seed and cooked in duck fat, but over the years it’s changed significantly: For a while in the ‘70s, it was served without a bun and topped with brown gravy, and until recently it was bogged down with fennel seed, thyme, rosemary, coriander, cayenne, duck fat, and egg. Today, chef Sylvain Delpique has thankfully removed the frills, letting the ingredients speak for themselves: It starts with an unadulterated 10-ounce prime beef patty from Master Purveyors simply seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled and topped with aged blue cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and pickles, and served on a brioche bun.
Delmonico’s is widely regarded as being the first restaurant in America to serve anything resembling a burger (it added hamburger steak to its menu in 1834), and it’s still one of the most popular menu items. Today there are three burgers on the menu: the Classic Burger ($17), the Double Cheese Burger ($21), and the priciest one of all, the Benedict Burger, $36, introduced late last year. This knife-and-fork burger combines the classic burger and eggs Benedict: It starts with an English muffin, which is topped with a burger patty, bacon, truffle hollandaise sauce, and a fried egg.
Chef Angie Mar’s super-expensive West Village clubhouse spares no expanse on its burger, and neither should you. She starts with a patty of beef that’s been dry-aged for 45 days before being ground in-house, and she tops it with onions that have been caramelizing with red wine for nine hours and a slunk of Fromage d’Affinois. If you want to get really fancy, you can opt for a duck egg and shaved black truffles for an extra $14.
Stoopid Burger is a beloved Portland burger joint, and while it’s certainly a little gimmicky, it’s still a whole lot of fun. The crown jewel of its menu, the Ignorant Burger, is an absolute beast. It’s a triple-patty behemoth topped with steak, bacon, a hot link, ham, chutney, Cheddar, blue cheese, an egg, mushrooms, grilled onions, and jalapeños, and it clocks in at a wallet-busting 40 bucks.
Major Food Group’s The Grill, which opened last year in the space formerly occupied by the beloved Four Seasons’ Grill Room, is the restaurant of the moment in New York, and even though it’s by all accounts very good, it’s also very expensive. Just about everything on the retro-inspired menu is pricy, and the burger, served only at lunch, is no exception. Listed on the menu as simply “Cheeseburger,” this simple burger starts with high-grade ribeye and is draped with American cheese and served with a bun that’s actually baked to order.
Clocking in at $21 each, the two sliders you’ll receive when you order “Le Burger” at chef Joël Robuchon’s super-luxe L’Atelier are easily the most expensive in America. These burgers start with high-quality beef, and they’re topped with hunks of foie gras, roasted peppers, and microgreens. Is it worth it? Depends on how much cash you’re looking to burn!
Old Homestead is one of New York’s best steakhouses, and it doesn’t mess around with its enormous burger, which clocks in at 20 ounces, well over a pound. It’s made with steak trimmings and Kobe beef, and is served simply with chipotle ketchup and stone-ground mustard. If you’re in the mood for a smaller burger, the Prime Steakhouse Burger is only 16 ounces!
Located inside Mandalay Bay, chef Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar offers some stellar (and expensive) burgers. None more so than the Rossini, which starts with a patty of wagyu beef from Australia, and it’s topped with sautéed foie gras and shaved black truffles and served on an onion bun. The price? $60.
This popular Irish pub may seem like an odd place to find a super-expensive burger, but here we are. In business since 1977, this pub offers a $100 “Grand Burger”: custom-ground and chargrilled filet mignon, served with a side of caviar, merlot sauce, and a bottle of Moët Imperial Champagne. We’re not sure if filet mignon is the best beef choice because it’s so lean (and a great burger requires a substantial amount of fat), but we’ll go with it.
New York’s most expensive burger won’t be found at a steakhouse or other expense-account emporium; it’s served at the tourist trap best known for its frozen hot chocolate, Serendipity 3. This burger, which will set you (or someone, somewhere) back $295, is an embarrassment of riches: It starts with a wagyu beef patty that’s been infused with a 10-herb white truffle butter and seasoned with Salish alderwood-smoked sea salt, and it’s topped with 18-month-cave-aged Cheddar, shaved black truffles, and a fried quail egg and served on a roll that’s been spread with white truffle butter. But that’s not it: Atop the bun is a blini topped with kaluga caviar and crème fraîche, and it’s speared with a solid gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick. This one requires 48 hours’ notice.
Now we’re getting into some serious high-roller territory. Located inside Caesars Palace, Le Burger Brasserie’s 777 Burger starts with a Kobe beef patty and is topped with pancetta, goat cheese, seared foie gras, arugula, Maine lobster, and 100-year-aged Balsamic vinegar. It’s served with a salad and, for good measure, a bottle of Dom Perignon rosé Champagne.
Here it is folks, the most expensive burger on Earth. It’s served at chef Hubert Keller’s restaurant Fleur inside the Mandalay Bay Casino, and it’s truly absurd. To make the burger, a wagyu beef patty is topped with foie gras and truffle. If that doesn’t sound like it’s worth $5,000, well, it isn’t, until you get your bottle of 1995 Chateau Petrus, one of the world’s most prized wines, to wash it down with. If that’s a little too rich for your blood, try the Fleur Burger, a wagyu beef patty topped with caramelized onion, grilled abalone mushrooms, foie gras, and truffle, for $73. Thankfully, the best burger in your state is probably more reasonably-priced; you can find out what it is here.