Is there any food more quintessentially American than the burger? The simple sandwich of ground beef on a bun allows for considerable creativity from the chef or home cook who's making it, and there are thousands of variations, from one end of the country to the other. And when done properly, there are few foods more delicious. We’ve tracked down the absolute best restaurant for burgers in every state as well as Washington, D.C.
The humble burger is one of the most beloved, comforting foods in existence, and thankfully, we’re currently in the midst of a burger Golden Age, with more and more upscale restaurants adding burgers to their menus as old-time burger joints keep going strong, and entire festivals and competitions are devoted to burgers.
On our hunt for the best burger in every state, we took into account the fact that there are three main burger styles out there these days: the inch or so-thick patties that drip juice down your arm; the “smash burgers,” sometimes called fast-food style burgers, thin patties cooked on a griddle that get an ample crust; and the high-end burgers, usually served in steakhouses and made with scraps of aged beef and other premium cuts, that elevate the burger to fine-dining status. All of these styles are represented in our list.
In order to assemble our list, we started by taking a look at our annual rankings of the 101 Best Burgers in America, which is compiled by creating a survey with hundreds of burgers on it and asking a panel of noted writers, journalists, bloggers, and culinary authorities from across the country to place their votes. For the remaining states, we extensively researched beloved burger joints in big cities and small towns alike and dug through online reviews and combed existing best-of lists, both in print and online. Even though each of the burgers we found was unique, certain qualities were universal must-haves: high-quality beef (you'll find no non-beef burgers in our ranking), proper seasoning, well-proportioned components, and an overall attention to detail that many would call “making it with love.” We didn’t include large chains like Shake Shack and In-N-Out — we celebrate the best chain burgers as well — choosing instead to focus on smaller-time restaurant owners.
The burger is more than just a sandwich; it’s a national pastime. And moreso than just about any other food item, each state is home to restaurants that are devoted to doing them really, really well.