Two words recur with many of the burger joints that opened during the first half of 2016: “classic” and “quality.”
There is a noticeable simplicity to many of the Class of 2016 burger startups. While fancifully named, multi-topping burgers still can be found (see Crusade Burger Bar below), many are featuring “classic” burgers, often using that name, that sport only a few garnishes such as cheese, lettuce and tomato.
That simplicity allows new burger bars to spotlight the other word: quality. High-quality beef—often grass-fed or hormone- and antibiotic-free—is the marketing platform for several restaurants here. Even a spot with the unlikely name of Burgers and Brownies and Beers Oh My! (see below) stresses that it uses fresh, ground-in-house beef. The Royale Magnificent Burger in Texas uses nothing but Wagyu beef.
The Royale, opened by Chef John Tesar, is one of several new burger joints created by people with culinary pedigrees. April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig gave New York City Salvation Burger. Melbourne Chef Shane Bennett—whose Vue de Monde has tasting menus starting at $230 AUS—created BennyBurger in the International Terminal of Sydney’s airport. Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ Truck fame, already has two locations of his LocoL burger concept open. The Walt Disney Co. even got into the burger business with its new fast-casual D-Luxe.
A few of the new burger joints offer both signature and build-your-own burgers, but the DIY option appears less strong this year. Still strong, however, is the marriage of burgers and brews. Craft beer lists are long, and one new burger bar—Miami’s BurgerQ—even offers a pour-your-own wall of beer taps.
So here are 24 notable new burger joints from the first half of 2016. They range from tiny college counters such as Uberburger to airport installations, market stalls such as Between Two Buns to burger-and-brews concepts. There’s something of interest that can be learned from each of them.
Benny Burgers, Sydney, Australia
Concept: Organic burgers, sustainable fish, etc. from a counter at Gate 10, International terminal, Sydney Airport.
BetweenTwo Buns, Baltimore
Concept: Burgers, poutine and fresh-cut fries at a Mount Vernon Marketplace stall from Chef Andrew Cole of Hampden’s Corner Charcuterie Bar.
Signature: Basic B (BBQ sauce, spicy pickle, smoked shallot, shredded romaine, tomato, Hawk’s Hill sharp Cheddar on a brioche bun; $8).
BLVD BRGR Company, Camarillo, Calif.
Concept: “Crafted burgers, gourmet sides with awesome shakes and draft beer!”
Signature: BBBBQ BRGR (shown at r.; 6-oz. CAB patty with house-made BLVD BRGR barbecue sauce; $8.50)
Bristol’s Burgers, Hollywood, Fla.
Concept: House-blend Florida beef burgers, salads and desserts.
Signature: Beer Battered Onion Brick with Grilled-Lemon Horseradish Dip
Burgers & Brownies & Beers Oh My!, Silver City, N.M.
Concept: Ground-in-house-beef burgers; scratch-made baked goods and frozen desserts.
Signature: Angus Burger (ground fresh beef on a scratch-made whole-wheat or gluten-free bun.
Burger Bench, Escondito, Calif.
Concept: Neighborhood eatery with burgers, melts, sliders, wings and 20 draft beers.
Signature: The Classic (Hand-pattied Angus beef; natural, real American cheese; lettuce; tomato; grilled onions; Bench Sauce; $7.50)
Concept: Signature burgers, a build-your-own burger option and a pour-your-own craft beer wall.
Signature: Classic Cheeseburger (Angus beef, American cheese, green leaf lettuce, Beefsteak tomato and red onion).
Burger Shack & Bar, Wimbledon, UK
Concept: “Wimbledon’s go-to joint for juicy patties, squidgy buns and chin-dribbling sauce.”
Signature: The Classic (Prime British beef burger, ale onions, cheese, shredded lettuce, ketchup, mayo, pickles, curly fries; £13)
Burger Yum, Harrisburg, Pa.
Concept: Classic burgers update with antibiotic- and hormone-free beef.
Signature: Burger Yum Classic (beef, lettuce, tomato and Yum Sauce; $4.49)
Crusade Burger Bar, Yorkville, Ill.
Concept: Big burgers with funky names plus mac’n cheese and fries (just opened)
Signature: Phony Tough, Crazy Brave (beef, house-made barbecue sauce, onion ring, bacon jam and white Cheddar; $12)
D-Luxe Burger, Disney Springs, Fla.
Concept: See our earlier story here.
Signature: Southern Classic Burger (beef patty, topped with fried-green tomato, pimento cheese, lettuce, onion and bacon; $12.99)
A Flippin Sweet Burger Joint, Kearney, Neb.
Concept: “A mom and pop joint doing burgers up right!” With sibling pizza joint.
Signature: Danny Ocean (1/2-lb. burger patty with blue cheese, candied bacon, arugula, sliced figs and balsamic glaze; $9.99)
Jax Burgers and Brews, Lexington, Ky.
Concept: Signature and BYO burgers; hard shakes, cocktails and beers
Signature: Dayzed & Confused (1/3-lb. beef patty, Brie cheese and hot bacon jam on a Donut Days Bakery glazed donut bun; $9.90)
Killen’s Burgers, Pearland, Texas
Concept: A retro ‘50s concept from Chef Ronnie Killen in the former space of his Killen’s Steakhouse.
Signature: Big K (2 lb. of beef on an enormous bun).
Kuma Burgers, Houston
Concept: Willet Feng’s Asian-inspired burger joint in a Houston food court.
Signature: Spicy Burger (fresh, charred & pickled jalapeňos; sambal mayo, pepper-Jack cheese and soy-marinated Serrano chiles on the side; $7).
LocoL, Los Angeles & Oakland
Concept: Kogi BBQ Truck alum Roy Choi’s mission to bring good eating to neighborhoods where it’s scarce.
Signature: LocoL Cheeseburg (Jack cheese, scallion relish, awesome sauce; $4)
Moo & Brew, Charlotte, N.C.
Concept: “We’re a burger joint with a passion for great beer and good times. We love rock and roll, backyard BBQs and good people.”
Signature: Moo & Brew Burger (Brew-Braised Onions, Brew Chili, Brew Cheese & Yellow Mustard; $9)
The Royale Magnificent Burgers, Plano, Texas
Concept: Chef John Tesar’s (Knife) swanky burger bar exclusively uses Wagyu beef for beef burger options. Non-beef burgers include crab, ahi tuna and turkey.
Signature: Royale Burger (7 oz. Wagyu beef patty, vine-ripened tomato, sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, applewood-smoked bacon and truffle aïoli; $12.50).
Salvation Burger, New York City
Concept: Chef April Bloomfield of Spotted Pig, The Breslin, Salvation Taco and others has a new hit burger spot. Rebuilding from a mid-May kitchen fire.
Signature: Classic Burger (house-made cheese, special sauce & pickles; $17)
Concept: Low prices in a high-rent district: Just a cheeseburger, a chicken sandwich, a veggie burger and fries on the core menu.
SpOt Gourmet Burgers, Philadelphia
Concept: A Philly favorite food truck opens its first bricks-and-mortar locations.
Signature: the weekly special; recent Big Mick was two freshly ground sirloin patties with Russian dressing, lettuce, Cheddar, pickles and diced red onions on a seeded potato roll: $8.50)
Triple B (Best Burgers and Brews), Gale’s Ferry, Conn.
Concept: Burgers, draft and craft beers, two pool tables, two dart board and a fire pit.
Signature: The Firehouse (8-oz. beef patty, provolone cheese, capicola, jalapeňos, pepperoni, banana peppers, ketchup, mayo, hot sauce and lettuce on an Italian spiced roll; $10.99)
Uberburger, Granville, Ohio
Concept: Burger takeout serving students at my alma mater, Denison University.
Signature: Hamburger/Cheeseburger (pick your toppings; $5.99)