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The 100 Best Burgers In America


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according to Thrillist


Most events in life feel ephemeral, the ever-ticking hands of time speeding them through your brain until they become distant memories. Burger Quest was not that. No matter how topically fun it seems, going to 30 cities and eating 330 burgers over the course of one year is a task, one that ropes in many of America's greatest failings, like air and road travel, and overusing the word "logistics." There were rental cars, and hotel rooms, and one Airbnb that looked like a mausoleum for an above-average Americana collector. And yet, this was also the greatest trip of my entire life.


Burgers are the most democratic of foods. The best burger in any one city might be in the dankest of dive bars, or in the fanciest of restaurants. Finding the ones that matter takes you all through a city (and outside it) and helps you understand a city's geography, its class structure, its views on race. I drank warm rum out of plastic cups in a carpeted bar in Cleveland during their first championship parade in 52 years. I sat in a diner on a violently windy day in El Reno, Oklahoma, and watched a 9-year-old shovel ice into my root beer while his dad kept one eye on my burger and the other on a particularly competitive Family Feud. I ate burgers with liquored-up chefs, sober food writers, and moderately buzzed photographers. I ate burgers with some of my best friends in the world. I ate burgers with my mom.


This started as a fairly straightforward mission. I was sick of having to rely on other people's opinions as to the greatest burger in America and I wanted to figure it out myself. And so I pitched an idea I never thought my editor (or his bosses) would approve -- but when they did, and I set off, this somewhat simple exploration of our nation's best burgers morphed into something much more complex. It became partly about that, but it also became a celebration and documentation of the culinary glory that abounds in America. It turned into stories of people and places as much as food. The quest became a living journal of the way we live, think, and eat now. But, yeah: I also ate a lot of f*cking burgers.


To that point, here lies a ranked list of the 100 best burgers I ate over the past year. This is not a list of every great burger I've ever had in my life. If I didn't eat the burger in this past year, it did not make the list -- so there will be some holes in places I didn't get a chance to hit, in states like Mississippi and Florida and the parts of Montana you only read about in Jim Harrison novellas that get turned into emotionally traumatic Brad Pitt films. But it also means the burgers on this list are all great. It means that 230 of the burgers I tried this year, most of which were recommended to me by local chefs and food writers, did not make the top 100. Go to any of the places below and you'll eat a damn good burger. Go to any of the top 10 and you'll eat a genuinely transcendent one.


In an effort not to overheat your phone or Power Mac G4 Quicksilver, most of these write-ups are short, with links to the longer versions in each city. I plan to update this yearly, and try to visit as many other cities as possible, until I can finally look at a map of the United States and feel confident that I can give you a burger recommendation within 100 miles of anywhere you point. Or die trying. But for now, you'll have to settle for the top 100. Gentlemen/women, start your bucket lists.

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I watched the video clip of #1, Stanich's and it did look like a damn tasty burger. As for fast food joints, for a while there it was the Whopper pretty much up until I got outta college. However, currently I'm partial to the Sonic double bacon burger (only one slice of cheese between the patties) as my go-to fast food burger of choice. If there was one in my fucking region of the country, it'd be In-N-Out though.


All that being said, none of that competes w/ pretty much any burger I've had off a grill at home. Season the patties however you like, but salt-n-peppa is usually good enough for me. Grill it up medium, toast the buns, slap on a light bit of mustard and mayo, dress with crisp lettuce, onion, and a tomato slice. Fucking heaven.

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Aw man, the guy who wrote this said there were states he didn't get to visit in the last year, including Florida. So we get no burgers on the list. I was all ready to road trip for a cheeseburger! There are a few in Georgia though!


I'm gonna see if there's a Best Burgers in Florida list somewhere else...

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Neither of these places were on the list, but here's a few great burger places I ate at in my recent travels:


I was all ready to road trip for a cheeseburger! There are a few in Georgia though!




When I was in Atlanta earlier this year I ate at a local chain called Grindhouse Killer Burgers. It was pretty awesome. Had a 'Yankee Style' burger, which had thick cut bacon, bleu cheese and grilled onions, along with a local craft beer and a side of sweet potato kettle chips.




Then, when I was at a conference earlier this month, I ate at the Abby Burger Bistro, a local chain in Baltimore. They had a bunch of wild house burgers and the most extensive build-a-burger options I've ever seen! Ostrich burger with peanut butter on a English muffin? Coming right up! Alligator patty on a brioche bun topped with fried green tomatoes and peach salsa? Right away! Plus they have a list of special 'meats of the month' that are even more exotic/bizarre. One of the specials while I was there was New Zealand Reindeer (I chickened out cause I had NO idea what to top that with)! Ended up getting a bison patty with avocado and bacon, topped with buffalo sauce and bleu cheese chunks on a toasted pretzel bun with waffle fries. Bliss. I'm looking for any excuse to go back to Baltimore just so I can go there again!

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