Whether you’re craving a cheese-stuffed burger or something more classic, this is the only Philly burger guide you need.
It’s burger season. What season is that, you ask? Well, really all of them. A burger is just as good on a hot day by the pool as it is in a cozy pub on a winter night.
Philadelphia has many great burgers, but we have some clear favorites, ranging from an off-menu, secret burger to patties from an old-school spot that has been serving burgers for nearly 100 years.
Here, in no particular order, are our favorite burgers in Philly and the suburbs. This list has been updated, and we’ll continue to, as we eat more of the most delicious burgers the city has to offer.
The burger royale at chef Christopher Kearse’s modern French destination in Old City is one of the most indulgent anywhere. It’s two patties, done smash-style with comeback sauce. What takes it over the top are the panisse “fries” (chickpea flour fritters) served on the side beneath a glorious, molten swirl of raclette. A junior version of the burger is coming to the happy hour menu, too.
Chef-owner Derek Davis has been doing permutations of his Parker burger (cheddar, crispy onions, oven-fried tomatoes, black truffle mayo) since his days in Manayunk at his late, great destination, Derek’s (formerly Sonoma). Now served at his bistro in Washington Square West, this is a big burger — 10 ounces and thick — that may require cutlery and several napkins.
Owners Stew and Julie Keener brought in chef Chris Reed a year ago after stints at Osteria, Morimoto, and Serpico. His not-so-secret weapon, pairing with the house-brewed beers, may be the burger. When planning the menu, “he told me he would grind it himself,” Stew Keener said. It’s about a half-pound of chuck-brisket blend, topped with Cabot mild cheddar, a sauce of Thousand Island dressing and house hot sauce, red onion, Bibb lettuce, and house-made bread-and-butter pickles. Treat: Get it and brunch, and your side will be the home fries (red bliss potatoes and stout-caramelized onions).
Charlie’s Hamburgers, the Delco throwback to elemental slider comfort that dates to 1935, has long been a reluctant holdout to the “in” burger of now, whatever “in” might be at the time (things like truffle-topped burgers and crab-topped burgers both had their moment at other burger joints). Their old-school griddle powers result in greasy, beefy little patties, all stacked up in crumbly burgers tucked inside their griddle-crisped buns. The Bunny, Charlie’s, and Peg special combos have transcended the shop’s 2019 move from Kedron Avenue and not lost one ounce of their charm.
There are only about five of the off-the-menu Mother Rucker burgers available each night at East Passyunk’s River Twice. Those who really want it should either get an early reservation (still risky) or put a note in their reservation (much safer). The burger, named for the restaurant’s James Beard-nominated chef and owner Randy Rucker, is a true two-fisted indulgence of a stacked burger whose drippy pink juices are almost too much for its bun to hold. The ingredients are local, with two eight-ounce patties from next door’s Primal Supply Meats and a mix of Cooper sharp and American cheese; house-pickled red onions and an everything-spiced mayo are the finishers.
The ultimate bar burger can be found at East Passyunk’s Fountain Porter, which is served with house pickles and should be ordered with one of their many craft beers. For years, the burger was five bucks and while the price was recently raised to $6, it’s still a steal for one of the best burgers in the city.
As the name suggests, the burgers are the main draw at SpOt Gourmet Burgers (though its cheesesteak is worth a visit, too). Here, you’ll find a selection of 10-plus burgers, all available in their classic sirloin style, or as chicken or veggie burgers. Of particular note is the aptly named Umami burger, which comes with mushrooms, grilled onion, lettuce, pickled daikon, ssamjang (a spicy Korean paste), cucumber, and pickled daikon.
For the double-patty burger at Ardmore’s Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft, chef and co-owner Biff Gottehrer stacks two quarter-pounders with extra fat content and dry-aged beefy oomph between melty layers of Gouda, house-pickled onions, a “special sauce” with smoked tomatoes, capers, and shallots over a pain au lait bun that’s soft without being eggy. Most important, it’s got local personality: two thin pads of fried Lebanon bologna slipped between the patties that add a touch of smoky sweetness where, in other burgers, bacon plays the common role.
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Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s 13th Street empire went retro with the opening of Bud & Marilyn’s in 2015, and ever since, the lively corner restaurant has become a favorite spot for comforting, greasy (in the best way) food. Its double patty burger, with bacon, pickles, two layers of cheese, and creamy “special sauce,” is a must-try.
There are two burgers on the menu at the always buzzing Center City bar, but the must-try burger is their signature, which is stuffed with blue cheese and covered with caramelized onions. Funnily enough, this burger also drove one of us (Craig) to create a burger music video back in 2007. You should watch it, ideally while eating one of these cheese-stuffed burgers.
Rittenhouse’s Village Whiskey is known not only for its beverage namesake but also for its juicy burgers, which range from classic options, like a single or double smashburger, to an eight-ounce, $26 burger that is loaded with blue cheese, bacon, and foie gras.
While Kensington Quarters recently made a switch to a seafood-focused menu, its beloved KQ Burger remains a brunch menu staple. The burger starts with two three-ounce patties layered with cheddar, the restaurant’s creamy KQ sauce, and pickled red onion for a bright crunch. The soft but sturdy milk bun molds perfectly around this beefy abundance. Many of the same ingredients are used for the quick-serve but temporarily closed KQ Burger stand at Franklin’s Table (3401 Walnut St.).
Royal Boucherie has its burger down. A six-ounce patty is sandwiched between a fluffy bun that’s spread with a bone marrow butter. Watercress and gruyere cheese round out the meal, along with a hefty helping of crispy fries. If that’s not enough for you, bacon is available to top it all off.
The double-pattied burger made with a mix of beef chuck and brisket at a.kitchen + bar comes layered with oozy American cheese, creamy dijonnaise, and cornichons, which combine into one magnetic fistful of carnivorous lust.
Melty cheddar cheese, thinly sliced pickles, smoked bacon, and the restaurant’s signature Churchill sauce sit atop the Dandy Burger at British-inspired pub The Dandelion. It’s available during lunch, brunch, and dinner, and makes a fine partner for one of the restaurant’s many draft beers.
Beer and burgers go together. It’s as simple as that. And on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough, New Ridge Brewing Co. pairs housemade beers with its double-pattied Ridge Burger, made with Primal Supply beef layered with American cheese and a mayo-based sauce that encapsulates all of the traditional burger topping flavors (ketchup, pickles, and mustard). A vegan version is also available.
The burger at Rittenhouse Square-facing Rouge has long been one of the city’s iconic burgers; it comes with the classics — tomato, lettuce, and dill pickles — but the addition of caramelized onions and creamy gruyere sets it apart. Rouge’s burger has been a menu staple since 1998 and its popularity drove the owners to open the now-shuttered 500 Degrees, a burger-only spot on Sansom.
The miso-blended Pro Tap burger at this essential Callowhill neighborhood gastropub is made with two beefy patties and layers of classic burger toppings: American cheese, dill pickles, caramelized onions, and shredded lettuce all on a Merzbacher’s sweet potato bun. The burger can be brunch-ified with the addition of an over-easy egg.
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