Put down the fast food chain burger! No matter where you are in Philadelphia lately, chances are good that you’re just steps away from a great burger. From the classic simple patty to a foie gras-topped masterpiece, there’s a burger for every craving or budget. And lest you think that red meat lovers have all the fun, almost every spot also offers tasty vegetarian alternatives these days. CBS previously brought you a list of the top burger joints, but here’s our newest list of the best burgers in Philadelphia.
1504 Sansom St.
500 Degrees gets its name from the ideal temperature for a burger-cooking surface, and its whole concept revolves around the goal of making a top-notch, gourmet burger. Burgers are made from fresh (never frozen) beef, cooked to your preference, and served on soft Challah rolls. Choose from five different basic burger combos (think toppings like cheese, tomato, house sauce) with fries and a drink. Or up the ante with one of the specialty burgers. The “Turbo” is a favorite topped with chipotle ketchup, pickled jalapenos, hickory-smoked cheddar, lettuce and tomato. And if one of the burgers on the menu doesn’t strike your fancy, you can also build your own, with choices including hamburger, prime burger, kobe, turkey and portabella mushroom, as well as a diverse selection of toppings, cheese and sauces. Don’t forget your side of fries — the truffle oil fries are a popular pick.
Grub Burger Bar
159 York Rd.
Willow Grove, PA 19090
It might be located in Montgomery County, but Grub is worth the drive outside the city. More than just slang for casual food, “grub” is actually an acronym standing for good people, real food, unique vibe and big flavors. You order at a counter and then take an electronic device to a table of your choice. A food runner delivers your food to you when it’s ready. Or, you can grab a seat at the full-service bar surrounded by mounted flat screen TVs. Buns are made from scratch and baked fresh every hour (with gluten-free versions brought in from a local bakery), and burgers are ground fresh every morning from Grub’s signature brisket and chuck blend. While you get can your standard burger, it’s the more creative toppings that get the big draw. Thai peanut butter, ghost chili sauce, absinthe sauteed mushrooms and housemade Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce are just a few. Burgers range from $6.50 to $8.25. Add skinny fries and a drink for $4.
Nick’s Roast Beef Bar & Grille
16 S. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Polling just under 3,500 people, Zagat.com came out with its 2014 Burger Survey, and Nick’s Roast Beef Bar & Grille ranked #1. The relaxed Old City corner bar claimed its spot at the top by going beyond the standard bacon burger. Here, the bacon is actually chopped up and cooked right inside the burger – the patty is 35 percent bacon to be precise! The classic ground bacon burger ($8.50) is served on a brioche bun with cheese, tomato and lettuce, but you can get more creative by ordering one of the variations, like the Southwest (salsa, fried pickles, jalapeno and pepper jack cheese) or South Philly (longhots and sharp provolone). The ground bacon burger is available in eight-ounce patties or sliders.
Pub & Kitchen
1946 Lombard St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
With craft beers, quirky pub snacks like deviled eggs and crispy artichokes, and seasonal starters and entrees, Pub & Kitchen is a classic gastropub with gourmet flair from Chef Eli Collins. Alongside dishes like veal breast and rabbit meatballs, you’ll find the signature “P&K Cheeseburger” that proves that sometimes simple is best. Named “Best Gourmet Burger” by Philly Mag in 2014, the $15 P&K is two thin juicy beef patties topped with Cooper sharp cheese, pickles, lettuce and onions. Add bacon for an extra dollar.
1516 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Rex 1516 is known for its weekly burger special. For just $15, you’ll get a specialty burger, fries, a PBC Newbold IPA and a shot of Buffalo Trace. You can find the details of the week’s burger on Chef Justin Swain’s Instagram (@swainstache) on Tuesday afternoons, and the burger is available Tuesday and Wednesday nights or until it sells out. If you’re visiting any other day, you’re still guaranteed a great burger. The $13 house burger is made with an 8-oz. blend of filet tip, deckle and ground brisket and topped with bibb lettuce, smoky housemade pimento cheese and crispy red onions. It’s served on a brioche bun with salad or fries, and you can add a fried egg for an extra $2.
937 E. Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
This laid-back Bella Vista spot is the home of the aptly nicknamed “Royal Burger,” which was listed in Food Network Magazine‘s “50 States 50 Burgers” article as the best burger in PA a few years back. The $13 8-oz. angus burger is topped with Gouda, pickled long hots, bacon, caramelized onions and chile mayo and served on a brioche bun. The burger has been on the menu since Chef Mark McKinney’s first day, and because of its loyal eaters, it’s never changing. In fact, Chef McKinney joked that his headstone will someday read, “This guy sucked but at least he gave the world the Royal burger.”
413 E. Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
This funky Fishtown spot was named best burger in Philadelphia in the 2013 Zagat Survey and still came in at an impressive #2 in 2014. Options include the standards such as sirloin beef, turkey burgers and American Kobe along with several more unique variations and rotating chalkboard specials. The smashed onion burger ($7.95) is the signature item, made by literally smashing the onions under the patty as it cooks. This results in onions that are both caramelized and crispy. The vegan bean burger, made with a variety of beans, oats, potatoes, carrots, onion and spices, is another favorite. Burgers are made fresh and served on a Le Bus Bakery bun with lettuce, tomato and your choice of sauce such as wasabi, vegan BBQ or hot mustard.
118 South 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
With an Iron Chef behind the menu, pub fare is elevated to a whole new level at Joe Garces’s Village Whiskey, where you’ll enjoy bar snacks like housemade cheese puffs and herb-roasted oysters, and you don’t want to miss the duck fat fries. And while there are a number of salads, sandwiches and other entrees, the burgers are the most popular items on the menu. You can’t go wrong with the $13 standard “Village Burger” with an 8-oz. patty topped with tomato, bibb lettuce and housemade Thousand Island dressing on a sesame roll. But if you’re feeling truly indulgent, order the “Whiskey King.” At $26, it’s served with applewood bacon, rogue blue cheese, maple bourbon cipollini and rich, buttery foie gras. If you like to switch things up each time, be sure to ask about the Burger of the Month to find out the latest creation.
Related: Top Creative Burgers In Philadelphia
Michelle Hein is the social media editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer husband would love to open.
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