Most pubs and restaurants have a burger on their menus, but there is a separate category of spots that turn buns into a canvas for indulgent extras and top-quality meat. We’re talking Angus. We’re talking chicken chicharrónes as toppings. We’re talking sauces so special, they’re almost a national secret. Line those burgers up alongside a killer beer list, and the whole package becomes totally irresistible. Here’s a coast-to-coast guide to some of the best:
There’s only one burger on the menu at the L.A.-area beer bar’s two locations, but when you’ve had a stroke of genius, there’s no need to elaborate. The Office Burger is comprised of a cult-status patty topped with caramelized onion, bacon, gruyere and blue cheeses and arugula, and it’s best enjoyed alongside whatever world- class beers are flowing that day. Choose your dining companions wisely; there’s not much room in this dim, narrow bar, so parties of two or three are the way to go.
Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry 317 N. Francis St., dottydumplingsdowry.com
Though it’s existed in many storefronts around Madison, finally settling in at its current home in 2003, this kitschy college favorite remains fo- cused on what matters: burgers. Special sauces are the secret to many of the most popular burg- ers, including the Gladiator, a brawny beef patty topped with Muenster cheese, smoked bacon, red onion and Boomerang Sauce (mustard, mayo, black pepper and anchovies). Local- leaning drafts from Karben4, New Glarus and Hinterland are served in frosted glasses.
Black Tap 529 Broome St., blacktapnyc.com
There’s plenty of downtown cool to this months-old SoHo spot, from its black-and-white neon facade to its simple blond wood bar. You’ll want to focus your eyes squarely on the menu, though, where you’ll have to make the difficult choice between new-school options like the chorizo burger and a grass-fed lamb burger, or keep it simple with the classic All-American Burger. Draft and canned beers lean local, with offerings from Sixpoint, Brooklyn, KelSo and Gun Hill.
Sunnyside Burger Bar 3759 Lipan St., sunnysideburgerbar.com
This offshoot of Tag Burger Bar opened last fall with 20+ craft drafts, plus specialty burgers like the Hipster, topped with pimento cheese, spinach and pork belly. Upgrade the beef to Colorado bison for $3 more and try to leave room for an alcoholic dessert milkshake.
The Bad Apple 4300 N. Lincoln Ave., badapplebar.com
After a swing through Half Acre Brewing’s North Center taproom, you’re going to need some sustenance (and maybe some more beer). Head across the street to this unpretentious bar where an impressive tap and bottle list meets over-the-top burgers like the short-rib-topped Grizzly Adams, drenched in beer mustard cheddar sauce.
Bohemian Bull 1531 Folly Road, bohemianbull.com
For proof of how seriously this local-first tavern takes its beer, check out its website for weekly video rundowns of what’s new on tap. Pair pints of S.C.-made beer from Holy City, Westbrook and Revelry with brisket-and-chuck blend burgers in one of eight house creations, or build your own burger from the bun up.
Lokal 3190 Commodore Plaza, lokalmiami.com
Coconut Grove’s graffiti-tagged burger destination is a sibling to Kush, a gastropub any beer- drinking Miamian knows well. Come hungry if you want to brave the dare-you-to-try-it Childhood Dream, a 7-ounce beef patty served on a toasted, split doughnut, topped with American cheese and candied bacon. Draft beers don’t play second fiddle; look for standout Florida breweries J. Wakefield, Funky Buddha and Cigar City.
Half Orange 3340 E. 12th St., thehalforange.com
Restaurateur Jay Porter (of now-closed San Diego spot The Linkery) opened this Fruitvale burger spot last fall, combining both grass-fed beef burgers and housemade sausages. Go Cali- style with the El Take It Easy topped with avocado, chicken chicharrónes, cilantro chutney, havarti cheese and signature THO sauce (a mix of mayo, sesame seeds, ginger and miso). Wash it down with a pint from Fruitvale’s own Ale Industries; all draft beers are just $3.67 on Mondays.
New Haven, Conn.
Prime 16 172 Temple St., prime16.com
Dark and cozy, Prime 16’s New Haven location is an energetic spot for the seriously beef-and- brew obsessed. You may even want to peruse the menu beforehand to develop a game plan; with 16 burger behemoths to choose from, you’ll have your work cut out for you. Knowledgeable servers can help sort through the taps, which range from craft darling Maine Beer Co. Peeper to the ubiquitous Allagash White.
Citizen Burger Bar 212 E. Main St., citizenburgerbar.com
If you believe a tasty burger and a cold beer are essential American rights, step up to the bar—or a booth—at the original Citizen location. Beers are diverse and divided by style (we like a malty amber or brown ale with our patties), but beef is all local from grass-fed cows at miles-away Timbercreek Farms. Build your own burger or choose from one of seven house creations.