It’s no secret that beer’s best friend might just be a burger. During our delicious research for our coast-to-coast guide to 10 beer and burger spots, we noticed a delightful, delectable, somewhat devious trend: the non-bun burger. This isn’t some low-carb fad; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. We found genius restaurants thinking outside the bun and replacing a burger’s bookends with everything from waffles to grilled cheese sandwiches. The best part: you can MacGuyver your own versions at home with these tips from the creators themselves.
The perfect brunch hybrid may have been born at Hermosa Beach, Calif.’s Abigaile, where the Twenty Spot Munchie Box burger arrives nestled between two waffles. The current version comes with a generous drizzle of house-made steak sauce that fills the waffles’ nooks and crannies, a 50/50 (prime chuck/brisket) patty topped with thick bacon, smoked cheddar and a fried egg. To recreate the masterpiece, chef Jorge Valines says to use clarified butter in your waffle batter instead of oil, and lean more on the salt and pepper rather than sugar (but you’ll still want a pinch). Think savory, not sweet.
Mimic the giant YouCanHasCheeseburger from Portland, Ore., resto and food truck The Brunch Box by stuffing a plain all-beef patty and standard toppings—ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and grilled onions—between two full-sized Texas toast grilled cheese sandwiches. Owner Derek Coughlin says to skip the smoked gouda and fancy artisan sourdough; use slices of regular old American cheese and thick-cut white bread, plus plenty of butter on your griddle. Still not satisfied? Heed the menu’s suggestion and keep piling on layers of sizzling meat: Everything is better with bacon… or ham… or Spam.
Philadelphia’s PYT is famous for its wacky burgers, but the Doh! Nut, made with five ounces of beef and chocolate-covered bacon stacked between grilled doughnuts, might take the cake. To make this bad boy at home, dip cooked bacon in melted chocolate chips, and place it in the freezer until it has a solid chocolate shell. Slice a glazed doughnut in half, and grill it until the outside is crisp. When building your burger, use the doughnut upside down (the interior of the doughnut is the outside of the bun) to avoid sticky hands, and layer the patty, American cheese and choco-bacon for the ultimate dinner-meets-breakfast-meets-dessert.