The hamburger, one of America's quintessential comfort foods, has seen a resurgence of late. After all, there's just something to be said about a hunk of ground beef between two slices of bread, a sandwich that is universally loved -- and endlessly customizable. From fast-food restaurants to trendsetting gastropubs, each place has its own version of the "best" burger.
Here in Palm Beach County, finding the perfect burger isn't a difficult task -- it just depends on how you like it done. Some places use nothing but Black Angus beef, others a secret blend of choice cuts. Still others swear it's all about how you cook it, from cast-iron broiler to seared over an open flame. And still more believe that it's all about the bread and that only a brioche bun or sesame studded one will do.
See also: Ten Best Burgers in Broward County
Sure, there are lots of new burger joints vying for top spot -- one could argue too many. Do they deserve a spot on this list? You bet. But we're paying homage to best of the best, the places that have carved a niche for themselves.
These are the burgers that will require you to tuck the napkin into your shirt collar, unbutton your pants, and open wide. These are the best burgers in Palm Beach County.
10. HiWay Burger
One part fast food, one part burger shack, this little slice of burger heaven opened a year ago a few miles west of the beach and a few steps from Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. Where Doc's All American off Swinton would typically get the vote for cheap burger and shake shack in Delray Beach, we like HiWay for its simple menu and ridiculously low prices. Especially because nothing on the menu costs more than $6. Even the "Triple Hi Cheeseburger" -- with three patties, a divine melted cheese sauce, and all the fixings -- is only $5.45. Pair it with a milk shake and an order of hand-cut French fries and you're out the door for right around $11.
9. The Office
Years before burger joints began popping up left and right, David Manero opened the Office in Delray Beach. The highlight of the menu: grilled burgers. Memorable selections include the Prime Office Cheeseburger, delivered beside a heaping pile of shoestring fries. The best, however, is the Prime CEO -- a 26-day, dry-aged natural prime ground brisket served with a sweet onion sauce, tomato confit, blue cheese, Gruyère, arugula, bacon, and "office" sauce.
8. 3rd & 3rd
A great burger is not just comfort food. Once you've had one, it's like a rite of passage into gastronomy. When 3rd & 3rd owner John Paul Kline opened his Delray Beach restaurant just over a year ago, the first thing he put on the menu was a seared burger. Why? To get everyone a little bit closer to burger nirvana. Kline also believes a burger should be just that -- a burger. His iteration is simple -- practically minimalist in comparison to other flashy joints. That means a single patty, a pure blend of ground beef, and nothing added but a generous smothering of salt and pepper before a quick searing on the flattop for a brown, crispy exterior. That crusty finish locks in texture and flavor and presents the perfect platform for a generous portion of Kline's red-onion jam, a simple reduction of fresh red onion, balsamic vinegar, and sugar made in house. It works so well with the burger that Kline says his patrons have given up on ketchup and mustard entirely.
7. Rebel House
Some could argue the Rebel Burger is nothing more than a Charm City burger dressed up in bit more hipster cool. Sure, it's made using co-owner Mike Saperstein and Evan David's own special blend of meats from their own grind house, just like Charm. And then it's topped with white American cheese and its sister establishment's famous Charm City sauce, then nestled into the very same sesame seed bun. However, the pickled tomato and crispy onion add an extra element of flavor you won't find at Charm. And the petite salad side is different. But what makes it better than a Charm burger? Well, the fact that you can add seared foie gras, of course. You're welcome.
6. The Dubliner
It's an Irish twist on an American classic. When you think of burgers, you don't often think of lamb. But at the Dubliner in Boca Raton, that's exactly what you'll get with our favorite burger on the menu. The rich flavor of the ground lamb lends itself well to the task, especially when topped with the chef's own pickled onions, bacon, Stilton blue cheese, and a homemade Guinness BBQ sauce.
West Palm Beach's Grease Burger Bar has been on the map for quite some time as one of the area's best spots to snag a burger. It is a burger bar, after all. And if you're a meat eater, prepare to meet your match. Cheese and bacon lover? Prepare to be wowed. Calorie counters, prepare to pay penance. While all the burgers on the menu are decadently spectacular, it's the Grease Beast that takes center stage. If you plan to get greasy, what better way than to order this signature cheeseburger? As the menu states, "not for the faint of heart." Just as the name suggests, the Beast is a monster of a sandwich -- a few meals in one, plated to satisfy all your cravings with just a single bite. It starts with a ten-ounce cheddar-cheese burger, stacked between two bacon/grilled-cheese sandwiches, piled high with shoestring French fries and onion rings. Then add a heaping dose of ranch dressing and traditional toppings like tomatoes, onion, lettuce, and pickles. Don't attempt to box this baby up, either. The staff is known for taunting those who don't clean their plate. One of the few people to finish the entire thing: someone's grandmother. If she can do it, so can you.
Buffalo burgers? Yes -- but only at Relish, where specialty meats abound. This cozy and quaint Northwood Village burger spot has the ultimate mix-and-match menu where you can choose from about a dozen types of meat. There's beef, turkey, tuna, mahi, shrimp, lamb, buffalo, and veal -- all of which are freshly ground or made in-house each day. Next, add any number of Relish's 20-plus gourmet toppings. There are relatively normal offerings, like lettuce slaw and drunken onions cooked in lager. And then there's the wacky stuff you would never have thought to put on a burger in a million years, like oven-roasted beets with fresh herbs or shaved asparagus with white wine and tarragon. But hey, if that's how you like to pimp your burger, go for it.
Palm Beach Gardens has a new burger spot with Chuck Burger Joint. Here, owner Michael Curcio believes the perfect burger is all about the experience. A Palm Beach County native, Curcio got his start in the business with the casual Mexican eateries known as PyroGrill, all the while crafting his dream for the perfect burger house. And Curcio is all about the chuck. This isn't a place that complicates with too many toppings and add-ons. Just a flattop, some high-quality meat, and a bun that can handle it all without taking center stage. The only thing that stands out aside from the meat is the "special" sauce, one that is said to be ten years in the making. You'll want to try the Chuck Burger, made with hormone- and antibiotic-free meat from Creekstone Farms and ground by the local Bush Brothers butchers. There's also a Greenburg for the meat-free kind, topped with cheese and veggies.
Boca Raton and West Palm Beach's La Perrada Del Gordo -- or as it loosely translates from Spanish, the fat bitch -- is among the most authentic Colombian establishments of its kind in the area, a local approach to the colorful cart fare of the country. Like its litter mates at La Moon -- the Colombian-American joint in the Little Havana district of Miami made famous by the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food -- the hamburgers served here are the real deal, genuine Colombian street-food delicacies where more toppings equals more hype. Perfect for -- say -- chowing down after a night of clubbing and bar-hopping (Friday and Saturday, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 6 a.m.). In other words, Colombian fast food at its finest -- and also at its most gaudyily dressed. At first glance, one of the menu's biggest, baddest specialty Gordo burger appears garishly overdone with an amalgam of ten very colorful toppings. Choose a beef topped with (more) shredded beef or chicken and then the litany of toppings from garlic mayo, ketchup, a special "showy" pink sauce, pineapple purée, crushed potato chips, and cheese. A mouthful, to say the least.
1. Sybarite Pig
This cozy little beer bar and gastropub in west Boca Raton is best-known for its craft brew menu, which offers tons of specialty picks you can't find just anywhere. Beer geeks like to eat here too. Because what could possibly pair better with a nice cold brew than a big pile of meat? Here, the burger that takes the glory is the Wagyu duck fat burger (there's two of them), duck-fat-infused Wagyu beef patties that are so intense, you have no choice but to roll up your sleeves and say farewell to your arteries. As if all that fatty flavor isn't enough, one is served with tomato, a house-made red-onion jelly, bacon, aged cheddar, and a fried egg. The hardest part about it all: finding a beer to pair with all that burger goodness.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.
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