Some food items elicit intense reactions. New Yorkers trash any pizza from anywhere outside of their dear city limits. Chicagoans won't eat hot dogs without their traditional toppings. Kansas City residents scoff at any other barbecue.
But good burgers can be found pretty much anywhere. Even though the basics are all the same — bun, meat, and a couple of toppings — the subject of the best burger tends to bring up an intense debate. After all, May is National Burger Month. To celebrate, we've come up with a list of the ten best burgers in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
1. Shake Shack — No, the novelty hasn't worn off. Straight out of Danny Meyer's empire, South Florida's newest fast burger chain is still kind of a big deal. Just like the other locations, the new Boca Raton outpost (1400 Glades Road, Boca Raton) is developing its own cult following. Buttery buns encase juicy patties of Angus beef, bright-green lettuce, and tomatoes. And starting at just $3.85, it's a pretty awesome steal.
2. d.b.a./cafe — They say variety is the spice of life. If that's the case, d.b.a. (2364 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale) is bringing the heat to the burger department. Just like the rest of the menu, burgers are revamped at the start of every month. In April, they were topped with cheddar, maple chipotle sauce, cornmeal-fried jalapeños, and spinach. Past incarnations have included Gorgonzola, crispy shallots, and blackberry aioli. Point being, there's something wrong if you're getting bored.
3. Cafe Boulud — If Daniel Boulud allows anything to be served under his name, you'd better believe it's as close to perfect as it gets. At 301 Australian Ave. in Palm Beach, executive chef Jim Leiken creates a custom blend using specific cuts from the chuck and round combined with short rib. It's the same blend that's used in Leiken's old haunt, DBGB Kitchen and Bar in New York. The ten-ounce burger is then grilled until it gets just the right amount of char. It's served between a locally sourced brioche bun and topped with aged white cheddar, house-made burger sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion, with a pickle spear on the side. The hand-cut fries are cooked Belgian-style — blanched at a low temperature, followed by high-temp frying — tossed in a garlic- and herb-infused butter, and served with either house-made ketchup or a mayo-based "fit saus." Who knew burgers could be so decadent? And so French?
4. Tap 42 — Sometimes when you're drinking a beer, you just need a burger to go along with it. And here, both are specialties. In addition to the awesome selection of craft beers, Tap 42 (1411 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale) offers some tasty burger options. Vegetarian? No problem. No red meat? Got you covered. Want some lamb in the mix? Get the Drunken Goat with lamb, beer, tomato jam, bourbon red onions, goat cheese, and Dijon on a brioche bun. And you most certainly cannot go wrong with the house Prohibition burger topped with cheddar, applewood bacon, special sauce, dijon, and LTO. Better yet? Monday evenings, it's only five bucks.
5. Charm City Burgers — If burger places were mobsters, Charm City (1136 E. Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach) would be the godfather. The place frequently racks up awards for its perfect, inventive, and superinexpensive burgers. The Good Ole Burger, with or without cheese, starts at just $5.25. Volcano Style with pepper jack cheese, volcano sauce, and jalapeño rings in at just $6.50. Want to go all-out? The Emperor with Kobe beef patty, sautéed mushrooms, aged Gruyère, and truffled aioli comes out to a mere $10.95. But you can add some foie gras for another 12 bucks. Overall, the place is ridiculous.
6. Chimney House — Burgers wouldn't necessarily be the first thought to pop into your head when you're thinking Latin food. But maybe you should. On top of its well-priced, home-cooked Latin food, Chimney House (701 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) makes a pretty amazing burger to boot. Certified Angus beef is topped with white cheese, caramelized onions, and a fried egg. Fries and Huancaína sauce on the side keep in line with the spot's signature Latin flair. You can't beat a protein-filled burger like this for a mere ten bucks.
7. 3rd & 3rd — Situated just off Pineapple Grove, 3rd & 3rd (301 NE Third Ave., Delray Beach) serves some pretty amazing food in a laid-back environment. The spot feels like you're visiting your fun-loving, stuck-in-college, beer-drinking friend's house — and he just happens to be an amazing chef. And your friend's burger is to die for: seared beef patty on a brioche with your choice of cheese and a side of balsamic red onion jam. The atmosphere is so chill, you're not going to mind when that burger juice trickles down your chin.
8. Tarpon Bend — Another local institution, Tarpon Bend (200 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale) has been taking care of downtown office crowds and frat boys for nearly 15 years now. That's probably a record for the always-changing environment of Himmarshee Street. And, well, there's a reason. In addition to its numerous drink specials, Tarpon churns out a delicious burger. And those skinny fries most certainly help. Check it out on a Monday: The spot offers $5 cheeseburgers with purchase of a beverage.
9. Buccan — You shouldn't be surprised to hear that a James Beard nominee knows how to make a pretty badass burger. Clay Conley is an expert at making the comfort-food classic. For 15 bucks, Buccan (350 S. County Road, Palm Beach) serves a wood-fired prime burger on brioche with aged cheddar and cornichons. Not only is it delicious but it's probably one of the best deals ever from a James Beard nominee. Wait, did we mention the James Beard thing? Just sayin'.
10. Le Tub Saloon — Long before it was touted as the Best Burger in America by GQ and mentioned by the god of everything, Oprah, Le Tub (1100 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, 954-921-9425) was a South Florida institution. It's a place local kids could sneak out to at 2 a.m. to hang out on the water and nosh on burgers. The service has never been outstanding. The toppings have never been anything special. But Le Tub offers a piece of Old Florida and a damned good, straightforward, hand-made burger right on the water.