We have a beef with most best-of lists. Too often they’re just social media popularity contests, or piggybacking on other media coverage, or random. The Daily Meal, though, did what sounds like a thorough survey when compiling a list of the country’s best burgers.
Here’s how the editors described the process: “We assembled a list of nearly 200 burgers from all across the country, from Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Hillsboro, Oregon. Building upon last year’s suggestions from authorities including John T. Edge and Josh Ozersky, we combed existing best-of lists both print and online, dug through online reviews, and left no stone (bun?) unturned…In order to keep the playing field even, we didn’t include chains that have expanded outside of their home cities and have lots of locations, meaning that chains like Shake Shack and In-n-Out will be left for another day’s ranking. We then divided these burgers up by region, and compiled a survey which was then taken by a panel of 50 noted writers, journalists, bloggers, and culinary authorities from across the country, asking them to vote for their favorites, limited to the ones that they’ve tried.”
The verdict? The Kuma Burger at Kuma’s Corner in Chicago was named #1 in the U.S., followed by the Luger Burger at Peter Luger in Brooklyn and the Black Label Burger at the Minetta Tavern in New York City. The Office Burger at Father’s Office in Los Angeles, one of the original inspirations for Seattle’s Skillet Street Food burger, came in at #4. The only Seattle spots on the list were 8 Oz. Burger Bar (now 8 oz. Burger & Co) at #40, and the iconic Dick’s Deluxe at Dick’s Drive In as #46.
We’ve gone through the Seattle best burgers argument a few times before. Tan Vinh said the “solid” 8 Oz. Burger Bar served up one of the best burgers on Capitol Hill, at least, and “life-changing” Dick’s is on every list with its $2.90 Deluxe. We commonly call out Red Mill, Skillet, the burger at Two Bells Tavern (a “a two thick-napkin extravaganza of beefy ground round,) and the oldie-but-goodie luxury of the now-$17 Palace Kitchen burger. Li’l Woody’s is a recent addition — reporter Mark Yuasa acknowledged that picking the city’s best burger is an enterprise where “it’s totally subjective, and you’ll never come to an agreement,” but nominated Woody’s for the hall of fame regardless. Loulay, another new addition, deserves widespread fame for its “sublime” burger — $14 with a side of fries, but add another $15 for foie gras on top, which put it on this other list of the country’s best splurge-worthy burgers.