I've needed to update my list of my favorite burgers for quite sometime. Considering I've had a couple pretty good burgers over the past year that needed mention on the list, here is my updated Ten Ten list of my favorite burgers along with some honorable mentions -
1. Duffy's Cherry Cricket - Denver. Still the best. I almost got burnt out on them last year when we went there a couple three times while we were in Denver for the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival, but they still make the best burger of any place I've ever been.
2. Krazy Jim's Blimpie Burger - Ann Arbor. My mouth is still salivating from our visit there a few years ago. The place was a real dive, the lady cooking the burgers was a real character, and the burgers were excellent. Too bad I don't get back to Ann Arbor very often, as in never.
3. Monk's Bar and Grill - Wisconsin Dells. Still a strong number 3 on my list. This bar/burger joint in the Dells is a treat to stop at when I have the opportunity to drive past. The burger is tasty, the beer is cold. I just wish I had more opportunities to go there.
4. The Thurman Cafe - Columbus, OH. This place jumped right into my Top Ten list after our visit there last fall. Not only was it an interesting place and they had a great staff there, the burger was outstanding. I know I've only been there once, but it was still one of the best I've ever had. Unfortunately, I probably won't be back out to Columbus any time soon so I won't be able to savor the taste of another Thurman burger for awhile.
5. Booches - Columbia, MO. A recent visit to Booches reinforced my belief that Booches deserves a Top Five mention on my list of favorite burgers. Booches is truly a burger joint and the consistency of their burgers each time I visit there reinforces my belief that you don't screw with tradition.
6. Sobleman's - Milwaukee. After my visit to Sobleman's last summer, I went back to Solly's, which previously held the number 4 slot on my list. While the Solly's burger was still good, the meat, the bun, the toppings on a Sobleman's burger clearly won out. It's a great place to have a burger, too.
7. Solly's - Glendale, WI. If Solly's burger wasn't so basic, it wouldn't have dropped from 4th to 7th on my list. Their "butter burger" is flavorful and juicy. The place is truly an institution in North Milwaukee and they've got a loyal clientele. But I believe Sobleman's is a better burger.
8. Louie M's Burger Lust - Omaha. I'm still kicking around the idea of starting a second blog based only on burgers and calling it "Burger Lust". What a great name for a blog and an even better name for a burger joint. Lou Marcuzzo's funky little place south of downtown Omaha features about 20 specialty burgers and can make about anything you want to order up.
9. The Burger Barge - East Peoria, IL. I dropped these guys from number 7 on my last list due to some consistency issues. It seems like 4 out of 5 times I go there, the burgers are just killer. That one time of out five just keeps me from ranking them higher. And The Burger Barge is truly a joint, but a joint that has very good burgers.
10. Smoking Harry's - Creston, IL. I've eaten there a couple three times now and Harry's flat grilled 3/4 pound cheeseburger is surprisingly good. Good enough that I have to give it a Top Ten mention. If you can get past the stale smoke smell in the place and the fact that the place only seats a handful of people, you'd agree with me that Harry makes one helluva burger.
I have to give a high honorable mention to these burgers. While they may not have made the Top Ten list, you can be assured that you won't be disappointed in these places:
Starlite Room - Cedar Rapids. Was just in there recently and it confirmed to me that their flat grilled Super Cheeseburger could easily be a Top Ten pick if I hadn't had 10 other outstanding burgers listed before this place. This place has the best burger in Eastern Iowa.
Dotty Dumpling's Dowry - Madison, WI. Would have been a Top Ten pick, but they've been inconsistent on the past few occasions I've been in. And they certainly aren't as good as they were when they were in their original location in downtown Madison.
Blue Moon - Madison, WI. At one time, no one could touch Dotty's in Madison. Now, the Blue Moon gives them a run for their money. I still think Dotty's is a tad better, but not by very much.
Green Gables - Hudson, IL. Another place that has suffered from inconsistency, but the Green Gables has made a little surge over the past couple of years. I've heard that the people who bought the place from the original owners are no longer there and the new management has gone back to making burgers like they used to. The last couple times I was in, the burgers were just as good as the first time I was in.
Creekside Bar and Grill - Davenport, IA - Stephen has been putting out some consistently good burgers. We continue to experiment with combinations. I do like the ham/egg/cheddar cheeseburger, as well as that delicious Mushroom/Bacon/Swiss Cheeseburger. The jalapeno/pepper jack cheeseburger is pretty good, too. No one visited from the Iowa Beef Council for their Best Burger in Iowa contest, like I suspected they wouldn't. And while they may not get the recognition for having one of the best - if not THE best - burger in the Quad Cities this year, someday they will.
Lion's Tap - Eden Prairie, MN. It's been quite sometime since I've been to the Lion's Tap, but they have, what I think, is the best burger in the Twin Cities. I need to go back sometime soon and give a report on the burgers.
Newt's - Rochester, MN. Newt's burgers consistently win "Best of Rochester" honors and have been mentioned as one of the top ones in the state of Minnesota. I haven't had all the burgers in Minnesota yet, but they make a damn fine one at Newt's.
O'Connell's Pub - St. Louis. I've been sampling burgers in the St. Louis area over my past few visits and while there are a number of good ones in the area, "Oc's" burger is still one of the better ones I've encountered. The old-time pub feel alone is worth going to and hanging out.
Paradise Pup - Des Plaines, IL. Prepare to wait in line for these juicy char-broiled burgers that they top with creamy cheddar cheese. But the wait is worth it.
Two Mits - Elkader, IA. Steam grilled burgers made in a little trailer on a corner lot in downtown Elkader. Just the beauty of the area is worth the drive to Elkader. Two Mits is a must stop when you get there.
Jack's Locust Street Tap - Davenport. Don't let the "Warm Beer" and "Lousy Food" signs in the window fool you. They may have the best burgers in the Quad Cities. But go only on Tuesday thru Friday during the day when Karen's cooking. The other times, the burgers can be pedestrian, at best. Karen's got the touch.
Hackney's - Glenview, IL. Their Hackney burger is served on dark rye bread and is one of the best in the Chicagoland area. I've had Hackney burgers in five of their six locations. Each time at each place, the burger is exactly the same. It's consistently very good.
The Nook - St. Paul, MN. The Twin Cities are known for their "Juicy (or Jucy) Lucy" cheese-stuffed burgers and the Nook is the best I've found - so far. I know there are some others out there that I need to try, but The Nook easily beats the more established places in and around the Twin Cities for their cheese-stuffed burgers.
Stella's - Bellevue, NE. Stella's has been around for over 70 years. The old-timers in the Omaha area say the burgers are just as good today as they were when Stella was cooking them up in the 50's.
Maid-Rite - Newton, IA. I'm partial to loose meat burgers and while many will argue with me that Taylor's Maid-Rite in Marshalltown is better, I still think the oldest existing Maid-Rite that I grew up loving is the best of them all.
The following establishments don't fit the "burger joint" title as they're more upscale with both their decor and their burgers. But they deserve a mention:
Jack Fry's - Louisville. Jack Fry's is a little pretentious and snooty, especially the time I went in just to order one of their cheeseburgers for lunch. But the taste of their burger more than made up for the snobbishness I encountered on my visit.
Alfie's Inn - Glen Ellyn, IL. Alfie's has the feel of an old time supper club, mainly because that's what it is. And they have a damn fine sirloin burger and they serve a lot of them.
The Kitchen - Stillwater, MN. A surprisingly good burger at a contemporary American restaurant in the tourist village of Stillwater, just east of the Twin Cities on the east coast of Minnesota. Their burger may have been the best of all the upscale places I've been to.
Burger Bar - St. Louis. Chef Hubert Keller's foray into gourmet burgers. I had the Kobe burger on my first visit, then had the regular Black Angus burger my next time in. I think I liked the Black Angus burger better.
Ted's Montana Grill - Various Locations. Ted Turner's restaurant chain has a very good buffalo burger that is actually pretty juicy for as lean as the meat is. Their special grilling technique is the key, but the spices they add to the buffalo burger helps, as well.
Merriman's Market Cafe - Waikoloa Beach, HI. Look for my review on this place in the coming days. They have a great burger served on a sourdough bun with tons of bacon and grilled mushrooms, topped with white cheddar cheese and what could have been the best tomato slices I've ever had.
The Broiler - St. Peters, MO. I just had a burger at The Broiler during a recent trip to the St. Louis area. The place is still classy and the burger is still very good.
My All-Time Favorite Chain Restaurant Burgers -
In 'n Out Burger - The west coast classic. Absolutely the best of all the chain burgers.
Five Guys Burgers - The east coast classic. Gives In 'n Out a run for their money. And they're expanding westward as we're starting to see more Five Guys locations around the Midwest.
Schoop's - From my first couple of visits, I can see why they've been in business from 1948.
Whataburger - I still love getting a Double Meat with cheese when I come across a Whataburger.
Meatheads - A blatant rip-off of Five Guys burgers, but I certainly like the ones I've had there. I just wish they'd come to the Quad Cities. That is, if Five Guys doesn't make it here first.
Don and Millie's - Probably the closest thing to the old King's Food Host burgers that I grew up loving in the 60's.
Runza - If Don and Millie's doesn't have the closest thing to an old King's burger, then Runza is right there, too.
Fuddrucker's - Even though the one here in the Quad Cities went out of business, when I need a burger fix and there's a Fuddrucker's close, I'll stop in. I'm not certain if I've ever had a bad burger at a Fuddrucker's.
Sonic Drive-In - One of the toughest things to do while I'm trying to watch my weight is to stay out of the two or three Sonic's they built here in the Quad Cities over the past couple years. And I've been doing a fine job at that, thank you very much.