7 Restaurants Leading the Better-Burger Movement
There’s nothing more classically American than a hamburger, and the last few years have seen an explosion of restaurant chains eager to share their version of this quintessential food with the world. From you-won’t-believe-it’s-not-meat veggie patties, to over-the-top bacon explosions, here are some of the best burger chains in the U.S.
When most people are looking for a beverage to pair with their burgers, they automatically turn to beer. But at Zinburger, they know that a well-chosen glass of wine can be just as delicious. Of course, you can still grab a lager to try alongside your Breakfast Burger or the classic Zinburger, but why not branch out with a Tuscan red or a California Chardonnay? The group, which already boasts 20 locations, plans to expand rapidly in the near future, projecting 3-4 new locations per year. And don’t miss their wide array of gourmet milkshakes, pies, and floats—you need to balance out all that wine, after all.
The LA-born Umami Burger was one of the original gourmet burger places when it opened in 2009, and it was an instant sensation. It’s not hard to see why: offerings like fries smothered with braised short rib and gravy; truffle burgers; and something called “Manly Fries” were unlike anything customers had experienced at a burger joint before. And celebrity partnerships with people including Cindy Crawford, Alton Brown, and Jaden Smith haven’t hurt either. Since 2009, the brand has spread across the U.S. from coast to coast, and even gone international, with outposts in Japan, as well as locations planned in Mexico, the UAE, and Qatar.
Most of the time, vegetarians get left out of the burger conversation, or relegated to a re-heated black bean puck that they could have made at home. Not so at Bareburger, the first restaurant chain in the U.S. to serve both the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, making their menu roughly 30 percent vegetarian. But before any carnivores get up in arms, this Astoria, New York-based chain also serves plenty of delicious beef burgers, as well as more unusual meats like bison and elk. Their organic, hormone- and pesticide-free ingredients have been a hit with diners, and the group has since expanded from their single Astoria location to include restaurants across the U.S., Canada, Germany, Japan, and Dubai.
According to Bad Daddy’s, there are three core elements to their brand: artfully crafted food; a badass bar; and radical hospitality. It seems simple, but something must be working right, because in just over 10 years, the chain has opened more than 30 restaurants, and plans to open at least nine more next year. Bad Daddy’s, which originated in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been seizing on the love for all things local with a customizable menu of top-quality ingredients, as well as a selection of local craft beers to wash things down. Considering that they’re planning to ramp things up even more in 2020, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be seeing these bad boys pretty much everywhere soon.
A restaurant where there are a million burger options—literally. The Counter started in Santa Monica in 2003 with the goal of giving people the opportunity to truly customize their meals. In addition to unique choices like the “Bison is Gouda” burger, there’s also a “Make Your Own” option, which allows customers to choose everything from protein to sauce to bun. The majority of Counters, which are spread across eight states and seven countries, are franchises, though there are three corporate locations as well.
It’s hard to believe that what started off as a little burger joint in Seattle back in 1969 would eventually bring in more than $1.3 billion in revenue per year, but Red Robin made it happen. The burger behemoth’s combination of gourmet ingredients and generous portions led to an explosion of popularity—there are now more than 550 locations across North America. People love the kitschy decor, bottomless steak fries, and loyalty program, which includes a free birthday burger as well as a “every 10th item free” policy.
A true Texas staple, Snuffers has been around since 1978, when the first location opened in Dallas. Their cheddar fries and fresh-ground chuck burgers were fast favorites in the area, and legend has it that the original restaurant is haunted, presumably by ghosts who don’t want to lose out on the house-made ranch dressing. Snuffers is on a slow-and-steady growth plan, with 13 total locations in Texas, two of which were opened in the last year. They’ll probably get around to more, since we’re certain there’s always going to be a demand for made-to-order burgers. (Ghost not included).