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best burger in boston

  • h

I'm looking for the best burger in Boston-any suggestions?

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  1. These are my two favorites:

    1) Audubon Circle on Beacon Street - I don't know what they put in their burgers, but damn it's some good stuff! They're served with yummy roasted potatoes. I always ask them to put some bleu cheese on top... Mmmmm...

    2) Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Square - More of a casual, cafeteria table-style place. I like how they have every topping known to man, and they also offer chicken, veggie, and turkey (I think) burgers. Their sweet potato fries are supposed to be delish, but I haven't tried them myself. The cooking area is open, so be prepared to smell like meat when you leave! Gets a little hectic on the weekends especially during the school year, so I usually go in the summer and sit outside.

    2 Replies
    1. re: delikado

      I have never tried the Bristol Lounger burger, but my personal favorite in the area is Sunset Grill in Allston - big, juicy, and cheap. I had Tim's many years ago and remember loving theirs as well. Had one at Boston Beer Works a while ago and it was OK, nothing spectacular.

      1. re: delikado

        I haven't been to Audobon in years but their sister restaurant Miracle of Science is my favorite. But as another poster said, fries go with a burger better than roasted potatoes, which are fine. And I've been waiting to get back to Bartley's after a delicious plain cheeseburger w/ wonderful onion rings a few months ago.

      2. In no particular order: Tim's Tavern, Bartley's Burger Cottage, Bristol Lounge at Four Seasons Hotel. I am sure the Hounds will find more. In fact, there is probably an old thread out there on this so you might want to do a little search as well.

        1. Tim's Tavern on Columbus Avenue (South End). The key to a good burger is cooking it on the skillet (as opposed to on the grill or in the oven - this tends to dry the meat out). I was appalled last weekend. Went to Aquitaine and my boyfriend ordered their $10.00 burger. It was awful - dry and tasteless. I motioned for the waitress and asked her how they cook it. She said they cook it in the oven; I was shocked and told her to tell the kitchen to bring us back a burger cooked in a frying pan! This is the only way to preserve the juices, which give the burger flavor!

          10 Replies
          1. re: Nancy

            I've never heard such silliness. Of course you can make a great burger on a grill or in the oven. The key (IMHO) is to get it seared on the outside so that the juices get locked in, and to have a burger with sufficient fat content. Neither of these are the exclusive domain of the frying pan.

            1. re: AlanH

              Searing doesn't lock in anything.
              Searing/browning meat gives it flavor and makes it look good.
              Both of which are very important, IMO.

              Not sure?
              Sear a piece of meat all around, then drop it in any liquid.
              I assure that what is outside will get in, and vice versa.

                1. re: oystershucker

                  I'm not in the habit of soaking my already-cooked burgers before eating them. I didn't say it would create a completely air and watertight seal, but it does help retain juices. Since you are apparently Mr. Wizard, please explain why cooking a burger in a frying pan could possibly make it juicier that exposing the same meat to heat through another method? Apparently my answer wasn't helpful.

                  1. re: AlanH

                    Regarding juicy burgers, I agree with the posts that mention using meat with a higher fat content and not squeezing the fat out of them while they're on the grill, if that's your method of choice.
                    I've cooked burgers both ways and had good luck.

                    Browning doesn't help retain juices - that was the only point of my previous post.
                    Read McGee's "On Food and Cooking" for a more extensive explanation as to why. Then you too can be a Mr. Wizard.

              1. re: Nancy

                You'd probably be interested to know that Tim's cooks their burgers over a grill. Not in a frying pan.

                1. re: DodinBouffant

                  My burgers are the best and I use a frying pan. Indeed good burgers may be made on the grill, but I think it is tricky. First, you must not flip them a lot. I am not experienced in cooking them on the grill, but would interested in hearing tips on how to preserve the moisture.

                  1. re: Nancy

                    Cook them on the grill without pressing them or flipping more than once. It's tough to not give in to the temptation of pressing and flipping but that is how they get dried out.
                    I vote for grill over pan.

                2. re: Nancy

                  Nancy- Dying to know if the cooks agreed and cooked you all a new burger in the plan?? Please tell!

                  1. re: Foodiex2

                    Yes, the cooks at Aquitaine whipped me up a new burger in the pan, and it was MUCH better, according to my boyfriend.

                3. I know it is not in Boston, but on the northshore of mass., in Swampscott the Red Rock Bistro makes a mean burger!!!!!!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Diski

                    Red Rock Bistro = good burgers? Details please!
                    Figures, I just moved away from that area. Had a few very delicious meals there, but never tried a burger....

                    1. re: lori b

                      Red Rock has the best tasting black angus burgers.... they are just sooooo good!

                  2. I like a lot of the prior suggestions here, but my personal favorite is R.F. O'Sullivan's on Beacon St in Somerville, between Inman and Porter Squares. It's a fun little neighborhood bar, beers by the pitcher. Excellent wedge fries or onion rings on the side. Their non-burger offerings may be good too, but I'll never know: this is burger Nirvana.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      Best burger I've had so far has been Audobon Circle. I kinda wish they had fries though, there's something so classic about a burger and fries.

                      RF.O' Sullivan's & The Bristol Lounge are on my list to try. I've heard only good things about both spots for burgers.

                      Also, if you find yourself in JP, try Costello's Tavern. A little hole-in-the wall on Centre Street with a pretty respectable burger, I think.


                      1. re: lori b

                        I second Costello's. Average looking pub place, nice tasty burger.

                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                        Recently went looking for a great burger with a friend of mine and we ended up at RF O'Sullivan's. After all the positives on this board, I expected more. It was good but kind of dry, to be honest. And I'd rather not have steak fries.

                        The person I was with had tried the Bristol Lounge burger the week before. She said it was absolutely incredible and worth every cent. That's where I'll head next!

                      3. c
                        Corrina Cantalupo

                        Definitely the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel. What could be better than a great hamburger in a beautiful setting!!

                        1. I normally would say O'Sullivan's (see my post below), but I had a grrrreeeeaaat burger at the Tir na Nog pub in Union Square, Somerville on Tuesday. Served in a basket with fries made of real potatoes and cheap too -- $5.50.

                          I am biased as this is my local, but they clearly should be in the running if someone's going to do a horizontal burger tasting.

                          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          1. i really like the ones at the warren tavern in charlestown. the tasty bun (i think it's a standard bun, but oh well) and the homemade potato chips don't hurt, either . . . i forget their names, but they've got only four choices, like the paul revere, warren tavern, etc. great with a pint!

                            1. g

                              In no particular order, Bartley's (Cambridge), O'Sullivan's (Somerville) and Bukowski Tavern (Dalton St in Boston, off Boylston).

                              Bartley's has nice charred outside and juicy inside, the best selection and the best onion rings (if, like me, you like the very thin crumb coating a la Kelly's). Parking is tough.

                              O'Sullivan's has the thickest burger, made from the best quality meat. The fries are thick potato wedges; the onion rings are thick slices with a thick coating of batter. Usually there's parking right in front.

                              Bukowski's (ate there today) is right up there, with high marks across the board and the whole exceeding the sum of the parts. Great location, parking is always available in the garage next door.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: GaryLovesFood

                                A question:

                                Does Bukowski's still have that special, where a burger is like a buck or two from like 5-7? I remember reading about it, but don't know (as you can see) the specifics...

                                1. re: lori

                                  They still have that special, I think it goes until 8PM (never understood how it could be offered at such a prime time). Also I think a burger is offered on the McCormick and Schmick happy hour for $1.95.

                                  And while parking at Bartley's is a pain and the garage is next to Bukowski's, they're both close to the T which is easier most the time anyway. Sullivan's is a bit of a pain to get to by T.

                                  (I don't feel like working today.)

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    really, till 8 huh? good to know....

                                    thanks joanie (and I know where you're comin' from with the 'not feeling like working today' comment) ;)

                                    1. re: lori

                                      Speaking of McCormick & Schmick's, they do a very good burger. And speaking of Bukowskis, also try the grilled cheese (made with gruyere)...yummy.

                              2. Best one I've had recently was at Silvertone, near the Partk St. redline stop (Bromfield St., I think). Perfect size, perfectly cooked (char-griled, like burgers should be), good fries to go with.

                                1. I'm currently making the rounds of all the supposedly "best" burger joints in the area, so I'm not ready to say which I think is actually the best. But I just had a very good burger at Miracle of Science, a geeky joint on Mass Ave in Central Square. Probably ~10 oz and served with well-charred home fries and a very sweet salsa. I think it was ~$7-8 (I had the blue cheese version).

                                  And, importantly, Guinness on tap. As far as I'm concerned, Guinness and burgers were meant for each other.

                                  Bartley's is next...


                                  1. AlanH: "I've never heard such silliness. Of course you can make a great burger on a grill or in the oven. The key (IMHO) is to get it seared on the outside so that the juices get locked in, and to have a burger with sufficient fat content. Neither of these are the exclusive domain of the frying pan."

                                    To quote from Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" (a fascinating book every serious chef should own):

                                    "The issue is no longer nutritional value or juiciness, but taste. And here we are on firmer ground. We do know for a fact that whether done early or late, searing does not seal, but it does brown: it won't prevent flavor from escaping, but it creates flavor via the complex browning reactions. And because it has become a matter of taste, today's experts have come to different conclusions on the matter. Some recommend searing all but the toughest meats, others are devotees of the constant method. So there is a good reason to sear meat, but it has nothing to do with nutrition or juiciness. The many recipes and ads that perpetuate Liebig's theory probably do so because the image it evokes is vivid and appealing."

                                    Apparently, popularization of the concept that searing meat will lock in juice dates back to an 1847 publication by Baron Liebig (although Aristotle also mentions the concept in a book on meteorology!). But a 1930 study at the University of Missouri found that seared meat actually lost more fluid than meat cooked at a constant temperature.

                                    Of course, food is like politics and religion: one disagrees with someone else's taste at one's own peril.


                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: kpfoley

                                      >>seared meat actually lost more fluid than meat cooked at a constant temperature.<<

                                      Would that not suggest that cooking in an oven would be the preferred method?

                                      1. re: AlanH
                                        Tir na nOg (kpfoley)

                                        Maybe. But what do I know? I think gas grills taste better than charcoal!


                                        1. re: AlanH

                                          Bake it and you lose the benefits of flavor and appearance that browning brings.

                                          1. re: oystershucker

                                            I agree 100%. I was pointing out the contradictions made by the previous poster.

                                            1. re: AlanH

                                              What contradictions? The conclusion of the book was that: 1) searing doesn't retain juices (in fact, it may actually result in less retention of juices); and 2) searing causes browning and the associated flavors that many people prefer (including myself, who can't imagine baking a burger, unless you are some sort of evil commie type bent on the total destruction of American backyard BBQ values).

                                              Apparently, you can't eat your cake and have it too (big surprise!).

                                              Reminds me of a Graham Kerr/The Galloping Gourmet cookbook from the '70's that I was totally enamored of as a kid (OK, maybe I was strange, but I just loved to watch that TV show, and the cookbook had beautiful pictures in it). The only recipe I remember was for some sort of chopped steak (remember those?) or burger where the "secret" was to put an ice cube containing an olive into the middle of the burger before cooking. This supposedly prevented the burger from drying out. I seem to remember trying it as an budding 10 year old chef, but since this technique is no longer a part of my cooking repertoire, I must assume the results were not all that spectacular (maybe I forgot the olive?).


                                              1. re: Tir na nOg

                                                The contradiction is the poster was against baking the burger (as am I), but stated the best way to cook one was at a low steady temperature and not to sear the meat, if I recall correctly. Isn't that pretty much a description of what the baking process is?

                                      2. 29 Newbury has an awsome burger. on a great onion roll. thin cut fries also are perfect. Alas, I think that too many people discovered it and too much of their business was turning to burgers, so they've been raising the price about every 6 months. used to be worth the extra couple of bucks. now its up to $14.95. at that price it may not win any converts, but unfortunately, i'm already addicted.

                                        1. The best burgers I have had in the Boston area are:

                                          RF O'Sullivan's. 282 Beacon Street, Somerville

                                          Bartley's Burger Cottage 1246 Massachusetts Ave - Cambridge

                                          Charlie's Kitchen 10 Eliot St. Cambridge

                                          RF O'Sullivan's is my favorite with Bartley's a close second. Charlies has great burgers with an eclectic atmosphere and a great juke box.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Matt

                                            I'm hoping to revive this thread -- any recommendations for the best burger/atmosphere?

                                            1. re: amiebd

                                              There have been many many burger threads since 2003. In fact, it's one of my favorite topics. You could search the board for "burger" or start here: