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Boston's Best Burgers?

heathermb Mar 23, 2006 10:01 AM

Who, in your opinion, makes the best burger in Boston? My friends and I all love a good burger and if we've missed any, want to know about it! The burgers at the top of my list right now are:

cheese-burger at The Bristol Lounge
cheddar and sauteed onions at O'Sullivans

O'Sullivans is my favorite and I know that many have had disappointing experiences here but every burger I've had there has been delightful.

Where else should we be going for the most delicious burger?

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  1. f
    foodielicious RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 10:21 AM

    michael schlow's burger at radius is a force to be reckoned with!

    Link: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/index.c...

    1. m
      MC Slim JB RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 10:30 AM

      Some I've had over the past year that I thought were memorable: Caffe Umbra (I prefer the frites to the eggplant fries), Union Bar & Grill (has bits of andouille in it, very nice), Mission Bar & Grill, Audubon Circle, Miracle of Science, the Overdraught (Irish pub in East Cambridge).

      I love, love, love R.F. O'Sullivan's, and miss, miss, miss Tim's Tavern.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        Gabatta RE: MC Slim JB Mar 23, 2006 10:36 PM

        Audobon has a great burger, however I refuse to put their home made ketchup on it.

        1. re: MC Slim JB
          East Cambridge Hound RE: MC Slim JB Mar 25, 2006 10:42 AM

          Yeah, I have to give shout out to the Miracle of Science burger as well. It may not quite be a "destination burger," but it is a great "neighborhood burger". The only problem is that if you're craving fries, the homefries may not do it for you. But a really solid burger nonetheless.

          You're rubbing salt in my wounds mentioning that the Overdraught had good burgers...it is right around the corner from where I now live, but sadly it is shuttered. (Overdraft, perhaps?)

        2. c
          CocoDan RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 10:39 AM

          Don't be afraid to try Brasserie Jo's Blue Cheese burger (my wife's favorite), or the Ashmont Grill's.
          Both get high marks from my circle of "Chows". I also agree with "The Bristol's". All big bucks, but you get what you pay for. Enjoy.

          1. p
            Pegmeister RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 11:04 AM

            The bleu cheese burger with mushrooms at Intermission Tavern (Theater District). They use a nice quality bleu cheese, creamy with a nice bite. I always get their homemade potato chips (still hot) to go with my burger. Hennesey's (Faneuil Hall area) does a great burger and you can get fruit with it rather than the standard fries. Dillions (Back Bay) is another place that makes a decent burger.

            1. e
              Ernie Diamond RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 11:06 AM

              One of my favorite debates...

              THE best, the one that I crave when I need a burger is the one at Shay's in Harvard Square. I have a few obeservations to add to my standard answer;

              1. The burgers are done in an oven (or broiler, perhaps). At any rate, they do not do a great job of hitting the order dead on unless you prefer yours in the "medium" and up territory. I have had frequent complaints from friends who likes theirs rare. With ground beef, why bother? There's seldom enough fat to make it enjoyable.

              2. There are certain cooks there who do a better job than others. Unfortunately, I don't know his name but the big guy who looks like Chief from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is the one to get. If you have any doubts, look in the back. The kitchen is tiny and his hand really makes a difference.

              3. The fries make it as much as the burger. To be specific, they're "oven fries," really thin slices of deeply roast potato. Excellent.

              4. As a friend said, "This is a burger you can set your watch to." In other words, it is the Anti-Bartley's. This is not a fancy burger, it is not a unique burger, it is an honest burger. It is the "Meat and Potatoes" of burgers. In my mind, the baseline against which all others must be judged and upon which all others should be built. The Fois Gras stuffed Kobe beef burger with Whistleberry gelee ain't nothing unless it is, at first, a Shay's Burger.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ernie Diamond
                MC Slim JB RE: Ernie Diamond Mar 23, 2006 11:22 AM

                Wow, not a place I would have thought to have tried the burger: now I will seek it out!

                1. re: Ernie Diamond
                  gusman RE: Ernie Diamond Mar 23, 2006 05:41 PM

                  Wow! Your qualifications for Shay's would immediately cross it off my list of great burgers!

                  I don't think I've ever had a burger cooked more than medium (and that's pushing it) that I've really enjoyed. If the burger is really lean (which is also not my preference), then all the more reason to cook it medium rare at most.

                  Also, fries should be fries.... not roasted potatoes (which I like as well, just not with a burger).



                2. e
                  eatanddestroy RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 11:13 AM

                  I vote for Zon's Tilton Stilton in JP...

                  Link: http://www.eatanddestroy.com

                  1. w
                    w RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 11:25 AM

                    Recently had the burger at Eastern Standard which suprisingly jumped to the top of my list - the brioche bun was outstanding.

                    Extra factor is that the fries were incredible too.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: w
                      heathermb RE: w Mar 23, 2006 01:16 PM

                      Forgot about that one for my original post - yes the burger at ES is one of my favorites. And the fries are great.

                      Grill cheese sandwich is good there too!

                      1. re: heathermb
                        NickCambridge RE: heathermb Mar 24, 2006 07:46 PM

                        eastern standard!!! absolultely. But a stick of butter in any burger mix will make it taste fantastic (yup, folks, that's their secret).

                        When they can get the temp right (unfortunately, it's 50/50)...the River Gods burger is fantastic...love the carmalized onions.

                        And, this may not count, but i love the burger at the palm, only served during the week at lunch.

                    2. h
                      hiddenboston RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 11:37 AM

                      You're all making me very hungry...

                      The obvious ones are:
                      O'Sullivan's in Somerville
                      Mr. Bartley's in Harvard Square

                      Some of my other favorites (though none approach the two above) are:
                      75 Chestnut, Beacon Hill
                      MJ O'Connor's, Park Plaza
                      Audubon Circle, near Kenmore Square

                      And a couple of guilty pleasures:
                      Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere Beach
                      Charlie's Kitchen, Harvard Square

                      But none of these hold a candle to Hodad's in Ocean Beach, CA, which I'll be at in a few weeks (hopefully every night).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hiddenboston
                        HwyStar RE: hiddenboston Mar 23, 2006 12:05 PM

                        Ahhhhh...Hodad's...No Shirt, No Shoe's, No Problem.

                      2. v
                        veronicamars RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 11:59 AM

                        my burger at the publick house lastnight rocked. i was worried that my medium-rare order would come out too done b/c my 2 friends both ordered theirs medium and medium-well. but it was perfectly pink on the inside.

                        my favorite upscale burger is at blu.

                        the burgers at both places alone are great but the crisp, salty fries at both establishments add to my decision.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: veronicamars
                          Dax RE: veronicamars Mar 23, 2006 12:02 PM

                          I really liked the burger at the Publick House too, as well as the salty hand made fries. Plus the beers. How was the service last night?

                          I thought the burgers at Ashmont Grill and the Intermission Tavern were weak. Overcooked and underspiced.

                          1. re: Dax
                            heathermb RE: Dax Mar 23, 2006 01:18 PM

                            Is Publick House the place on Beacon in Washington Square? Also, is that the place that also has good mac and cheese?

                            Speaking of Washington Square - I enjoy the cheese burger at Washington Square Tavern.

                            1. re: heathermb
                              Dax RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 01:41 PM

                              Yes, formerly Anam Cara.

                            2. re: Dax
                              veronicamars RE: Dax Mar 23, 2006 03:03 PM

                              service was fine. food arrived on time, cleared at the right time, server didnt mind that we took time finishing up our beers and chatting once the bill was paid. it wasn't the best service in boston i ever received, but i wasn't expecting that ... it was just right for the atmosphere.

                          2. f
                            Foodie2 RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 12:16 PM

                            I hope I don't get in trouble for saying this, but in my humble opinion, the burgers at R.F. O'Sullivan's rely too heavily on size and toppings for their reputation, not on the quality of the burger itself. A far superior burger can be found not too far away in Inman Square, at the Druid (next to the 1369 Coffeehouse). The burger there: perfection. Quality meat, perfectly seasoned, perfectly formed, not too dense, not too loose, grilled EXACTLY how you order it, served with a grilled onion, a topping of deliciously melted cheddar, lettuce, and tomato, a smear of mayo (and I HATE mayo) melting on the warm toasted bun of perfection... a perfect and excellent (and $8) burger. The fries, additionally, are delicious, tossed with fresh herbs and made fresh and quick. A fantastic spot, and, I believe, the best burger I've had in Boston. Mmmm.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Foodie2
                              Dax RE: Foodie2 Mar 23, 2006 12:50 PM

                              Good to know!

                              1. re: Dax
                                Joanie RE: Dax Mar 23, 2006 01:03 PM

                                I'll be curious to see what you think of the Druid's burgers. While the size, price and fries are good, I think they add some herb or something in the meat that I just don't like.

                                1. re: Joanie
                                  Foodie2 RE: Joanie Mar 23, 2006 01:06 PM

                                  Interesting to hear that you're not a fan of the Druid burger ... they definitely do add something to the meat, I'm not sure if it's a touch of worcestershire and some chopped fresh herbs, but I really enjoy that... Perhaps in the future, we should specify burger "styles" when asking for recs! I don't like RF O'Sullivan's because I don't think they use a high enough quality meat to justify the plain unseasonedness of the burger, and I find them to be too tightly packed, and too greasy. And I like grease!

                                  1. re: Foodie2
                                    Ernie Diamond RE: Foodie2 Mar 23, 2006 03:40 PM

                                    Second Dax.

                                    The Druid is near my favorite bar in Boston and I proudly consider it my "local." That said, I don't like the burgers there at all. I can't put my finger on what it has/lacks but it simply doesn't do it for me. The texture is too soft, the bun too sweet...something.

                                    HOWEVER...the fish sandwich there is worth a trip and the fries are very near perfection. Parking up there with the boys on friday nights is in truth done as much for the food as it is for the guinness.

                                    1. re: Foodie2
                                      Ernie Diamond RE: Foodie2 Mar 23, 2006 04:27 PM

                                      Whoops...meant to second Joanie on my below post.

                              2. y
                                yumyum RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 01:55 PM

                                I have to add the burger at Gargoyle's. Perfectly seasoned (no salt or pepper needed at table), cooked as ordered, and served with a big plate of very good thin fries. On the bar meu and only $10 IIRC.

                                1. n
                                  Northender RE: heathermb Mar 23, 2006 04:14 PM

                                  Two more places to add to the already estimable list below: The burger at the Ashmont Grill in Dorchester and the burger of the month at the North Street Grill -and the fries at North Street are particularly addictive - right Rubee and yumyum?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Northender
                                    Rubee RE: Northender Mar 23, 2006 05:53 PM


                                  2. m
                                    m RE: heathermb Mar 28, 2006 02:59 PM


                                    1. s
                                      sophie fox RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 01:36 AM

                                      I finally went to Bartley's just to see what all the hype's about , and it is indeed all hype. I had a decent burger with boursin cheese and bacon, good sweet potato fries, and a pretty good coffee shake. VERY ordinary stuff. And I'm sorry, but taking the condiments OFF THE TABLE BEFORE THE CUSTOMER IS FINISHED???!!! Without asking?

                                      Oh, the shame of actually believing my Zagat!

                                      1. b
                                        BOS_steve RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 04:23 AM

                                        I'm surprised no one has mention The Tavern in Central Sq. They have an incredible stuffed bacon/blue. Bacon slices are stuffed into the meat then the burger is topped with melted blue cheese. Pure awesomeness.

                                        Comes with decent onion strings, fries, or 1/2 and 1/2 if you ask.

                                        Used to be 8.50, but they raised it to 9.95-ish in the past year.

                                        Still a great fix when you get the craving, and definitely my choice over the miracle of science...

                                        1. steinpilz RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 12:41 PM

                                          I'll add a vote for Casablanca, great atmosphere, solid juicy burger with bacon, and the fries are outstanding. I feel like getting one right now.

                                          1. hiddenboston RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 01:12 PM

                                            My favorites are O'Sullivan's, Mr. Bartley's, and Kelly's Roast Beef, but I'll throw in a few lesser known places that have good burgers:

                                            MJ O'Connor's, Park Square, Boston--juicy hunks of ground chuck that go well with pints of Guinness.

                                            Cronin's Publick House, Quincy--top quality meat is used for the burgers here, though I find it tough to get past their steak tips.

                                            Badabings, Millis--the cheeseburger clubs are especially good here, and the fries that come with it are outstanding.

                                            Mission Bar and Grill, Brigham Circle--juicy, char-broiled burgers that also come with excellent fries, and the beer selection is very good here, too.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: hiddenboston
                                              Joanie RE: hiddenboston Aug 4, 2006 07:59 PM

                                              Have you had a Kelly's burger recently? I used to like their cheeseburgers and got one last year at the Revere Beach location cuz the clams had been disappointig, It was as thin as a McDonalds single patty. The grilled bun was good (as always) but that was it. Maybe they got better in the past year?

                                              1. re: Joanie
                                                hiddenboston RE: Joanie Aug 4, 2006 08:20 PM

                                                I had one at the beach three weeks ago. It was phenomenal--moderately thick, juicy, excellent grilled bun. The fries, however, were just as bad as ever! :-)

                                            2. s
                                              SoWaDiner RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 03:04 PM

                                              I like the burgers at Solas in the Lenox Hotel. Also, City Bar has the same burger, because they are in the same hotel. The brioche bun is awesome, and the burger is really tasty.

                                              1. finlero RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 03:26 PM

                                                I'm a huge fan of the burgers at Christopher's. As one might expect, they do a pub-style burger (rather than either gourmet- or fast-food-style). The beef seems to be very good quality, and I like the variety of toppings.

                                                To be fair: (1) the buns are only adequate, particularly if they aren't toasted, and (2) the wedge fries are hit-or-miss, terrific when fresh, pretty lame when not.

                                                A big tip o' the hat as well to their various non-beef burger options, notably the homemade veggie burger with roasted red pepper, and the BBQ turkey burger.

                                                1. hiddenboston RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 03:43 PM

                                                  I forgot about Christopher's. I love their burgers there. Excellent-quality meat; I think they use beef that has no hormones?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hiddenboston
                                                    finlero RE: hiddenboston Aug 4, 2006 03:46 PM

                                                    Yep: "All Christopher's burgers are made with 100% Coleman Naturally raised beef"

                                                  2. t
                                                    teezeetoo RE: heathermb Aug 4, 2006 08:03 PM

                                                    Publick House, Washington Square Tavern and, oddly enough since I don't like their dinner menu, Fireplace Grill at lunch, all in Washington Square Brookline, make good burgers. For a chain burger, Wild Willy's in Watertown. And, while we're in Brookline, Coolidge Corner Club House isn't bad but Zaftig's (good on other things) isn't good!

                                                    1. a
                                                      AmandaRG RE: heathermb Aug 7, 2006 07:58 PM

                                                      One of the best burgers I've had in the area is from O'sullivans pub in somerville. They're huge, juicy, well cooked, good quality and if you like to put a bunch of different things on it, they do that as well.

                                                      1. g
                                                        Gabatta RE: heathermb Aug 7, 2006 08:55 PM

                                                        We had not been to O'Sullivan's in some time. We went for lunch yesterday, and it was the perfect hangover cure. Bloody Marys and big juicy cheeseburgers cooked perfectly.

                                                        As to where the burgers are better between O'Sullivans and Bartley's, that could go either way in my mind. They each have some advantages over the other in my mind.

                                                        - I prefer the service and atmosphere at O'Sullivans. It is a bit more relaxed and you are not herded in and out, while be being forced to sit cafeteria style, elbow to elbow with other diners. There were only two other people in O"sullivan's at noon yesterday. Bartleys usually has a line and they take your order while in line. Also, O'Sullivan's is open on Sundays, whereas Bartley's is not.

                                                        - Bartleys has superior fries and onion rigns. Both are delicious, thin and crispy. O'Sullivans has those soggy potato slabs which are called fries and OK onion rings.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Gabatta
                                                          yumyum RE: Gabatta Aug 7, 2006 09:07 PM

                                                          Important part of your post -- O'Sullivan's has a liquor license, Bartleys does not.

                                                          1. re: Gabatta
                                                            Dax RE: Gabatta Aug 7, 2006 09:17 PM

                                                            The fries are Bartley's appear to be frozen. I thought they were ok but nothing special. I like the thick-cut rings at Sully's but I think they're frozen too. I don't like the really thing rings at Bartley's.

                                                            1. re: Dax
                                                              gini RE: Dax Aug 8, 2006 12:29 PM

                                                              While I could pass on the rings & ff at Bartley's, I do like their sweet potato fries, which Sully's is lacking. Oh and I like the beer at Sully's too:).

                                                          2. t
                                                            triplestrike RE: heathermb Aug 8, 2006 03:14 AM

                                                            Wild Willys in Watertown and York, ME.
                                                            Is the Best.
                                                            They have a great Roll, much better than O'Sullivan's-the Roll that is.
                                                            The roll-bread plays a big part in the overall taste of the burger.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: triplestrike
                                                              gini RE: triplestrike Aug 8, 2006 12:10 PM

                                                              Wild Willy's? Seriously? They won't cook your burger less than medium. Why even bother? http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                              1. re: gini
                                                                Snowflake RE: gini Aug 8, 2006 12:16 PM

                                                                I just ordered a burger from Wild Willy's medium rare, and it came out medium rare. I loved it. The blue cheese is real blue cheese and not salad dressing like at O'Sullivans.

                                                                1. re: Snowflake
                                                                  gini RE: Snowflake Aug 8, 2006 12:28 PM

                                                                  Cool - maybe they changed their policy - I was there this winter and the rare burger I ordered was well done - and their blue cheese was dressing, not real. Good to know it's turned around!

                                                                  1. re: Snowflake
                                                                    Dax RE: Snowflake Aug 8, 2006 05:08 PM

                                                                    That saddens me about the blue cheese dressing at Sully's. It's not even particularly good or chunky blue cheese dressing.

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