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Boston's best burger

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whos got the burger and fries in Boston?

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  1. What's going on here?

    There are probably 50 best burger threads on the board that can be referred to here, with a wide range of hounds debating the various contenders (O'Sullivans, Bartley's, Druid, the Nog, Umbra and so forth).

    3 Replies
    1. re: elbev

      They're still working on the Search - I just tried the search function to post some links for Hobie, but it still isn't filtering by relevance (PS. Umbra has closed, with Anthony Susi to open Sage in that spot).

      1. re: Rubee

        Search problems, I see. I was also quite puzzled by OP's second (ALL CAPS) post. Hobie, why the when?

        Anyhow, in brief the debate tends to revolve around the places I noted above. My own vote is for O'Sullivan's on Beacon St Somerville, near Porter Sq redline stop.

      2. re: elbev

        Love O'Sullivans..Great texture and flavor cooked perfectly evey time..

      3. Second the vote for O'Sullivan's - just ate there on Friday and it was as good as always!

        1. first, the best burger in BOSTON(not somerville or cambridge) is 29 newbury HANDS DOWN. everything else there is pretty blah but the burger friggin rocks.

          5 Replies
          1. re: maxpowers303

            Really? 29 Newbury? I've gotta say, that's a novel entry in best-burger discussions on this board. I'm pretty sure I had a burger at 29 for lunch one day, probably about two years ago when I worked in that neighborhood, but it didn't really stand out in my mind.

            So what exactly makes it "hands down, no further discussion allowed" great?

            Any thoughts on places that are almost as good, but not quite "hands down" excellent? I have my own favorites: I'm definitely a Sully's fan, and think Audobon, the Bristol, and Union Bar and Grill do burgers that are each excellent in their own way. I have a soft spot for Charlie's Kitchen, for its written-in-neon status as the "HOME OF THE DOUB-L-BURG-R" (did I spell that right?). I'm on my second year of meaning to try the Druid burger, which I know has several ardent fans here. I like the Bartley burger, but don't think it rates Top-3 status. I really miss the Tim's Tavern and Caffe Umbra burgers already.

            Any concerns about how 29's pending makeover into more of a nightclub kind of concept will affect the burger excellence?

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Okay. I'll allow that it isn't Boston proper but Sully's takes top honors, IMO.
              Re: Charlie's, well lets just say MC, I have too many beer-soaked memories to be impartial in that regards. God, I still love that place for all that it still isn't. A bastion in The Square that deserves to be supported.

              1. re: Harp00n

                Yeah, in case I wasn't clear, R.F. O'Sullivan's does my favorite in town.

                And now that I think of it, I believe the Charlie's sign reads 'HOME OF THE DOUBL-BURG-R". It just now dawns on me -- right this second, after all these years -- that those hyphens might once have been Es. All this time I was thinking that they were just going for a novelty spelling to be different, when the simpler explanation is that it once read "DOUBLEBURGER". I'm an idiot, I guess.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  No, you were clear MC, I just was parsing it for a previous poster. You're my kinda idiot, my man.

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                in response to the best burger debate, again slim you request non boston burgers. i agree rf osullivans is the best. i grew up in somerville, and have eaten that beautifule thing hundreds of times. ditto on charlies but thats cambridge.never had audobons, not a fan of union at all. that brings us to bristol. that one somehow slipped and is definately in the debate. GREAT burger. And the kids meal is yummy,too. 29 is just perfect. butter lettuce, ripe veggies, sharpe vermont cheddar,bacon and the carmalized onions in the bun. just always well made. and the fries are like mcdonalds fries on steroids. not for the weight watcher, but the burger lover. give it another shot, and get back to me. 2 years ago they were known for the calamari and its prettyblah now so a lot can change in 2 years.

            2. Been said before, but since the search isn't working well, here goes (IMO, and in no particular order):

              O'Sullivan's, Somerville
              Mr. Bartley's, Harvard Square
              MJ O'Connor's, Park Plaza, Boston
              75 Chestnut, Beacon Hill
              Mission Bar, Brigham Circle, Boston
              Charlie's, Harvard Square
              The Druid, Inman Square, Cambridge

              And for a really obscure place, but with amazing burgers off the griddle, The Squires (stop laughing--not the place in Revere!) on Route 53 in Hanover.

              2 Replies
              1. re: hiddenboston

                When our company was still in East Boston, we had a newly-wed for a scheduler.
                Dave X made a bee-line for The Squire in Revere virtually everyday.
                He claimed that the great burgers were, in fact, the only reason he went there.
                So thanks for the memory chuckle.

                1. re: hiddenboston

                  I just tried the MJ O'Connor burger for the first time last week. It was fine, but not a "best of" burger IMHO. When in Park Sq., I'll stick with the burger at the Bristol. My number 1 all around burger remains Bartley's. They also have the advantage of having some of the best o'rings around, too. (And also the least comfortable setting.)

                2. I personally keep going back to Audobon for a burger, I'm always extremely satisfied by the food and service there. For some reason O'Sullivan's doesn't get me quite as excited... But I've accepted that I may be the only one that thinks this...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: corduroy79

                    I agree on O'Sullivans. I've had too many overcooked burgers there. Even though I live within walking distance i've decided to take my burger business elsewhere.

                  2. While CH works to get back its search capabilities, Google seems to have the goods in the interim. Here are three of the lengthier recent discussions of this topic:


                    1. With the demise of my beloved Tim's, my current fav burger is probably Costello's. Order it medium-rare at most though.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                        I just tried the Costello's burger last night. I ordered it med-rare and it really came out medium, almost med-well, so your tip is right on. The first thing I noticed is that it was really juice, but I have to say it was otherwise forgetable. Not bad, just not a destination. Love those fries, though!

                        1. re: MB fka MB

                          It's no Tim's, that's for sure. But a reliably good burger. And the fries truly are excellent.

                          1. re: MB fka MB

                            i agree--a solid burger, but nothing life-altering. i think it's a good value though. the burgers at zon's in jp aren't bad, though i once had one that was really dry.

                        2. Jacob Wirth's has an excellent, rotund, juicy burger. It's always up there with the best I've had in Boston

                          1. If you can get there for lunch (before 3 p.m.) the burger at Abe and Louie's is fantastic! AND, you can get it with a side of their awesome sweet potato fries.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tamerlanenj

                              Second that comment about Abe & Louie's. Was there for lunch today and the burger was awesome. Cooked a perfect medium rare as ordered. And the sweet potato fries are terrific. It's not cheap at $12 but you get your money's worth.

                            2. I have to say, Aquitaine Bis in Chestnut Hill— not the traditional Bartley's, but I think an actual Sirloin Burger—it was maybe not 'hands down' but defintiely worth a mention. Fries also excellent.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bloomeanie

                                I agree, the burger at the Bis is pretty good, and perfectly cooked to medium rare the one time I had it. Not sure it's worth the price, but still tasty.

                              2. This board makes me nostalgic for my favorite double-burger spot--Nick's Beef and Beer House on Mass. Ave. In its later years, the sign was reduced to "Nick's eef and Bee Ho" but the burger was the best ever and absurdly cheap.

                                In the big, meaty ten-dollar burger category, I have two current favorites--Cafe D. in Jamaica Plain and the Beacon Hill Bistro. Both dark horses, I know, but so, so good--juicy, flavorful, generous. I know cafe D. advertises theirs as organic beef, and Jason Bonds at the Bistro knows his quality meats--I bet theirs is too.The Bistro wins on the fries count and for the lovely toasty brioche bun.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: greengage

                                  I loved how the workers at Nick's used to drain the grease at around 11:45 every night. Man, it looked like Niagara Falls the way it poured down into the bucket. Completely gross, but do I ever miss the place...

                                2. Don't think anyone mentioned Casablanca, that's my favorite, great fries and atmosphere also.

                                  1. Not sure if it's been mentioned on any of the other threads but my favorite burger in town is the Neptune Burger at Neptune Oyster in the North End. Great beef, homemade relish and a fried oyster on top, its so good! Start off with a few oysters, then the burger, it just melts in your mouth!

                                    1. Wait! What about the fries? Where are best fries to be found? Do the best burger places have fries to match?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: trembler

                                        For GREAT fries and good burgers my favorite places are:
                                        Eastern Standard (and the burger is good)
                                        Bristol Lounge (again, good burger)
                                        The Paddock (the fries that come with the steak tips are delicious and perfect for sopping up the sauce!)

                                        My favorite burger remains O'Sullivans, but I hate their fries so I get onion rings there.

                                        1. re: trembler

                                          Casablanca has truely great fries, best I've had in 30 years (going back to childhood memories).

                                        2. I've found that great burgers are not necessarily likely to come with great fries. The fires at O'Sullivan suck.

                                          The best fries I've had in Boston are the fresh cut double frieds at U-Burger with malt vinegar.

                                          1. New contender to factor into the equation: Potbellies Kitchen on A St in Southie. Perfectly balanced, not too small or too larger, correct blend of beef cuts (juicy yet beefy), ground right, lovely bun, excellent krinkle-cut fries. A steal.

                                            The kind of burger and fries that I slowly savor, rather than inhale.

                                            Oh, and the rest of the menu looks terribly appetizing too.

                                            1. I like the burger at Washington Sq Tavern - perfect balance of meaty flavour and greasy richness.

                                              1. North Street Grille great burger awesome fries.

                                                1. It may sound funny but, after an unimpressive & overpriced array of Seafood appetizers at Great Bay, my boyfriend and I were still hungry. So, we split a burger there and it was actually one fo the best burger's we've ever had! I know Great Bay is all about the seafood but the burger was really the only memorable thing I ate there that night.

                                                  1. One of the more frustrating things about Chowhound is that we all want everyone else to agree with us, and I'm no different. I just came from Bartley's and I'm having a hard time understanding how a Bartley burger can be improved upon. It strikes me as pretty close to burger perfection. So for those who prefer O'Sullivan's or some other place, or (more shockingly) don't like Bartley's, please tell me what it is you like better about the other place (yes, I know you can get a beer at O'Sullivan's, but what about the burger?) or what don't you like about Bartley's.

                                                    1. Last night went to RF O'Sullivans for the first time; Wait was about 45 minutes to an hour (to be expected for a Saturday night). I had heard that Onion Rings weren't good, got them anyway and, yes, they should be skipped. On to the Burgers, 4 of us got burgers, all were cooked exactly as asked; they were huge (1/2 lb); appeared to be hand shaped and delicious. The fries which have been panned on this board, weren't really fries but very large fried potato wedges, they were very good and tasted fresh but I wouldn't call them fries. Cheeseburger and fries @ $7.95 is a great deal!

                                                      As an aside, when deciding where to go for a burger, I saw that someone highly recommended the Washington Sq. Tavern in Brookline. I went on their website and saw that their burger was $13. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but $13 for a burger seems way out of wack unless it was kobe beef, or weighed a pound or had truffles shaved on it. I suppose that after the $13 burger you could go around the corner to the Golden Temple get some Golden Temple Spareribs for about $18! Maybe it's just me.

                                                      14 Replies
                                                      1. re: paulgardner

                                                        $13 is the going rate at most nice places these days. That's what my last Abe and Louie's burger cost, anyway.

                                                        1. re: tamerlanenj

                                                          IMO, $13 is too expensive for a burger, given the venue. If I'm spending that kind of money, or more, make mine at the Bristol Lounge, please.

                                                          1. re: Harp00n

                                                            At the bristol lounge you'll pay $18.

                                                            1. re: tamerlanenj

                                                              "or more" means I'll gladly pay the additional $5 for the greater overall ambiance AND a great burger at one of the best watering holes north of NYC. Sully's is what it is and topping out at $8.50 is worth every penny of it. Hell, I just check the egregious Ken's Steakhouse website and even they only top out at $8.95. I have nothing against Washington Sq. Tavern, been there and liked it. But.IMO, given the choice of burgers only at Sully's for $8.50 or $18 at The Bristol, Washington Sq. at $13 ain't even on my radar screen.

                                                              1. re: Harp00n

                                                                Tastewise, I'd give an edge to the burger at WST over the one at the Bristol.

                                                                1. re: limster

                                                                  I took note of your comments earlier on in this thread, as I always do. Respectfully, I disagree limster. In addition, WST isn't The Bristol and I can't make it any clearer than that.

                                                        2. re: paulgardner

                                                          I've had $15 burgers that were absolutely worth it, and $15 burgers that were a swindle.

                                                          The worthy ones have high-quality (but not necessarily Kobe), never-frozen beef, gentle hand-forming, proper cooking to order, an excellent, sturdy roll (not brioche), solid accompaniments (quality cheese, lettuce, onions raw or grilled, mushrooms, dressings, etc.), excellent fries or frites, and good service and atmosphere to go along with.

                                                          I don't have a problem paying $15 under these conditions: I greatly prefer one of these to five inferior $3 burgers , three bad $5 ones, or two so-so $7.50 ones.

                                                          R.F. O'Sullivan and Son makes my current favorite burger, but I also think the burger at Union Bar & Grill is excellent and worth the $13.

                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                            I am more than willing to pay $15 for a burger, but it had better be good. I do want to try the burger at the Bristol Lounge, though for now I'll be happy with my weekly trips to O'Sullivan's!

                                                            1. re: hiddenboston

                                                              You better get to the Bristol before it hits the $20 mark.

                                                              1. re: Joanie

                                                                Like I said, I am more than willing to pay $20 for a burger! :-D

                                                                1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                  .....and by the time The Bristol's hits $20, the WST's will be $15.
                                                                  So there we go again.

                                                                  1. re: Harp00n

                                                                    A few more days like this one on the stock market and burgers will soon be a buck apiece again.....

                                                                    Anyone try the burgers at the Stockyard? I actually heard that their burgers are really good, but I haven't been there in years.

                                                                    1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                      Neither have I and with the Andelmans hyping them,
                                                                      I don't think it'll be real soon either.

                                                                      1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                        I had the Stockyard burger last year. I can't remember details but it was pretty good in the $9.95 range w/ cheese and fries. We had a decent meal at the bar, feeling very old school.

                                                          2. O'Sullivans are too fat to get my mouth around and if you're sitting at the bar embarassing to eat. Too thick like a fat meatball.

                                                            I like Warren Tavern's burgers in Charlestown with their homemade potato chips. The fries are good too.

                                                            1. The burger at Eastern Standard is fabulous. They add butter to the meat. Served on a brioche bun. Get a side of the old bay aioli for the fries or to slather on the burger.

                                                              1. I think the Schlow Burger at Radius ($17) can't be beat:

                                                                Medium-rare, it takes about 45 minutes in a low oven, topped with a top-notch Cheddar that separates so naughtily, a heaping pile of ultra-crispy fried onions, and creamy, tangy horseradish sauce that drips down the sides. It's absolutely beautiful. With a cute little copper All-Clad saucepan full of good fries.

                                                                Other favorites:
                                                                Laurel (one of the only superlatives on their menu)
                                                                Smith & Wollensky

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: wittlejosh

                                                                  It takes 45 minutes? Truly? It sounds delicious but that just seems like such a long time to wait for a burger...

                                                                  1. re: heathermb

                                                                    Doing it in the oven sounds too meatloaf-like to me.

                                                                    1. re: Joanie

                                                                      According to this recipe from his book, sounds like it's hot then warm. No idea how the restaurant actually does it, though.

                                                                      1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                        I was hoping someone would clarify the "It takes about 45 min. in a low oven".
                                                                        At peak hours is it, like Chinese egg rolls, already in the cooking rotation when you order it or what?

                                                                  2. re: wittlejosh

                                                                    I don't usually like my burgers that cute! :-D I think I'll stick to griddled or grilled.

                                                                    Casablanca has good burgers? Hmm, I never thought of going there for one. Maybe next time I'm in the area....how do they cook it there?

                                                                  3. Drink a coupla drinks at the bar (and talk to the very down-to-earth bartenders) and wait. I promise you: It'll change your life. Well, you'll be thoroughly impressed, at least.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: wittlejosh

                                                                      I'm sorry to say that my recent experience of Radius bartending has anything but down to earth. I had one very distressing "smarmy dishonest weasel bartender" incident, and it pains me to say that, as I used to love that bar. I haven't tried that burger, but given the rave, I'll add it to my lto-try list.

                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        Alright, I'll admit to there being a weasel bartender or two there (would've weakened my rhetoric, but I suppose honesty can be powerful as well...). That said, I like the bar there usually----good vibe post-afterwork crowd, as in 7:30-ish---and I like the bartender Karen (?), who said she's been there for several years. She's never ever been weasel-y. At least to me.

                                                                    2. Speaking of burgers, I have had a huge dearth of responses to my post on the New England board. Please head over and give me some suggestions:


                                                                      1. I haven't taken the time to read through all of the 62 previous responses, but I have to say, I grabbed a burger recently that was shockingly delicious and I never see the restaurant singled out like some of the other old standards. It was at Remingtons Restaurant on Boylston in the theatre district. The only reason I'm there is for the Comedy Vault downstairs, and I basically expect less than stellar, but still edible food, and usually get just that. However, the burgers are always great: cooked perfectly (medium rare-nicely pink throughout, but not bloody), hand packed, great taste, juicy, large, and a soft bun that holds up fairly well. The fries are decent, nothing out of this world, but a nice pairing.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: skess

                                                                          Remington's is okay for a cheap, decent bite. Will keep the burgers in mind.

                                                                          1. re: Joanie

                                                                            I guess I'll give it a try; I've yet to find a burger in the area to compete with the Bristol but at a more reasonable cost. It certainly looks like it should be awful!

                                                                        2. Believe it or not Bickfords Grille in Bulington. Black Angus, perfectly cooked with a nice fresh, seeded roll. Almost as good as that $19 one at the Bristol.