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Columbia Area } Where to get a good burger?

I will be in Columbia for the upcoming weekend. I am on my usual quest for a really good burger. Does anyone have any reccomendations? Much appreciated!

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  1. Really? There are NO good burgers in Columbia? Come on, I hate having to reply to my own post. How about halfway-decent-burger? :)

    19 Replies
    1. re: diablo

      I used to live in Columbia, and when I needed a burger I went to Red Robin. It's a chain, but probably the best in town.

      Now I live in Baltimore City, and I can name several good burgers. But Columbia not so much.

      1. re: diablo

        There are no good burgers in Columbia dude, save from buying some fresh meat of your own at The Laurel Meat Market and frying it up on a grill in your backyard, but that doesn't help you.

        You could always try http://www.urbanburgerco.com/ but it is in Rockville (not exactly close to Columbia). You could try the Olney Alehouse on Route 108. I haven't been in years, but they used to do a good burger.


        1. re: diablo

          I lived in Ellicott City for a few years. Any time I had the craving it was Red Robin, as above, or the freezer section for White Castle cheeseburgers. No good mom & pop burger dives that I ever found. If you want some good greasy eats, though, it might be worth the hike over to Marley Station in Glen Burnie, at MD Rt. 100 and MD Rt. 2. Anne's Dairy Cream is an old-school in & out holdout at the main entrance. Most famous for hot dogs and shakes, but their burger subs make me happy. It's all good.

          1. re: diablo

            There is a a Five Guys in Laurel.

            1. re: MrsWheatie

              I can't believe so many people are suggesting Fuddruckers and Red Robin and the like. Chain restaurant food is vile and evil!

              Kudos to the Clyde's suggestion. It's been quite a few years since I have had one of theirs, but they used to be good.

              1. re: Pool Boy

                Chains have their place, and one of those places is looking for something decent in an area where the options are poor. That sums up Columbia's burger situation -- there is no Dizzy Issie's or McCabes's there. They are not "vile and disgusting" as a category any more than little mom and pop shops are uniformly great.

                Also, Clyde's is a chain.

                1. re: JonParker

                  I'll grant you that you have to eat what you have to eat based on what is around, available and that includes chains (particularly if you don't want to travel a bit). But my gosh, I would rather travel a little than put up with a chain burger (especially the likes of Fuddruckers or Cheeburger Cheeburger).

                  And yes, technically Clyde's is a chain as it is part of a restaurant group that own's 13 restaurants, 8 of which are named Clyde's. But they are all local DC Metro area restaurants and, for me, a very regional low restaurant count outfit is far, far different than, say, Red Robin (250 locations), Fuddruckers ('hundreds of locations'), or even Cheeburger Cheeburger (60+ locations and growing quickly). At least in my book.

                  1. re: Pool Boy

                    In general I agree with you, but I lived in Columbia for a long time, and sometimes you just don't want to travel. Better dining options was one reason I chose to move into Baltimore city. But the OP asked for a place in Columbia, and a chain of some kind is going to be your best bet unless something new has come in. There's some great independent places in that area, but not for a burger.

                    I'm not sure what the difference is between Clyde's and a larger chain other than owning fewer places -- the food there was about on a par with most other mid-priced chains as far as I could tell (although I never tried their burger). It wasn't bad, but it didn't thrill me either.

                    1. re: JonParker

                      Smaller 'chains' tend to have more control over the end product and experience IMO. That said, In n Out in California is a larger, but still very regional chain, that does a pretty good burger. I guess it all depends on what you like and what you want at that moment.

                      I still think Columbia does not have a decent burger. I lived there for 30 years myself.

                  2. re: JonParker

                    There's a mom and pop place on 175 near Rt. 1. It's a dive, for sure, but the name is G&G or something like that. It's on the left heading east, past the Patuxent Correction Institute. I can't really say whether it's good, because I haven't had it, but I've heard praise.

                    @JonParker: When I lived Baltimore, I thought the best burger was at the Mt. Vernon Stable and Saloon. I dated a woman who lived near Dizzy Issie's and she thought their burgers were the best, but I still preferred MVSS.

                    1. re: cyraxote

                      I've had both, and for me the prize is still Dizzy's. I was in there this afternoon, although I went for the wings, which were also very good. Plus I love the atmosphere at Dizzy's, although both have really interesting crowds.

                  3. re: Pool Boy

                    For some of us, the food is more important than the ownership. I have never eaten at the Columbia Fuddruckers, but I have several times at Lancaster, PA and White Marsh and have never had a burger less than very good.

                2. re: diablo

                  Others are giving suggestions for non-Columbia places... so here's mine... Kelsey's in Ellicott City's burgers are pretty good.


                  1. re: tapas gal

                    How's the burger at Victoria Gastropub?

                    1. re: ingramcol

                      I had it once, and it was solid. All of the food there was pretty good, in fact, although the service (at the bar) was a little flaky.

                      1. re: ingramcol

                        yumm...the Kobe burger with truflle cheese ( as I recall it) was absolutely delicious, which you would expect from a 12 dollar buger, right?

                    2. re: diablo

                      Chee'burger Chee'burger at 8872 McGaw Rd is the usual suspect chain, but I like them better than Fuddruckers or Red Robin because the fries and rings are stellar. In Ellicott City, the burger at the Double TT on US 40 is passable.

                      1. re: treetop tom

                        I find Cheeburger's burgers inedibly dry, grey, blechy. And they won't cook them below "medium," which in this case is really well-done.

                        They do have good shakes, fries and onion rings though.

                        1. re: sweetpotater

                          I'm with you. Cheeburger is nearly inedible.

                    3. Thanks so much everyone! I'll take any recs. It doesn't have to be directly in Columbia. I am willing to drive..

                      1. How about Clyde's? I think there's one in Columbia, and they make a decent burger.

                        1. My vote goes to Fuddruckers.There is one in Columbia and as chains go....I think their burger is fabulous. All of their meat is ground fresh in store everyday....and their incredible hamburger buns are baked fresh in store...and the price is very reasonable.

                          1. If Ellicott City is OK...have had really good burgers at the Pheonix Emporium on Main Street

                            1. I agree with a previous poster - just go to Five Guys on Rt. 1 in Laurel. It's like 5 minutes outside columbia and they have great burgers and fries.

                              1. Thanks for the recs everyone. Ended up trying out Clyde's and Five Guys. Both were actually very good (despite what I read here about Columbia and burgers). Clyde's got a good review for actually cooking the burger as requested (med. rare). Nice crust on the outside and very fresh lettuce. Tomato on it was "wintery". Five guys 'best all around' if I include the fries and the less "wintery" tomato. They cooked the burger "medium" though the flavor was good and the burger was still nice and juicy. Will try some of the other recs next time i'm in town. Thanks again to all who replied!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: diablo

                                  How'd you get Five Guys to cook a burger medium? They are vehement that they cook all burgers well-done, and even have signs to that effect up in every location that I've seen.

                                  1. re: sweth

                                    I did not ask them to cook it a certain way. It seemed to be medium to me because it was very juicy and I associate well done with a dry burger. My bro got the burger for me so I never actaully entered the place.

                                    1. re: diablo

                                      Ah. OK. Five Guys uses the "cook well-done but use a nice fatty grind of beef so it bastes itself and stays juicy" model of burgermaking. Sadly, since they started expanding, a lot of the locations seem to use a leaner grind and cook the burgers longer to boot, meaning you often do end up w/ dry burgers.

                                      (If you never entered the place, by the way, you missed half of the fun of Five Guys, which is noshing on peanuts while waiting for your burgers.)

                                      1. re: sweth

                                        Yeah, I'm going in next time. I heard about the peanuts after the fact. There happens to be a Five Guys right around the corner from where I work in Galloway NJ. Hopefully they are as good as the location in MD.

                                  2. re: diablo

                                    Five Guys is an environmental nightmare. Food ordered to stay is packed the same way as a take-away order. A burger and fries includes a brown paper bag, a 12" square of heavy duty aluminum foil, an 8-oz styrofoam cup in the fries that serves no purpose, and a hard plastic (recycle-7 other) cup. All of which are disposed of in a common trash bin and not separated for recycling. Good grief!

                                  3. A little late to the party, but my vote goes to Shannon's on Rt 40 in Ellicott City. All the food there is solid and dependable, but the burger is always my choice. Great char, juicy patty, veggies always fresh. And they cook a perfect medium rare!

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: ciaobaby

                                      Never too late--my parents live in Columbia so I'm there visiting frequently. I will have to try Shannon's. It sounds delicious!

                                      1. re: diablo

                                        If you will be here pretty often, I'd suggest trying out the sliders at the Little Tavern in Laurel. It is on US1-S, just south of Main Street, on the right. The place is a little, well, tavern - keep an eye out or you'll miss it. It used to be part of a little local chain that has all but disappeared, but the place was closed, bought, and brought back by new owners. The I've heard it tastes as good as before, but I haven't had a chance to verify this. I'll let you know when I do. But if they are as good, they'll be excellent.

                                        1. re: nbs2

                                          Just tried Laurel Tavern (as it is now known), and they taste just as good as before. Lady I talked to said they kept the sliders exactly the same. It's $3 for a bag of three, $5.50 for 6. I don't remember what it was for 9. But, it is a pretty good deal for quick tastys.

                                          1. re: nbs2

                                            Do they do french fries as well? If so, any good?

                                            1. re: Pool Boy

                                              Nope. They just have the sliders and doughnuts. From my understanding, Little Tavern sold the place to new owners, who for some reason decided to add the doughnuts. The sliders are still great, but I'd rather go to the Fractured Prune if I want to pay .79 per doughnut.

                                              If you are in the mood for fries with your sliders, I'd head over to 5 Guys.

                                              1. re: nbs2

                                                Y'know, I really wanted to like this place. Little Tavern was the treat my mom used to give me if I was good at the doctor's office when I was little, about 35 years ago. I tried three of their sliders the other day and while the flavor was pretty close, the meat was very grisly / chewy. I might try it again, just to see if it was an off day, but the burger didn't thrill me, and quality is what killed LT in the first place.

                                                I liked the donuts though. I wanted the long donut turned into an eclair, and they just grabbed a pastry bag and filled it on the spot.

                                        2. re: diablo

                                          Im not a big fan of Shannon's. It's ok, but I never tried the burger. They do have Harp on tap though, which is a huge point in their favor.

                                        3. re: ciaobaby

                                          It's been several years since I have been to Shannon's but I recall their onion rings were good, but burgers just OK. Sometimes their specials were good. Good beers available too IIRC.


                                          1. re: Pool Boy

                                            Try Frisco Grill in Columbia next trip to see your parents. It is a pretty good place and they have a very good Bison Burger. Not to mention their beer list is second to non for the suburbs in this area. Highly revolving selections and many taps, not just bottles.

                                          2. re: ciaobaby

                                            I second Shannons...very good. Also, since Clydes has been discussed--Clydes has burgers on the happy hour menu, or did, for a very reasonable price.

                                          3. Here's a hint...go to Cafe de Paris at Center Park and Rt 108. I don't think the burgers are on the menu, but some friends advised us to sit at the bar and order burgers and frites. It's ground steak and will make you drool!! And be sure you get into a conversation with Erik, the owner - he's French AND funny

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Fulton Foodie

                                              Erik's joint does a burger? Oh man I am so ordering that next time we go. I'd love to taste his restaurant's example!