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Birmingham, Best Cheeseburger?

My favorite is at J. Alexander's. Fresh ground beef grilled over real hickory wood.

What's yours?

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  1. Chez Fonfon. I think they have hands down the best burger in town, as well as the best french fries.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pinotboy

      Fonfon probably has the best burger in the best ambiance.

      Now if you're looking for less ambiance, I personally like the double cheese burger and at the Golden Rule in lakeview. Supercheesy and delicious, but not cooked to order. Unfortunately, the fries are just frozen and lame.

      Two totally different burgers.

      1. re: pinotboy

        With out a doubt Chz Fon Fon is the best burger in town. A great burger also needs great fries along with it, and they win in that catagory as well.

        26 also does a very good burger, and their fries are great.

        VRichards can make a great burger and fries, unfortunately the quality of food (and service) is very hit or miss. We eat there regularly because of the convience and wish for greater consistency.

        Five Guys in Brookwood is great for the guitly indugence of an old fashioned greasy burger and fries.

      2. I 100% agree w/ Chez Fonfon. Also, pretty much the same burger, Bottega Cafe is excellent. As far as a "quick" burger, Five Guys Burger and Fries in Homewood is pretty hard to beat.

        26 has a good burger also. Only had it once though so can't say it's the best yet. I've also heard very good things about Jinsei's Kobe beef baby burgers too. I haven't had them yet, but look forward to it.

        1. Good recommendations. The Kobe beef baby burgers at Jinsei are awesome, but not what I really think of when I'm craving an old-fashioned burger. Some more casual/traditional burger options: The burgers at Mike's Hot Dogs in Homewood are good, very messy with a special sauce. Chris Z's in Lakeview has good burgers. I wouldn't necessarily call it the "best" burger, but if you're in the area, Jim 'N Nick's, at least the one in Riverchase, has a surprisingly good burger. Green Valley Drugs in Hoover may be worth a trip just for the old-timey drugstore lunch counter experience, and the burgers are good. Hamburger Heaven is overrated, and Harry's Place, which won the Best Burgers contest a few years back, has gone downhill. And I like Five Guys, although I think the fries eclipse the burgers. I have not been to Sammy's Sandwich Shop in the Eastwood area but they are supposed to have good burgers.

          1. Another vote for Fonfon.

            1. They're not really traditionally cheeseburgers, but some of the burgers at Baja Burgers are fun (I tend to get the pork and lamb, like I said, not traditional). They also add fried okra to their french fries which I like.

              Best cheeseburger I ever had: The old $16 Kobe burger at Icon when Geoffrey Slate was still chef. Half-pound of kobe (how can you go wrong with a kobe patty?) in a house-made bun, topped with grilled onions. The cheese was a farmstead Cheddar from England -- one of the few cheeseburgers I've had where I could actually taste the cheese.

              In fact, that's one reason why I don't get cheese on my burgers normally: All the fat with none of the flavor.

              1. Most of what are considered the best, and I completely agree, are listed here. Botega Cafe, Fon Fon, 5 Guys, Golden Rule, Green Valley Drugs...I've had em all and they are all great. I am particularly fond of 5 Guys and Botega Cafe...I have acutally found Fon Fon to be hit and miss, gasp I know, my first was incredible, and the other 2 were just solid.

                I went to Baha Burger last Friday night, my wife had the beef burger (I of course had a few bites), and I had the pork loin burger. I found them to be pretty thick, but not all that great and the meat to be a bit dry. We wont be back...though the sweet potato fries and okra were great.

                I agree with Bhamdining Harry's isn't really that good anymore.

                The only place I would like to add is Tony's on 31 in the Publix shopping center where Valleydale Rd intersects 31. Awesome burgers and other stuff. And great breakfast too!

                1 Reply
                1. re: birminghamvisitor

                  I agree on Fon Fon's burgers being a little hit or miss but not enough to really discourage me from ordering them. The first time I had one, it was pretty sublime and almost perfectly cooked to order (ordered medium rare but it came out closer to medium). Another time, when out for an early dinner, it was overcooked leaving little, if any, pink much less medium rare. Since I was out with business associates, I didn't say anything. I very rarely send anything back but an overcooked burger tastes like a lump of charcoal. Last night, I ate at the bar and had the Holy Grail which was cooked perfectly medium-rare and a little bloody and perfectly juicy, particularly those fries that were a little soaked in the juices (at the bottom of the pile). Washed down with a couple anchor steams and an excellent shrimp, Portuguese chorizo and potato soup, I was nearly waddling when I left. That's a sizable burger.

                2. I don't get all of the Five Guys love. Haven't tried the one here, but I had a 5G burger at one of the Atlanta locations and thought it was just meh. Fries were good but too thick.

                  I agree that sometimes V. Richard's is on with their burger but the last time I got one they paid no attention to the medium rare request as it was more medium well (no pink even). I also really like the bun.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Dax

                    OK, I made a trip to Chez Fon Fon this week with a buddy to try the cheeseburger. It really good. I especially liked the grilled red onion on the side. But for everyone who thinks it's Birmingham's best, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY encourage you to try the cheeseburger at J. Alexander's by the Galleria Mall in Hoover.....There is something about the fact that they grill them over real hickory wood that I still think gives their burgers the edge.....

                    1. re: SkippyLeBeef

                      I love that J. Alex's uses Tillamook Cheddar Cheese. I love Tillamook cheeses. If you haven't had them, you should make sure and try one of their dairy products ie...cheese, milk, ice cream, etc...

                  2. I've had J Alexanders, V Richards, Rojo, Five Guys, Jinsei and Green Valley Drug's. Never been to Chez FonFon. My favorite is Becky's South by UAB at the corner of 20th and University. Cheeseburger with bacon "all the way." Fries are frozen. They also have a pretty good cheesesteak.

                    Looking forward to trying out Tony's and Fon Fon.

                    I have been searching for a burger similar to Storm's (in Lampasas and Burnett TX). Thin meat patty with cheese that melts and intercalates into the pores of the meat after the fat melts away.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: georgenator

                      Hmm but Becky's does not cook to order.

                    2. If you can stay up until they open or wake up early enough, the burger at Marty's bar rivals any of the above mentioned.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: bigdaddyyumyum

                        See I don't agree. Doesn't Marty's just use the pre-frozen 1/2 lb patties? Not inferring you do ... bigdaddyyumyum(?) but I think most people seem to falsely recall it being the best burger only because anything can be delicious at 4 AM when drunk. I've had it twice and thought it was just ok.

                        1. re: Dax

                          I agree w/ you Dax. Marty's is the best burger in town that you can get at 3am, but not even close to the above mentioned Fon Fon. I think you have to split it up into categories. It's kind of like the debate of who has the best pizza. You can't really compare the pizza at say Tortuga's, New York Pizza or Davenports to Bettola or Bottega. Two completely different animals. Gourmet burgers such as Fon Fon, 26, Bottega etc...will always be better than frozen patty burgers like Marty's. That's not to say that at 3am a Marty's burger doesn't taste like the best thing you ever put in your mouth or a greasy Five Guy's or Green Valley Drug burger doesn't taste good sometimes. But a freshly ground steak burger, cooked to order w/ fresh veggies and homemade fries is always better. Maybe that's my opinion, but I would be very upset if I was Frank Stitt and my burger was being compared to a frozen Marty's burger on toasted white bread.

                          1. re: mwr0978

                            I totally agree. On another note, Bottega's pizzas, while totally different than Bettola's, are no where near as good. I still haven't tried New York Pizza or Tortuga's yet.

                      2. My favorite: Becky's. We always go to the one in Avondale - but there is also one on University Blvd next door to Lucy's. Best, Best, Best .... I'll agree with the posting that Chez Fonfon's fries are the best - but they can not come close to the burgers at Becky's.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: mizard

                          there is a becky's in Irondale-is that the same one Mizard is talking about

                            1. re: hlsess

                              Really good cheeseburger at Papa's Grill in Vestavia, in the shopping center behind Red Lobster (gag) on Hwy. 31.

                              Also, this place has THE BEST stuffer grape leaves I have ever put in my mouth. Great tilapia too.

                          1. re: mizard

                            I realize this is an old thread but I stopped by the Becky's at the gas station and agree that their bacon cheeseburgers are pretty awesome in non-gourmet nor doness cooked to order category (although they are cooked to order, you just cannot specify doneness). I think they're better than Five Guys.

                            1. re: mizard

                              Loved my burger at Becky's...just wish they had a place to sit comfortably!! I was at the University Blvd. location. Where is their "gas station location", @Dax?

                            2. Definitely Becky's South. Its already been mentioned here. I can't believe nobody has mentioned Stadium Grill in Bessemer! You won't find a better cheeseburger in Birmingham. Also, the J&J in Mcalla has been serving cheeseburgers to workers and school-skippers for years. I haven't been in a while but its up there in most memorable burgers.

                              1. Reading through this thread, I'm struck by how argumentative it gets at times. I guess as long as folks read these posts and see the various mentions as a list of places to try, and the number of mentions of a place as "votes", it works. But when posters more or less subtly diss each other's recommendations I suspect it discourages some from posting their favorites. I wish it wasn't this way. Nobody is "right" or "wrong" here, and to me assuming otherwise is snobbery. These are all opinions and should be valued as such. Perhaps instead of having "Best of" threads, we should shoot for "Your favorite" threads. Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

                                1. My wife, son, and I each ordered the old-fashioned cheeseburger with Tillamook cheddar at J. Alexanders today for Sunday lunch. Great burger. My only complaint was that it was very difficult to eat! My son (22) noted that he had to reassemble the burger after every bite. Not sure how they might "fix" this, or whether they even should. I was happy to receive (as requested) my burger cooked medium rare. My only warning: Put a napkin under your chin!!

                                  J. Alexander's fries were good, but all three of us agreed that the fries at Tavern at the Summit remain our favorite.

                                  1. I recently tried the Cajun burger over at Blackwell's Pub in Cahaba Heights. My burger wasn't topped with cheese (instead it was a creamy, cheesy crawfish jalapeno spread), but I was VERY pleased. The BF had a standard bacon cheeseburger and greatly enjoyed it as well. The meat was perfectly cooked; not too fatty nor too lean, and the patties were very obviously hand made.

                                    The big surprise were the onion rings. They reminded me EXACTLY of the onion rings at the now-defunct Burly Earl. I will definitely return to Blackwell's, perhaps to try the odd PB&J burger on the menu.

                                    Max's Deli also has great burgers. The one I had (I cant remember the name from the menu) was like a mushroom/swiss burger and was absolutely amazing. They've become my current go-to place for burgers (and reubens...and fried chicken).

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: johnnystiletto

                                      They do make good burgers at Blackwell's, as does Mudtown across the street. If you like your burger medium, you're more likely to get it that way at Mudtown than Blackwell's. But the beer selection is far better at Blackwell's (major tie-breaker in my book).
                                      The people I know who have tried the PB&J Burger at Blackwell's swear by it. I haven't had a desire to try, but I've had most of the burgers on their menu (I live in the neighborhood and it's kid-friendly) and they're good. One of my faves, when I'm not in the mood for beef, is the gator burger, which is their fried gator bites served on a bun.
                                      And thankfully for my vegetarian wife, they've started keeping veggie burger in the freezer. (I remembered the night months back when I wanted to have a beer or two there after work with dinner. So with my wife and kids coming, I snuck home and grabbed a veggie burger from our freezer and took it to the restaurant to cook for her sandwich. I tried to convince my wife it was that night's special.)

                                      1. re: Big Daddy

                                        I too am always in the neighborhood (the BF lives in Cahaba Heights), and we've been to Mudtwon before. I think we caught them too close to closing, though - they got my order completely wrong, and his was lukewarm at best (in flavor and temperature). I'd be willing to give them another shot, though. Boho wasn't bad either, but I fear that they won't survive.

                                        1. re: johnnystiletto

                                          Hadn't even heard of Boho before. Will have to check it out.

                                          1. re: curej

                                            It's in Cahaba Heights Road, in the area of Satterfield's but across the street. Tiny place, but they put a sandwichboard sign at the top of the parking area, which helps in the search.
                                            Nice people. Decent burgers, slightly less expensive than Mudtown and Blackwell's.

                                            1. re: Big Daddy

                                              I went back to Blackwell's over the weekend and tried the PB&J burger. It was insanely good - something about the peanut butter (it tasted like a honey peanut butter), the meat, blackberry jam and bacon (yes, I added bacon) just WORKED. I can't describe WHY or HOW it worked, but it did.

                                              I may have just found my new favorite burger.

                                              1. re: johnnystiletto

                                                When I was a kid I used to make myself a peanut butter and jelly, bologna and cheese sandwich with raisins. Yes, that's what I said. It was great, but I don't think I could eat one now.

                                                1. re: curej

                                                  I made bologna sandwiches with an artery-clogging amount of mayonnaise and then added cheese curls. Honestly, sometimes I bet it'd still be good, like a banana-mayonnaise sandiwich.

                                                  1. re: johnnystiletto

                                                    Newk's 'Cue with cheetos stuffed inside and a dousing of Sriracha sauce. Try it. REALLY good.

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                                                    Newk's
                                                    205 University Blvd E, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

                                                    1. re: curej

                                                      Cheetos AND Sriracha? You've got me intrigued!

                                                      1. re: johnnystiletto

                                                        Yeah, Awesome crunch and sweet heat and white BBQ chicken smoothness. About 5000 calories, too.

                                                        1. re: curej

                                                          You had me at cheetos and sriracha.. then lost me at 5000 calories. You're killing my attempts to diet!

                                                          1. re: Jannae

                                                            I was joking. I don't really know how many calories.....My general rule is: If I love it, it's bad for you/me.

                                                            1. re: curej

                                                              after 4 days in NE Ohio (including Barberton chicken and eating burgers at Michael Symon's B-Spot TWICE), i've thrown all caloric consideration out of the window!

                                    2. Large Cheese Burger all the way. This little hole in the wall has been around for 30+ years. They are only open weekdays for breakfast and lunch. The burgers are hands down the best in Birmingham and I would put them up against any burger anywhere. This is a family run dinner and the burgers are hand made to order from fresh ground beef. Dont be shy when you go in, smile and say hey to the busy cook (Johnny). It will make your burger a little bigger.

                                      http://birminghamsbestlunch.com/?p=42

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                                      Sammy's Sandwich Shop
                                      4921 Messer Airport Hwy, Birmingham, AL 35212