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Apr 27, 2011 03:48 PM

Have You Seen My Ideal Burger in Boston?

I know, I know. some thread topics can get so overdone. Hamburgers have certainly had continual interest on this board, but here's the thing. After doing due diligence in reading the latest loooong threads, and the well- written blog by Rich Chudy ( ) I am not sure if I have found that my ideal burger exists here, aside from made by me at home (sans fries). Is Craigie's like this?(and is it bar only?) If I missed it in all my research, sorry, i'm far from perfect, and I appreciate your help.

My ideal burger( and fries) required elements:

-- excellent flavorful beef

--grilled over a fire, med rare
-- a bun but not brioche
-- available kosher dill pickles and onions (I would be willing to bring my own pickles and yes, i know how funny this sounds, but we CHs should never have to justify pickiness

-- thin crunchy non-frozen fries , preferably with garlic aioli

--(great crunchy non-frozen, dredged and not-battered onion rings would be a big bonus but likely impossible


Have you seen this creature in a restaurant in the greater Boston area? Thanks so much.
(Don't bother with the sarcasm; it's so old.)

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. Washington Square Tavern used to have something very close, I think. It was definitely my favorite burger for quite a while. I don't think they had onion rings, and the burger would occasionally be a bit overcooked. But when it was done properly, it was pretty glorious. Definitely onion available and I think pickle (I don't eat them, so I can't really remember). Thin, crispy, delicious fries. They might've been frozen, but apparently that actually improve fries (

    However! The folks from WST have opened a new restaurant (The Abbey). So I have no idea whether the WST burger is any good anymore or whether The Abbey now has my favorite burger. I've been meaning to go investigate, but haven't had a chance yet.

    Good luck in your quest. :)

    Washington Square Tavern
    714 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02446

    1. OC - the Craigie burger hits on some of your needs, not on others.
      1. Flavorful beef. great flavorful beef, 3 cuts of grass fed, plus bone marrow and suet for fat and miso powder for umami.
      2. Charred on the outside, but not grilled over a fire. Perfectly medium rare from edge to edge, with only the faintest char on the outside, due to how it's cooked.
      3. Nice non-brioche bun
      4. No pickles or onions
      5. No onion rings, fries are steak fries, and while good are nothing special.

      I think you need to keep searching.
      Almost ordered the burger at The Abbey the other night, but went with the excellent bison bolognese instead. Will be back there to check on the burger, and will report back for you.

      4 Replies
      1. re: kimfair1

        Wow, that bison bolognese was easily the most comically barbaric, deplorable & disgusting thing I have eaten in the last decade !! One of those things that reached such depths of bad that I'm glad I had the experience to have gone there, because surely it can't get any worse (or funnier). Not sure what was the icing on the cake, the pre-shredded cheese or the sickly sweet balsamic drizzle that permeated every bite and perimeter of the plate !

        Here's a bad photo of it:

        Gosh, that still makes me LULZ.


        OC, sorry for the tangent.

          1. re: Blumie

            That is NOT the dish I had at the Abbey! Almost no balsamic drizzle, very small amount of cheese, and a tasty bison based bolognese. That looks disgusting, but that's not what I ate. was that pic taken at The Abbey or the Washington Sqare (where they also had it).

            1. re: kimfair1

              The Abbey indeedy. Glad to hear they've "improved" upon the dish, kimfair !

      2. I think you should try the burger at JJ Foley's or Costello's in JP. (I believe both kitchens are run by the same folks) It is a basic burger but it's GOOD. Very flavorful, grilled (tho' i am not sure if it is over an open flame, maybe not, but definitely has that grilled taste); a bun; pickle on the side (tho' not the greatest dill pickle i've ever had), delicious hand-cut, piping hot fries, served with good ol' fashioned ketchup. If you order it MR, they'll cook it MR. Good stuff. And best of all, you can get one of these puppies for around $8. My go-to spot(s) for an all-around good burger.

        FWIW, I thought the Craigie's burger was good, but not immeasurably better than either of these burgers, and certainly not worth twice the price....I have no qualms about paying $15-16-17-18 for a good burger --but still haven't found a reason to (exception possibly being the Bristol burger, which I haven't had in years but remember it being exceptional)

        Good luck with your quest!

        1. Bartley's has it's fans and detractors, but based on your criteria, it comes close and has dredged onion rings. Fries are only so-so and I find it too busy with tourists except at off hours.

          4 Replies
          1. re: gourmaniac

            Yeah, Bartleys does sound like ti would fit the bill....with the buns being actual buns, and you can definately get pickle on it (I hear you barking Opinionatedchef! I feel the same way about my dill pickles on my burgers!!!), and it's nicely grilled over a fire.......only the sides would let you down, and it sounded like they were optional?

            1. re: devilham

              I believe Bartley's burgers are cooked on a flat top grill, not flame-grilled.

              1. re: LStaff

                Yes, you are correct. Bartley's patties are griddled. Usually the surface is near-burnt as opposed to having a nice dark brown crust.

                1. re: Mike5966

                  Hmmm, is this a new (like in the last 20 years)? As I admittadly have not had one in that long (I used to work around the corner from there at a vintage clothes store), and remembered a flame grill, but could VERY easily be wrong on that, and am sorry for a misleading statement if so.

          2. Wow, yall are being very helpful here.I appreciate it. It is interesting that Rchudy has all these catalogued reviews on his blog- so i can go from your recommendations to his review of a given place. I'm not saying he is to be genuflected or anything but it is interesting to have more than one informed point of view. Take a look if you haven't. I really like his priorities though i cannot understand why someone would prefer a griddled burger over a fire grilled burger (Anyone?) And , as of yet, I have not eaten a single restaurant burger in Boston for comparison or judgement.


            2 Replies
            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Because some of us prefer flat patties -- hence the name of one of the better burger purveyors in town -- and flat patties take better to the lower and more controlled heat of griddling than they do to grilling over fire, where they're in greater risk of getting overcooked and dried out.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                For me, griddled doesn't automatically equate to a thinner patty, but to Jenny O's point, the thinner patties are easier to control. It's also about developing a crust, and cooking in it's own fat, you lose all the fat when a burger is grilled, hence the drying out issue.