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Feb 13, 2012 06:43 PM

Where are the best burger joints in Miami (possibly South Beach)?

Hey, folks. I'm a regular on the Florida board -- I live in Orlando, where I can recommend the best restaurants in town. However, I grew up in Kendall and rarely ventured out of the 'burbs back then, so I'm very much a stranger at home when it comes to Miami.

I'm coming down in a few weeks for a rare trip to hang out with my brother on South Beach. We have tickets to an show at the Fillmore, the old Jackie Gleason Theatre, and I want to take him somewhere fun to eat. He's a real homebody and NEVER goes out. When he goes to restaurants, he sticks to burgers at Betty's in Kendall (in the location of the old Fuddrucker's that I grew up going to), pasta with red sauce, and all-you-can-eat Chinese and Japanese buffets. He is definitely not a foodie, and would feel awkward and out of place at most trendy, hip Miami restaurants. Neither of us drink, and neither of us are anywhere close to rich.

Therefore, I'm hoping to dazzle him with an incredible burger somewhere -- better than Betty's, better than Fuddrucker's. In Orlando, I could rattle off my top five incredible burger joints, ranging from a swanky gastropub to a gourmet food truck to a funky brewpub Guy Fieri would love, but in Miami -- and especially on the Beach -- I'm clueless. Any suggestions?

I'm thinking we'd hit the burger joint for dinner before the show, and then get a late-night meal at La Carreta afterwards, just because we can (and because I miss it very much where I live now).

EDIT: Would Shake Shack fit the bill? For what it's worth, I think Five Guys is horribly overrated.

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  1. I like Shake Shack, it's a good burger for the price (better, and simpler, than Five Guys) and I appreciate that a single is a relatively modest size.

    But Burger & Beer Joint would be my choice. It's a little pricier (a 1/2 lb burger starts at $9 and their specialty burgers, usually 10 oz., run about $14 depending on toppings) but they're pretty darn good. The fried pickles are pretty good too. Very casual place, not South Beach trendy.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      Nothing beats a double shack burger cooked rare. It has to be a double (better bun to meat ratio) and cooked rare, but that is the best burger.

      A close second is bourbon steak in aventura.

      Both are quite a bit better than burger and beer.

      1. re: tpigeon

        Bourbon Steak's burger surely tops B&BJ's, but OP was looking for something in South Beach and, by the sounds of it, not looking for something fancy.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          I mentioned the bourbon steak as an aside. I should have made that clear.

          PS if you go to shake shack on saturday this month you get the peanut butter and jelly custard special, which was excellent.

          1. re: tpigeon

            The PB&J custard is outrageous. Bought a pint on Sunday and it didn't last very long.

            My rec on a place would be whether you want a sit down type place or more casual. Both B&B and Shake Shack are casual but B&B is a sit down vs. Shake Shack is counter service. I like both, with a heavy lean towards Shake Shack, so it's just depending on whether you want table service or not.

            1. re: lax2mia

              Try it saturday when they make it. It is even better.

              1. re: tpigeon

                We won't be there until March. Will they have a new flavor by then? I'm leaning toward Shake Shack so far, since my brother is very much a burger purist. All those fancy toppings at B&B Joint won't impress him as much as a place that's awesome, simple, casual, and cheap.

                1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                  Very unlikely. They have rotating monthly specials where they serve a different flavor each day of the week during the month. You will have to check their website after march 1st to know which flavor they are serving in advance. It is pot luck.

                  Some others to watch out for are gianduja and pancakes and bacon.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    I meant very likely on the new flavor.

                  2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                    For a burger purist Shake Shack is the place.

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      If you're seeking a burger - Burger & Beer Joint is a better burger than Shake Shack and Bourbon Steak. Forget about the toppings, you don't need any of them and can build your own burger. The way they season the meat at B&BJ is paramount to any other burger joint in Miami. Shake Shack is good but it's more of a fast casual joint so I guess in that sense it's tough to compare to B&BJ. Bourbon Steak has a fantastic burger but it's way north in Aventura.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        "For a burger purist Shake Shack is the place."

                        Very much agreed.

                  3. re: lax2mia

                    Lax, they have a mutant batch today (last day of PP&J). It has great flavor and larger chunks of jelly. It is the best batch I have had of it by far (I get this flavor a lot).

                    Also they have a special concrete today (salted caramel and brownie) that kicks some serious butt too.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      Dang it! Need to check this board more often on the weekend. Had a lazy Saturday at home and was looking for an excuse to get out of the house. This would've done it. Thanks for the heads up.

                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                          I was going to say that the info is not available until March 1st but I was wrong, here goes:
                          Monday - Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter
                          Tuesday - Root Beer Freeze
                          Wednesday - Smores
                          Thursday - Buttery Caramel Cocoa Nib
                          Friday - Maple Bacon Bananza
                          Saturday - Mint Chocolate Chip
                          Sunday - Fluffernutter

                          I have tried Fluffernutter in the past and thought it was only ok but they seem to be back on an upswing lately so I might take another shot at that one.

                          If you go on Saturday, you might get a shot at left over pints of Maple Bacon Bananza - which looks really interesting.

                          You should also be aware they have a Peanut Butter as a regular flavor, which is really good, especially in a malted.

                          1. re: tpigeon

                            Maple bacon is only ok btw. I don't recommend it.

                            The salted caramel brownie special is still there and is really great so maybe you will get lucky and it will still be a special. Also I forgot to mention the Vice Crispy concrete is on the regular menu and is also great (salted caramel brownie is better though).

            2. I would pick the Filling Station in downtown Miami. It's Burger & Beer Joint at a slightly lower price point and just about as good, IMHO. I do like Burger & Beer Joint, and if you were staying on the beach, I'll probably refer you to go to Burger & Beer Joint - especially since they also have more to offer (I love their fried string beans). For "locally-sourced" burgers, Lokal in Coconut Grove is the perfect spot. While I like the burgers there, I do find it a little bit underseasoned compared to the other burger places in Miami - but it doesn't disappoint for sure.

              Shake Shack is just fast food - I wouldn't consider it as one of the best burger place around. It's just good for what it is - a fast food burger, and is better than other fast food burgers. It's a different ballgame.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mialebven

                I would recommend JR's Gourmet Burgers in Miami Springs.....They're outstanding.....1/4, 1/2 and 1lb. Burgers are available with a wide variety of toppings.....These guys really have a quality product.....My favorite is the N.A.G. Burger....."Not A Girl's Burger"......(although my wife thoroughly enjoyed it).....It has small Onion Rings, Cheese, Bacon and BBQ sauce......Cozy, comfy family atmosphere......The only drawback is that they don't offer a milkshake there......But folks come from far and wide to enjoy JR's......

                Ft. Pierce, FL

              2. 5 Napkin Burgers on Lincoln Road (SOBE) is your closest and best option if going to the Fillmore. It's literally a two minute walk from the theater and you will have the best people watching in South Beach along with some of the best burgers to come out of NYC. And if you get there early, or late, they have a slider Happy Hour. Burger n Beer Joint may be a little better, but it's location is by far inferior. Grab a cafe table on Lincoln and have at it!

       3.5 out of 4 stars on Google reviews

                13 Replies
                1. re: netmover

                  I would go to Shake Shack 5 times before going back to 5 Napkin. It's OK but Shake Shack is a much better burger for the money. And also on Lincoln Road with the same people watching.

                  If anyone cares about stars on Google reviews they can go to Google.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    SS is fast food (quick serve)! 5 Napkins is not, it's sit down casual dining. The value proposition may be better at SS, but the people watching is NOT, in fact I do not think you can actually call that Lincoln Rd, it is OFF the pedestrian mall albeit by a +/-100 yards. And SS is WAY further from the Fillmore. Plus SS has a weird odor about it. My Burger at 5N was admittedly over cooked but aside from that, it was fine. Don't get me wrong, as a local in need of a quick burger I'd still go to SS (due to ease of access and sheer transaction speed), but 5N seems to fit BBVL's request to a tee. Were my bro and I doing a show at the Fillmore and in need of some quality time and a burger, I'd head to 5N. BTW, their Sushi was pretty good too when I tried it a few months back. As for the stars on Google or any other site for that matter, I've found that they do lend credence, especially in areas where CH threads are lacking e.g. Boca.

                    1. re: netmover

                      The OP said they don't want a fancy burger which is what they serve at 5 napkin. Plus shake shack is better and more consistent. You said in your own post they overcooked the burger which to me is a fatal flaw. The outdoor seating is just fine at Shake Shack and shake shack is only a few blocks west of the convention. Distance should not be an issue.

                      I don't think the op cares how they order their burger.

                      1. re: tpigeon

                        "Dazzle him with an incredible burger" good as quick serve Shake Shack maybe, it does NOT live up to that quote, sorry. And it's more like 7 or 8 blocks away, where as 5N is across the street from the venue. And the people watching ON Lincoln Rd is far superior to being out in Right Field over there on Lennox Ave. ++it shouldn't be long b4 even ole O-town has it's very own Shake Shack. My vote for BBVLOU & BRO is and remains 5 Napkins Burger...Let us know Luigi! Bonburgerapettite...

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          Oh yeah and BTW, I could've and should've sent my 5N Burger back for being over cooked, but it was late and I was lazy, furthermore they were still relatively new in town at the time so by now ALL their kinks should be worked out.

                          1. re: netmover

                            Gentlemen, I'm starting to think we should try BOTH: Shake Shack for an early dinner before the 7 PM show, and 5 Napkin for our celebratory late night munchies, since it's open until 1 AM. My brother can go to La Carreta in Kendall anytime he wants, so this may be the ideal option for us. Thank you all for your input and insight!

                            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                              5 Napkin Burger was one of the worst burgers I've ever had.

                              1. re: Blind Mind

                                I gotta agree. It began falling apart after 2 bites.

                                1. re: lax2mia

                                  I would do burger and beer before 5 napkin (way before).

                                  1. re: tpigeon

                                    I'd do Burger & Beer before 5 Napkins AND Shake Shack. Seriously, who gets impressed with fast food burgers anyways that's just made up of thin patties that's meant to be cooked well-done all the time simply because... it's thin? I just don't understand how a fast food burger can be considered a great burger, when you'd be hard-pressed to judge the meat itself. And as for 5 Napkins, had it in New York even, and was far from being impressed. Burger & Beer is better than 5 Napkins, here and in New York.

                                    But seriously, you want people-watching, walkable from the Fillmore AND good-burgers? Forget a burger joint with these criteria - just doesn't exist in South Beach. Just do The Cafe at Books & Books on Lincoln Rd. If it gets too late, then do Flame Caffe & Grill on Espanola Way (closes at 2 am). Both of these places probably would do it better than 5 Napkins & also have plenty of burger options even though they both are not true burger joints.

                                    1. re: mialebven

                                      Shake Shack burgers are cooked medium unless otherwise requested and one of their virtues is that despite being a thin patty they use a pretty high quality of freshly ground beef which is well seasoned and pretty darn tasty. I'm not mental for them like some people, but it's a good burger.

                                      Considering that OP specifically asked for a burger joint, I hardly think sending him to the Café at Books and Books is terribly helpful.

                                      1. re: mialebven

                                        Which is, of course, why so many people rave about the burgers at shake shack.

                                2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                  Or try "Beat the Clock" at Spris Pizzaria or Tiramesu for an amazing pasta first. Order at 5:30pm pay just $5.30, 6pm just 6 bucks! You must order b4 6:45. Their Carbonara is richer than The Donald. Served table side out of a Bowl, you and your bro can mix and match the 3 or four pastas offered, or you can also order from Spris Pizza for the same deal since they're owned by the same group and only two doors down right on Lincoln. Pizza and a Pasta followed by your Burger feast after the show. Burger and Beer Joint Burgers are the best on the beach IMHO, but the 5N option is so close to the Fillmore and offers optimal people watching. Google 5 Napkin Burgers for more info, it has a bad rap here, but it's shows up pretty solid elsewhere. Welcome to MYami...or back anyway!

                      2. 1.Shake Shack
                        2.Burger and Beer Joint

                        I've never had the burger at Clarke's but I've heard very good things.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: The Chowfather

                          I have, I would put burger & beer slightly ahead of it.

                            1. re: The Chowfather

                              You definitely have to go to el mago. I dream about their fritas sometimes. I would not run to db for the burger. It is very good but did not knock my socks off. I think the foie and the truffles actually get in the way.

                              1. re: tpigeon

                                cosign on El Mago. I need to make a return visit there soon.

                        2. I think Burger & Beer Joint is your best bet. It has a casual, fun atmosphere and amazing burgers - yes, some of the burgers have...interesting toppings, but you can also create your own - sometimes the best burger is just a simple cheeseburger.

                          Shake shack, as mentioned in other posts, is a fast food, counter service, restaurant. If you are looking to "dazzle" your brother, I really dont think this is the place.

                          5 Napkin is an easy choice seeing as it is close in proximity to the fillmore, but I don't think it fits the atmosphere you are looking for, although it would be very convenient.

                          Honestly, if you really want to impress your brother with a great burger at a fun cool spot, i'd go to B&BJ. It's not the closest burger joint to the fillmore, but it sounds more like what you are looking for. And if you are completely unsure now of where to go after reading all these replies - check out Yelp or Urbanspoon. Yelp has definitely helped me narrow down a place in a new city before - and each of these places has plenty of reviews and pictures to give you a better idea...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: rugger13

                            Forgetting the burgers for a moment, for the life of me, I don't see why people think burger & beer has a better atmosphere than shake shack in Sobe. Burger & Beer's best days are long behind as a cool place to go.

                            1. re: tpigeon

                              I'd agree with you tpigeon, but I don't think Shake Shack's atmosphere is that great either considering it's just a counter service and a quick in and out (no indoor seating). Both places' hey days are long gone, IMHO. But they both have staying power and will likely be around for a long time (like Cheeseburger Baby, since it is probably the oldest burger joint in the Beach that isn't a chain). B&BJ still has a better vibe in my opinion for this reason (makes it feel somewhat "classier" and on par with 5 Napkins or 8 oz. but with better burgers than both). For the vibe alone, I'd head to the mainland (e.g. Lokal, Filling Station).

                              1. re: mialebven

                                What are you talking about? Shake shack has indoor seating and it is pretty crowded every day. I can't say the same for burger & beer.