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It's Saturday afternoon and you're craving a cheeseburger. Scrap that, no matter when it is, you're always craving a cheeseburger. We know, because we feel exactly the same. That's why we suffered trying cheeseburgers all over town, to bring you the five absolute best. Enjoy — we already know you will.
Four Legs at The Compton Arms — Islington
Order: The Dexter Cheeseburger
The menu changes daily at this Islington pub residency, but the cheeseburger's a fixture. Allan and McIlroy, the two chefs/four legs behind the burger, probably know they'd risk riots in the streets of N1 if they took it off.
'A bit like how McDonald's used to taste when you were a kid' is the unassuming way the barstaff describe the Dexter Cheeseburger. The truth, but far from the whole truth. Chopped onions, oozy cheese and juicy meat all smushed together, inside a brioche that soaks up the meat gravy like a sponge. It is magnificent. The hype, and there's been reams of it, is real. There's far more than just a destination burger to The Compton Arms (read our full review here). But c'mon — it's still the delicious, nostalgia-dripping centrepiece of any visit here.
Four Legs at The Compton Arms, 4 Compton Avenue, N1 2XD.
Burger & Beyond — Shoreditch
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Order: almost any burger on the menu
Nearly all of their burgers could claim a legit place on this list: the standard burger an American-cheesed, lightly-mayoed classic with just enough gloopiness to feel fast-foody, and just enough richness to the meat/integrity of bun to feel grown-up.
But what about the Bougie Burg, strong contender for Most Extra on the menu thanks to added beef fat onions, steak sauce and marrownaise (i.e. bone marrow mayo, not... autumnal gourd mayo) in the mix? Or there's the Bacon Butter Burger, cheese-topped and doubling down on sloppiness with a blanket burnt butter mayo. We can't tell you what to do in the face of this much cheesy largesse, other than: save room for their twist on poutine (fries/bone marrow gravy/cheese) if you think you're tough enough.
Burger & Beyond, 147 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE.
Halo Burger — Brixton
Order: Smoky Carolina
The Smoky Carolina comes dripping with BBQ sauce, gouda-style vegan cheese and fried onions. Dreamy on paper, dreamy and filthy in execution.
Like all of Halo Burger's menu, it's entirely plant-based. Dubbed 'bleeding' thanks to their beetroot juice ruddiness, this is guilt-free, fast-food dining that hits the same cheese-slathered spot as your standard quarter pounder — while being a lot more substantial and satisfying. Proof that vegan food doesn't automatically mean low-cal puritanism.
Halo Burger, Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ.
Honourable mention: the vegan cheeseburger at Biff's Jack Shack (Shoreditch and Walthamstow), the vegan haggis Bloody Roots burger from Mac + Wild (City and Fitzrovia), and the vegan Club Mex Cheezeburger from Club Mexicana (Homerton and Covent Garden).
Beer + Burger — Willesden Green
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Order: Double Cheeseburger
These guys use two patties in each burger that cook through faster than a thick wedge of burger, keeping them tender on the outside. Burgers are covered in cheese, "goop" (their signature, sticky sauce) and a high pickle presence that risks ruining all other lesser-pickled burgers for you. Treat the Double Cheeseburger with reverence and caution — it's four patties, double everything and 100% certainty you'll be horizontal on a sofa afterwards.
Beer + Burger. Other branches in Dalston, KX and The O2.
Hawksmoor — Spitalfields
Order: Big Matt
Anybody out there surprised to learn that Hawksmoor are good at meat? Their Big Mac tribute burger, like their steakhouses, is a thing of decadent, self-assured, quite-pricey-but-frankly-fantastic beauty. The meat's hefty and juicy, layered up with Red Leicester, and just, just sloppy enough to pay homage to its fast-food muse. Currently to be found on the Spitalfields bar menu, though it does cameo now and then at other Hawksmoors.
Hawksmoor, 157A Commercial Street, E1 6BJ.