If the 60s were all about Beatlemania, then this decade will surely go down in history as the time of Burgermania. Londoners just can’t enough of meat-in-a-bun meals, with everywhere from high-end restaurants to backstreet food carts peddling patties like they’re going out of fashion.
We’ve picked our top 10 burger boom must-tries, from the classic to the creative and the cheesey to the chicken. Take a look and let us know which other brilliant baps and marvellous meatcakes you think are top rate in the comments below.
Elliot’s Cheeseburger: Elliot’s Café
£15.00, with chips
One for those in the know (and who can get to Borough Market of a daytime), this lunch-only burger is rarely shouted about but worth seeking out. The patty is made from 40-day-aged Ginger Pig beef and cooked to the rarer side of medium rare, topped with lightly caramelised beer-braised onions and smothered in a full-flavoured comté cheese. It’s simple but effective.
The casing is where a lot of the magic happens, though. It comes presented in a rather unique brioche-style bun that’s made with olive oil in place of butter, producing a light, sweet and fluffy-textured dough that has a taste reminiscent of foccacia. It’s also brushed with dill butter for an added layer of flavour and even more juiciness. It's served with chunky skin-on chips and pickles.
Elliot’s Café, 12 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD
The Bleecker Black: Bleecker St. Burger
Ahhh, the Bleecker Black, quite simply one of the greatest burgers the world has ever seen. This burger is packing a patty so beefy the smell hits you as soon as the burger gets anywhere near, its crust smashed, charred and crisp, its inner depths juicy. The cheese is bright yellow and slappy, providing just enough ooze but no overwhelming flavour - exactly as burger cheese should be.
The real killer here though is the layer of black pudding, which makes this burger a meaty depth charge. The crumbly texture, the richness, the savoury whack around the chops... it's a masterpiece. Bleecker St. Burger, we salute you.
Bleecker St. Burger, see website for locations
Hawksmoor Hamburger: Hawksmoor
£16, with chips or salad
It’s no surprise that the beef masters at Hawksmoor can whip up a bloody good burger. They have a few on the menu, including one topped with kimchi that’s worth a try, but this simplest one is also the best. A plump, rare-served patty is the natural star, made using a carefully selected array of cuts from Longhorn cattle, all well-aged and all from Ginger Pig.
It’s also studded with nuggets of bone marrow, which are secreted like precious gems and melt seductively away as you bite into them, spreading rich, creamy flavour throughout. We don’t really need anything else, but a blanketing of powerful yet creamy melted Ogleshield cheese is no bad thing. The fluffy lightly-brioched bun can barely contain the ooziness of this creation, but we’re more than happy to get a little bit sloppy. Note that the burgers are found at the Hawksmoor bars in Seven Dials and Spitalfields, not at the other restaurants.
Hawksmoor Spitalfields, 157A Commercial Street, E1 6BJ
Hawksmoor Seven Dials, 11 Langley Street, WC2H 9JG
The Tribute: Honest Burgers
£10.50, with chips
Simplicity is the key at Honest, and even the most complex of its short selection of regular beef burgers keeps extraneous toppings to a minimum. The patties themselves are made from dry-aged Ginger Pig beef, with cuts chosen for their high level of marbling, meaning the rich flavour contained in the beef’s fat works its way into the mince, creating a juicy and rich patty that’s hard to rival.
The idea of this burger is that its a tribute to classic American burgers so although you'll find some very British bacon inside, there's also American cheese, pickles, French's mustard, onion and lettuce. Despite tasting authentically American, there's still something very British about this burger, which is what we love so much about Honest. Don't go changin' now.
Honest Burgers, see website for locations
Secret Burger: Joe Allen
There’s no burger on the menu at Americana-drenched Covent Garden long-termer Joe Allen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t order one. Almost since the restaurant opened in 1977, the off-menu burger here has been one of London’s worst kept secrets, and one of its best burgers.
It’s made from ground sirloin steak and served on a lightly toasted brioche bun with bacon, mild melted cheese, a fat ring of tomato and some token lettuce. Simple as that. For a long time, we’re told, this was the best burger in London by miles; although there’s now much much more competition out there, it has no problem holding its own.
Joe Allen, 13 Exeter Street, WC2E 7DT
The Kevin Bacon: Lucky Chip
Lucky Chip can be found in Dalston, Islington and Camden. The burgers all boast moist, meaty patties which are considerably fatter than many, upping the meat-to-topping ratio. They’re incredibly juicy — almost too sloppy — but sturdy glazed buns that soak up some of the liquid and hold their shape throughout allow them to get away with it.
The aptly named Kevin Bacon comes with a hefty slab of crisp, applewood-smoked bacon along with sharp pickled gherkins,a sprinkling of lettuce and cheese that is of the floppy, processed ilk but also has some actual flavour. We like the way the burger straddles dirty fast food and high-quality ingredients: it’s like Maccy D’s with attitude. In terms of sides, we urge you to try the chili cheese fries topped with slow-cooked beef and pork.
Lucky Chip 25 Ridley Road, E8 2NP; 49 Chalk Farm Road NW1 8AN; The Old Queen's Head, 44 Essex Road, N1 8LN.
The Dead Hippie: MEATmission
£8.75 (Monkey Fingers £7.75)
This is a creation that dates back to the days when the Meat Wagon was still a nomadic burger revolutionary, kick-starting London’s insatiable appetite for meat in a bun. This sloppy signature consists of two thin patties fried in mustard and topped with gooey cheese, shredded raw onion, chunky pickled gherkins and a secret ‘hippie sauce’ that is something along the lines of a mustard mayo. It’s greasy, messy and trashy, but in all the right ways.
Of the varying MEAT outlets (led by MEATliquor in Marylebone), this is our favourite. That’s partly because of the deeply atmospheric, church-like interior but also because it’s the only one that serves monkey fingers: battered chicken strips in a sticky, spicy buffalo sauce served with a blue cheese dip. Order some of these with your hippie burger and slot them inside for the ultimate in gratuitous feasting. Also, see our review from when MEATmission first opened.
MEATmission, 13-15 Hoxton Market, N1 6HG
The Ari Gold: Patty & Bun
£7.50 (bacon + £1)
35-day aged Aberdeen Angus beef patties are at the heart of a Patty & Bun burger, and the bolder beef flavour the ageing offers is one of the high points. The Ari Gold is the team’s answer to a cheeseburger, and it’s very hard to beat. Sloppy, bright-coloured American cheese is slathered over rings of red onion which have been steeped in vinegar (pickled onions, but not the kind that come in a jar), smoky-flavoured mayo and some light refreshment in the form of juicy tomato slices and crisp lettuce.
The bun that pulls everything together is a glazed brioche roll which is pleasantly sweet and just about sturdy enough to cope with the burger’s gooey, medium-rare patty and dripping cheese. Still prepare to get a bit messy, mind. A sprinkling of rosemary salt adds an addictive edge to the accompanying fries.
Patty & Bun James Street, 54 James Street, W1U 1HE
Patty & Bun Liverpool Street, 22-23 Liverpool Street, EC2M 7PD
Cheeseburger: Burgerac's Burgershack
We love Burgerac's Burgershack, because everything about the burgers says that this guy really knows his stuff. Long time burger blogger decides enough is enough and opens his own kitchen to show everyone else how it's done.
There's a lovely simplicity to the cheeseburger here which could only be made by someone who has eaten a shit tonne of burgers and then decided to strip everything back to basics. Those basics are very good indeed, by the way, with the softest of white buns, the beefiest beef and some classic condiments to finish things off.
Burgerac's Burgershack, see website for locations.
Foghorn Leghorn: Street Kitchen
Friday night is burger night at Street Kitchen’s Battersea base The Hatch (next to Doodle Bar), and this masterpiece — the only non-beef burger on our list — is the star of the show. It’s made with slow-cooked chicken that’s been steamed so as to be fantastically moist and tender, and then grilled to gain crunchy, crackling-style skin.
A generous heap of crisp apple coleslaw adds juicy freshness to proceedings, while a slab of smoky bacon, lightly pickled slices of red onion, lettuce and some cheesy mayo also feature in the burger’s toasted brioche bun. It’s not only a taste sensation, but it’s genuinely completely different to other burgers you’ll find around town.
Street Kitchen at The Hatch, 33 Parkgate Road, SW11 4NP
Hit us up with more perfect patties in the comments below...