The Best Burgers In Seattle guide image


The Best Burgers In Seattle

The top 22 burgers in Seattle, according to us.

Seattle wears its health badge proudly. We have kale salads, smoothie shops that call themselves “juiceries,” and people who willingly choose to cycle from Seattle to Portland. But thankfully, Seattle is also a great burger town.

Whether it's coming from an old-school dive or a gourmet steakhouse, Seattle knows how to put together an incredible burger. We pretty much turned the city upside down (as in, we ate a lot of meat sandwiches) so you won’t have to. Here are the best burgers in Seattle.



This is the anatomically perfect burger you’d choose over your naked significant other. The patty is substantially-sized, freshly ground from really good beef, and topped with caramelized onion jam and garlic aioli on a challah bun that’s equal parts squishy and toasty. It’s $20 a la carte, and it’s all we want. You won’t crave cheese, hydroponic baby arugula, or even human companionship when you have the best burger you’ll ever find in Seattle.

We’ve had a few different kinds of burgers at this butcher shop that moonlights as a restaurant, and they’ve all rocked. One was a thick patty, ground with beef from a dairy cow, with yellow american, raw onion, ketchup, and a charred crust that had the texture of something deep-fried. Another rendition had an incredibly coarse grind that felt like eating a burger made of steak, and another (the best) was thinner, juicier, and topped with cheese and a caramelized onion-loaded sauce that tasted like intense potato chip dip. The only catch is that the burgers here only happen around once a month on Fridays for lunch.

The Oklahoma-style smashburgers coming from this mustard-yellow set of wheels parked at Rooftop Brewing every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are not just phenomenal stacks of beef and cheese. They're the best smashburgers in town. Each perfectly seasoned patty wears a snappy meat skirt that drapes over the bun, singed onions, melted cheese that gets gooey without making a total mess, a tangy spice-flecked special sauce, and fat pickle slices to cut through the heft. It's a work of majesty that satisfies any burger itch without leaving your hands full of drips. We recommend going with the classic, but if you enjoy hot peppers, the jalapeño smash has great sweet heat from both pickled and fried jalapeños.

We can feel you wondering, “Wait, Asadero has a burger?” Yes—hidden among the tacos, A5 Japanese wagyu, and ball-out filets at this Mexican steakhouse is a thick bacon cheeseburger that eats dinky smashpatties for breakfast. Each chomp into this charred patty with two slices of american cheese reveals perfect pink drippings that soak through the bun like a french dip. But the real crown jewel here is the aioli, which tastes a little spicy and sweeter than a Girl Scout’s people skills once March rolls around. You’ll find us in the corner of a booth actively ignoring the ribeyes for this juicy son of a b*tch. It tastes better than the steak anyway.

Lettuce, tomato, and onion have their rightful spot in the burger topping Hall of Fame. But Taurus Ox, a Lao restaurant on Capitol Hill, proves that things like taro stem, spicy lemongrass-y pork skin mayo, jowl bacon, and cilantro deserve a place as well. In addition to all those Lao ingredients, this double cheeseburger also has a bunch of provolone and gets served on a soft pub bun. The result is a f*cking amazing burger that gives you fresh herbs, nuttiness, and just enough pork fat.

This West Seattle smokehouse knows its way around wood like Steve Martin knows his way around a banjo. And while you would have a great meal here any night of the week, Lady Jaye’s Thursday-only smoked wagyu cheeseburger is something to plan around. With smoky singed edges and a perfectly pink middle, the patty by itself has us seriously contemplating buying a Traeger. The thick slice of american cheese slapped over the top along with pickles and rocket sauce complement the beef without overpowering it. Note that they sell out fast, but if you call ahead, they’ll set a burger aside for you.

If drippy and topping-heavy burgers are your thing, the beacon burger at Perihelion is your ideal meat sandwich. The cheddar, thick pork belly, and chile aioli work better together than Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor in the tap dance sequence in Singing In The Rain. It’s a masterpiece.

The tavern burger at Loretta’s tastes like a backyard dad burger, but better. This thin little thing with special sauce, pickles, plain American cheese, and onions lives up to the hype, and tastes just as good with a beer at the bar as it does wrapped in wax paper to go.

Normally, we praise the maillard reaction on a burger—the more smashed, the better, right? In the case of Dreamland’s McDreamy, that couldn’t be more wrong. These patties have a lighter sear, and yet, should satisfy even the most diehard meat skirt enthusiasts. Between the juicy beef, american cheese, and charred onion mayo, all of the gooey, sticky, and salty elements melt seamlessly into each other, and yet, it still has a great crunch from the pickles and toasted potato bun halves.

Joule’s kalbi-marinated burger is a prime example of “less is more.” Here you have an incredibly juicy patty, horseradish mayo, lettuce, and raw red onion with some giardiniera on the side. Add in some of the accompanying pickled carrots between the buns if you want to amp up the acidity.

The burger at a seafood joint often ends up being an afterthought. Local Tide's burger, however, is the best dish on the menu—which is saying something, since their stuff involving fish is so damn good. The smashed and juicy beef and pork patty works perfectly with jammy caramelized onions, a bit of mayo, and yellow american. Sorry for making your decision between salmon and a burger even harder.

The bacon being ground into the burgers at Big Max is just one of the reasons why these majestic meat sandwiches belong on this list. This smoky and fatty beef combines with sharp cheddar, tangy bread and butter pickle chunks, and special sauce in a way that pairs very well next to fancy homemade chicken nuggets and herbed shoestring fries. Plus, the caramelized and fresh onion give you both some sweetness and a spicy raw bite.

You may think that “Saint Cheeseburger” is the patron saint of summer barbecues and music by The Aquabats, but it’s actually just the burger served at Saint Bread. This smashburger is excellent enough for us to show up after 11am (when it's served) and totally ignore the pastries at this hectic morning bake shop. With a circumference made of lacy crisped meat, tangy special sauce, pickles, and melted yellow american on a squishy Hawaiian bun, it’s officially the best burger that you can get at a bakery.

To get your hands on a butcher’s burger at FlintCreek, you have to be strategic. Get there when they open, sit at the bar, and secure one of the 12 burgers available per service. This burger topped with onion jam, blue cheese, and arugula is excellent.

A fine-dining landmark that has valet parking and a rule that states, “children prone to draw attention to themselves should stay home” might not seem like a go-to burger spot. But if you’re willing to splurge, the Canlis Salad Burger is totally worth changing out of your cat-wearing-sunglasses t-shirt. The combination of two smashed wagyu patties, a thick slice of tomato, and loads of aioli on a soft milk and honey roll is already great. But it’s the hefty pile of their famous salad—with bacon, mint, lemon, and parmesan cheese in place of regular shredded lettuce—that brings things to a new level. And since this burger is only available in the no-reservation-needed lounge area, it makes for a solid impromptu date night. Just not that impromptu, because the kitchen makes less than 20 a night.

Our first taste of the burger at Frank’s immediately made us drop our utensils and say, “Oh yeah.” That’s how good it is. While everything’s tasty here, skip the oysters and move directly toward the burger for dinner. The well-salted patty, tangy pickled onions, white cheddar, and seafood Louie sauce all in one bite is way better than an evening of slurping down mollusks.

This Belltown bar has a constantly changing menu from different chefs that host pop-ups in their kitchen, but thankfully, the smashburger is a mainstay. Kind of like a Dick’s deluxe but a hundred times better, it comes with lots of shredded iceberg, a garlicky pepper-specked burger sauce, and a blanket of melted american so thick that you almost lose the patty, complete with a crusty meat skirt and pink center. Just be sure to order a double to maximize on the meat-to-topping ratio.

The burger at Boat Bar is like the Bateau burger’s little sister. It’s from the same team, and it’s smaller, not quite as impressive, and is probably super jealous of the older sibling for being more popular. But while you could fit the whole thing in the palm of your hand, every element (from the onion jam to the tiny seeded bun) packs a tasty punch.

In a faraway land called the Eastside, there’s a little Bellevue burger joint that smells like fryer oil, looks like it hasn’t been updated since they opened in 1989, and serves the best charbroiled cheeseburger in the Seattle metro area. These are juicy and taste terrific with bacon and fry sauce on one of those huge sesame seed hubcap buns. Also, this isn’t an onion ring guide, but we can officially advise you to pop a ring on your burger for a good time.

Normally, you’d hit up Bait Shop for fish sandwiches and the best fries in the city, but don’t you dare ignore the double cheeseburger, which is exactly what you want while drinking your weight in frozen cocktails. If you’re splitting the burger with someone, they’ll even cut it in half for you, which is super thoughtful considering you’d likely cause an avalanche of lettuce and special sauce if you tried to do it yourself.

Red Mill is not where to go to get a half-pound bison burger with gruyere on an artisan brioche bun with pomme frites. It’s where to go to get a diner-style charbroiled patty, a paper tray full of cornmeal-dusted onion rings dive-bombed into a side of fry sauce, and a serious milkshake in flavors like s’mores or mint truffle. You’re not coming here for the ambiance, either—you’re coming here to spread out at a fire-engine-red picnic table while blissfully eating burgers. It's perfect for lunch after a hike, or after an afternoon strolling around Phinney Ridge.

Ask a Seattleite from the Southend whether this iconic red- and yellow-painted drive-thru is called Zest or Zesto’s, and get ready for an inductive argument worthy of winning first prize at a debate team competition. No matter what you call it, come here for the hotlink burger. Things start out normal enough with a charred patty on a sesame seed bun alongside fixings like american cheese, pickles, and lettuce, but then they go and add a red hot link. The salty-spicy sausage is sliced the long way, thrown on the grill, and makes the burger taste like a summer BBQ.

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photo credit: Charles Koh

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