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.
From old-school dives and gourmet steakhouses to a tavern that can kind of be credited as the original Red Robin, 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 top 20 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.
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.
If drippy 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.
There are rumors of a secret daily burger at Quinn’s, but we’re not interested in any of that when their tenured burger is such a hit. The patty is the perfect thickness (and pinkness) and the toppings form a holy trinity of white cheddar, bacon, and horseradish mayo. We’d eat this any day of the week.
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.
Some little-known Seattle trivia: The original owner of Sam’s Tavern went on to found a national chain of burger restaurants called Red Robin. Sam’s 50 burger is kind of like a Red Robin burger, only a million times better, and not eaten next to a child sticking a crayon up their mother’s nose. It comes topped with bacon, avocado, gouda, and a creamy bacon ranch. Just in case there wasn’t enough bacon, there’s some blended in the patty for good measure. And as an homage to Red Robin, you better believe you get bottomless steak fries with this beautiful thing.
Ma’ono specializes in tasty fried chicken, but the best thing on the menu is the burger. The three toppings come together to form the ultimate alliance: caramelized onions, kewpie mayo, and kimchi-infused cheese sauce. Those combined with the well-seasoned patty make this the most addictive burger on this list (and the gooiest). As long as it’s on the menu, we might not care if we never eat the fried chicken again. OK, we’d care a little bit.
The Essex burger is proof that if you cook a mound of beef like you would a pizza, it’s going to be great. Essex is from the same team behind Delancey, one of our favorite spots for charred pizzas, and their burger is seared in a wood-fired oven as if it were a Neapolitan pie. The result is outrageously good, especially topped with two secret sauces: an orange one that tastes like pepperoni, and a white one that tastes like caesar salad dressing.
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, acidic pickled onions, white cheddar, and seafood Louie sauce all in one bite is way better than an evening of slurping down ocean phlegm.
At first, the “animal-style” burger at Sawyer made us angry, because a) it reminds us that Washington state doesn’t have In-N-Out, and b) this burger doesn’t even have cheese. Then we took a bite, softly apologized, and gave the burger a little pat on the bun while onlookers stared. It’s a super tender double wagyu patty with a caramelized onion and mint mornay sauce so rich you will not miss the cheese.
How this little cocktail bar manages to make their double-patty Belltown Burger perfectly juicy even though it’s always cooked well done is boggling. The charred grill flavor creeps into every bite, even if it’s just a nibble of bun and yellow American that has some burger juice on it. This is by far the best burger that nobody is talking about, and for only $10 with a pile of fries, they’re practically giving it away for free.
The burger at Bar Melusine 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, naturally. But while you could fit the whole thing in the palm of your hand, it packs a tasty punch - from the onion jam to the tiny seeded bun.
If you didn’t know what Shake Shack was until Seattle got one, it’s the result of a world-class restaurateur opening up a near-perfect burger chain. And while the city-specific ones with Washington ranch beef and Macrina buns are good, they’re missing the point when they share menu real estate with the perfection that is the classic shack burger. With crisped edges, cheese, mayo-y shack sauce, and a toasted potato bun, it’s our go-to fast food burger, every time. Sorry Dick’s.
In a faraway land called the Eastside, there’s an ugly 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 tiki drinks. If you’re splitting it 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.
If you want to find us, we’re probably in a corner at Li’l Woody’s, hunched over a cup of queso like a fondue vampire. And while Li’l Woody’s makes some of our favorite classic burgers in town, none quite compare to the New Mexican, which is absolutely drenched in queso.
Everyone knows that the best part of a quesadilla is the crispy cheese skirt that happens when cheese overflows onto the griddle. Bad Bishop’s burger features a similar skirt, but in meat form. There’s this delicious crust to the whole thing, along with cheese, pickles, onions, and special sauce. You have the option to add an egg or bacon, so the only logical thing to do at that point is to add both, and a cocktail, too.
Harry’s serves a textbook cheeseburger. It looks like an emoji stacked with the usual suspects, and the bun is toasted just right. And somehow, the not-so-compact texture of the patty makes us feel like we’re eating an old-school burger from a ’50s diner. We like it best with a negroni on the side.
Everyone has their local Seattle fast food mom and pop kind of place that they’ll defend to the death. Ours is 206. Their burgers are delicious, and come in many varieties - they even have one that’s marinated in Indian spices. The one that makes us happy every time is the classic, covered in their house sauce which is a little smoky, a little sweet, and would even make raw cauliflower taste great.
Maybe you throw your head back and laugh in the face of thin patties. If so, 8 Oz. Burger Bar is your home. Their half-pound burgers almost look like cue balls, and come with creative toppings like braised short rib and gruyere fondue. Our favorite, though, is the namesake 8 Oz., which has bacon, arugula, Beecher’s, balsamic onions, and truffle aioli. Name anything that can’t be improved by truffle aioli. OK, name anything other than chocolate cake or orange juice.