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 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.
Lettuce, tomato, and onion have their rightful spot in the burger topping Hall of Fame. But Taurus Ox, a Laotian 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 Laotian 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.
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 and seared, the better, right? In the case of Dreamland’s McDreamy, that couldn’t be more wrong. These patties are completely steamed, 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. Just note that this burger is only available on Dreamland’s Happy Hour and late-night menus, and it’s better than their regular burger.
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 cheese. Sorry for making your decision between salmon and a burger even harder.
photo credit: Feed It Creative
Big Max Burger Co.
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.
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 you don’t have to eat it next to a child sticking a crayon up their mother’s nose. It comes topped with bacon, avocado, gouda, and a creamy bacon ranch, and just in case there wasn’t enough bacon, there’s some blended in the patty for good measure. As an homage to Red Robin, you better believe you get bottomless steak fries with this beautiful thing.
A lot of bars have a burger on the menu, but unless they’re truly outstanding, they kind of all blur together. Dead Line’s, however, is an exception. This South American cocktail spot in Pioneer Square has a burger made from beef ground in-house and topped with fried onions, queso fresco, and black garlic aioli. Usually, we’d endorse having a beer with your burger, but you’ll want a daiquiri with this one.
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.
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.
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.
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.