I love hamburgers. Anyone that knows me, knows this. There is just something about a seasoned patty of beef between two slices of toasted bread, with cheese and other assorted toppings that makes me salivate like Homer Simpson. So it’s from a labor of love that I list the best hamburgers served at chain restaurants across the country. It’s best not to list them in any particular order as I would hate to start a war.
Red Robin – A national chain, they claim to offer “Gourmet Hamburgers,” and it’s not too far from the truth. They start with a ½ pound Angus beef patty and then it’s a king-sized selection of how you want it garnished. Try a Banzai, a Guacamole Bacon or Prime Chophouse to start. Or invent your own combination. Oh yeah, they also have unlimited fries. You have been warned.
Whataburger – Originally a Texas chain, Whataburger has spread through the South and it making its way North. The burger is an approximately 5″ wide, pressed-flat, ¼ fresh beef patty that when cooked perfectly, has a slight crispiness around the edges. What sets it apart is actually the bread, also fresh and toasted perfect. And they serve fries by the bag!
White Castle – If you have a Castle in your town, you are probably surprised to see this on the list. But if you don’t, absence makes the heart grow fonder (I swear.) The “Original Slider” is a relatively small burger, about 2″ square. It has grilled onions, pickles and is served on a dinner roll. A burger you order in groups of 4 or 5, it is a perfect ending to a night of bar hopping.
Five Guys – Started in Virginia in the 80’s, Five Guys is now nationwide and thank goodness for that. It’s all about “fresh” and “peanuts” with them. The beef is always fresh (no freezers in the store) and seasoned to perfection. They use peanut oil for the fries and offer free peanuts to customers while they wait. Although a little expensive for a chain, in this case you get what you pay for, absolutely delicious.
Fatburger – Primary a western US chain, Fatburger is quickly spreading east. The burgers are ordered like t-shirts; S-XXXL (2.5oz – 24oz.) Delicious? You bet! Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but in this case… it really does. The shakes and fries are good, but it’s the burger that brings you back.
Steak ‘n Shake – National chain of 24 hour restaurants with a 50’s diner feel, S ‘n S serves a great, thin hamburger that will force you to order a second. The fries are a little underwhelming, but the burgers (and chili, and shakes, and baked beans) make up for it. Hmm, a chili burger?
Cheesecake Factory – I know, you really didn’t expect to see this one here. Well, unless you’ve had the Farmhouse Burger, that is. 8 ounces of beef, with all the fixings. Then add pulled pork and a fried egg on the top! Unbelievably good and enough calories for a month. Totally worth the extra money on a special occasion.
In-N-Out – I said I wouldn’t pick a favorite, but… In-N-Out is the king of all fast food burgers in my humble opinion and it truly saddens me there isn’t one within 500 miles of here. A western chain, In-N-Out serves a small menu but they make it right. Delicious, seasoned beef patties and fresh buns are key, but it’s the whole package that makes it special. Fantastic fries and superior customer service make it complete. Next time you’re in Vegas…
So that’s my list, but I assure you that it is an ongoing evaluation with updates to come. Do you have a favorite burger that I may have overlooked? Leave a comment below!