There are burgers and then there are restaurant burgers: those over-the-top concoctions built for maximum wow and deliciousness. We tapped the country's top chefs -- all recent regional winners of prestigious James Beard Awards -- to share the burgers they devour most on their home turf.


Burger Bun-anza

After we tracked down the recipes of our James Beard Award winning chefs' favorite burgers, we cooked up a storm and cast our votes. The result: Our (slightly simplified) recipe for the best burger in America plus more of the coolest, craziest, most crave-worthy burgers to ever grace a bun -- and how you can make your own burgers better!

four artisan burgers on plate with beer
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

1. Graze Burger

Behold chef Tory Miller's caramelized onion-topped behemoth. You can steal the secret to its unforgettable flavor: bacon inside the patty.

Restaurant: Graze in Madison, WI

Region: Midwest

graze burger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

2. Double Cheeseburger

The shaved red onion and a tasty blend of rich cuts (chuck and brisket) have gained chef Linton Hopkin's late-night burger cult status. That and the fact that he turns out only 24 per night!

Restaurant: Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta, GA

Region: Southeast

double cheeseburger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

2. Bocado Burger Steak

It's a tie! Purists will appreciate the simplicity of these two juicy patties sandwiched with sweet pickles and ooey, gooey American cheese. Let's face it: Nothing melts better!

Restaurant: Bocado in Atlanta, GA

Region: Southeast

bocado burger steak
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

3. Spicy Tuna Burger

Boston's best burger is a refreshing (and addictive!) combo: chopped fresh tuna seasoned with garlic and herbs, spicy sriracha-spiked mayo, a sweet and salty soy glaze, and pickled ginger (the same stuff you're used to eating with sushi).

Restaurant: Parish Cafe in Boston, MA

Region: Northeast

spicy tuna burger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

4. Sur Burger

Chef and Latin-American food expert Maricel Presilla combines spicy Spanish chorizo with ground beef seasoned with cumin and cayenne. Then she layers on a pureed chile-walnut spread, jalapeño-onion relish and greens.

Restaurant: Cucharamama in Hoboken, NJ

Region: Mid-Atlantic

sur burger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

5. Slowburger

This sky-high burger is stacked with gruyère, butter lettuce, homemade ketchup-relish sauce -- and think-cut, beer-battered onion rings.

Restaurant: Slow Bar in Portland, OR

Region: Northwest

slowburger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

6. Vie Burger

Chef Paul Virant grills his dry-aged beef burger over a wood fire to give it an extra smoky flavor, then tops it with bacon, aged Wisconsin cheddar, parmesan-spiked aioli and homemade bread-and-butter pickles.

Restaurant: Vie in Western Springs, IL

Region: Great Lakes

vie burger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

7. Willis Burger

Chefs seek out this food truck for its imaginatively topped burgers, like this big beef patty with arugula, blue cheese and fig mostarda (a mustard-spiked jam). It's a little sweet, a little spicy, a little creamy -- and all good!

Restaurant: Shindigs Catering in Birmingham, AL

Region: South

willis burger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

8. "Off-Menu" Burger

It's not on the menu, but ask and you shall receive chef Mike Anthony's blend of angus short rib, chuck and brisket with aged Vermont cheddar, pickled cipollini onions, thousand island dressing and grainy mustard.

Restaurant: Gramercy Tavern in New York, NY

Region: New York

Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

9. Primetime Burger

The definition of decadent? This rich kobe beef patty topped with melted brie, truffle oil-flavored mayo, arugula, caramelized onions and steak sauce. Over-the-top never tasted so good!

Restaurant: Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Austin, TX

Region: Southwest

primetime burger on plate
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

10. Chopped Sirloin

Steakhouse meets brunch with this open-face stunner: You'll need a knife and fork to tackle the sirloin patty on thick toasted bread topped with a rich peppercorn sauce and a sunny-side-up egg.

Restaurant: Jar in Los Angeles, CA

Region: West

chopped sirloin burger with egg
Credit: Photography by Charles Masters

The Recipes

Gotta have 'em, but can't get to these restaurants? Download our online-only cookbook with all 10 of our top burger picks in America.

Burger cookbook

French Fry Recipes

You can't have a burger without a side of fries. Check out delicious recipes that'll keep the party going!

bistro style pommes frites
Credit: Photography by Romulo Yanes