For those who appreciate highbrow-meets-lowbrow when it comes to food, the Hojoko Wagyu Cheeseburger does not disappoint. The rock-and-rolling restaurant makes one of the best burgers near Fenway Park, beginning with a decadent blend of chuck and Wagyu short rib. The mouthwatering patty is layered with American cheese, dashi pickles, red onion, and special sauce. Served on a seeded bun with crispy shoestring fries, it’s complete comfort food that packs tons of umami and nostalgia—and like pretty much everything served at the fun, izakaya-style spot, we’re here for it.
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A menu must-have for every type of restaurant, burgers are everywhere. From smash patties reminiscent of nostalgic fast food burgers to half-pound hulks messily stacked with toppings, we’ve tried our share of juicy burgers around Boston. Plenty of handhelds will satisfy a simple craving, but not all burger joints are worth flipping out over. Here's where to go to find the best burgers in Boston.
With some burgers, we appreciate a less-is-more approach. The Neptune Burger is not such a case. This exquisite specimen, from the North End’s perennially popular Neptune Oyster Bar, is extra in all the right ways. A thick, juicy beef patty (on a tender brioche bun) is encased with sharp, melted cheddar cheese, and gets the addition of zesty garlic aioli, tangy relish, and—the pièce de résistance—a couple crispy fried oysters. It’s absolutely worth the inevitable wait for a table at this small spot.
Frequent culinary collaborators Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette let their freak flags fly at Little Donkey, their globe-spanning third restaurant partnership (following Toro and Coppa). With menu items like gochujang-laced Tuna Poke alongside BLT Lettuce Wraps with house-smoked lamb bacon and pimento cheese, LD cuisine is only bound to traditions of deliciousness. The signature dry-aged beef burger is no exception: Pairing rich French bistro flair with all-American decadence, it’s a masterwork of excess and arguably the best burger in Cambridge. Toppings include words you’ve read before but perhaps not all together: Buffalo pickles, onion soup mayo, jalapeño chips, and onion-wrapped pieces of foie gras.
This Southie wine bar may emphasize natural vino, but that doesn’t make Gray’s Hall too fancy for a good, old-fashioned burger. In fact, the Gray’s Burger pairs quite well with wine: grass-fed beef cooked smash-patty style with fried onions and a thin slice of American cheese, it’s topped with diced pickles, chopped lettuce, and a spicy secret sauce. Made by blending a lacto-fermented hot sauce with ketchup and aioli, this delicious dressing is also available by the bottle next door at sister shop American Provisions.
At Alden & Harlow, the menu-favorite Secret Burger features bread-and-butter pickles, a clothbound cheddar crisp, and a slather of what’s best described as like Big Mac sauce, but incredibly better. Sandwiched on a house-made Parker House-style roll, the burger is made in limited quantities—but when you can always head upstairs to The Longfellow Bar, where it’s a burger option (as “the Alden Burger”) on the menu. Pro tip: The Secret Burger is also available, and perhaps easier to come by, during weekend brunch in Harvard Square.
The Quiet Few
Considering this Eastie bar’s enviable whiskey selection, having a delicious burger on the menu is practically a necessity for The Quiet Few. But don’t mistake this entry for your average booze sponge (though it works all the same): the Simple Smash Burger is made from a coarsely-ground blend of brisket, short rib, and chuck, seasoned with a mixture of spices and—you guessed it—whiskey. Beyond the classic route, the Hell Yeah Burger features double-stacked patties (with a hint of bacon!) on a sesame seed bun. Burger’s bud, the hot dog, also gets proper treatment at this East Boston favorite.
Row 34 is one of our favorite seafood restaurants in the area with a rightly famous lobster roll, crispy Beer Battered Fish and Chips, fresh and fancy crudo, and more—but there’s no shame in ordering up the humble Bacon Cheddar Burger. A menu mainstay at all locations (including the brand-new Kendall Square outpost), it features sweet-and-savory caramelized onions as a standard topping, plus a side of the moreish Shoestring Fries. If you can’t not order seafood, go on and add a crunchy fried oyster on top.
On Wednesdays, we order burgers from Sycamore. The beautiful bistro in Newton Centre does its own creative take on the classic cheddar cheeseburger only once per week, and it sure goes quickly. You’ll understand why once you snag one of these: Stacked on a sesame-flecked brioche bun from A&J King Bakery, the Sycamore Burger is enhanced with Cabot cheddar, salty bacon, and black-pepper aioli. To try it, make an early reservation some upcoming Wednesday, or get your day-of orders in for takeout.
An industry-favorite hangout in Southie, Moonshine 152 hosts an embarrassment of burger riches atop buttery house-baked potato buns. The Grass-Fed ‘Shine Burger is formed from a blend of organic short rib, chuck, and sirloin, while the award-winning Chef Asia’s Famous Vegetarian Mushroom Tofu Burger is made from wild mushrooms, herbs, and local silken tofu—and deserves all the acclaim ever uttered. Order either completed by classic toppings, or dolled up as a rotating Burger of the Month, which has seen chef Asia Mei indulge her gonzo side with such over-the-top creations as a Mozzarella Stick Pizza Burger.
This Lower Mills takeout spot is all about the burgers. Bred Gourmet serves grass-fed patties topped with everything from sliced pineapples and smoked ham (The Maui) to brie and truffled aioli (The Parisian). But if this is your first rodeo, you can’t go wrong with the Bred Classic, which stacks between brioche Bred’s beef patty, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and American cheese. The fry selection is similarly ample: treat yourself to sweet potato fries, Cajun fries, parmesan truffle fries, and more.
Cheeseburgers may not be native to the Highlands, but Jamaica Plain’s Scottish pub presents a worthy example of the form. The Haven Burger begins on a brioche bun with an eight-ounce chuck patty (that’s half a pound in the U.S.’s customary units). It’s amped up with gooey Huntsman cheese, a tangy hybrid from the English countryside; plus a bacon-onion marmalade, tomato, and a house-made pickle sauce. You might consider pairing it to a dram from The Haven’s generous scotch list.
Char-grilled chuck comprises Little Big Diner’s LBD Flat Patty, a few-bite wonder suited as an appetizer for some of the best ramen around. The Newton Centre hot spot doesn’t hold back on flavor, whether we’re talking about the Chef’s Ultra Ramen (with allllllll the toppings), shatteringly crunchy Kara-age Fried Chicken, or the Hawaiian-style burger. What makes the LBD Flat Patty Hawaiian-style? There’s the soft, sweet King’s Hawaiian Bakery bun, mainly—but also a slick of mayo, crispy onions, and spicy-sweet pineapple sambal.
Updated by Jacqueline Cain