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The capital’s burger trend shows no sign of abating, with more and more street vendors, pop-up residencies and old-school restaurants upping their game to compete with the best. We’ve rounded up our pick of the best gourmet burgers, one-off burger bars and superior chains for your delectation.
One of the first London restaurants to set the foodie scene aflutter with its gourmet burgers, this buzzing basement brasserie continues to offer four dazzling variations on the theme – including the droolworthy ‘Piggie’, a juicy burger piled high with barbecued pulled pork, chilli mayo and red-cabbage slaw.
Jamie Oliver’s testosterone-fuelled City restaurant is a cathedral to all things carnivorous whose menu includes a flame-grilled burger topped with classic Westcombe cheddar, heirloom tomatoes and charred red onion.
The hype around the £20 lobsters at this Goodman offshoot was matched by consternation at the £20 price tag also applied to its burgers. For that price, they have to be extraordinary – and they do deliver, combining meaty, finely ground, premium-beef patties with lashings of cheese and bacon, encased in a brioche bun.
Hawksmoor’s bar menu is streets ahead of lesser establishments’ carb-loaded beer sponges. The star of the show is the selection of three burgers – all made with 100% Longhorn beef and served with the restaurant’s legendary beef-dripping fries. The kimchi burger caused a stir when it was launched, but it’s the house burger, its patty flecked with nuggets of bone marrow, that wins every time.
A theatreland favourite for so many reasons, this class act has made a name for itself by dishing up affordable, good-quality plates in a swish setting. The house cheeseburger is a perfect example – the patty, cooked medium-rare, oozes its juices into the brioche bun, while the melting cheese, zingy relish and crisp French fries add the requisite comfort-food kick.
A queue-up-and-sit-down outfit in what looks like a corrugated-steel lean-to, Dirty Burger has made its name with a short but thoughtful menu – cheeseburgers are made with Ginger Pig beef, chips are triple cooked, Heston style, while onion fries are encased in cider batter. The burgers’ moreish mustard mayonnaise brings the whole shebang together.
Honest Burgers’ two energetic young owners are gradually building a mini-empire of their cute, no-frills burger joints. The premise is simple: queue, take your seat, choose from one of three burgers (plus chicken- and veggie-burger options) and enjoy the much-loved house rosemary-salted chips on the side – all for less than a tenner.
The queue at Yianni Papoutsis’ burger heaven is almost as famous as its burgers. Meatliquor – the restaurant that evolved from a pop-up burger wagon in New Cross – is still the best of Papoutsis’ London restaurants, and the go-to menu item has to be the Dead Hippie burger (28-day-aged chuck steak topped with a special sauce and American-style cheese). Go for broke with chilli-cheese fries, deep-fried pickles and industrial-strength cocktails on the side – and be prepared to have burger juice running down your arms as you eat.
All the boxes are ticked at this pop-up gone permanent in Marylebone: a sweet brioche bun contains a flavourful burger, caramelised onions, smoked bacon, American cheese, lettuce and tomato – plus the house special sauce. Oddball burger names ( Smokey Robinson, Ari Gold, José José and the like), plus rosemary-salted chips and funky cocktails up the feel-good factor.
Everyone likes George Osborne’s fast-food vendor of choice for its quality, dependability and style. You can take anyone here – from a date, to your kids, to your gran – and they’ll have a ball. Top shouts are the chilli burger with green chilli, American cheese and tasty chipotle mayonnaise, or the house classic, with dry-cure bacon, mature cheddar and Byron sauce.
This quintessentially American import was much hyped in the run-up to its launch this summer, and much was made of its USP of cooking with peanut oil and listing nutritional information on its menus. So far, the double-queueing system has come in for some flack: you queue to order, then queue to collect your food. But what of the burgers? They’re a chip off the US block: reliably juicy and crammed with tasty trimmings.
Another branch from across the pond, this US burger joint is a smooth operator whose dining ethos and experience offers everything McDonald’s should be. The burgers aren’t gourmet and don’t push the envelope, but other extras such as quality beers, ales and wines, plus delicious ice-cream shakes and desserts, keep the crowds coming back for more.