It’s hard - nearly impossible - not to get hungry while thinking about burgers. There’s just something about them that makes your mind wander. One reason is that they feel like such a decadent treat. Meat and bread for dinner? Yes, please. The best part is that there is no shortage of amazing burger joints in London to choose from. There are classic, all-American style places, where you’d get a cheeseburger, fries and a shake, but there are also more whacky options. The kinds of places that put mac and cheese in the burger, or where the meal comes in a dome filled with smoke.
While burgers may seem simple, there’s actually a surprising amount going on under the hood (or bun). First and foremost is the beef. It doesn’t just need to be good quality meat. The restaurant needs to also balance the fattiness by grinding together different cuts. Too lean, and the burger will shrink and dry out on the grill. Too fatty, and it’s an oily mess. Similarly, you want a perfectly toasted bun to avoid sogginess, tangy pickles, good quality strong cheese and maybe some homemade sauces. For example, bloody Mary ketchup makes an appearance on the list below.
Sides shouldn’t go unmentioned. The standard for chips has only increased, with many diners coming to expect triple cooked beef dripping entries, as well as lavish toppings like cheese, bone marrow gravy or pickled chillis. Wings, ribs and the like might make an appearance on larger menus, although smaller places tend to keep it simple.
Below we’ve carefully considered these vital criteria, whilst also including a few wildcards, to come up with an ultimate list of the best burgers in London. For your heart's sake, we suggest maybe not trying to cram these all into one week, but then again if you did we wouldn’t blame you…
Black Bear Burger's Black & Blue Burger
Why: Stepping into Black Bear Burger, you're immediately struck by the old-school hip hop blasting from the speakers and the scent of fresh-grilled meat coming from the open kitchen. The sit-down restaurant in Brixton, located within Market Row, aims to serve up delicious, unpretentious burgers from ethical sources. The Black & Blue burger, featuring a dry-aged beef patty, bacon, onions, and a blue cheese sauce, is a perfect blend of salty and sweet, perfected by the crunch from the toasted sesame bun and the crispy bacon. Though the starters and sides are a delight, this burger is definitely the reason to go.
Where: 11-13A Market Row, London, SW9 8LB
Book now: Black Bear Burger
Honest Burger’s Tribute Burger
Why: Like plenty of now-popular London chains, Honest Burger began in Brixton Village, back when it was one of just a handful of small start-ups offering a limited menu to hungry South Londoners. From there, it's grown to be a favourite of plenty of punters thanks to its juicy patties and ever-changing specials. The key to the burgers here is that the beef is chopped, not minced. It’s this technique that ensures a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Additionally, the combination of rib cap and chuck steak gives a perfect balance of lean and fatty meat. Our favourite has to be The Tribute – beef patty, crispy bacon, melted American cheese, proper burger sauce, French’s mustard, tangy pickles, zingy onions and crisp lettuce, all sandwiched into a toasted brioche bun.
Area in London: Various locations around London
Book now: Honest Burger
Patty&Bun’s Ari Gold Burger
Why: With pared-back interiors and fast, efficient service Patty&Bun offers a fun, relaxed atmosphere with some great music to boot (which you can access on Spotify). Burgers are given the treatment they deserve here. Meat is sourced from small-scale free-range and organic farms. The cheese used comes from Neal’s Yard which specialises in British and Irish cheeses. And the all-important (but often neglected) buns are the work of Bread Ahead, an artisan bakery with its roots in London. There is joy to be found in the restaurant's offers, too, with regular £5 burger deals and student discounts. Our favourite burger has to be the Ari Gold, a classic for a reason. Toppings include cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup and an addictive smoky mayo. Forgive us for going on a bit here, but Patty&Bun also does veggie burgers really well. Instead of offering one alternative, there's the offer of an incredible cheese fritter as a swap to the standard beef patties, allowing vegetarians to enjoy the same toppings (hold the bacon) as their meat-eating counterparts.
Where: Various locations all over London
Book now: Patty&Bun
Lucky Chip’s El Chappo Burger
Why: Pun lovers, rejoice, Lucky Chip serves up burgers with quite the selection of names. A Kevin Bacon, anyone? The team here have gone to town on The American theme and the atmosphere is all the better for it. Expect loud music, leather booths and illustrated retro-style menus in any of Lucky Chip’s three venues. Burgers are properly squishy, diner-style mouthfuls. Our favourite has to be the El Chappo. This firecracker is made up of an aged beef patty with smoky bacon, roasted jalapenos, blue cheese and aioli. This clever combo makes for spicy and cooling, and rich and tangy mouthfuls, all at once.
Where: 44 Essex Road, London, N1 8LN
Book now: Lucky Chip at Old Queen's Head
Burger & Beyond’s Cheeseburger
Why: Slicker than your average, Burger & Beyond serves its wares in Shoreditch, Soho and Borough, where burgers are presented on chic Nordic-style plates. A nice change from the usual, more casual approach of a basket or paper wrap, and a surprise, given that this East London hot spot started out life as a queue-inducing market stall. Burger & Beyond offers more variety than most too, with mushroom, chicken, beef and fish options. The Fish Burger is made up of crispy nuggets of line-caught cod, Nashville hot sauce, mukrat lime and herb mayo and crunchy slaw, while their classic Cheeseburger is topped with American cheese, smoky mayo and onions.
Where: 147 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JE
Book now: Burger & Beyond
Meat Liquor’s Dead Hippie Burger
Why: Sometimes you just want a dose of good old-fashion grease when it comes to a burger and Meat Liquor nail that satisfyingly so. Food is served on paper-lined metal trays and portions are impressive with patties doubled up as standard. There are multiple vegetarian and vegan options, making group dining easy, and chicken burgers to boot. Our favourite from the beef section, which if we’re not mistaken is probably why you’re here, is the Dead Hippie. Double beef patties, brushed with French’s mustard and grilled until caramelised then topped with Dead Hippie sauce (a sort of tangy, Thousand Island mayo), lettuce, cheese, pickles and American-style minced white onions. Watch out for the cocktails like House Grog, a dangerous blend of three rums with plenty of ice and lime.
Where: Various locations around London
Book now: MEATLiquor
Bleecker Burger’s Blue Burger
Why: Sometimes a concise menu is a sign of a confident cook and we think Bleecker Burger nails it here. Offering up proper dirty burgers, the selection spans just six options, five beef and one veggie. If we had to choose our favourite it would be the blue burger – made up of double beef patties, blue cheese, onion and sauce. Like many greats before it, Bleecker was born from a food truck, and that commitment to small-scale and quality has remained despite the permanent residences now. The rare-breed, pasture-fed beef comes from small, UK farms. The meat is then dry-aged for that intense beefy flavour, before being lovingly topped with a few well thought-out ingredients.
Where: 16 Bloomberg Arcade, London, EC4N 8AR
Book now: Bleecker Burger
Hawksmoor’s Big Matt
Why: Hawksmoor might not strictly be a burger restaurant, but the team certainly understand how to cook a piece of really high-quality meat well and that translates to a pretty good patty. Executive chef Matt Brown's now-famous brainchild is the eponymous 'big Matt'. This take on the signature burger from you-know-where fires on all cylinders. Featuring two dry-aged beef patties, melted red Leicester, onions, crunchy lettuce and burger sauce, the burger is housed in a toasted sesame brioche bun and comes with chips and a cocktail. Originally a temporary resident on the menu, the big Matt has now found a permanent address at the bar of the Canary Wharf site.
Where: 1 Water Street, London, E14 5GX
Book now: Hawksmoor Wood Wharf
Why: Blacklock is now well-established as a must for meat lovers in the capital. And, with outposts in Soho, Shoreditch, City and Covent Garden, sites aren't hard to come by. But steaks, chops and roasts aside (although they are brilliant), Blacklock has made its once secret-menu burger a regular member of the cast. This chunky double cheeseburger features top-quality beef, melted cheese and a soft bun, but the ace in the hole is the Vermouth-laced caramelised onions, which elevate it to heady heights. As one might expect from such a carnivorous carvery, the chips are cooked in beef dripping and are heavenly.
Where: Various locations around London
Book now: Blacklock
Haché’s Steak Le Fume Burger
Why: Haché has been on the London scene for over 15 years, growing from just one restaurant in Camden to several spread all over the capital. Despite remaining a favourite for some time now, the burgers are still tough to beat if you just want a classic with a high-quality medium-rare patty. Our personal favourite on the menu is the Le Fume which comes with gruyère cheese, smoked bacon, caramelised onions, coleslaw and bloody Mary ketchup. The key is that it comes in a smoke-filled glass dome, adding an intense grilled flavour to the whole burger and a welcome bit of theatre to the meal. There are tons of other options, including Beyond Meat vegan options, panko mushroom, cauliflower cheese, truffle and more.
Where: Various locations around London
Book now: Haché
The Dip & Flip Burger
Why: Perhaps the unsung hero of the list, this Insta-famous burger joint is still firmly localised to the South West (Battersea and Wimbledon). While it may not have a site in central London, Dip & Flip is very much a big player. The signature eponymous burger is a grilled cheeseburger with all the trimmings, but with the addition of gravy for dipping. Other options include buttermilk southern fried tenders, spicy Korean chicken wings and dip sandwiches (featuring slow roast lamb and mint sauce or beef topside with horseradish). Order a side of classic fries, or step things up with the loaded option, topped with cheese, gravy, bacon and green chillis.
Where: 62 The Broadway, London, SW19 1RQ; 87 Battersea Rise, London, SW11 1HW
Book now: Dip & Flip Wimbledon; Dip & Flip Battersea
Dirty Bones' Mac Daddy
Why: Purists avert your eyes, this one has mac and cheese. Dirty Bones has grown to multiple sites across the UK, serving up classic 'dirty' American-style food turned up to 11. If you think you can handle it, the Mac Daddy is the burger for you. Double brisket and dry-aged steak comes with pulled beef short rib, creamy mac and cheese and espresso-spiked BBQ sauce, all housed in a seeded brioche. If that sounds like overkill, opt for The Classic: a double dry-aged steak burger with American cheese, red onion, gherkin and house relish. Spicy chicken and vegan options are also available, as well as ribs, steaks and more. Sides include mac balls, buffalo hot wings and even cheeseburger dumplings (yes, really), so make sure you come hungry.
Where: Various locations around London
Book now: Dirty Bones
Tommi's Burger Joint's Steakburger
Why: We like Tommi's because it doesn't overcomplicate things. There are only a handful of burgers and sides on the menu, plus a monthly-rotating special, so it can focus on doing the simple things really well. There are classic beef, chicken and veggie options, and then there's its Steakburger which combines an aged rib-eye and rump steak patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup mustard and mayonnaise. Nothing fancy, just really good ingredients. There's also a condiments bar which includes a free selection of sauces for your burger, from ketchup to mustard and mayo.
Where: 37 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8RS
Book now: Tommi's Burger Joint
Well, there you have it. As we said at the top, we don't recommend you try everything on the list in a week (you would probably be too full to try anyway). It might seem like a pretty beef-focused list, but we're well aware that the burger world has expanded in recent years. That's why we have separate guides for the best vegan burgers in London and and the best fried chicken in London - they are different dishes, after all.
Before we go, it's only fair to shout out the most overlooked element of the burger - the bun. It's the key to a good burger, and some amazing London bakeries are working their magic to help house delicious patties. They also use their powers to make London's very best sandwiches, so be sure to check that out if you're tired of burgers but want something similar.