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Cheap Eats

Popular burgers in Quincy, Theatre District

Two popular burger places at other locations: Wild Willy’s Burgers in Quincy and Four Burgers in Boston.

By Bella English
Globe Staff / May 23, 2012
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The Boston area is slow to get on the burger bandwagon, but two popular local joints are expanding.

Wild Willy’s is one of those places, as a friend notes, that is better than you expect. It’s the latest addition to a tiny New England chain of five burger places, but it doesn’t have that franchise feel — even though owners Ruth and Paul Bennett have institutional burger experience. They’ve owned some McDonald’s on the South Shore.

Wild Willy’s is not McDonald's. You do order at the counter, but your food is brought to your booth or table. “Everything is made fresh every day,” says Ruth Bennett. “We cut our own tomatoes, we saute our onions, we make our own patties. The burgers are fresh grilled.”

The place has a hokey but fun western saloon feel, with hand-painted murals of a barnyard filled with animals, including a cute pig with a red bandana. That would be Lucy, the couple’s pet pig. Their three dogs and five cats are also in the scene.

The “Outlaw” ($8.25) is a half-pound of ground Porterhouse, fat, tender, and topped with aged cheddar. It is cooked a perfect medium rare. I opt for the “Bubba” BBQ ($6.70), a tender patty with a smoky note, thanks to hickory bacon, and a kicky barbecue sauce, cheddar, onions, and pickles. It is so juicy and loaded that I happily eat it with a knife and fork.

A more health-conscious selection is the “Tatonka" ($8.25), a bison burger that, despite its relative leanness, remains pleasingly juicy. Hickory-smoked mayo, cheese, and sauteed onions add their own flavorful juice.

Onion rings (small $3.75; large $4.75) are fried crisp in a light batter, and we wash all of this great stuff down with a thick vanilla frappe ($4.75).

Four Burgers, a stylish joint, located across from the Boston Common, had an auspicious start. It opened the day before the Bruins’ victory parade last year in the Theatre District. With thousands of fans lining the street just outside the new storefront, owner Michael Bissanti couldn’t have been happier.

Bissanti, the former managing partner of the popular Paramount restaurant on Beacon Hill, left there in 2007 to open his first Four Burgers in Central Square, Cambridge. A self-described “health nut," Bissanti says he focuses on doing four burgers “really, really well,” using high-quality regional ingredients. The four choices are a grass-fed, local beef burger ($7.75, double $10.25), organic vegan black-bean burger ($7.50), turkey burger ($7.50), and wild salmon burger with sesame slaw and soy mayo ($8.75).

The salmon patty is a healthy-sized piece of fish, cooked medium, the slaw crunchy. A whole-wheat bun is slathered with house-made mayo, and it all adds up to a delicious mix of flavors and textures.

The restaurant usually has a fifth special, rotating among bison, lamb, wild boar, and ostrich ($13 with fries and a drink). These are offered when the ingredients are available. Ostrich comes from a New Hampshire farm, the wild boar comes from Colorado.

Recently, the fifth choice has been the Battle Burger ($7.95; with fries and drink $9.25), which takes its name from a contest it’s in, sponsored by Boston Magazine. This is the grass-fed burger, accompanied by caramelized onions, house-cured pickles, chipotle mayo, and Vermont cheddar on a toasted roll. (More places should toast their rolls).) It’s gooey and delicious, and we chose homemade chips ($1.50) to go with it; they are slightly thicker than we’re expecting, nicely crisp and not too salty.

All sauces and toppings are made by this team, as is the simple syrup for milkshakes ($5). We have to try one. Delicious, not cloying, like so many. We’re tempted to try the from-scratch brownies and cookies ($2), but we are stuffed.

Have to save something forto get next time.

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WILD WILLY’S BURGERS

588 Washington St., Quincy, 617-472-9453. Major credit cards accepted.

Wheelchair accessible.

Prices Burgers and sides $6.70-$8.95. Desserts

$3.25-$4.25.

Hours Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-

9 p.m. Sun noon-8 p.m.

Liquor Beer and wine.

May we suggest “Outlaw,” “Bubba BBQ,” “Tatonka,” onion rings, frappes.

FOUR BURGERS

134 Boylston St., Theatre District, Boston, 617-426-4041. All major credit cards accepted (except

American Express). Wheelchair accessible.

Prices Burgers and sides $4.50-$13. Desserts $2-$4.

Hours Mon-Tues 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wed-Sat 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sun noon-10 p.m.

Liquor Beer and wine.

May we suggest Salmon burger, beef burger, homemade chips and fries, milkshakes, special “fifth” burger (lamb, bison, wild boar, ostrich, as available).