16 of Boston’s best burger options

These standout offerings are all that and a side of fries.

Worst-kept secret: Alden & Harlow’s Secret Burger is a fan favorite. Understandably so, as the combo of house-made bun, iceburg gem lettuce, salted onions, pickles, Cabot cheese, and the unnamed sauce top the ground beef patty. Only about three dozen come out of the kitchen each day until they sell out, so don’t wait too late to try one.
Worst-kept secret: Alden & Harlow’s secret burger is a fan favorite. –Jennifer Che

Whether smothered in ketchup or barbecue sauce, served with fries or onion rings, or made of beef or turkey, there’s no end to what you’ll find served on, in, and beside Boston’s most beloved burgers. While some carry whopping price tags and chef-driven cache, others are some of the city’s best quick and inexpensive bites. Even if you prefer your patties cooked rare, there’s no denying that all of the burgers on this list are well done.

1. Abe & Louie’s
It should surprise no one that a steakhouse offers one of Boston’s most luscious patties: nine ounces of prime beef topped with caramelized onions and cheddar cheese (aged nine to 12 months). Also consider the bacon cheeseburger, or the sesame ahi tuna burger with a challah roll, wasabi aioli, and Asian slaw. (793 Boylston St., Boston)


2. Alden & Harlow
It’s no secret that this chef Michael Scelfo’s secret burger is crazy good — just ask Food & Wine and Thrillist. There are a limited number offered nightly, so it’s best to arrive early to grab eight ounces of a blend that includes Creekstone Farms brisket, short rib, and beef, all on top of a house-made roll. Scelfo also received accolades from GQ for the burger at his newer Cambridge restaurant Waypoint, featuring the same meat blend, bacon cheddar, tomato, and tonnato (a mayonnaise-like Italian condiment). (40 Brattle St., Cambridge)

Back Bay Social Club Burger
The burger at Back Bay Social Club comes with Grillo’s pickles. —Courtesy Photo

3. Back Bay Social Club
At Back Bay Social Club, you can bond with someone over a burger — here, one is enough for two. While you feast on grass-fed black Angus, 45-day dry-aged ribeye, and short rib meat, topped with Vermont cheddar, caramelized onions, and local fave Grillo’s pickles (the side is fries), check out the great views out onto Boylston Street. In the summertime, the outside seating is just as tantalizing as the eats. (867 Boylston St., Boston)

4. Boston Burger Company
Rachael Ray featured the Hot Mess burger on her show in all its glory with bacon, sweet potato fries, homemade Thousand Island dressing, diced pickles, jalapeños, and red onions. Meanwhile, for his Food Network show, Guy Fieri highlighted the Mac Attack and its homemade four-cheese mac and cheese with bacon. There’s also a plain Boston Burger available, of course. As a homegrown outfit, it’s no surprise co-founders and owners Paul Malvone, Sebastian Fricia, and Chuck Sillari decided to mix up the traditional sides a bit and go with baked beans, though you can choose potato chips too. (1100 Boylston St., Boston; 37 Davis Square, Somerville; 1105 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 133 Washington St., Salem; coming soon: Kendall Square, 610 Main St., Cambridge)

Bristol Four Seasons Boston Burger
Accompanying truffle fries make up for the sting of the Bristol’s $25 burger. —Courtesy Photo

5. The Bristol at the Four Seasons
The Bristol’s $25 burger with truffle fries has won two thumbs up from satisfied customers for years, and is a signature staple on the menu. Featuring Grafton cheddar, cognac bacon, onion jam, and Thousand Island dressing, it’s almost as indulgent as a stay at the Four Seasons, which towers above the hotel restaurant and bar. Now, on Wednesday nights, you can choose from four variations of the burger paired with wine for $35 a person. (200 Boylston St., Boston)

6. Craigie on Main
One of Boston’s most iconic burgers has aged as well as the Shelburne Farms cheddar that tops it — chef Tony Maws’ arguably most famous dish has been drawing in the droves since Craigie on Main moved from its smaller Harvard Square haunt to Central Square years ago. The beef is a blend of three cuts; salt is tossed to the side in favor of dehydrated miso, so the beef doesn’t dry out when cooking; and the bun is house-made with milk, rye flour, and sesame seeds. As for ketchup, Maws makes that by hand, too, and adds tomatoes only when in season. A new vegetarian burger option debuted at the beginning of the year, and is available at the bar on Tuesdays. (853 Main St., Cambridge)

7. Drink
Barbara Lynch’s Drink is all about the, well, drinks, but don’t sleep on the double fister here: two four-ounce patties of Colorado wagyu beef topped with American cheese, house-made pickles, shaved red onions, Boston Bibb lettuce, black pepper mayonnaise, and ketchup on a toasted bun from Hi-Rise Bread Company. Also order the thick-cut fries with malt-vinegar aioli. (348 Congress St., Boston)


8. Flat Patties
College students are always looking for a deal, and Flat Patties fits the bill. Luckily for them (and everyone else), a freshly ground burger and order of hand-cut french fries here will run $10 or less, and the view looking out onto Brattle Square makes the location just as prime as the beef. (33 Brattle St., Cambridge)

A burger at Downtown Crossing spot JM Curley. —Barry Chin/Globe Staff

9. JM Curley
At JM Curley, pair your grass-fed burger with a dark, rich porter, hoppy IPA, or Belgian pale ale — the beer list here is much more extensive than the one with foodstuffs. And while the classic burger is available on the dinner, lunch, and late-night menus, you can also indulge at brunch with a five-ounce patty featuring cheddar, and a bacon-pepper-onion omelette, sriracha mayo, and French toast for the bun. (21 Temple Place, Boston)

10. Little Big Diner
A burger at a diner seems like no big surprise, but the one here sure is. The Asian flavor-focused menu at Little Big Diner mostly consists of ramen and sake, but the flat patty brings both the heat and sweetness with pineapple sambal hot sauce, crunchy fried onions, and mayonnaise on top of a soft King’s Hawaiian bun. (1247 Centre St., Newton)

11. MET Back Bay
Thanks to the MET’s burger bar, you can take a trip around the world without leaving the Back Bay. Paris features brie and fried egg with truffle mayo; Athens comes with tzatziki sauce, feta, and hummus; and Tokyo is presented with soy and wasabi mayo. (279 Dartmouth St., Boston)

From 2015, the Joe Biden Burger with fries at Mr. Bartley’s in Harvard Square. —Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

12. Mr. Bartley’s
Few restaurants have been open for almost six decades, but few restaurants are Mr. Bartley’s. The Harvard Square haunt has been serving college students, international tourists, and Boston Brahmin since 1960. The kitschy burgers pay tribute to local and national celebs alike (see: the two-patty Trump Tower and the Tom Brady “Triumphant”). Consider adding on a side of onion rings, a Phantom Gourmet favorite. (1246 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge)

13. R.F. O’Sullivan & Son
Don’t call it fast food here — each burger takes about 20 minutes to flame-grill to perfection. Nothing is ever frozen and everything is handmade, like the two-inch-thick, half-pound patties that have won accolades for more than two decades at the original Somerville location and newer Lynn restaurant. Among the restaurant’s fans are the Phantom Gourmet brothers Dan, Dave, and Michael Andelman, who have lauded the eats and the value: about $7 for each of the two dozen choices, served with homemade french fries. (282 Beacon St., Somerville; 151 Central Ave., Lynn)

14. Roxy’s Grilled Cheese & Burgers
Known best for its grilled cheeses served via food truck, Roxy’s first upped the ante by adding a brick-and-mortar, and then by expanding the menu to offer burgers — burgers so good that they won Boston magazine’s Battle of the Burger competition in 2017. Available only in the Cambridge and Allston storefronts, you’ll find the LTO with thinly shaved lettuce, tomato, onion, and house sauce, and the Justin Burger with house-made pimento cheese, Grillo’s pickles, caramelized onions, and chipotle mayonnaise. (485 Cambridge St., Allston; 292 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge)

Straight-up local fast food: The Tasty Burger. —Yoon S. Byun / The Boston Globe

15. Tasty Burger
Founded right near the Sox’s home base in 2010, this homegrown hit became the park’s official burger in 2014. Besides the classic, this outfit also prides itself on the turkey burger, served with chipotle mayo, lettuce, and tomato. (1301 Boylston St., 1 Nashua St., 145 Dartmouth St., Boston; 40 JFK St., Cambridge)

16. Wheelhouse
An unassuming storefront in the Financial District is all business when it comes to churning out burgers. And the work starts early at Wheelhouse, where the breakfast burger combines the best of both worlds — coffee and beef — for a blissfully coffee-crusted patty topped with bacon, cheese, and a runny fried egg. Lunch options get zesty with a pimento cheeseburger; the Man Cave, with jalapeño beer cheese spread, bourbon glazed onions, and chopped bacon; and “alternative” eats like the Mexican black bean burger topped with pickled red onions and street corn. (63 Broad St., Boston)


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