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USA Today Names 51 Great Burger Joints

By • Oct 10th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog

Good Lord, another burger list?!?  You know, when Zagat or Consumer Reports puts out rankings of the nation’s fast food burgs, I dutifully check them out and file my report to you because it’s my job… but we all know there probably won’t be any ground-beef-shaking surprises there.  So I kind of rolled my eyes when I heard that USA Today was coming out with a burger list of their own.  Until I saw it.

Avoiding the same old places we’ve all heard and read about, the USA Today list singles 51 “great” burger joints.  These are diners, drive-ins, and dives that are, for the most part, off the beaten path.  USA Today looked to local food critics, magazine editors, bloggers, and tourism boards to come up with must-hit hamburger havens in all 50 states (and DC) for roadfood warriors everywhere.  The entire list is available for your review here, but I picked out a few that caught my eye.

That’s nearly a pound of 93%-lean ground chuck.  Most places that do a one-pounder usually do it as a goof or as a silly food challenge for frat guys to try to win a T-shirt.  At Bob’s Bar in Martinsburg, Nebraska, it’s just the way they serve their burgers.  Amazingly, it’s under 4 bucks, and it feeds 2 to 3 people.  (Photo from JDoggieDogg via

Kuma’s Corner has been on my radar screen for a very long time. Just down the road from Wrigley Field, it’ll be the first place I visit on my next trip to Chicago.   This is a hardcore hamburger joint, where the burgs are named after the heavy metal bands blasting through the speakers.  But the toppings are downright frou-frou.  The Iron Maiden is topped with avocado, cherry peppers, pepperjack, and chipotle mayo.  The Judas Priest has bacon and bleu cheese dressing with apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries.  Above is the Mastodon, dripping with BBQ sauce, cheddar, bacon, and something called “frizzled” onions.  (Great shot from

One of the more unusual burger subgenres out there is the steamed cheeseburger, the specialty of Ted’s Restaurant in Meriden, Connecticut.  Small patties and hunks of Vermont cheddar are placed in little metal trays and cooked inside a stainless steel steamer.  According to some, it’s an acquired taste.  Everyone agrees it’s one of the messier burgers you’ll ever encounter.  (Photo by Michael Stern via

Hungry in Tulsa, Oklahoma?  Swing into Hank’s Hamburgers.  The Big Okie Burger is made up of four quarter-pound patties and four slices of cheese, plus toppings.  Apparently, they’ll also rustle up a six-patty version if you ask nicely.  (Photo by Ron Stahl via USA Today)

That is not a burger, of course, but a building.  Perhaps the ugliest building ever. But the Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette, Indiana is a sacred shrine for local students from Purdue University, who flock to the all-day breakfast menu, the root beer, and the burgers.  They don’t call ‘em burgers at the Triple XXX; they’re “chop steaks” that they grind in-house.  And the most famous is the Duane Purvis All-American, named after a Purdue football legend.  It was topped with peanut butter long before that was considered a trendy burger topping.  (Photo from

The burger from my own state of Georgia comes from a place I’ve never even heard of.  The write-up for The Collegiate Grill in Gainesville seems to focus more on the retro diner vibe than on any tastebud-blowing burger.  It’s an hour away, but I’ll probably make the trip one of these days.  After all, I’m a sucker for a list.

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