Until we looked it up, we were convinced that Boston residents were still legally permitted to graze cows on the Common. Our sincerest apologies to literally every out-of-towner we’ve lied to over the past 10 years. But thankfully, you don’t need to actually have cows wandering around in the middle of your city to be a great burger town. We learned this first hand over the several months we spent eating burgers, dreaming about burgers, and eventually talking to burgers alone at bars and asking them about their hopes and dreams. The result of all that work is below, the 15 best burgers in Boston. Eat them and you’ll see why a great burger is worth losing your grip on reality a little bit.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The 15 Best Burgers In Boston is sponsored by Pepsi.
What you need to know about “Le Burger” at Bar Lyon in the South End is that it’s so outstanding and rich that it probably already has a favorite charity in mind in case it ever goes on Celebrity Jeopardy. It comes with pork belly, dry-aged beef, an egg, and a mixture of mushrooms and shallots. The next time you have nothing to do, come sit at the bar here with the burger and a martini, and enjoy le night.
Apparently, there is literally nothing Neptune Oyster can’t do. Not content with being one of the best seafood restaurants in the world, they had to go and make a burger with a juicy patty bigger than the bun, melted cheddar, and fried oysters that, unlike a lot of gimmicky toppings, actually taste like they belong on a burger. If Neptune Oyster announces that it’s going to try to make the Olympic curling team, some people up in Minnesota better watch their backs.
If you judge your double bacon cheeseburgers by how many napkins you need to clean all the delicious burger slop from your hands when you’re done (and you should), then Roxy’s is your place. It’s a perfect cheesy mess, and, despite being a double, it’s a manageable size that doesn’t make your stomach feel like a cement truck working overtime. You can get it at either location, though we prefer to eat it in the A4Cade speakeasy in Central Square (but please, for the love of god, wipe your hands before you go play Big Buck Hunter).
There aren’t a lot of places where the bun is our favorite part of the burger. And that’s probably not really the case at this tiny spot in JP either, where crispy pancetta and red pepper remoulade perfectly complement a great beef blend. But still, the first thing you’ll notice when you bite into the burger here is that the bun is actually a little crispy on the outside, and light and airy on the inside. You’d gladly eat it for breakfast with just a little butter in a world where you actually had time to eat breakfast.
The double cheeseburger at Bisq, an American small plates place and wine bar in Inman Square, is topped with rings of crispy shallots that come spilling out of the bun like doubloons out of a treasure chest. They’re a great touch, but they’re not the only thing that makes this burger great, thanks to really juicy beef and special sauce that actually lives up to its name.
The crispy wafer of parmesan that tops the secret burger at Alden & Harlow in Harvard Square is as divisive as your uncle’s Thanksgiving political takes. Some people don’t care for it, but we like it when our burger makes a sound when you bite into it. The beef blend is smoky and steaky, and the bun oozes butter. This is one of those limited-availability burgers that people sometimes wait in line for, but you can usually get it if you sit down by 7.
The burger at Drink in Fort Point takes the idea of a standard fast-food burger and just says, hey, what if it didn’t suck? So you still get a well-done patty (two of them, actually), American cheese, and a sesame seed bun. But the patties are made from Colorado wagyu beef, the bun comes from a local bakery, and the cheese mixes with black pepper mayo to make it a little sloppy, but not so much that you feel too messy to be in a place where the bartenders chip off ice from one giant, crystal clear block of ice behind the bar.
A true bar burger is simple enough to hold in one hand and wash down with the beer you’ve got in your other. But a great bar burger makes you forget about the drink altogether. That’s what you get at JM Curley in Downtown Crossing, where a juicy patty topped with Russian dressing, cheddar, onions, and pickles should be waiting for you after work at least once a month.
The limited-availability Craigie Burger at Craigie on Main in Central Square is the most famous burger in Boston. It’s great, but we have a hard time recommending a burger that requires you to leave work early, wait in line before the restaurant opens, and then hope you’re one of the first 18 people to place an order that night. That’s why we love Craigie Burger, the food stall that opened up in the new Time Out Market. It’s slightly different from the original burger so that it’s more economical to make, which means the beef doesn’t come from a farm that gives its cows regular massages and spa treatments or something, but it’s still excellent, particularly if you add the egg and bacon.
Maybe you don’t expect to find a great burger at an Irish pub across the street from a parking lot, but the gods of Irish pubs work in drunken ,mysterious ways. This place has a ton of different burgers, but they’re all made with giant, baseball-sized patties on a sesame seed bun that somehow holds it together. The house burger comes with a slice of ham and bacon on top of a nicely seasoned patty that’s ridiculously juicy.
Mr. Bartley’s is a burger experience - a throw-back Harvard Square place with political humor on the menu, seats allegedly graced by Johnny Cash and Al Pacino, and what we’re convinced is pot smoke that’s been lingering there since 1972. There are over 30 burgers on the menu, and most of them frequently change their name (we’ve had the fried egg and bacon burger when it was called the Howard Schultz, the RuPaul, and the Caitlynn Jenner). When you’re at a greasy, sloppy place like this, you need a greasy, sloppy burger, and that’s the Triple D, a giant mess of a double cheeseburger with bacon, barbecue sauce, and fried onions that was blessed buy and then named after the god of clogged arteries and bowling shirts himself, Guy Fieri.
For a place that does most of its business with people wearing Celtics jerseys, Bruins jerseys, and whatever little kids wear to Disney On Ice (Elsa jerseys?), the beef blend at A&B Burger across from the Garden is shockingly good. You have the option to upgrade to wagyu beef with any of the seven burgers on the menu, but you shouldn’t - the juicy, slightly salty standard blend is better. You can’t go wrong with the B Burger that comes with bacon and their own in-house sauce, but if you want something a little more interesting, go with the Sweet & Salty that’s topped with burrata and fig jam.
Tasty Burger is a fast food place that lets you order the burger rare if you want to. For that reason alone, this place deserves some kind of humanitarian award from the UN. But internal temperature aside, this is close to the platonic ideal of a short-order burger - a tasty, saucy mess that you squeeze all together before chomping into and then washing down with a beer.
Tico is a Back Bay Latin place and most of the people around you will be ordering margaritas, killing tacos, and complaining about their boss. But you’re smart, so you’ll order the burger with a great horseradish sauce, crispy onions, and a lot of cheddar cheese (while you also complain about your boss, because that part is pretty much universal).
The burgers are flat-top patty style at this South End gastropub. That makes them a lot crispier than most other places, but thankfully you don’t lose the juice. There are a lot on the menu, and the great BK Lounge burger will take you back to the days when stopping at Burger King was a reward for being well-behaved at the bank instead of something you do when you literally have no other option, but we recommend starting with the classic pub burger with pub cheese and aioli.