I like to think I’m accepting of my limitations. I don’t think anyone would describe me as super health conscious. I cook, I try to eat my veggies and have regular meatless days, and I will always go for organic/local cuisine when I can, even when it threatens to make me “that guy”. But one of the few things I like to do as a kind of dietary safety measure is to only have a single beef burger per month. Veggie, turkey, and fish burgers don’t count. Also, I don’t eat pork, mostly to cut down on fat, and yes, both of these rules can be negotiable depending on the circumstances.
In general, though, the one burger a month thing has worked out pretty well, and it adds a rather hilarious level of significance whenever I do decide that “this is the one for January” (or whenever). Some people make fun of me for it, some people praise me for my self-control, and my doctor kind of did a mix of both.
2019 was an interesting year for me, and I got to try a few burgers from places I’ve either never been or don’t visit that often. Since the Boston Burger Blog seems to be defunct and I’m a compulsive listmaker, I’ve decided to make the burger count official, with pictures and writeups and everything, in the hope that maybe Thrillist decides to hire me or something. Here’s the much, MUCH anticipated list of the official burger count for last year. Assume these burgers are native to Boston, Massachusetts, unless otherwise noted.
12. The Cheeseburger, Honey Pot Hills Orchard, Stow, MA (September)
I have no one but myself to blame. This was purely a burger of necessity, purchased on a hot, hungry day of roaming around at the apple orchard, and the best thing I can say about it is that the kids working the grill were friendly and it didn’t take too long to order. You probably had something similar to this in your school cafeteria. No one’s going to expect delicately-prepared beef at a place like this and that’s fine. The cider donuts were certainly worth the line.
11. Burger, Globe Bar & Cafe (February)
The Globe is a decent hangout spot and I’ve been a fan of their nachos for years, so I was interested in giving this a try. It’s not terrible but not really memorable, especially compared to some of the knockouts further down this list (it’s kind of unfair of me to even compare them). I always love waffle fries and these were nice and crispy, so that helps it somewhat. Paired with a beer, this burger makes a good enough meal, but I’d be surprised if you’re raving about it months later. The atmosphere and location of the Globe itself are points in its favor: I can imagine enjoying this after a night wandering around Copley square. Or before, for that matter.
10. Burger from Our Friend Steven’s Cookout (July)
Yes, I’m ranking a burger a friend of ours made at a party in his backyard. Hats off to him for ranking above actual restaurants. Ron Swanson would be proud of this no-nonsense meat in bread arrangement, which was of course partly down to me but also due to the juiciness of the burger. I’m sure we could have had higher quality beef but a skilled hand at the grill makes all the difference. Sometimes I simply decide to eat my burger of the month because I feel like it, and this one looked good enough for me to take a break from “professional” patties. Maybe I’ll make it a summer tradition.
9. West Burger, West on Centre (August)
My girlfriend and I moved in together this year, and we offset the stress by treating ourselves to a few nice meals (also, our kitchen was being remodeled). The main thing I remember from this one was the char, which, being a firm medium-rare man, I’m not the biggest fan of: if that’s your favorite part of the burger, you might rate this one higher. As you can see, though, there’s a generous amount of cheese and the middle of the meat was nice and flavorful, along with the pleasant crisp of the fried onions. And of course, a nice pile of forgive-me veggies on the side to help balance it out. Go when it’s not too busy if you’re interested.
8. Coda Burger, Coda (January)
I’ll admit that this is the hardest burger for me to remember, dating back to the beginning of the year and all, but what I do remember was positive. That big honkin piece of lettuce was not the barrier you might imagine it to be. The fries were a bit bland and the bun was a bit thick, but the meat was tender, and there’s a nice selection of toppings to choose from. This was a pleasingly hearty delight in the middle of a snowstorm and I’ll always thank it for that. What, you don’t thank your burgers? You might as well. They’re doing you a favor.
7. King’s Burger, Queens Black, Seoul, South Korea (June)
A novelty burger to be sure, but why not? We were on vacation, after all. Queens Black’s gimmick is that the bread is made with squid ink and you get latex gloves to eat it with. This is one of the more modest options on the menu: I was too scared to order the one topped with a lobster tail or smothered by a “cheese injection”. Ultimately, I was surprised by how little the actual meat stood out: the sweet sauce and airiness of the bun were the main highlights, and the whole thing was more about taste than substance. But that’s not a bad thing! There is no shortage of amazing places to eat beef in Seoul, and if you’re someone who needs a burger that will argue with them later, I’m sure you can pick something off the menu. It’s not often that I’d describe a burger as being “refreshing”.
6. The Lemmy, Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers (October)
Technically I had this on the first day of November. Don’t tell on me. Anyway, this was a well-made, compact little number, full of flavor and very satisfying. It’s certainly one of the best food truck burgers I’ve ever had, despite the embarrassing name and logo. I’m not sure how serious the biker motif is, but I’m glad this burger wasn’t drowned in cheese or drowned with tongue-destroying spices. It was certainly beefy, don’t get me wrong, and is probably the most well-rounded burger on the list, which is why I feel comfortable placing it in the middle. The bun-meat-cheese ratio was damn near perfect.
5. The Wharf Burger, Mercy Tavern, Salem, MA (December)
Remember when a Big Mac genuinely sounded like a lot of food? Since I only rarely have single-patty burgers, I almost never get a double, so this seemed like a decent way to close out the year. As you can see, the onion rings took up a lot of real estate, requiring a little bit of squishing, but the meat still made a good case for itself. The wait staff didn’t ask me how I liked it, which made me nervous: I’m pleased to report that the texture was quite good, even if it was – gasp – MEDIUM. Lack of rareness did not hurt this one, given that there was plenty of other stuff going on to keep things from getting too dry. It’s encouraging to find a double-patty burger that doesn’t have to be obnoxious about it, you know?
4. Longfellow’s Burger, The Longfellow Bar, Cambridge, MA (May)
I have a…I really don’t want to call it a beef (too late), but I guess you’d just say an ISSUE…with Alden & Harlow. Their burger has received plenty of acclaim: I found it a little overrated, too small, and maddeningly inaccessible (you could make a reservation a week in advance and they STILL might not have it). Longfellow is right above, where the charming Cafe Algiers used to be, and while I still miss that place, this burger helped me get over the loss. Excellent grillwork, tasty toppings, a buttery bun, an acceptable amount of char, and plenty of juice. The pickle was nice and crisp, too, exactly the kind I like (don’t knock a good pickle). I recommend making a reservation, but if you do, the burger will almost certainly be available the day you show up. Wow!
3. French Onion Soup Burger, Le Rivage, New York City, NY (March)
As I said before, these burgers are all different, and it’s not fair to really talk about some of them in the same article. This one, available only as part of a three course Prix Fixe menu at an upscale French restaurant in New York, is as far away from the Honey Pot Hills burger tent as you could get. Yet rank this I must, and this is one heck of a ride. Just look at it: carmelized onions, melted cheese, succulent beef, and a grilled English muffin for a bun. That picture is damned near disgusting. It’s been justly praised and honored, and it’s going to be a burger I will tell anyone willing to listen for a long time. On top of all that, the staff was exceedingly friendly, even on a slow weekday night.
So why isn’t it #1? Well, as delicious as it is, it’s messy. There, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, it was hilarious being the only person under 50 sitting by myself covered in soup in an ostensibly respectable restaurant (especially since other diners asked me about it and were clearly jealous). I didn’t really mind, but not everyone will be cool with that. What if you get grease stains on your monocle? Also, while $35 for a three course meal is a steal, it’s also a commitment. And I can understand some purists being annoyed by the combination of hamburgers and haute cuisine. Still, I won’t deny how enjoyable this was, and was absolutely worth the splurge.
2. Burger I Can’t Remember the Name of, Brassica Kitchen + Cafe (April)
I’ve only recently started keeping track of the actual name of these burgers, so I don’t remember if this one was called anything specific (my guess would be “burger”). You might be a little disappointed that a small plate is ranking this high. You won’t be saying that after you try it (assuming they offer it again: the current burger on BRassica’s menu seems to be different, but still sounds good!). This was everything I want from a burger: juicy, cheesy, served in a soft, warm bun and paired with fries I couldn’t stop eating, along with an absolutely addictive sauce (I think it may have been aioli). Honestly, the small size may have been a good thing, since it definitely left me wanting another one. You might be able to call it the best slider ever made. I’m normally the sort of person who always wants to try new places, but considering how good this one, I’m down to try whatever burgers Brassica adds to its menu.
1. BPH Burger, Bostonia Public House (November)
For less than half the price of the Le Rivage menu, you could have this magnificent creation, a burger that gets everything right and then some. It’s in a great location, it’s jam-packed with…uh…jam (carmelized onion tomato jam, to be exact), and it’s got enough going on to feel decadent without making you hate yourself. I certainly like it when burgers are complicated (my favorite pizza topping for years was “everything”) and this is the good kind of overstuffed, with so much detail and taste packed into everything. And to paraphrase Patrick Stewart, their BUNS are the best. It’s just really, really good, you guys. Give it a shot if you’re in the mood.