Slideshow: 11 Burgers That Are Worth the Hype

Shake Shack | Multiple cities
Shake Shack | Multiple cities
What can I say? Shake Shack started the current high-quality low-price fast food-style burger movement, and they're still the best. They pioneered the paint-scraper-as-spatula technique, they helped put Pat LaFrieda's chopped beef on the map (or perhaps Pat LaFrieda's chopped beef put Shake Shack on the map?), and their burgers are consistently cooked just right. Juicy, beefy, with a great browned crust, my favorite way to eat them is with the works—the regular Shack burger comes with roma tomato, lettuce, and mayo-based Shack Sauce. I like to add sliced onions and their great crunchy pickles. —Kenji Lopez-Alt, Burger Lab and New York correspondent

Shake Shack review »
How to make it at home »

Multiple locations; check shakeshack.com for more info.

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Umami Burger | Los Angeles/San Francisco
Umami Burger | Los Angeles/San Francisco
Few burgers spots have received more hype in Los Angeles than Umami Burger. Along the way, there have been some breathless exaltations of Adam Fleischman's burger juggernaut as the second coming and some the inevitable negative backlash. Of course, most reactions will lie somewhere between the two extremes, but what is undeniable is the creativity behind this hyped burger. Add to that an excellent handling of the basic ingredients and you get hype that is definitely worth putting in your mouth.—Damon Gambuto, Los Angeles correspondent

Umami Burger (Los Angeles) review »
Umami Burger (San Francisco) review »

Multiple locations; check umamiburger.com for more info.

[Photograph: David Kover]

Sobelman's | Milwaukee
Sobelman's | Milwaukee
Whether the hype comes from local and national television, taking the top burger spot in local newspaper polls, or their own website URL (milwaukeesbestburgers.com), Sobelman's is one hyped up burger joint. Sobelman's savvy owner, Dave Sobelman, even turned a losing appearance on Food Wars into a marketing opportunity with the tongue-in-cheek Loser burger. Both it and their signature Sobelman burger are worth the hype, though, delivering a massive amount of cheese, a well-seasoned 1/3-pound patty, and the best bun in the city. —Lacey Muszynski, Milwaukee correspondent

Sobelman's review »

1900 W Saint Paul Ave, Milwaukee WI 53233 (map); 414-931-1919; milwaukeesbestburgers.com

[Photograph: Lacey Muszynski]

Holeman & Finch | Atlanta
Holeman & Finch | Atlanta
Holeman & Finch's burger has been hailed by Food & Wine and Epicurious as one of the best in the country. I chose it as my favorite burger of 2010 for good reasons, reasons that I'll just copy and paste here: "The juicy patties are simply exploding with a beefiness that sings freshness. The bread and butter pickles, ketchup, and mustard are all impeccably made in-house and are joined by melted American cheese and red onions. The whole thing is served on an unsweetened brioche made next door at the company bakery, which Bon Appetit just named one of the 10 best in America. I'm hesitant to call any burger perfect, but improving this thing does not seem possible." —Daniel Zemans, Chicago correspondent

2277 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30309 (map); 404-948-1175; holeman-finch.com

Holeman & Finch review »

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

Hodad's | San Diego
Hodad's | San Diego
Hodad's is San Diego's most famous burger dive, endorsed by Guy Fieri himself. But even before the Triple D bump, this burger shop in OB was churning out some of the biggest, messiest, and tastiest classic cheeseburgers in SD. When at Hodad's, you've got to go with the bacon burger, made with a "bacon patty." The original shop has the most character, but if you don't want to stand in line for upwards of an hour, head to the new(ish) downtown location. —Erin Jackson, San Diego correspondent

Hodad's review »

5010 Newport Avenue, San Diego, 92107 (at Bacon Street; seriously!; map); 619-224-4623; hodadies.com

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Ann's Snack Bar | Atlanta
Ann's Snack Bar | Atlanta
I'm not sure any burger in Atlanta (even Holeman & Finch's now-iconic double-stack) has been more hyped over the years than the Ghetto Burger at Ann's Snack Bar. (A shout-out from The Wall Street Journal calling you the best in the US will do that.) At first blush, it sounds like it can't possibly be a pleasant experience: a sketchy neighborhood locale amidst razor-wire chainlink fences where you'll likely endure a crazy-long wait for one of only 8 seats and then risk getting yelled at by the sexagenarian proprietor for anything ranging from using a cell phone to cursing... all for what amounts to a double bacon cheeseburger with chili on it? But, yes, this sloppy one-pound-plus behemoth is that good. Like, last-meal-on-earth good. —Todd Brock, Atlanta correspondent

Ann's Snack Bar review »

1615 Memorial Drive Southeast, Atlanta GA 30317 (map); 404-687-9207

[Photograph: Todd Brock]

Roam | San Francisco
Roam | San Francisco
This fast-food-gone-gourmet burger made from grass-fed beef is more than worthy of its relatively high price tag (and all of the hype). Extra impressive: even though the patties are thin, you can still get them medium-rare, with lots of pink in the center. If you go, make sure you order the sweet potato fries with chipotle maple seasoning. —Erin Jackson, San Diego correspondent

Roam review »

1785 Union Street, San Francisco CA (map); 415-440-7626‎; roamburgers.com

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Palace Kitchen | Seattle
Palace Kitchen | Seattle
The Palace Burger Royale at Palace Kitchen is totally worth the hype and $15 price tag. Since Palace Kitchen a Tom Douglas restaurant, they're mindful of ingredients—the meat is regionally sourced from Oregon and the bun is baked by the nearby Dahlia Bakery, another Tom Douglas shop. Thanks to the wood-fire grill, the juicy patty is a flavor powerhouse, smoky with intense beefy flavor. It's not an everyday burger, but try it if you want something special. —Denise Sakaki, Seattle correspondent

Palace Kitchen review »

2030 5th Avenue, Seattle WA 98121 (map); 206-448-2001; tomdouglas.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

JG Melon | NYC
JG Melon | NYC
I'm ashamed it took me so long to try JG Melon, known for years for making one of the best burgers in New York City. It's worth going out of your way for their juicy, beefy, well seasoned, loose-textured patty on a simple toasted white bun. The toppings are basic: crinkle-cut pickle chips and thinly sliced raw onions come on the side, with optional cheese or bacon. It doesn't need anything else. —Robyn Lee, AHT editor

JG Melon review »

1291 Third Avenue, New York NY 10021 (at 74th Street; map); 212-744-0585

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]