This year, Atlanta super-chef Linton Hopkins tied with Hugh Acheson for the title of James Beard Best Chef: Southeast. He was happy to share the glory: Linton is gracious in the way Georgians are, and he's appreciative of good food. He won the award for his fine-dining restaurant, Eugene, but it's his gastropub Holeman & Finch—and its limited-edition burger, served only after 10 p.m. each night (and during Sunday brunch)—that's captivated reviewers and satiated Southerners. He's passionate about food, about Atlanta, and about burgers: He's said a good cheeseburger is one of his ideal meals. Read on for Linton's top five burgers in Georgia's capital.
1. At Bocado, Todd Ginsberg has made what I consider one of the burger ideals: two griddled patties, American cheese, pickles, mustard, and ketchup on a toasted bun. He and I were both inspired by the classic American diner double cheeseburger. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, this cheeseburger is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.
887 Howell Mill Road #2, Atlanta GA 30318 (map); 404-815-1399; bocadoatlanta.com
2. Steven Satterfield believes more than any chef I know that food should have a sense of place and season, and that it should be from scratch. His "daily grind" cheeseburger at Miller Union is just that. Grass-fed local beef ground daily, with Alabama cheddar, and in summer, a perfect slice of tomato.
999 Brady Avenue Northwest, Atlanta GA 30318 (map); 678-733-8550; millerunion.com
3. Chefs Terry Koval and Dan Latham helm two locations of Farm Burger (one in Atlanta, one in Decatur) with the same great burgers—even though I think I enjoy their farmers' market booth even more. It's a 100 percent grass-fed beef burger with your choice of toppings, and the toppings are excellent. My favorite variation has a sunny side up farm egg with crispy red onion, cured lardo made in-house (Dan used to run the charcuterie program for Mario Batali), Vermont white cheddar, and arugula. That is good food.
3365 Piedmont Road, Atlanta GA 30305 (map); 404-816-0603; farmburger.net
4. Run by Ford Fry and his chef Brian Horn, JCT Kitchen is where I go if I'm craving the wood-grilled burger. Ground in-house on a grilled pain de mie bun with white cheddar, the hickory in this eight-ounce burger provides the perfect smokiness and char.
1198 Howell Mill Road #18, Atlanta GA 30318 (map); 404-355-2252; jctkitchen.com
5. I go to Yeah! Burger with my two kids, who love it. They offer beef, bison and turkey burgers, and it is here that I have become a turkey burger fanatic. Topped with avocado and sliced jalapeños, it is both juicy and spicy. They have awesome onion rings and buttermilk sauce and a killer beer selection. During soccer season, a game is always on.
1168 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta GA 30318 (map); 404-496-4393; yeahburger.com