Slideshow: 30 Great Cheeseburgers We've Eaten This Year

Red Eye Burger at Rush Street | Culver City, CA
Red Eye Burger at Rush Street | Culver City, CA
"The basics read like a romance novel where a burger has an affair with a plate of eggs Benedict: 8-ounce patty of 80/20 dry-aged beef from Rocco Bros., applewood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, and a fried egg smothered in Hollandaise sauce, all on a tasty Rockenwagner brioche bun."

"One would expect the rich, beefy patty to be overwhelmed by all these devilishly strong toppings, but one would be wrong. The juices poured out of the perfectly medium rare patty and the char shone through. The fat-on-fat combination of buttery, creamy Hollandaise sauce and runny egg yolk was pure indulgence, but it matched the beef well." —Damon Gambuto

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9546 Washington Blvd, Culver City CA 90232 (map); 310-837-9546; rushstreetculvercity.com

[Photograph: Damon Gambuto]

Gino's Giant at Gino's Burgers and Chicken | King of Prussia, PA
Gino's Giant at Gino's Burgers and Chicken | King of Prussia, PA
"The medium well dual burger patties—no temps taken here—were well seasoned and still juicy with a nice crust and flowing with molten American cheese. A lightly toasted Big Marty's soft sesame bun managed to hold everything together, and all of the toppings were well balanced and fresh." —Hawk Krall

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611 West Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia PA 19406 (map); 610-265-5900, 2 more locations listed at ginosgiant.com

[Photograph: Hawk Krall]

Cheeseburger at NOPA | San Francisco
Cheeseburger at NOPA | San Francisco
"I wish all my grass-fed burgers tasted like the chubby patty served at NOPA. They clearly leave enough fat in the grind to keep things juicy, and even burgers on the redder end of the spectrum develop some flavorful sear-marks from the grill. The magic, however, comes from the way a generous addition of salt brings out the grass-fed flavors of the meat. By the second bite, a beefy funk seems to issue from deep within the patty in a way that gets my primal pleasure receptors throbbing."—David Kover

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560 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 (map); 415-864-8643; nopasf.com

[Photograph: David Kover]

Pier Burger | Santa Monica
Pier Burger | Santa Monica
"The 1/4-pound Angus chuck patty of the single Pier Burger had a surprisingly coarse grind and loose packing. The griddle seared it off nicely and there was a solid hit of seasoning. Although it was a bit overcooked, it maintained enough juiciness and flavor to stand up to the "secret sauce," which had traces of actual mustard seed and other fresh herbs. I normally don't love "secret sauce" on my burger—I find it tends to detract from the burger's beefiness—but this sauce was especially tasty and added a nice layer of fat." —Damon Gambuto

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330 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica CA 90401 (map); 310-587-2747; pierburger.com

[Photograph: Damon Gambuto]

Village Burger | Dunwoody, GA
Village Burger | Dunwoody, GA
"I got an up-close look at six burgers over the course of two visits; each one was more cover-model photogenic than the next. Cross-section views showed the uniform 'medium' hue that most thin diner burgs exhibit, but any disappointment regarding color was quickly outmuscled by salivating anticipation over a more-than-healthy amount of melting cheese and dripping burger juices. A few burgers were overpowered by some of the toppings (diced red onion and raw jalapeño slices, to name two), but there was no mistaking the top-shelf quality of these burgers. Hot and juicy with noticeably fresh toppings and a substantial bun—this burger, from a place I almost tripped over, is the early frontrunner for my Favorite Burger of 2012 and earns immediate inclusion into my personal Top 10. It's that good."—Todd Brock

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1426 Dunwoody Village Parkway, Dunwoody GA 30338 (map); 770-522-1600; villageburger.com

[Photograph: Todd Brock]

Slowburger at Slow Bar | Portland, OR
Slowburger at Slow Bar | Portland, OR
"The meat and cheese are just the beginning of this monument to excess. The burger's most noticeable trait and selling point is the pair of beer-battered onion rings stacked on top of each other, forming a solid inch-and-a-half of deep-fried crunch. The rings trigger the same pleasure sensors as potato chips stuffed into a sandwich while managing not to overpower the beef with either onion or grease." —Adam Lindsley

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533 SE Grand Ave., Portland OR 97214 (map); 503-230-7767; slowbar.net

[Photograph: Adam Lindsley]

Nader Burger at Henry's Pub and Grille | Milwaukee
Nader Burger at Henry's Pub and Grille | Milwaukee
"The secret spices seem to include garlic and cayenne. There was just enough of them to tell you there was more than beef and salt, but the flavors didn't get anywhere near overpowering the meat or resulting in the dreaded meatloaf effect. It was a great balance of seasonings that enhanced the fresh, hand-pattied beef instead of distracting from it." —Lacey Muszynski

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2523 E. Belleview Place, Milwaukee WI 53211 (map); 414-332-2772; facebook.com/HenrysTavern

[Photograph: Lacey Muszynski]

Marlowe Burger at Park Tavern | San Francisco
Marlowe Burger at Park Tavern | San Francisco
"They use Niman Ranch meat, but it's not just beef; 20 percent of this tender 5.5-ounce patty is lamb. Only after going back for another taste did I notice a barely gamey note to go with the flavors of the beef and the char from the grill. Either way, the juice flows so liberally that the bottom of the Acme bun threatens to turn to paste if you let it sit too long. (Don't worry, you won't be inclined to let your tasty burger languish any longer than is required to insert it in your mouth.)" —David Kover

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1652 Stockton Street, San Francisco CA 94133 (map); 415-989-7300; parktavernsf.com

[Photograph: David Kover]

Merchant Burger at Seed Kitchen & Bar | Marietta, GA
Merchant Burger at Seed Kitchen & Bar | Marietta, GA
"The Merchant Burger is an unassuming selection on a menu boasting veal meatloaf and a scallops/pork belly combo, but for the lunch-rushers and date-night diners making a table at Seed the hottest ticket in town these days, it's becoming an increasingly popular choice. It starts with eight ounces of certified 70/30 Angus from Buckhead Beef. The chuck is pattied on premises and hit with salt and coarse-ground black pepper before spending some quality time on a Blodgett gas grill, where it picks up a noticeable crusty char and pronounced grate marks before being slipped inside a buttered and grilled challah bun." —Todd Brock

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1311 Johnson Ferry Road Suite 504, Marietta GA 30068 (map); 678-214-6888; eatatseed.com

[Photograph: Todd Brock]

Slider at Greene's Hamburgers | Farmington, MI
Slider at Greene's Hamburgers | Farmington, MI
"The slider I had at Greene's was the best I've ever had. From the soft and crisp patty and onions to the expertly toasted bun to the cheese than became one with the beef, everything about this slider was absolutely perfect. When I travel, I typically have an elaborate eating itinerary that demands I don't overeat at any one place. As good as the rest of the food I had in Detroit was, a big part of me regrets not eating at Greene's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner." —Daniel Zemans

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24155 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington MI 48336 (map); 248-474-7980

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

Original Double at Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Original Double at Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
"I'd eaten at Freddy's years before but had forgotten that their burger alchemy is among the best in the business. These two-ounce lean beef patties are ultra-thin and grill-smashed, meaning a vast surface area of delicious crust. They straddled the line perfectly between the Maillard reaction and burning—just the right side of crispy and delicious. They're cooked up with a proprietary seasoning, too, consisting of salt spiked with garlic, onion, paprika, and other spices. This carries a lot of the flavor, and the combination works." —Ewan Macdonald

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Multiple locations; check freddysusa.com

[Photograph: Ewan Macdonald]

Cheeseburger at Allen's | Toronto
Cheeseburger at Allen's | Toronto
"When my server told me the burgers are made from sirloin, I could already hear the concerned outcry of AHT'ers. Rest assured, though this wasn't the fattiest burger, it had plenty of juice and was moist and flavorful. The outside of the massive patty was covered with a thin layer of caramelized char while the center oozed with juices. The coarsely ground beef was well seasoned, and had a pure, unadulterated beefy flavor." —Erin Jackson

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143 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4K 1N2 (map); 416-463-3086; allens.to

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Cheeseburger at The Little Owl | NYC
Cheeseburger at The Little Owl | NYC
"It's smoky but not charred, ridiculously tender and moist but not greasy, and the mix of fresh beef drippings with slightly browned American cheese is pretty wonderful. This burger's really all about balance, in and out and top to bottom, with careful toppings and additions all aimed at elevating, but not hiding the meat. It invites needless debate to call anything 'best in class,' but this one is definitely in the running for best grilled burger in New York." —Max Falkowitz

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90 Bedford Street, New York NY 10014 (at Grove Street; map); 212-741-4695; thelittleowlnyc.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Mission Burger at Mission Bowling Club | San Francisco
Mission Burger at Mission Bowling Club | San Francisco
"I've eaten a lot of burgers in my days at Serious Eats. Enough that I rarely get excited by a new one, no matter how good. This is the only burger I've had in years that made me feel like I've been touched for the very first time. The relentless moisture, the intricate interplay of textures between the crisp charred crust and the ultra-loose and tender center (achieved by a technique Myint calls "granulating"), the sheer beefiness of the thing, reminded me of what my first truly great burger experience was like. I've never been so excited by a sandwich before." —J. Kenji López-Alt

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3176 17th St. San Francisco, CA 94110 (map); 415-863-BOWL (2695); missionbowlingclub.com

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Cheeseburger at Au Cheval | Chicago
Cheeseburger at Au Cheval | Chicago
"The simple griddled burgers at Au Cheval are outstanding in every way. Eschewing the trend of house-ground custom blends, the kitchen takes pre-formed four-ounce patties of prime beef, cooks them to medium, and delivers one of the best examples of this style of burger in Chicago. The intensity of the beef flavor shines through thanks in large part to the beautiful crust that blankets the exterior. The crispness from the crust finds textural balance with the soft toasted bun from Z Baking." —Daniel Zemans

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800 W Randolph Street, Chicago IL 60607 (map); 312-929-4580; aucheval.tumblr.com

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

Cheeseburger at Mulberry Street Bar | NYC
Cheeseburger at Mulberry Street Bar | NYC
"Made from a six-ounce patty of Pat Lafrieda beef, the burger starts with a mix of chuck, sirloin, and brisket, heavily seasoned with salt and pepper, and grilled over an open flame. The cooking on these patties is pretty consistently a shade under the medium rare I request, but with beef this good, it doesn't matter much."

"It comes topped with your choice of cheese, along with a handful of crinkle cut dill chips, Romaine lettuce, freshly sliced red onions, and predictably bland, mealy tomatoes. I left the tomatoes off. It's a classic burger all around, and one that's executed extremely well. Seasoning, fat content, cheese melting, bun-toasting, everything is spot on—practically the platonic ideal of a pub-style fat grilled burger."—J. Kenji López-Alt

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176 Mulberry Street, New York NY 10013 (map); 212-226-9345

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

The Lab Burger at The Lab Brewing Co. | Agoura Hills, CA
The Lab Burger at The Lab Brewing Co. | Agoura Hills, CA
"The Lab Burger is made up of some impressive ingredients. The patty is eight ounces of Wagyu clod and sirloin beef sourced from the very good and reliable Premier Meat and ground in house. Megji adds some caramelized onions, bacon, blue and Gruyère cheese, and arugula. Those of you familiar with the LA burger scene are probably nodding with recognition about now; the Lab Burger owes a debt to the iconic (and overrated) Father's Office burger. The Lab takes an important turn with their choice of putting all of these high-end components on the very good La Brea Bakery brioche bun."—Damon Gambuto

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30105 Agoura Rd., Agoura Hills CA 91301 (map); 818-735-0091 labbrewingco.com

[Photograph: Damon Gambuto]

Cheeseburger at Kopp's | Milwaukee
Cheeseburger at Kopp's | Milwaukee
"Now, let's just get all the bad things about this burger out on the table: The beef is well done and there's no option on that, and the sandwich often gets smushed in the paper wrapping. But I don't care. I'm sure nostalgia plays a part in overlooking the flaws, but one thing I love the most about these burgers is how the butter and gooey cheese wicks its way through the loosely formed beef, making a kind of patty melt with the flat, soft bun." —Lacey Muszynski

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5373 N. Port Washington Road, Glendale WI 53217 (map); 414-961-3288; two other locations listed at kopps.com

[Photograph: Lacey Muszynski ]

Beef and Bacon Burger at The Broken Record | San Francisco
Beef and Bacon Burger at The Broken Record | San Francisco
"Let's get this straight: this burger is not f*$#ing around. This is a greasy, glorious, flavor-bomb of a sandwich; it's meant for rabid late-night consumption, for chowing down on when you come to a place to drink whiskey on tap (Four Roses, in case you were wondering). So while the burger may lack the rosy pink of medium rare I tend to seek out, you can be certain that it will be fatty and juicy thanks to the bacon. It also isn't a burger you eat for the intense beef flavor—but isn't that a part of the bargain when you're ordering something with bacon ground up in it? Despite their fattiness, the patties managed to have a decently loose grind." —Lauren Sloss

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1398 Haight Street, San Francisco CA 94117 (map); 415-864-7468, magnoliapub.com

[Photograph: Wes Rowe]

Cheeseburger at Irv's Burgers | Los Angeles
Cheeseburger at Irv's Burgers | Los Angeles
"The patty itself is exemplary. They each get a smash when they hit the griddle so the coarsely packed beef spreads apart even further, allowing for the creation of a fantastic crust. Sonia is also heavy handed with the salt shaker so there's little chance of missing out on the full flavor of the patty (nb: I prefer a salty burger). The cheese was so beautifully melted that it tasted as though it had woven its fatty, tangy goodness into every nook of the patty. The toppings balanced out the patty and cheese with a nice fresh crunch. Finally, the bun—a simple, seedless commercial—was toasted golden and held together this masterpiece with subtle a perfection."—Damon Gambuto

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8289 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood CA 90046 (map); 323-650-2456 irvsburgersla.com

[Photograph: Damon Gambuto]

Flying Cheeseburger at Doods Foods | San Diego
Flying Cheeseburger at Doods Foods | San Diego
"There's a lot that goes very right. The fatty beef is exceptionally juicy, and browns up beautifully, with a good crust on both sides. Burgers are also cooked reliably to order. My medium rare patties were tender and moist in the middle, with a lot of pink. You also get huge bang for your buck. For $8, you get close to 3/4 of a pound of beef, plus bacon and cheese." —Erin Jackson

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1863 5th Ave San Diego, CA 92101, in the Tin Can Ale House (map); 619-381-2756

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Cheeseburger at Perla | NYC
Cheeseburger at Perla | NYC
"You could say it's the same burger we've seen many times before: a fat griddled Pat LaFrieda patty (80/20 lean-fat, a blend of chuck, short rib, and brisket) that isn't afraid to be served on the rarer side of medium rare, with floods of juice and electric sparks of mineral gaminess. It has the texture we've come to love in LaFrieda's pre-formed patties: loose and supple but not mushy, almost steak-like, but way more juicy. One bite was enough to make it one of my new favorites of the style." —Max Falkowitz

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24 Minetta Lane, New York NY 10014 (b/n Sixth and Thompson; map); 212-933-1824; perlanyc.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Oak-Fired Prime Steak Burger at Bourbon Steak | Washington, D.C.
Oak-Fired Prime Steak Burger at Bourbon Steak | Washington, D.C.
"Make no mistake, it's an expensive burger (you're in the Four Seasons, after all), but after your first bite, that buyer's remorse is gone. The patty is well formed, but your teeth will cut through it effortlessly. The meat is tender and very juicy (aided by the 25 percent fat content). A very light char contributes a subtle smokiness and, with the shredded lettuce, an added crisp to the texture. The cheddar is noticeable but not overwhelming, and it complements the saltiness of the beef. And that Secret Sauce? It's the familiar ketchup-and-mayo Thousand Island dressing flavor (though being secret, I can't say for sure) of classic fast food burgers." —Brian Oh

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2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20007 (map); 202-944-2026, bourbonsteakdc.com/the-lounge

[Photograph: Brian Oh]