Slideshow: Staff Picks: Favorite Burgers of 2013

Bacon Cheeseburger from The Odeon, NYC
Bacon Cheeseburger from The Odeon, NYC

"The patty was exceptionally beefy, with a pronounced grill flavor. I could find few complaints about the beef, and even fewer about the well-toasted, barely sweet bun holding everything together. The bibb lettuce, red onions, and tomato proved as fresh as I could hope for without interfering with the beef and bacon." —Noah Arenstein, AHT contributor

"My favorite burger is still Shake Shack's Shack Burger (I'm super boring, guys), but for the new-to-me burger I've eaten this year, I'd go with the burger from The Odeon. I wouldn't necessary eat it again—it's quite pricey and not my favorite style of burger—but it's a hefty, flavorful, well balanced and composed burger worth recommending." —Robyn Lee, staff photographer and editor, A Hamburger Today

The Odeon burger review »

145 West Broadway New York, NY 10013 (map); 212-708-7414; theodeonrestaurant.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Bacon Fat-Infused Burger from Café Ghia, Brooklyn
Bacon Fat-Infused Burger from Café Ghia, Brooklyn

"Apparently I've been waiting my whole life for beef to taste a little more like pork. Café Ghia infuses their grass-fed burger ($13) with smoky bacon fat, resulting in a patty with the texture of beef (only porkier, and therefore better) and the flavor of pork (only beefier, and therefore also better). You're pretty much sure that you're eating a new breed of animal. I like to imagine it with the head of a cow and the corkscrew tail of a pig, but to each their own.

Before beef purists get too dismissive, let me just say: don't. You may love beef, but this is beef, if beef had superpowers. Served on a perfectly portioned buttery brioche bun, the patty gets a thin melted coating of tangy shredded Vermont cheddar. Smoky and tender with a glorious charred crust, it reaches a mouth-shattering crescendo the moment you hit the generous, thick slab of pork belly (+$2) slapped on top of the patty." —Niki Achitoff-Gray, Associate Editor

Café Ghia review »

24 Irving Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11237 (map); 718-821-8806; cafeghia.com

[Photograph: Niki Achitoff-Gray]

Burger from Maison Harlem, NYC
Burger from Maison Harlem, NYC

"It hasn't been a big burger year for me, but I gotta say that the one I really remember was one of the simplest: The plain hamburger from Maison Harlem up near my place on 127th Street and St. Nicholas. The beef is plain chuck, but it's grilled a perfect medium rare and seasoned well. The bun is soft brioche toasted in butter, and the toppings are nothing more than sliced red onions, lettuce, and tomato. Order it with some of their nice, peppery homemade mayo (with some extra on the side for dipping your skinny fries into)." —J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Chief Creative Officer

Maison Harlem burger review »

8341 St Nicholas Ave, New York NY 10027 ‎(map); 212-222-9224; maisonharlem.com

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Burgers from two8two, Brooklyn
Burgers from two8two, Brooklyn

"My relationship to the burgers at two8two is one of mounting love. I showed up for the interview and have returned multiple times for the consistent no-frills burgers and the lack of 'city atmosphere'. This is a burger where everything is done right: a loose-packed medium rare patty, a slice of cheese, a mess of grilled onions and a Martin's bun. I recommend going hungry with a friend, avoiding the sides, and ordering two different burgers and some beer (on-tap). two8two won't change your life, but sometimes the best burgers are the ones that just get the job done." —Sam Levison, Burger / New York Contributor

two8two burger review »

282 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn NY 11201 (map); 718-596-2282; two8twoburger.com

[Photograph: Sam Levison]

Cheeseburger from Fritzl's Lunch Box, Brooklyn
Cheeseburger from Fritzl's Lunch Box, Brooklyn

"A well-crafted, deeply flavorful burger built from a fatty combination of cheek and chuck meats, topped with a beguiling secret sauce and served on a Big Marty roll was easily one of my favorite burgers of the year. The fact that the fries were just as exceptional sealed Fritzl's position as number one. Hat tip to the cheeseburger at Au Cheval in Chicago, which was a close second." —Noah Arenstein

Fritzl's Lunch Box burger review »

173 Irving Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11237 (map); 929-210-9531; fritzlslunchbox.com

[Photograph: Noah Arenstein]

Peppercorn Horsey Burger from North Avenue Grill, Milwaukee
Peppercorn Horsey Burger from North Avenue Grill, Milwaukee

"A half-pound of well-seasoned beef makes this the best diner burger in Milwaukee, and a top over-all contender that's still flying under the radar for most people. The combo of creamy American cheese, juicy beef and the best grilled onions I've ever had makes this one so memorable. If we have a best fries category, this tiny neighborhood spot would win that one too." —Lacey Muszynski, Milwaukee Contributor

North Avenue Grill burger review »

7225 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa WI 53213 (map); 414-453-7225; northavenuegrill.com

[Photograph: Lacey Muszynski]

Cheeseburger from Au Cheval, Chicago
Cheeseburger from Au Cheval, Chicago

"The Au Cheval burger contains that rare of blend of no-frills presentation and high-quality ingredients that divides the merely good burgers from the truly great. Four ounces of prime beef, pressed thin and griddled to medium, on a squishy toasted bun—what more do you need? Maybe some cheddar and dijonnaise? Okay, but that’s really about it—this burger has nothing to hide. The fact that the burger is available until 1:30 a.m. on weekends means you’ll never wake up with a hangover again.* (*this statement has not been verified by Science)." —Jamie Feldmar, Managing Editor

Au Cheval burger review »

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

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

Sliders with Cheese from State Fair, Chicago
Sliders with Cheese from State Fair, Chicago

"I ate bigger and more ridiculous burgers this year, but none were none as memorable as the slider from State Fair in Chicago. Of course, I should say sliders, because you have to eat more than one of these at a sitting. That settled, I should say that they have everything I want in this style of burger: a thin patty of griddled beef, well-caramelized onions, and a blanket of melted American cheese. Plus, it all is housed in a squishy steamed roll. It’s a shame Chicago doesn’t have many slider options, but this one more than makes up for the shortage." —Nick Kindelsperger, Editor of Serious Eats Chicago

State Fair review »

3152 W Diversey Ave, Chicago IL 60647 (map); 773-267-1776

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

Pimento Double Cheeseburger from Trifecta Tavern, Portland
Pimento Double Cheeseburger from Trifecta Tavern, Portland

"I didn’t find many great burgers in Portland this year, but the most recent one I had was also the best: the Pimento Double Cheeseburger from Ken Forkish’s Trifecta Tavern. Two patties, pimento cheese, and a house-baked bun: that’s it. The pimento cheese, mildly spicy with crunchy pickled bits scattered throughout to cut the richness, render all other toppings superfluous. Forkish has already made a name for himself with his amazing bakery and pizzeria, and Trifecta Tavern is poised to continue that greatness if this burger is any indication. Review forthcoming." —Adam Lindsley, Portland Contributor

726 SE 6th Ave, Portland OR 97214 (map); 503-841-6675; trifectapdx.com

[Photograph: Adam Lindsley]

Double Burger Stack from The General Muir, Atlanta
Double Burger Stack from The General Muir, Atlanta

"When Chef Todd Ginsberg wanted to start an honest-to-God Jewish deli that paid tribute to his East Coast roots and left Bocado to do so, he brought a version of that restaurant’s iconic burger with him. Available only at lunchtime, the Double Burger Stack is astonishing in its simplicity: twin patties with a textbook crust, shaved onion, American cheese, pickles, lettuce, Russian dressing, and a delicate but hearty onion roll. This burger doesn’t re-invent the wheel… but it perhaps perfects it. An equally mind-blowing dinner version adds Gruyere, caramelized onions, and thick house-cured/smoked pastrami. Whichever burger you try at The General Muir, be sure to add poutine as an accompaniment: a heaping bowl of skin-on fries drenched in gravy, cheese curds, and meaty hunks of that perfect pastrami. More than just a side item, this is one of the best dishes in all of Atlanta." —Todd Brock, Atlanta Contributor

The General Muir burger review »

1540 Avenue Place, Suite B-230, Atlanta GA 30329 (map); 678-927-9131; thegeneralmuir.com

[Photograph: Todd Brock]

Cheeseburger from Chris Madrid's in San Antonio
Cheeseburger from Chris Madrid's in San Antonio

"There are a surprising number of good places to eat in the Alamo City, but the cheeseburger at Chris Madrid’s is truly great. This thin-pattied burger is a little piece of perfect that you’ll never forget." —Damon Gambuto, Senior Contributor

Chris Madrid’s burger review »

1900 Blanco Rd San Antonio, TX 78201 (map); 830-229-5600; chrismadrids.com

[Photograph: Damon Gambuto]