If you're looking for a tasty smashed burger and don't want to do the cooking yourself, we've got you covered with five worthy picks from across the country (plus one spot north of the border) that will set you up with the thin, crust-covered patty—or patties—you crave. Scroll down for a closer look at some of our favorite smashed burgers.
Green Chili Cheeseburger from Nighthawk's Kitchen, Troy, NY
The Green Chili Cheeseburger ($8) from Nighthawk's Kitchen at the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market earned a rave review from Serious Eats New York editor Max Falkowitz, who says the crust is "salty and intensely meaty with a crackle on the first bite." The 1/3 pound patties, made from a 50/50 blend of coarse-ground chuck and brisket, get cooked in the classic smashed burger style. First, the grill gets hit with salt and pepper, then the meat is pressed right into the seasoning to cook.
On top, you get a slice of Sycaway Creamery American cheese (which melts like Kraft Singles, but tastes like real cheese) and roasted hatch chilies that bring more tang than heat. The bun is a Martin's potato roll that's steamed on top of the patties so it's extra soft.
Burgers come with your choice of side, but there are no fries in sight. Luckily, the blue cheese-studded and hot sauce-spiked Buffalo Mac and Cheese is dependably tasty.
Tipsy Burger from Tipsy Cow, Madison, WI
Milwaukee correspondent Lacey Muszynski is a fan of the smashed burgers at Tipsy Cow, a bar with a small, adjacent dining room. According to her review, the burgers are "exactly how you want smashed burgers to be: quarter-pound patties with a rich, crispy crust sandwiched by a soft, squishy bun to sop up any juice or grease."
The patties are made with freshly ground beef that's smashed thin on the griddle. Despite the fact that they're cooked to well done, they are nice and juicy. The signature item is the Tipsy Burger ($8), which features two patties topped with three-year cheddar and brick cheese, fried or raw onion, Nueske's bacon, pickles and a homemade 1000 Island-esque sauce perked up with a touch of heat. "It's a mouthful and a little bit of a mess, but totally worth it," Lacey says.
On the side, go for the sponge-like and salty cheese curds ($7) with a super thin, light beer batter made with Spotted Cow Ale from New Glarus Brewery.
Stock Cheeseburger at Off-Site Kitchen, Dallas
You know a burger is something special when Kenji abandons the strict two-bite-per-dish policy he puts into effect for multi-stop tasting tours. That's exactly what happened when he stopped into Off-Site Kitchen for a Stock Cheeseburger ($3.50). The burger starts as a quarter-pound ball of house-ground chuck and shoulder that is seasoned and smashed, Shake Shack-style, onto a hot griddle. Caramelized onions, a slice of American cheese, shredded lettuce, pickles, and tomato get sandwiched between a buttered and toasted bun from Village Baking Co, along with the juicy patty.
You can make things more interesting by ordering the Do It Murph-Style ($4.95), with roasted jalapeño and smoked bacon relish and special sauce or the Polynesian & Pleasin' ($5.95) with Teriyaki Spam, caramelized pineapple, and Swiss cheese, but according to Kenji, there's no reason to upgrade, since the most basic cheeseburger is already perfect. So perfect, it turns out, that not only did he go beyond two bites, he finished two burgers.
Off-Site Kitchen: 2226 Irving Boulevard, Dallas TX 75207 (map); 214-741-2226
Double Cheeseburger from Workingman's Friend Tavern, Indianapolis IN
Former Chicago correspondent Daniel Zemans says the smashed burgers at Workingman's Friend Tavern are perfectly cooked, with a crisp exterior and beautiful lacing around the edges. The double cheeseburger ($4.95) is a simple, yet delicious creation. Between two quarter-pound patties made from hand-formed, fresh-ground chuck, you get two slices of American cheese, some pickles, and an extra piece of bread (presumably to sop up some of the excess juices). On the side, skip the standard-issue fries, and opt for the freshly battered, perfectly browned onion rings instead.
This no-frills restaurant doesn't offer much in terms of ambience (at least, in the traditional sense of the word) but the beers run 32 ounces, so that counts for something. Be sure to bring cash, credit cards are not accepted.
Choo-Choo Cheeseburger at The Choo-Choo in Des Plaines, IL
The fact that food is delivered on HO train cars that run in a circuit from the kitchen to the counter is one factor in this restaurant's appeal, but as Chicago correspondent Mike Gerbert points out in his review of The Choo-Choo, the restaurant also serves some of the best smashed griddle burgers on the Illinois side of the Indiana border, complete with crispy, lacy edges.
You can order burgers as a single ($7.55) or a double ($8.75)...but be warned: if you are there when a kid is celebrating a birthday (something that Mike says will happen "every 10 minutes or so"), staff will play a birthday song that will lodge itself in your head like a South American brain parasite with a half-life of 68,000 years. Yikes!
Classic Burger at The Stockyards, Toronto, Canada
Chef Tom Davis says his original plan at The Stockyards was to sell grilled burgers, but after discovering the smashed technique on AHT, he was an instant convert. IMHO, it's a decision that paid off.
Burgers are made from 80/20 beef that's hand-formed loosely into five-ounce balls and smashed on the 20-year-old Miraclean griddle to a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch, which gives them a thick, brown crust on both sides. By default, burgers are cooked to medium-well, but if you order yours medium-rare, it will still be plenty juicy. The classic burger ($7) is delicious as-is, but if you want something out-of-the-box, go for the Butter Burger ($11), with bone marrow, blue cheese, and red wine butter.
Where is your favorite spot for smashed burgers? Let us know in the comments.
- The Food Lab: Maximize Flavor by Ultra-Smashing Your Burger
- The Burger Lab: Smashed Burgers vs. Smashing Burgers
- On Smashburger and Smashed Burgers in General
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax