When James Beard award-winning chef Michael Solomonov isn't testing our kosher hamburger recipes, he has no problem scarfing down a good bacon cheeseburger in his hometown. Here are five of his favorite burgers in Philadelphia.
'Philadelphia' on Serious Eats
Shake Shack's first location in Philadelphia is opening next Wednesday, June 6, at 2000 Sansom Street.
In the middle of a crazy Philadelphia spring weekend that involved the Broad Street Run, Philadelphia Sandwich Experiment, First Friday, and several major sporting events, was the Philly Burger Brawl, an annual competition at the Fleischer Art Memorial that brought out 23 local restaurants to battle it out for the title of best burger and raise money for Meredith Elementary School.
I've always been vaguely aware that Delaware County—just west of Philadelphia—was a goldmine of old school hot dog and hamburger joints. Although I've had some good dogs out here, for the most part the hamburgers haven't knocked my socks off. But Charlie's, a tiny bare bones shack on the side of the road that's been recommended to me about a zillion times, is the real thing.
In my latest quest for delicious, non-fancy-pants burgers in Philadelphia, Dutch Eating Place came up again and again. I've definitely eaten half a dozen breakfasts at this always-packed, rarely-open, everything-made-from-scratch Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast and lunch counter in Reading Terminal Market, but never thought about their burgers until now. Unfortunately, they just barely miss that perfect zone between hand-crafted-fresh-ground-ness and classic-American-cheese-and-iceberg-ness that, for me, describes the perfect hamburger.
This revived 1960s regional chain makes some of the best fast-food style burgers in the Philadelphia area
When I first came across the Burger 15 at the Philadelphia Burger Brawl, I looked at the list of ingredients—a ragu of short rib, mushrooms, onion, bone marrow, and truffle sauce—and thought that this was simply another overdressed burger attempting to try to cover up shortcomings elsewhere. It just didn't make sense that adding more beef would somehow improve on what most would consider a good burger. But somehow it does.
On Sunday June 5th, 18 of Philadelphia's restaurants came together in a head-to-head match-up to determine just who exactly made the best burger. Blood was shed, meat was grilled, condiments were dispensed. This is the glorious recap.
Smokin' Betty's, while technically a barbecue joint, also serves up a delightfully smoky sirloin burger whose simplicity shines simply because of proper execution. Also, they have a Tur-duck-en burger.
Tomorrow, June 4, marks the first Philadelphia Burger Brawl where 18 chefs will compete for the title of "Best Burger" to raise money for William M. Meredith Elementary Public School. Rouge and 500° owner Rob Wasserman organized the event to help the school (where his oldest child attends) raise $40,000 to update their computer lab. Participating chefs are donating ingredients and Rouge is supplying the grills, charcoals, storage space, and serving equipment.
To suggest that the menu at Bridget Foy's is extensive is probably an understatement. Yes, there's the standard brunch fair, but there's also some choices you wouldn't expect to find at most cafés—things like Korean barbecue duck tacos, Cadillac Meatloaf (bacon + mac and cheese + gravy anyone?), and even bánh mì. As tempting as all those dishes sound, you'd be silly if you passed over the options in the burger subcategory.
While it might seem counterintuitive to head to a place called "Oyster House" to scratch your metaphorical burger itch, the only non-seafood (sort of) option on their menu has gained quite a fan base in Philadelphia.
In the middle of Franklin Square Park, there's a small hut that serves up burgers, hot dogs, fries, shakes, and desserts. It doesn't look like anything special (and if it weren't for an "order" sign you probably wouldn't even know that it served food), but if you read all the press it gets online, you'd swear that Stephen Starr's Shake Shack wannabe, Square Burger, serves up a burger whose creation rivals the invention of sliced bread.
The first time I went looking for National Mechanics in Old City, I walked right by it and didn't even realize. It's not because it's dingy, beat-up, or anything of the sort, but rather...it feels too grand to be a bar.
What do you do when you have friends that find it morally reprehensible to drink before noon? Find new friends—that's what you should do. In the odd case that you don't want to go to that extreme, one compromise is to find a bar that serves fantastic food so while your companions are happily eating away you can stealthily mask your drinking habits to your heart's content. Like at Race Street Café.
Comprised of 6-ounces of grilled Wolfe's Neck sirloin stacked with tomato, lettuce, Thousand Island, Grafton aged cheddar, all on top of a plain-seeded hamburger bun, the JG Domestic burger is little more than beef, cheese, produce, and bread.
Just one in a long list of Stephen Starr restaurants, Butcher & Singer is a high-end steakhouse that serves up a massive 10-ounce burger that would satisfy even the most voracious of meat-eaters.
Sorry Shake Shack, it's not you...it's me. I feel like we've grown apart (physically), and I have a new love in my life. Once upon a time, I declared you my burger joint of choice, my favorite, but my heart has recently been swayed by the eccentric Philly spot known as Sketch Burger..