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Best Burger Joints

These hamburger joints take the classic to new levels. Pick yours: grass-fed beef, venison, shrimp or buffalo, topped with a fried egg, red-onion marmalade or brie and pecans.

Burgers are quick, satisfying and a great value, so most folks don't care that they are usually served in run-of-the-mill diners or corner taverns. But lately, the humble hamburger has undergone a transformation-in fact, it has gone decidedly upscale. Top chefs, such as Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert, have added gourmet burgers to their menus; Danny Meyer, whose eateries are considered the finest in New York, opened Shake Shack. And high-end burger restaurants are popping up all over the country, making this American menu staple a more feasible option for a business lunch. At the restaurants listed here, you can indulge in a Kobe beef burger topped with blue cheese or a spiced lamb burger with caramelized onions, plus a side of truffle fries. So on your next trip out of town, you can happily get your burger fix, only with better ingredients and in a more refined setting. But you'll still need plenty of napkins.

Burger Bar

San Francisco, California,
251 GEARY STREET,
415-296-4272, FLEURDELYSSF.COM

Hubert Keller, the celebrated chef of San Francisco's Fleur de Lys, has thrown his toque into the high-end burger ring with his downtown Burger Bar. Its location-on the sixth floor of Macy's, in Union Square-seems incongruous at first, but once you're ensconced in a booth enjoying the restaurant's contemporary design, hip music and views of the bustling square, you forget that you're in a department store. Opt for the Black Angus beef, the Snake River American Kobe beef or the leaner buffalo burger, served on your choice of bun with a side order of sweet-potato fries and one of Keller's delicious dipping sauces, such as peppercorn cream. A large private dining space is available.

8oz. Burger Bar

Miami, Florida,
1080 ALTON ROAD,
305-397-8246, 8OZBURGERBAR.COM

California chef Govind Armstrong, of Table 8 fame, created the menu at this eco-friendly gourmet burger place, decorated with a pressed-
tin ceiling and reclaimed wood wainscoting-all of which evokes
a neighborhood hangout (there's another branch in L.A.). The burgers include eight ounces of hormone-free Black Angus sirloin, short rib and chuck that's ground in-house and grilled on live oak. They can be customized with such toppings as fried green tomatoes, house-cured bacon, green peppercorn aioli and red-onion marmalade. Also popular is the Suds and Sliders Sampler-three bite-size patties (prime beef, wild boar, Niman ranch lamb) paired with three five-ounce
draft beers.

BLT Burger

Las Vegas, Nevada,
3400 LAS VEGAS BOULEVARD,
702-792-7888, BLTBURGER.COM

BLT Burger, located in the Mirage, is the less formal sister of chef Laurent Tourondel's BLT Steak chain. At this modern update of the classic American burger joint (which also has outposts in New York and Hong Kong), diners have lots of choices when it comes to burger cravings-the menu has 12 varieties, from American Kobe and Tex-Mex to lamb tandoori and veggie falafel. A few fun toppings include homemade chili, a fried egg and sliced avocado, and you'll definitely want to sample the savory sides, including waffle fries, vidalia onion rings and jalapeño poppers with tomato-cilantro salsa. Still have room for dessert? You can't go wrong with the macaroon ice-cream sandwich.

Five Napkin Burger

New York, New York,
630 9TH AVENUE,
212-757-2277, FIVENAPKINBURGER.COM

This Hell's Kitchen hotspot, designed in the style of a chic bistro (ceramic tiled columns, deco lighting, comfy booths), is dedicated to the haute burger. Some of the innovative menu offerings include a rarebit-bacon burger with white-cheddar sauce; the ahi tuna burger, with wasabi mayo and tempura fried onions; and a veggie burger on a whole-grain roll. But the signature burger is the Five Napkin, 10 ounces of ground chuck topped with gruyère and caramelized onions on an aioli-slathered roll, juicy enough to live up to its name. Fine wines and artisanal beers are on tap-or if you're feeling traditional, try one of the rich milkshakes.

Flip Burger Boutique

Atlanta, Georgia,
1587 HOWELL MILL ROAD,
404-352-3547, FLIPBURGERBOUTIQUE.COM

Judging from the crowds, this trendy burger joint-whose creative director is former Top Chef contestant Richard Blais-is a welcome addition to the Atlanta dining scene. The decor is sleek and modern, with a diner-type feel: You can eat at the counter or the communal tables. The original burger choices range from the po "boyger," a grilled shrimp patty with Tabasco sauce, to the venison with brie and toasted pecans, though you can't go wrong with the standard flip burger: grass-fed beef with all the usual fixins (love the housemade pickles). There are plenty of good beers to sample, but don't forget to order one of the specialty liquid-nitrogen milkshakes, such as the Krispy Kreme.

Here are a few more U.S. restaurants where you can enjoy gourmet burgers.

Chicago

DMK BURGER BAR

2954 NORTH SHEFFIELD AVENUE,
773-360-8686, DMKBURGERBAR.COM

Grass-fed beef, freshly baked buns and specialty cheeses put this Chi-Town burger joint a notch above the others. Some standout topping combos include marinated portobellos, brie and griddled scallions, and chili-rubbed onion strings, Amish blue cheese and spicy chipotle ketchup.

Kansas City

BLANC BURGERS & BOTTLES

4710 JEFFERSON STREET
816-931-6200, BLANCBURGERS.COM

The creative options at this fun, modern spot include the bison burger with pepperjack cheese and red onion, and the blue cheese-stuffed burger with smoked bacon, both of which come on a delicious brioche bun. The milkshakes are a must, especially the grown-up versions spiked with vodka.

Los Angeles

25 DEGREES

7000 HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD
323-785-7244, 25DEGREESRESTAURANT.COM

This glam space in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, done up with velvet wallpaper and glass chandeliers, features made-to-order burgers: nine ounces of ground sirloin with an array of toppings, from artisanal cheeses and prosciutto to caramelized onions and portobello mushrooms, all served with sea salt-seasoned fries.

Philadelphia

BOBBY'S BURGER PALACE

3925 WALNUT STREET
215-387-0378, BOBBYSBURGERPALACE.COM

Join the lines at this West Philly joint, opened by Food Network star Bobby Flay and sporting a lime green-and-orange color scheme. Chow down on thick burgers, including one that pays homage to the classic cheesesteak-it's topped with Cheez Whiz, griddled onions and peppers.

Phoenix

ZINBURGER WINE AND BURGER BAR

2502 EAST CAMELBACK ROAD
602-424-9500, FOXRC.COM

Enjoy a bottle of wine-perhaps a Green Point chardonnay or a Tobin James zinfandel-while noshing on gourmet burgers. Try the signature Zinburger, with manchego cheese and braised onions, or the Kobe burger with Vermont cheddar and wild mushrooms-and don't forget the truffle fries.

JILL FERGUS, a lifelong burger lover, appreciates that New York City offers so many great choices. Even though she's a fan of the upscale trend, she still likes old-school joints, such as JG Melon and the Corner Bistro.


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