In the pantheon of Americana, few things stack up to hamburgers. Sandwiched somewhere between baseball and owning foreign-made firearms, eating a hamburger is about as red, white and blue as it gets. Notice I didn’t even say “good” hamburgers. Bad burgers are just as vital to the American experience, whether it’s a frozen burger you thawed out in the microwave or by some unknown tragedy, you find yourself eating at Burger King.
I myself have become a bit of a burger snob. I’ll even spring for the nice buns when making burgers here at home. Not only that, but I keep an ear to the ground for any “best burger” lists that I can come across. Which is how I came across Thrillist’s list of 100 best burgers in America.
Some history: The name “Hamburger” itself comes courtesy of a beef sausage patty sandwich sold in the port of Hamburg, Germany (duh), though amassing ground meat in patties and eating it in some sort of sandwich form dates back to Roman times. The practice was lost, but rekindled by the biggest swinging dick of all humanity’s empires, the Mongols. Steak tartare became popular in Europe after Kublai Khan sacked Moscow in the 1200s.
Several places (all American) claim to have invented the modern hamburger, with differing sources citing its origins in either East Texas, a place with nothing to be proud of, as well as Akron, Ohio (which at least has LeBron James) and New Haven, Connecticut, which is apparently full of liars because the other two predate those guys by like two decades.
Now the criteria for Thrillist’s list (that is annoying as fuck to type or say) is a tad suspect, as the author admits to eating 330 burgers in 30 different cities across the United States. Granted he does visit some towns in the metro areas of some cities (which is how Tookie’s in Seabrook, TX makes it on the list) but I doubt he ventured as far out as Fredericksburg. So why am I writing about a clearly flawed list? Because we’re going to have a headline like “See If Your Favorite Burger Made the List” and you self-important jackasses are going to leave a thousand comments. You’re predictable like that.
So a couple of takeaways: It turns out I’ve had four of these burgers, but I’ve actually been to around ten of the restaurants that make it on the list. Many of burgers come from very high end restaurants, which I found a little odd. The fact that Raoul’s in Tribeca makes it all the way to #2 on the list made me call a few people and shout at them for not telling me they had an off-menu burger. That being said, the guy has clearly done his homework. The Soul Burger at Earnestine & Hazel’s is a deep cut, appreciated only by blackout drunks and other assorted fans of historical prostitution.
See here for the full list. I think I know what I’m getting for lunch..