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Hamburgers are fantastic, a universal crowd pleaser. Plain or with cheese. Topped with bacon, fried onions, avocado, or barbeque sauce. There’s truly no wrong way to make a good burger (unless you’re a vegetarian/vegan, no one wants to hear you insist that your tofu patty is “just as good as your hamburger”).
But, much like the pizza debate, there’s a good amount of regional pride when it comes to the best hamburgers. Californians have In-n-Out, Texans have Whataburger, east coasters have Five Guys, and Midwesterners have Steak ‘n Shake. All of them have their merits, and every state has their preference as to chain and style. Some are respectable, even if it’s not my style, some are pure trash, and some are weird. Here’s what is your state’s most popular burger, according to a Ranker study of 10,000 burger fans, and my gut reactions.
Double Double (In-n-Out): California, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois
I’m an east coast homer, so I must stand the company line that Five Guys is the superior burger to all. In-n-Out is by no means bad, it’s just… overly complicated. Animal style, Monkey Style, Frying Dutchman, mustard-grilled patty burger. Like Jesus Christ In-n-Out are you so insecure that you can’t just exist on a straight burger and french fries?
I do applaud these states for choosing the Double Double, In-n-Out’s take on the standard double cheeseburger. I have had the pleasure of having it and I would definitely recommend giving it a try. However, the fries are shit. Just pure trash fries. Five Guys kills the fry game, and for that reason, you west coasters should forever bow down to your burger joint overlords.
Original Whataburger: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana
I must reserve full judgment on this choice since I have not yet had the pleasure of having a real Whataburger. Luckily, I am going to be in Houston this week for business, meaning that I will have the opportunity to try this local fare. From my brief surveys of friends with Texas roots (including our own Grandex family with many locals), the two most popular recommendations are the original and double cheeseburger. I love that it’s a chain that with an “original” recipe on the menu, so big points for you.
Hamburger (Five Guys): Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Delaware, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine
The GOAT, baby. The Wayne Gretzky of hamburgers. This is how I know Five Guys is so superior. Not only is it the most mentioned joint on the map, it’s most popular burger is a simple hamburger. No extra frills or dress-ups. No need for distractions with fancy toppings, extra patties, or even cheese. It’s a stand-alone burger that gets the job done. When you’re good, you tell everyone; when you’re the best, they tell you.
Butterburger (Culver’s): Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin
I’ll be real with you, not only have I never tried this burger, I’ve never heard of Culver’s until now. The fact that I’ve known midwesterners and never once have they interjected into a conversation with “sure Five Guys has great fries, but it’s nothing like Culver’s” says everything I need to know about the quality. Liking Culver’s is similar to liking Nickleback: you’ll never admit it publicly, and go along with people whenever they talk about vastly superior burgers. But you go home and jam on some Culver’s wondering why they don’t get the respect that they deserve!
No, I don’t like Nickleback. They’re not as bad as the internet memes them to be, but they’re not like Justin Bieber-level bad.
Western Bacon Cheeseburger (Carl’s Jr.): Oregon
Leave it to Oregon to come up with the most hipster choice on the map. Like Carl’s Jr. is sorta mainstream, but has anyone eaten there? Or knows anyone who’s eaten at one? Every year they have those Super Bowl commercials with Kate Upton or some other model being sexy while eating one. Where are they getting the funding for those endeavors? Apparently from the entire state of Oregon.
Double ‘N Cheese Steakburger (Steak ‘n Shake): North Dakota, Missouri
Now I have actually been able to sample this burger and Steak ‘n Shake fare in general, during my time in law school (North Carolina has limited burger fare, which is why they stick with Five Guys). Let me tell you, this place is straight traaaaaash. I mean, for a place that calls itself “Steak ‘n Shake,” you would think this would be a place that prides it on having a great simple burger and milkshake.
Nope, the burgers are basically Wendy’s-level (I mean that both as a compliment to Wendy’s as well as a slight to Steak ‘n Shake), and the shakes are far inferior to local options. Cookout–which gets a shoutout for being good burgers with great shakes, but had the unfortunate downside of always facing 5G in this survey — was always a better option when I lived in North Carolina. When a place that is exclusively drive through beats a sit-down place at burgers, you’re doing something wrong.
Bacon Cheeseburger (Five Guys): Montana, Kansas, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire
Just can’t be stopped. The sun never sets on the Five Guys empire, which occupies the first and second spots on the ranking. The beauty of this selection is, similar to the hamburger, this is a simple solid recipe. It’s a bacon cheeseburger (which is my go-to order btw). Any place can make a bacon cheeseburger, but Five Guys and Steak ‘n Shake are the only ones on the map with this classic take. If you’re not doing a bacon cheeseburger right, are you really doing anything right?
Whopper (Burger King): South Dakota, Alaska
I gotta say, if you’d asked me which major fast food burger chain was going to appear on this map I would have guessed McDonald’s (ubiquity) or Wendy’s (quality) before BK. But nope, the King makes the list while the other two are crowded out.
As to the selection, like…really? Burger King is the best burger in these states? I haven’t had Burger King since I graduated middle school and my taste buds recognized what actual beef tastes like. I get these are less populated states, but even fucking Wyoming, Vermont, and Nebraska managed to come through with actual causal chains without resorting to fast food. And those are the three least populous states in the country! Hell, even North Dakota managed to come in with Steak ‘n Shake so they didn’t look like complete, uncultured rubes, unlike their neighbors to the south. Do better South Dakota and Alaska.
Whopper Junior (Burger King): New Mexico
And at the very last second, the home of Breaking Bad and nothing else culturally relevant comes through to snatch the crown of most embarrassing choice from worse Dakota and Alaska. A Whopper Junior?? Seriously, are you all just too delicate to be able to muscle down a full-on burger? You need the tiny size of this piece of crap slathered in so much mayo to cover the awful taste of the actual burger? Why don’t you just get a Happy Meal instead, so your tiny little stomachs aren’t upset. And at least this way you get a toy too. .
[via Wide Open Eats]