If America has a national sandwich, it's unequivocally the hamburger. But deciding what particular combination of ground beef, seasonings, toppings, and bun is the best is sheer folly once you bite in and discover the various regional and even hyper-local variations from across the country that all go by the name burger. So to guide us through this varied landscape – and provide us with a short list of truly notable entrants from across the country – we enlisted the help of George Motz, noted host of Travel Channel's 'Burger Land,' and author of 'Hamburger America' (and producer of a film by the same name).
Motz says there are a few key components to any great burger, but the most important is that it's made of freshly ground, single-source beef. He's also especially fond of shining a light on classic spots that frequently go unmentioned in gourmet top tens. "When you walk into a burger restaurant, and all they're talking about is their beef blend or how much they love their butcher, you know you're in the right place," he says. In that spirit, here are 18 dining spots that Motz says make burgers that deserve special recognition – some classic, some exotic, some bizarre, all delicious – and that should be on any devotees burger bucket list.
Eastern European variation
The Fried Burger, Korzo
(Brooklyn, New York)
New York has no end of high-profile burgers, but Motz is especially taken by the entrant from this South Slope, Brooklyn, restaurant. Wrapped and then deep-fried in lavosh, or Hungarian lángos dough, Korzo's fried burger is made with about seven ounces of flame-grilled, grass-fed beef. Health benefits aside, Motz says the combo of this particular type of beef with the odd cooking technique is tricky. Yet Korzo does it, resulting in a remarkable taste and texture. Added flavor comes from the addition of toppings which aren't so much on top as inside the burger: House-made mustard and pickles and mild Edam cheese can be slipped in between the dough and the meat before the burger is fried (Motz says he still prefers his plain, though). "Some people call it a doughnut burger, but it's not as dense as you'd expect. It's just this incredible, glistening blob of goodness."
Credit: George Motz
667 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215