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.
Totally Texas drive-in burger
The #5, Keller's Drive-in
"The burger here is perfectly straightforward," says Motz. That means patties that are thin and stacked: a double-meat, double-cheese affair with tomato, shredded lettuce, and a special Thousand Island-style sauce on a poppy-seed bun. "It's delicious, and a bonus is that they serve tater tots. They hook the platter right onto your driver-side window." Besides the burger, though, Motz says one of the highlights of Keller's is that you can grab a drink to go along with your burger. That may not sound unique until you consider Keller's is a drive-in, and you can order beer delivered right to the car. (There's also a part of the lot unofficially reserved for bikers, dubbed the zoo side.) A burger, tater tots, and a cold one, all strapped to your car window – we don't know of a better definition of Americana.
Credit: George Motz
6527 E. Northwest Highway, Dallas 75231