If there's one thing New Orleans just can't seem to get enough of, it's burgers; it's becoming impossible to ignore the obvious demand for this classic American sandwich. And with all the options, the competition is heating up. In addition to a range of different locations and atmospheres, burger lovers now have more choices about what type of burger they sink their teeth into.
One of the most popular burger preparations is in the style of a classic diner - thin all-beef patties cooked on a flattop griddle. There's a certain level of nostalgia associated with burgers like these and many local places, such as Bud's Broiler, Camellia Grill, and Clover Grill, have been dishing them out for more than 50 years. the Company Burger on Freret Street, owned and operated by Adam Biederman, strives to provide customers with an all-American cheeseburger served the old-fashioned way. He dresses the ground chuck and brisket patty with American cheese, red onions and house made pickles and serves it on a perfectly squishy bun. Biederman says that this is his favorite way to eat a cheeseburger and after dishing out more than 145 thousand sandwiches since opening last summer, it's safe to say he's not alone. Varieties of house-made mayonnaise, house-made pickles and twice-fried French fries make this popular burger joint one worth visiting.
Oak Street seems to be a hub for burgers these days, and Chef Aaron Burgau's truburger does a great job of offering the classics. Burgers, milkshakes and curly fries are the main fare, but that's not all truburger is known for. It's one of the only places that has a butcher on staff, gluten-free buns and unique toppings like goat cheese, fried green tomatoes and sriracha mayo. The hand-formed Creekstone Farms beef and brisket patties are cooked to a succulent medium and served on one of their delectable housemade buns. Not to be missed.
Further down on Oak, Brack May's Cowbell has a natural beef burger on his menu of American-inspired fare that has become a real hit. May uses a blend of grass-fed chuck, brisket and short rib, grass-fed for acidic tone and complexity, brisket for fat and short rib for beef flavor, and grills them up fat, since, nostalgically, that's how he likes them. Lettuce, red onion and sliced Roma tomatoes are the standard toppings and the Agogo sauce (a blend of mayonnaise, roasted garlic, sambal, and peppers) is the sought-after condiment of choice. These luscious burgers are currently served on potato buns from New York, but May has a partnership in the works with Breads on Oak to create a brioche/ potato roll hybrid to act as the perfect vessel for all the juicy goodness. Cowbell might not be a burger joint per say, but May is happy to be creating a burger worthy of all the hype. "I have a lot of employees who eat the food here, and I think that's a good sign," he says.
Veteran to the local burger scene, Phil's Grill, located in Fat City, New Orleans and Harahan, continues to be what owner Phil de Gruy refers to as, "a total burger experience." Their loyal following since 2007 is attributable to the fact that Phil's has some of the city's most inventive burgers and sauces. The Lagniappe Burger, a spicy blend of Marciant's hot sausage and Angus beef, is one of their most popular. Phil likes to balance the flavor of this zesty burger with his own grilled pineapple ketchup, which is grilled onions, limes, jalapenos and pineapple pureed smooth into a sweet and smoky condiment. The Ground Filet Burger, Alligator Burger and Bison Burger are all safe bets as well. During Saints season, keep an eye out for their Burger of the Week, inspired by the city of the team the Saints will be playing. And when the holidays arrive, check out their Thanksgiving Turducken burger, which Phil and his team change a little bit every year in order to keep things interesting. The Phil's experience is summed up best by Chef Justin Jones, "We try to keep things fun while serving a great product in a family-inspired atmosphere." Who wouldn't want that?
Downtown on Poydras, Gordon Biersch Brewery also has some unique burgers and toppings. The Surf and Turf, for example, is a 10 oz. burger topped with lobster meat and a citrus lobster sauce made from lobster seasoning, lemon zest, mayonnaise, sour cream and garlic. Their most popular burger, the 8 oz. American- Style Kobe Beef Burger, comes with your choice of cheese, lettuce and tomato on a Challah bun. Talk about decadent.
Mid-City's own Juicy Lucy's does a fun spin on preparation by taking popular toppings and stuffi ng them inside their half-pound Black Angus beef patties. Choose from mouthwatering combos like the Juicy 9th Ward Blues, stuffed with sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic and aged blue cheese, or the Juicy Hot-Lanta stuffed with Buffalo sauce, Applewood smoked bacon and sharp cheddar cheese. Of course, if you prefer your toppings where you can see them, they'll be happy to pile them right on top.
smashburger on Magazine Street is a Colorado-based chain that features state-specific burgers in addition to their other burgers. The Louisiana Burger comes with their signature "smashed, seared and seasoned" 100% Angus beef, American cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, Cajun grilled onions, Remoulade sauce, lettuce and tomato on an egg bun. It's also one of the only "quick service" burger chains that serves their food on real plates and has lettuce as a bun option on their menu.
Charcoal's on the corner of Magazine and Jackson is Blaine Prestenbach's and Craig Walker Jr.'s longtime dream finally coming to fruition. The name Charcoal's, however, isn't significant to their cooking method, but rather the name of Prestenbach's black lab. The real idea behind the artfully-named quickservice, communal seating restaurant is to serve people charbroiled burgers with soul. "We wanna give people a taste of Louisiana, not just a taste of New Orleans," Prestenbach says. The menu boasts a wide-variety of ingredients including Kobe-style beef burgers, meat blend burgers (since these Houma boys use the whole cow) and a shrimp burger that consists of peeled and ground shrimp so that you can completely customize your burger. The patties are hand-formed with secret seasonings, chargrilled, and dressed however you like it.
Lastly, the uber popular fast-food chain Five Guys finally made its long-awaited debut to the Greater New Orleans area. Accredit their cult-like following on the never-frozen, twice fried French fries, the aptly-priced gooey cheeseburgers or the wide-ranging list of gratuitous toppings. Either way, Five Guys plans on brings an element to the burger-eating experience that New Orleans wasn't yet aware it was missing.
So, as you can see, the Greater New Orleans area has no shortage on diverse, exciting, and delicious burger choices. Whether you want a burger with high-end gourmet ingredients, something more all-American, a little health conscious, or a charcoal-lined patty like dad used to grill in the backyard, it seems as if all the bases are covered. As for which one is the best? Well, that's for you to decide.