Seattle is a stunningly good town in which to eat hamburgers. The competition is fierce for the best burgers using high-quality meat, ground in-house, or served with elaborate, unique toppings, be they foie gras or locally-made cheddar. However, it’s been a tough week for Seattle’s best hamburgers with the untimely closing of the groundbreaking Katsu Burger in Georgetown and the final service of Capitol Hill’s La Bête. Rather than mourn lost beef brethren, burger-lovers of Seattle, it’s time to get out and eat more burgers! It is time to keep the grills hot at the old-school burger joints and the coffers full at the fragile new favorites, time to go forth and support restaurants with bacon and cheese dripping down your elbows. We’ve started the list—let us know in the comments where else to head for to quench the burger thirst.
Best Fast-Food Style Burger
How could this honor go anywhere else? Sure, it might not win a technical taste-off, but the late-night glow of that big orange sign is a mesmerizing siren song to every Seattleite who ever turned 16 in this city. Sometimes nostalgia tastes even better than fancy beef.
For just $1.60 more than a Deluxe, you can upgrade to twice the beef at Li’l Woody’s, with a bonus of slice of Tillamook cheddar cheese. The simple bun and good-quality beef (from Painted Hills in Oregon) let the meat do the talking, supported by the usual fast-food style supplements: pickles, onions, ketchup, and mayo.
Best Classic Restaurant Burger
Did you walk two miles through the snow to school—uphill both ways? Then this is the burger for you. It’s the kind of classic, ground-in-house burger that was served back in the day—in fact, it’s quite possible the entire restaurant time-traveled from the ‘70s to bring us salads with Cheez-its and salami chunks, and burgers that truly taste like beef.
The new favorite:
The Classic with bacon and cheese at Uneeda Burger
It is only the toppings and presentation that lift Uneeda’s classic burger from fast-food to restaurant style. Sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and special sauce take the quarter-pound Painted Hills patty (same as Li’l Woody’s) to a sit-down, elbows-on-the-table kind of meal. The upgrade addition of cheddar and bacon is highly recommended and brings both the price and the flavor up to restaurant level.
Best Steakhouse Burger
According to Adam Kuban’s original A Hamburger Today Guide to Hamburger and Cheeseburger Styles
, the defining feature of a steakhouse burger is the setting, and nowhere is the classic steakhouse setting embraced more than at Metropolitan Grill. The burger matches the deep, rich tones of the dining room with an American Wagyu sirloin patty. The bun, like the service, is supportive and unobtrusive: simple white bread that just barely holds the duo of cheese (cheddar and Swiss) and the grilled onions together with the burger.
The new favorite:
Burger & Frites at Red Cow
The burger at Red Cow, like the one at Metropolitan Grill, woos with the great meat expected from a steakhouse and sweetens the deal—and the burger—with grilled onions. Bacon, roasted tomato, aioli, and white cheddar cheese necessitate a heftier lift than the one at Metropolitan Grill, and the potato bun is up to the task. The feel is a little more brasserie (read: delicate and French) than standard American steakhouse, but that also means clunky steakhouse fries have been swapped for stellar frites.