Welcome to Philly’s New Era of Burgers and Hot Dogs
Some of the city's best chefs are quietly slipping backyard barbecue favorites onto their menus. These are the burgers and hot dogs you don't want to miss.
Burgers have come a long way in the last decade — from giant Village Whiskey-style patties topped with foie gras and bacon and the reign of the wild PYT burger, to the popularity of Shake Shack and the smash burger. But we’re entering a new phase of the burger: The In-Between. With all the elegance that they bring to their regular menus, upscale restaurants are serving up their take on the perfect burger. Though they’re still topped with gooey cheese and plenty of sauce, chefs are paring back toppings — no bacon or foie gras here. Instead, they’re focusing on simple, high-quality patties and ingredients. The best part? Hot dogs are also getting in on the action with surprising toppings ready to be paired with a glass of wine or a perfectly shaken cocktail. Check out these upscale remixes on classic burgers and dogs. It’s nothing like a backyard barbecue.
Bloomsday, Old City
Old-city’s beloved natural wine bar and all-day cafe takes not taking itself too seriously extremely seriously. Their approach to wine is to strip down all the pretentiousness that surrounds it with self-effacing humor — this approach extends to their food, and the cleverly named “Emotional Support Hot Dog” ($12) is no exception. Topped with braised red cabbage, turmeric sour cream and a generous handful of sweet potato chips, all packed into a house-made sesame bun, it may not seem like a typical wine-pairing food, and that’s exactly the point.
Royal Boucherie, Old City
Royal Boucherie’s boudin blanc dog ($15) is available on their late night menu — it’s a foot-long, so the bun acts like more of a handle than a typical bun. The toppings will cut the richness — sauerkraut, mustard and crispy onions. Pro tip: hot dogs pair extremely well with martinis.
Le Caveau, Queen Village
At the new wine bar above the Good King Tavern, pair a French-style hot dog ($7) with your glass of wine. The sausage comes wrapped in a hollowed, toasted baguette slathered in dijon mustard.
Forsythia, Old City
By now, you’ve probably heard the buzz about chef Christopher Kearse’s new spot. But you might not have heard about his epic burger the Royale with Cheese ($20), served only at the bar. Look at it. LOOK AT IT. Then go eat it.
Hungry Pigeon, Queen Village
Only available occasionally, Hungry Pigeon’s dinner burger is made with veal and topped with shaved ham, Birch Run Hills Red Cat Cheese and mushrooms before it is completely bathed (bun and all) in veal demi-glace.
Gabi, North Broad Street
Everything is French at Gabi, the new all-day cafe from the folks at Bistro La Minette, including the cheese topping their Tartiflette Burger ($14). The burger is topped with a mound of molten robluchon cheese, a rich, soft cheese made in the mountain regions of France, perfect after a day of skiing, or, for us, navigating a frozen city.
River Twice, Passyunk Avenue
By special request only and made in limited quantities, the Mother Rucker ($15) is Chef Randy Rucker’s upscale take on the diner burger. Made with 2 4-ounce patties from Primal Supply meats and topped with pickled onion, everything mayonnaise and American cheese, the burger sits on a milk bread bun from Machine Shop.