Burgers in Philly: The Ultimate Guide

Looking for a place to eat a burger? Man, are you in the right city.

The burger at Royal Boucherie | Photo provided

Updated: August 1, 2019

Burgers are one of the things that Philly does better than almost anywhere else.

Philly’s late-aughts gastropub boom led directly to its post-gastropub boom — that moment when we all collectively decided that we were too cool for this thing that every other city in America was doing and that we were going to go our own way.

No longer would a pickle plate and some jumped-up custom meatloaf define us. No, we were going to go weird and deep with bar food that rivaled what was hitting the tables at the finest restaurants in the country.

Some of our best chefs — most of our best chefs — simplified and de-cluttered. They opened neighborhood joints with genius-level cocktail programs and kitchens that gave deep and serious consideration to things like fried bologna and cheese curds. For a long time, the best meals to be had in Philly were being had at the long oak. And things were good.

Today, we’re living in the afterglow of that boom — a shoulder season between post-gastropub-ism and a return to proper, sit-down dining. But we’re coming out the other side with a roster of some of the best burgers anywhere; an amazing collection of deeply thought out and meticulously created cheeseburgers that showcase the breadth of talent working all over the region. From the simplest bar burger to the most complicated experimental creation, these are the burgers you should be eating in Philly right now.

The Burgers You Must Try First

Spot Burger | Facebook

KQ BurgerUniversity City | Kensington QuartersFishtown
No surprise that Kensington Quarters, a place that started as half-butcher-shop, turns out a damn fine burger. It’s a simple one, just an excellent patty off the grill with cheddar and garlic-chile aioli as the secret sauce. And at its sister fast-casual operation, University City’s KQ Burger, the burger is the main event.

Fountain Porter, East Passyunk
One simple, perfect, juicy all-beef burger on a roll for $5. It’s a fast-food price for a legit bar burger. 1601 South 10th Street

The Common, University City
Two local beef patties, Cooper Sharp, fancy sauce on a brioche bun with caramelized onions and housemade pickles. Simple, sure, but also one of the best burgers in Philly right now. 3601 Market Street

SpOt Gourmet Burgers, Brewerytown
Back in the day, Josh Kim made his bones slinging burgers out of a cart to long lines of people willing to wait for a taste. These days, he’s got a brick-and-mortar in Brewerytown and he’s making patties from fresh ground beef, grilled and mounted on house made rolls. 2821 West Girard Avenue

Royal Boucherie, Old City
Sure, you could come here for duck terrine and ris de veau. Or you could just roll up to the bar and check out the kitchen’s very respectable burger with bacon, American cheese, truffled mayo and duck fat frites. 52 South 2nd Street

Rouge, Rittenhouse
The plain Rouge burger has long been a near-perfect example of how to do a bar burger well — keep it simple, use the best ingredients, cook everything perfectly and then get out of the way. 205 South 18th Street

Lucky’s Last Chance, Manayunk and Queen Village
Jesus, this place… Look, everyone will tell you that you have to check out the PB&Bacon burger (topped with peanut butter and bacon, served with a side of grape jelly), but the real winner here is the Incomparable Bacon Cheddar — which is essentially an Arby’s Beef & Cheddar in burger form, plus bacon and sriracha. 4421 Main Street, Manayunk, 848 South 2nd Street, QV

Khyber Pass Pub, Old City
A great burger with a sweet Southern accent — beef, bacon, barbecue onions, smoked cheddar and a spicy Creole mustard. 56 South 2nd Street

Best Burgers in Fairmount/Brewerytown

Bar Hygge, Fairmount
Bar Hygge is just one of those places that seems made for high-end bar burgers. I mean, they’ve got the beer. They’ve got the bar. And they’ve got a grass-fed beef burger with bibb lettuce, cheddar, red onion and samurai sauce with a side of Hygge fries. 1720 Fairmount Avenue

Hickory Lane
When you put the grind of your burger right on the menu (brisket, filet tip and deckle from Heydenrych Farm) that means you’re pretty proud of it. And Hickory Lane should be, because it’s the foundation for a great burger. The roasted garlic mayo doesn’t hurt either. 2025 Fairmount Avenue

Belgian Cafe
Yes, the mussels and frites are pretty good, too. But the half-dozen custom burgers that the kitchen does are worth a trip all on their own. I mean, a burger topped with Lancaster ham and Chimay cheese? Come on… 601 North 21st Street

Best Burgers in Fishtown/Northern Liberties

Sketch Burger
Sketch has been flipping burgers for a few years now in Fishtown. And it has only gotten better. The Cyclops (with an egg on top) is their go-to, but the truffle butter burger is no joke, and the Dr. Pepper pulled pork burger is a bit of New South genius. 413 East Girard Avenue

Standard Tap
Standard Tap does your classic bar burger, but it does it really, really well. A cheeseburger with lettuce, grilled onions and thick pickles on a good roll with a side of fries is a formula that one messes with at their own peril. 901 North 2nd Street

Best Burgers in Rittenhouse and Center City

Village Whiskey | Facebook

If a.kitchen’s Eli Collins is a burger master (he is), then the a.burger — with its creamy American cheese, zippy dijonaise and cornichons — is his masterpiece.

I don’t know what “Churchill Sauce” is, but it is one of those things that sets the Dandelion’s burger apart. That, and a really excellent house-blend patty. 124 South 18th Street

Good Dog Bar
Take a burger, stuff it with Roquefort cheese, and mount it on a challah roll. Know what you got? A burger that’s been one of the best in the city for as long as we can remember. 224 South 15th Street

The Philly location of this modern burger enterprise has a menu that is balanced between good, old-fashioned meat (organic, grass-fed beef, organic cheese and interesting toppings like uncured bacon, hot honey and pickled jalapenos) and plant-based alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible patties. 1109 Walnut Street

Butcher Bar
They’ve got a Royale With Cheese. Do we really need to say anything more than that? (Okay, they’ve also got a bison burger topped with boursin that’s pretty good, too). 2034 Chestnut Street

Village Whiskey
Look, the Whiskey King is good, sure. But it’s really only worth $26 as a stunt. The straightforward Village Burger, on the other hand, is a blue-collar classic — just a burger, cheese, some lettuce and tomato and a slash of housemade Thousand Island dressing. 118 South 20th Street

Butcher & Singer
At lunch, this high-end steakhouse does an $18 burger that’s actually worth $18 — a perfectly balanced architecture of bun, bloody beef, English cheddar and fried onion. If you’re already at a place like this, you won’t balk at the price, so you might as well go for one of the best power lunch burgers in the city. 1500 Walnut Street

The bulgogi burger is awesome. What could’ve been a fusion-y mess instead comes as a restrained, well-balanced burger: a perfectly cooked patty marinated in Korean flavors, slicked in a spicy orange ssamjang mayo and then topped with green leaf lettuce and sweet house-made pickles. 1801 Lombard Street

Hunger Burger
Want to do some good at lunch? Reading Terminal Market’s Hunger Burger (operated by the owners of Mezze and By George!) operates under a “Buy one feed one” policy where a portion of the profit from every burger sold goes to help feed a child in need. Plus, they’re one of the only burger joints on this list that has a dedicated menu of breakfast burgers. 1136 Arch Street at Reading Terminal Market

Craftsman Row Saloon
They’ve got a dozen burgers on this menu, and the most basic is a double cheese smash-burger with American cheese that’s a fine specimen of the late, great American bar burger — plain, simple and awesome. 112 South 8th Street

Bud & Marilyn’s
B&M’s has a lunch-only burger named “Bud’s Double-Patty Burger” that is a Midwestern treasure topped with yellow cheddar, Nueske’s bacon, red onion and “Fancy Sauce.” There are a lot of bars in town that could go to school on this burger — and lots that should. 1234 Locust Street

Best Burgers in Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze

P&K | Facebook

Pub & Kitchen
For years, P&K did fancy burgers. Then it simplified, went to a plain double cheeseburger done fantastically well, with Cooper Sharp, lettuce, onion and a pickle. Now, they’re somewhere in between — offering a burger with Cabot cheddar, iceberg and onion, but slapped with a whiskey sauce and tomato jam. In some cases, compromise is the best solution. 1946 Lombard Street

Rex 1516
Rex has been like a cheeseburger laboratory for years. But their standard burger is a Southern-inflected classic with pimento cheese and crispy fried onions. 1516 South Street

Grace Tavern
Half a dozen burgers on the board, good rolls, hand-cut frites. All good, right? Sure, but on Thursdays, they do burger-and-beer pairings with a new, off-menu burger and a craft beer for a single price. It’s a good deal and worth checking out. 2229 Grays Ferry Avenue

Burg’s Hideaway
At brunch, Burg’s does an uncomplicated burger that should be on everyone’s must-try list. It goes best with a bloody mary or a Low Hanging Fruit from the bar. 1200 South 21st Street

South Philadelphia Tap Room
The best classic bacon cheeseburger you’re going to find anywhere—mostly because it’s made by a kitchen that cares deeply about making a great burger. 1509 Mifflin Street

Best Burgers in Queen Village and Wash West

Hungry Pigeon | Facebook

Good King Tavern
It’s surprising enough that a French-inflected bar and restaurant in Philly does as well as it does. It’s even more surprising that such a French restaurant has a solidly American burger (served with frites) tucked away on its menu. And that that burger is as good as it is. 614 South 7th Street

Hawthorne’s has two burgers on its regular menu. The first is a fairly standard bar burger with aged gouda and red onion on a brioche bun. The other? Orange-bacon jam, mushrooms, onions, swiss cheese and an over-easy egg. So it’s like a breakfast burger. Kinda. In any event, pick your poison. 738 South 11th Street

Hungry Pigeon
A cheeseburger and fries at Hungry Pigeon is an example of how something that’s almost iconically simple can be transformed into something remarkable with just a little thought, a little care and a lot of talent in the kitchen. They also have a Dinner Burger, and oh my god.  743 South 4th Street

Southwark’s Chris D’Ambro doesn’t fuss around too much with his late-night burger (available till 1 a.m.) — the ingredients do all the talking. Good meat, good bread, local Birchrun Hills blue cheese, charred onions, thick bacon. No fuss necessary. 701 South 4th Street

Best Burgers in East Passyunk

Royal Tavern | Facebook

Royal Tavern
The Royal was a cool neighborhood bar before Philly was full of cool neighborhood bars. And amid its soba noodles, broccoli salad, nachos and meatloaf, it has a burger with gouda, pickled long hots and chile mayo that’s worthy of its reputation. 937 East Passyunk Avenue

Pub On Passyunk East
Two choices: the Pope Burger or the VEGAN Pope burger. Very inclusive. And both of them come with fried tomatoes. 1501 East Passyunk Avenue

P’unk Burger
Burgers, fries, shakes. What else do you need? The Juicy Philly is another stuffed burger (which just makes it better), and the Big Man On Campus comes topped with Double Garlic Insanity Bacon. Boom. 1823 Passyunk Avenue

Best Burgers in West Philly and University City

Local 44
Beer and burgers are best friends. This is where they hang out. 4333 Spruce Street

Enjay’s Pizza
Because of course one of the best burgers in West Philly is going to be at a pizza joint that exists hidden inside an 80-year-old neighborhood bar. 210 South 40th Street

Best Burgers on the Main Line and Beyond

Stove & Tap | Facebook

The Silverspoon, Wayne
“The Silverberger” is a grass-fed beef patty with onion jam, Swiss and special ketchup on a squishy white bun. And it kicks the ever-lovin’ ass of the lobster roll served here, because that lobster roll has lettuce on it. Which is just wrong. 503 West Lancaster Avenue

Hilltown Tavern, Roxborough
It’s an Irish pub with five different burgers, from barbecue-style to a breakfast burger. Guess West Philly doesn’t have a monopoly on weirdness after all. 326 Roxborough Avenue

Stove & Tap, Lansdale
Okay, so the brisket dip sandwich here is one of the best sandwiches ever. But if you’re, like, allergic to au jus or something, the burger is also a fine take on the classic American bar burger. 329 West Main Street

Tired Hands Brewing Company, Ardmore
Candied bacon, Hophands mustard, whiskey dill pickles. Boom. 16 Ardmore Avenue

Autograph Brasserie, Wayne
It’s a half-pound prime beef burger topped with cheddar, beefsteak tomato and caramelized onions. At a brasserie on the Main Line. So if you find yourself in Wayne, check it out. 503 West Lancaster Avenue

Mistral, King of Prussia
Mistral is way better than the usual restaurant you’d find at a mall. And the burger — dry-aged, with bacon jam, aged cheddar, aioli and a brioche bun — is indicative of that. At the KOP Mall

The Whip Tavern, Coatesville
The Farm Burger at The Whip is a killer burger — local beef, spicy mustard, Guinness braised onions, IPA pickles, saison sauce and English cheddar. Seriously, it’s a burger made for eating with two cold beers. 1383 North Chatham Road

The Best Burgers in Philly, Mapped