Have we reached peak burger? A few years, one could barely move for news of another enthusiastic truck-based business starting its first pop-up residency in an East London pub somewhere, but now, at last, things seem to have quietened down. Perhaps this is a result of increased interest in vegan and vegetarian options – although excellent burgers of both kinds exist of those types – or maybe it’s simply that a hungry nation has been sated thanks to the plethora of options available.
In any case, there are now burgers available throughout England that will satisfy even the pickiest of gluttons. Here are a half-dozen of our favourite burger emporia.
Hawksmoor Spitalfields bar, London
The basement bar of the original Hawksmoor restaurant still has an appealingly down-at-heel atmosphere, with impressively delicious cocktails (alcoholic and teetotal alike) vying with the glamorous patrons to lure punters in. All the food is great, especially the squid and pork toast and the fried chicken with devilled yoghurt, but the one thing that everyone ought to stay for is the Big Matt burger, a clever and even slightly outrageous take on the Big Mac. While the Golden Arches’ original is the culinary equivalent of a one-night stand – briefly satisfying but somewhat disappointing in the aftermath and quickly forgotten – this uses Hawksmoor’s excellent beef to delicious effect, and the chips are fantastic too. And the whole thing is something of a steal at £9.
157b Commercial Street, London, E1 6BJ
The small, historic town of Rye on the South coast is an unlikely place to find some of the best burgers in Britain, but this excellent restaurant is a must-visit for anyone who finds themselves there. It is supplied by a nearby farm, only four miles away, and the meat itself is both deliciously fresh and served with some aplomb. Amidst an interesting and eclectic menu, perhaps the best way to enjoy the food is to try the Hoof sliders, a trio of beef, chicken and lamb mini-burgers, served with delicious fries and a local beer, or, for the sweet-toothed, the freakshakes, of which the Romney Marshmallow is the pick of the bunch.
35 The Mint, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7EN
Mac & Wild
The Scots have a particular affinity with putting meat between bread, but the much-loved Mac and Wild shows that their abilities to create one of the best burgers in London are quite peerless. Their signature burger, the Veni-Moo, is quite the behemoth, coming complete with both venison and beef patties, candied bacon and béarnaise sauce. No wonder it’s been voted the best burger in Britain. Yet there are many other treats to be had too, from deep-fried Mars Bar sundaes to industrial-strength Black Watch espresso martinis – complete with whisky – and the chips are some of the best you can get anywhere.
65 Great Titchfield Street, London, W1W 7PS
Blas Burgerworks, St Ives
Anyone fortunate enough to visit St Ives must go to three places: the Tate, Barbara Hepworth’s house and Blas Burgerworks. It has now been going 14 years, and has the rare distinction of having made it into the Good Food Guide, which is an impressive accomplishment for a relatively humble operation in a former fisherman’s hut. (And, yes, the queues can be considerable.) The meat burgers use the best Cornish beef, cheese and bacon, but there are other options available, including an excellent organic blackbean burger and tortillas with roast garlic hummus. They are best drunk with a bottle of local cider, but take care: that stuff is fierce.
The Warren, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2EA
Fat Hippo, Durham
Anyone who thinks of Durham as a sedate and quiet city has clearly never found themselves in the city’s best casual dining spot, Fat Hippo. (There are also branches in Newcastle and Sheffield.) The portions are massive, the combinations a mixture of hilarious and delicious – we’re especially big fans of the ‘Tropic Thunder’, which serves up great meat with jerk bacon, candied pineapple and ‘Hellacious Hippo Hot’ sauce – and it’s great value too. There are loads of veggie and vegan options, and this is one of the few places in this famously divided place that you’ll see students and locals happily mingling to get their burger fix.
36 Saddler Street, Durham, DN1 3NU
The Draper’s Arms, London
Most pubs serve their burgers up as if they’re an afterthought, using up offcuts of their steaks and Sunday roast beef. Not so the Draper’s Arms, which has been well-known to the cognoscenti for some time as having some of the best food anywhere in North London. The Draper’s cheeseburger and chips does not come festooned with lots of toppings and additions, but is simplicity itself. The buns are St John’s and demi-brioche; the meat is a mixture of fine beef and bone marrow, and the whole shebang comes topped with ‘crack rings’, deep-fried pickled onions. It’s messy, uncivilised and affordable at £13.50, to say nothing of a complete blast to eat.
44 Barnsbury Street, Islington, London, N1 1ER
The Grazing Shed, Cardiff
Grab yourself a Gavin and Stacey moment with a trip to The Grazing Shed in Cardiff. Voted No. 1 Burger Joint in Wales, The Grazing Shed’s ‘Super Tidy Burgers’ are the talk of Cardiff. The bread is baked using absolutely no preservatives or additives by an in-house baker and the homemade sauces and chutneys ensure that the entire menu packs a punch.
37 St Mary Street, Cardiff, CF10 1AD (and various other Cardiff venues)