Give me a choice between a cheeseburger and a steak, and the burger will win nine times out of 10. In fact, the burger will usually be triumphant over most meat, with the notable exception of bacon.
Earlier this year I asked my readers to tell me where to get the best burger in the Triangle and had numerous recommendations (click here to see the suggestions, and congrats to Trina for winning the gift card!) I have been quite busy conducting market research since then and have come up with some of my favorite burgers in the area. In order to narrow down my list, I am only including places in Raleigh that grind their own meat so I can order to my personal preference (usually medium – medium rare.)
As an aside, the most decadent (and expensive) burger I’ve ever eaten was at DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan. Daniel Boulud offers his Original db burger, which is ground sirloin filled with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle, served on a Parmesan bun. It comes with pommes frites or pommes soufflées for $32.00. Wow, and well worth every bite (special thanks to my senior editor and fellow foodie Jerry at FMI for the suggestion!)
I didn’t come across anything quite as fancy or expensive as DB’s burger in my search, but did find many excellent burgers just the same. So here are my Top 5 favorite places for burgers in Raleigh, not in any particular order (it was just too hard to rank them!)
Players Retreat (105 Oberlin Rd. Raleigh, N.C. 27605)
I love, love, love Gabby burgers and have been enjoying them for more than 25 years. This burger is fabulous and is the least expensive on this list at $6.95. It comes with bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayonnaise. Click here for a full review of the PR I wrote a while back. The homemade potato chips are the perfect accompaniment. And now you can enjoy this burger in PR’s outdoor seating area – perfect on a nice day.
Draft Carolina Burgers & Beers** (510 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 10, Raleigh, N.C. 27603)
I had the Draft Burger ($10.00) with Ashe Co. cheddar (add $1.00) and bacon (add $1.00). This burger was huge and juicy – it was cooked perfectly. I will be back for more. My one complaint about the restaurant was how loud it was – turn down the televisions a tad and the atmosphere would be much better.
**Note: Draft closed it doors on 12/31/12. Mega sigh.
Porter’s City Tavern (2412 Hillsborough Street Raleigh, N.C. 27607)
Before Porter’s was the Rathskellar, a Hillsborough Street fixture for many years. I was so sad when it closed and I still crave the sweet potato ravioli and mushroom sandwich. However, it only took one visit to Porter’s to appreciate what took the Rat’s place. Porter’s menu has seen some changes over the years (no more of its yummy tuna melts – what’s up with that? No more bleu cheese burgers, either and I miss them both.) Luckily, Porter’s still has its Classic Burger, and it rocks! I sat outside to enjoy this tasty treat – Hillsborough St. is a great place for people watching, especially when N.C. State is in session. Service was excellent.
My burger ($7.95) was awesome – 8 oz. of perfectly cooked ground-in-house beef. I added cheddar cheese ($.50) and smoked bacon ($.95). Yum!
Abbey Road (1195 West Chatham Street, Cary, N.C. 27513)
OK, Abbey Road is in Cary, but I’m still including it because the burgers are so tasty! Abbey Road pays tribute to the 60s and 70s, with its walls adorned with pop culture items, especially posters, etc. of the Beatles. The kids enjoy looking at all of the memorabilia from the “olden” days (sigh!)
I ordered the George burger, a 10 oz. patty of ground chuck that comes with crispy bacon and American cheese ($8.99). You get a choice of fries, onion rings (excellent!) or pasta salad. These burgers have been voted “Best in Cary” and “Best in the Triangle” and I can see why – mine was seasoned and cooked just right. I can also vouch for the Down South Burger, with chili, cheese, slaw and onions. Definitely worth the drive to Cary.
Raleigh Times Bar (14 E Hargett St. Raleigh, N.C. 27601)
I knew I had to try this burger when Food Network Magazine named it the best in the state (click here for the article: 50 States, 50 Burgers). I can happily report I was not disappointed especially considering The Raleigh Times is one of my favorite bars in Raleigh. This burger rocks! It was cooked to perfection, and I enjoyed each mouthwatering bite. And for $7.95 (add $.95 for cheddar cheese and $1.50 for bacon) it’s a great deal. House cut potato chips are nice for $1.00 extra.
If you go to the Raleigh Times and want something a bit lighter, try the guacamole – very nice! Click here for a short write-up of this wonderful appetizer.
Of course it’s hard to beat a burger that you cook on your own grill, especially pricewise. I bought a great little contraption at Williams and Sonoma to make my own sliders, which the kids (and I ) love. I will be posting my slider recipe soon.
I hope to get around to reviewing Durham burgers at some point, but in the meantime please enjoy this great blog – Durhamburger - by fellow burger lover Crystal.
Eat, drink and be merry!