Atomic Burger noted as best burger, and our service and shakes impress too!
THE BEST HAMBURGER IN NEW ORLEANS
Company Burger 4600 Freret St., New Orleans, 504.267.0320
This restaurant's signature cheeseburger has no exact peer; it accomplishes too much. The patties – yes, there are two, although I love it almost as much with just one – are made from house-ground Creekstone Farms meat, a hormone free product that matches the beefy goodness of steakhouse burgers. They are griddle-cooked, giving the burgers the extra juicy savor of diner-style patties, and made-to-order for a quick turnaround, in accordance with the modern movement towards enlightened fast food. Thin-sliced onions melt beneath the patties, combining with housemade bread and butter pickles to provide two-pronged, fat-taming bite. There is American cheese, almost sauce like in consistency, triggering patriotic memories of childhood cookouts that only anarchists can deny, and a soft, toasted bun that highlights the under appreciated, make-or-break role baking plays in determining a burger's success. Three years ago, owner Adam Biderman unveiled his vision of a true American hamburger restaurant – affordable, approachable, built for take-out or dining in – informed by the sensibility of a chef steeped in the lessons of traditional western European kitchens. Tomatoes are only available in-season; ditto a side of okra. (Also: wine and cocktails!) And the hamburger delivers everything you could reasonably ask of it.
Key supporting ingredient: American cheese.
If you don't order the burger: Nueske's half-pork, half-beef smoked hot dog.
THE REST OF THE TOP TEN (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
Atomic Burger 3934 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, 504.309.7474
With Atomic Burger, local guys Joe and Nick Spitale give us features we never knew we wanted from a very corporate and suburban-looking drive-through burger joint. Microbrewed beers. Edamame as a side dish. Really friendly service. Nitrogen-cooled shakes spat from a contraption apparently stolen from Willy Wonka. Best of all are the fast food-style burgers themselves, built from house-ground and -seasoned beef. This is a flagship built for an expansion. In-N-Out should watch its back. Don't miss the green chile cheeseburger.
Key supporting ingredient: Toasted bun
If you don't order a burger: Portobello sandwich
High Hat Café
4500 Freret St., New Orleans, 504.754.1336
The namesake hamburger at this southern restaurant comes dressed with an iconic southern ingredient, pimento cheese. Warmed by the heat of a half-pound patty crusted on the flattop grill, the cheese becomes a sauce that finds a home in the crevasses of the course ground meat. Cheeseburgers aren't Southern? My stomach begs to differ.
Key supporting ingredient: Pimento cheese
If you don't order a burger: Fried catfish
La Petite Grocery 4238 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504.891.3377
Read with a cynical eye, the auxiliary ingredients – aioli, Gruyere, arugula, onion marmalade, housemade pickles – might cause you to dismiss this burger as a pretentious interior designer's idea of eating low on the hog. In reality, La Petite's cheeseburger is an act of gourmet decadence that happens to be adorned with sensible, high-grade accoutrements. It will stain your sleeves if you don't roll them up.
Key supporting ingredient: Arugula (seriously).
If you don't order a burger: Paneed rabbit
McClure's Barbecue 4800 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504.301.2367
There is no shortage of char-broiled hamburgers in New Orleans. (See Port of Call et al.) McClure's burger brings something extra to the party: smoke. It's in the meat. It's in the onions. This hamburger is an argument for bringing ground beef to the barbecue pit.
Key supporting ingredient: Dong Phuong Bakery bun.
If you don't order a burger: Ribs
Mint Modern Vietnamese Bistro & Bar
5100 Freret St., New Orleans, 504.218.5534
I ordered Mint's kimchi cheeseburger expecting to dismiss it as a stunt. I wound up incapable of shaking its memory. The sandwich is the product of simple math: If kimchi is pickling pushed to a sublime extreme, should it not follow that a cheeseburger will scale new heights when kimchi is deployed where kosher dills more regularly do much subtler work? The answer is yes.
Key supporting ingredient: Kimchi
If you don't order a burger: Sticky chicken wings
Mondo 900 Harrison Ave., New Orleans, 504.224.2633
Mondo's burger does America proud in the face of stiff competition from the restaurant's lunchtime selection of internationally focused hand-held dining options, which includes excellent shrimp banh mi and grilled fish tacos. Leave it to Susan Spicer to dress the full-flavored but not-too-thick patties with deep red seasonal tomatoes, unblemished bibb lettuce and pickles that retain the flavor of garden fresh cucumbers. It's a burger that gives you license to order a glass of Cote du Rhone with lunch.
Key supporting ingredient: White cheddar cheese
If don't order a burger: Fried shrimp banh mi
Port of Call 838 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, 504.523.0120
The question of whether Port of Call's char-broiled cheeseburgers – distinguished by shredded, unmelted cheddar and a baked potato instead of fries – represent a signature New Orleans style is a matter of hot debate. You'll forget all that while enjoying what this warhorse burger so consistently delivers: plump, hard-crusted burgers of house-butchered beef with interior juices coursing through. Yes, this is a dark and congested saloon. The burger triggers sunny memories of picnic tables and the backyard grill.
Key supporting ingredient: Baked potato
If you don't order a hamburger: A very large and potent cocktail
Sammy's Food Service & Deli 3000 Elysian Fields, 504.947.0675
As an order-at-the-counter neighborhood place with the words "food service" and "deli" in its name, Sammy's would be justified serving a thin, quick-griddled burger in the style of a greasy spoon diner. Instead, it serves a burger that puts many steakhouse burgers to shame. Sammy's patty carries real weight (3/4 pounds of house-ground chuck) and a rib-eye's tangy aroma.
Key supporting ingredient: Thick cut pickles
If you don't order a burger: Roast beef po-boy
Toups' Meatery 845 N. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, 504.252.4999
What is it about Toups' burger that makes you struggle to pause between bites? The ground pork blended with the beef, maybe. It lends the patty a richer grade of succulence. Perhaps it's the pickled squash and its vaguely vegetal bite, or the crisp bacon that is coated in an herbed aioli that renders other condiments unnecessary. Whatever it is, you'll be bummed it's only available at lunch.
Key supporting ingredient: Herbed aioli
If you don't order a burger: Confit chicken thighs