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The Top New Burger Joints of 2012

Filed under Best burgers

By all rights, 2012 should have been the year the burger business stopped to catch its breath and reassess. Beef prices had skyrocketed. A decade or so of rapid growth had critics expecting a bubble burst for better burgers. Instead, 2012 welcomed a bumper crop of great new burger joints. Included here are more than three dozen interesting new places—all of which opened in the past 12 months—that proved not just that the burger category wasn’t out of ideas but also that it still has new places to go.

So what does the Class of 2012 have to say for itself? Where is it taking the burger business?
◙ What’s most striking is how many of these restaurants are centered on being part of a local food community.  Check out Citizen Burger Bar’s menu, which proudly explains its use of buns from local Albemarle Baking Co. and cheese from nearby Mountainview Farm. Its beef comes from five miles away at Timbercreek Farm. Such devotion to place is shared by many of the new burger joints.

◙ So is a belief that a good burger deserves to be accompanied by a beer, glass of wine or distilled spirit. Several have full bars. Burger Bach in Richmond, V., has 16 beers (many local) on tap. My Burger Bar gives an interesting spike to the classic Vanilla Coke Float.

◙ Brands are big. Beyond naming the farms and ranches that supply food, several of these restaurants’ menus make a point of identifying brands used, such as the Cool Ranch Doritos on OMG’s OMG Burger and Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers’ specification of Cholula hot sauce as an ingredient for one of its burgers.

◙ Grass-fed beef used to be a rarity but it’s gaining advocates, including seven of this year’s new restaurants.

◙ Notice how many of the burger builds below close with a special sauce or aïoli. House-made condiments, in conjunction with ketchup and mustard, are important parts of many signature burgers.

These certainly aren’t all the new burger joints of the past year, but they nicely represent the continuing culinary creativity that drives the burger business year after year. Check ’em out.

1720 Burger Bar
Florence, S.C.
Try the giant Optimus Prime or just the Daisy Duke, topped with house-made pimento cheese, grilled thick-cut bacon and grilled onions

1720 Burger Bar’s Optimus Prime

400 Degrees Gourmet Burgers & Fries
Carmel, Calif.

The top-of-the-line $13.95 Kobe Burger is American Wagyu beef, soused onions, smoked Cheddar, crispy potatoes and signature 400° Spread

Big Burger Spot
Greensboro, N.C.

Go $7.49 for the Big size Pimento Cheese Burger with house-made extra-sharp pimento cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce and bacon

Black Betty Burger & Winebar
Calgary, Alberta

$15 gets you The Betty, a house-blend brisket patty with mozzarella, maple-peppered bacon, frizzled onion with vine-ripened tomato, butter leaf lettuce and honey-truffle Dijon mustard

Black Hills Burger & Bun Co.
Custer, S.D.
The latest Burger of the Week: the Fat Smitty (a 1/3-lb. patty with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, a fried egg and garlic aïoli

Boom Burger
Rochelle Park, N.J
The Famous Bacon Double Boom is two Angus beef patties, double layers of bacon and American cheese and house BOOMSauce

Eden Burger Bar’s Pastrami Burger

Bru Burger Bar

The $11 Pacific Rim Burger has shrimp, bacon, Swiss cheese, pineapple, guacamole, red- onion jam and sweet chili mayo

The Buck Burgers & Brews
Saint Joseph, Mo.

The Stuffed Bleu Cheese Bacon Perfection ($9.50) is a –oz. patty stuffed with blue cheese and Buck bacon, topped with lettuce and tomato with a side of house Archie Sauce

Burger Bach
Richmond, Va.

At this “New Zealand-inspired gastro pub” the $10 Aucklander is grass-fed New Zealand beef with avocado relish, mayl, uncured bacon, New Zealand Egmont cheese, tomato, Dijonaise and  mixed greens

Burger Bar 57
Pelham, N.Y.

The $14 Whisky BBQ Burger starts with a 10-oz. Certified Angus Beef patty, finishes with BBQ sauce and Irish whisky Cheddar

Burger Bar and Bistro
South Norwalk, Conn.

The Ultimate tops its standard 7-oz. chuck/sirloin blend patty with thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, sweet onions, Gorgonzola cheese and aged balsamic reduction ($12)

Burger on Smith
Brooklyn, N.Y.


Cheese Curds’ Honolulu Burger


The ($10) Trademark is a grass-fed-beef patty topped with Cheddar, tomato, bibb lettuce and horseradish-chive aïoli on a Portuguese muffin

Burger Parlor
Fullerton, Calif.

Yo, Tommy! The Lasorda has a freshly ground pork sausage patty, crispy mozzarella, oregano and roasted peppers

Burgess Brothers Burger
Sacramento, Calif.

The menu at this first-responders-dedicated burger joint includes a $5.95 Rescue Burger with pineapple and a $7.95 Hero Burger with smoked pulled pork, Cheddar and grilled onions

Cheese Curds: Gourmet Burgers & Poutinerie
Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Legendary CC Porker Burger has two Angus patties topped with cheese curds, two bacon strips, fried onion rings, lettuce, tomato and house CC Sauce; plus there’s a House Curry Sauce for poutine

Citizen Burger Bar
Charlottesville, Va.

The Southern ($14) has Timbercreek beef, house pimento cheese, Neuske’s bacon, yellow mustard, iceberg lettuce, tomato on a brioche bun

Clive Burger
Calgary, Alberta

Proud of its “seriously simple menu” with a burger, double and triple ($7, $10, $13)

Eden Burger Bar
Glendale, Calif.

The Pastrami ($10) tops an 8-oz. dray-aged-beef patty with pastrami, Swiss, slaw, onion and house rémoulade on a brioche bun

Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers
Flint, Mich.

The $5.69 Fire Burger is two patties of Certified Black Angus beef with pepper-Jack cheese, spicy mayo, Cholula hot sauce, jalapeňos, onion straws, shredded lettuce and tomato

Fusion Burgers
Los Angeles

The Sir Pork’s-A-Lot is just $8.50 for a pork patty (mix of pork shoulder and sausage), mud spread, boschetto a la tartufo (truffled sheep and cow’s milk cheese), lettuce, tomato an applewood bacon

Grass Fed
Jamaica Plain, Mass.

The $11 Kitchen Sink burger is a 5-oz. patty of grass-fed beef with bacon, provolone, Swiss, crispy onions, roasted red peppers, lettuce, pickles and Grass Fed Special Sauce

Grange Hall Burger Bar
A classic build-your-own concept with grass-fed, farm-raised beef; sage and white onion turkey patties; or wild rice and sautéed veggie patties

Grange Hall Burger Bar

Griddler’s Burgers & Dogs

A traditional corner storefront where the $5 Firehouse Griddler gets pickled cherry peppers, lettuce, chipotle mayo, hot sauce and pepper-Jack cheese

Gyrene Burger
Naples, Fla.

Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monahan believes nothing enhances the dining experience like military décor and camouflage uniforms. Choice of Classic or Deluxe, soldier.

Indie Burger

Sauce choices for the 1/3-lb. grass-fed beef patty cheeseburgers ($7.99) include Indie, aïoli, BBQ or tzatziki

JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers

Burger choices are “single” or “double” but patties are freshly ground brisket and chuck; buns are scratch baked daily

Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern
San Diego
On Mondays, any JFAT Burger and a draft is just $12

Johnnie B’s burger

Johnny B’s Burgers, Shakes & Fries
Paia, Hawaii

Burgers are all-natural, grass-fed Hawaiian beef; fish is caught daily

Liberty Burger

The Napa ($8) has Gorgonzola cheese, wild arugula, oven-roasted tomatoes, green olives, onion and basil-garlic aïoli

Local 186 Burgers & Beer
Provincetown, Mass.

The Big D is 12 ounces of Snake River Farms Kobe beef topped with sautéed onion and Great Hill Blue cheese ($21)

LurnyD’s Grille Food Truck
Jackson, Miss.

Gotta get The Southern Burger ($7) topped with American cheese, lettuce, fried green tomato and house-made Comeback Dressing (with mayo, chili sauce, ketchup, and mustard)

Moxie Burger
Marietta, Ga.

The Cadillac is a 6-oz. ground White Oak Pastures lamb patty topped with caramelized onion, goat cheese, sautéed mushrooms and Creole chili sauce on a toasted white or wheat bun

My Burger Bar
Amherst, N.Y.

Pair your Peanut Burger & Jelly Burger ($8.49) with a Vanilla Coke Float (Coca-Cola and Three Olives Vanilla Vodka)

OMG Burger Truck
Sacramento, Calif.
THE OMG Burger! is a ground beef-and-bacon patty topped with Ranch dressing and Cool Ranch Doritos

The OMG Burger

Q Burger
Albuquerque, N.M.

The $8.50 burQueño burger is New Mexico beef with fire-roasted hatch green chile, white Cheddar and red-chile aïoli

Short Order
Los Angeles

Co-Owner Nancy Silverton’s special Nancy’s Backyard Burger is a house dry-aged beef blend with North Country Smokehouse applewood bacon, Comte, avocado, heirloom tomatoes, onion, iceberg, lettuce and spicy mayo ($14)

Soho Burger Bar
Buffalo, N.Y.

The $14 Bison Beef on Weck is an 8-oz. bison burger started on the grill, finished in au jus and served on Kimmelweck roll with horseradish

Stuffed Gourmet Burgers
Harrisburg, Pa.

Porky Burger, a recent Burger of the Week, was stuffed with pulled pork and BBQ sauce

Sure Thing Burger
Lahaina, Hawaii

The Sure Thing Burger is grass-fed Maui cattle with cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and 8 Island Sauce

Whack Burger
Covington, Ky.

The Curry Chutney Burger has onion chutney, Curry seasoning and shredded lettuce, served on brioche bun, whole-wheat bun or as a salad.

3 Responses to The Top New Burger Joints of 2012

  1. Thank you for posting this list and including 1720 Burger Bar, a hometown restaurant for us. Here’s our link to your article:

  2. tom

    No mention of Hodad’s in Ocean beach?…oh ya Guy Fierre did a show there and said it was the best hes ever had…….they dont need the publicity

  3. Hodad’s in Ocean Beach? The one that opened in 2011? Nope, not on the list of best burger places that opened in 2012. Did I miss it in 2011? Yep.