Sometimes all you need is a good burger, but this seemingly simple food can often leave you feeling disappointed. Philly is home to some of the best (and worst) burgers in the world. I’ve had my fair share of burgers; some have been absolutely drool-worthy while others have been, well, gag-provoking.
To help the more inexperienced burger consumers in the Philly area, I have developed a ranking of the top 10 burger joints in or around Philadelphia. If you’re on a quest for fresh buns, juicy meat, and melty cheese, check out the following restaurants that are sure to satisfy your burger cravings.
10. Shake Shack
Beginning as a mere cart in Madison Square Park, Shake Shack has grown into a beloved international corporation with locations in Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Philly residents can find a local Shake Shack in University City, Center City, and King of Prussia.
Although Shake Shack originally only sold hot dogs, the menu has rapidly expanded to include burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, shakes, and a variety of other frozen treats. Shake Shack is unique to most competitors in that they provide nutritional information for every item on the menu and take pride in their health-conscious ingredients: 100% all-natural Angus beef, all-natural sugar (never from corn syrup), all-natural cage-free chicken, and non-GMO potato buns.
Like Shake Shack, Elevation Burger provides nutritional content and ensures customers that health is not overlooked on their premises. With the grandiose motto, “Making the world a better place one bite at a time,” Elevation Burger promises to serve only organic, grass-fed meat from free-range cattle ranches under environmentally advantageous conditions.
Of course, Elevation Burger’s health-conscious and environmentally friendly vision would be futile if their burgers were to taste as unappealing as the phrase “free-range cattle ranches” sounds. Fortunately, this is NOT the case. Elevation burgers are fresh, juicy, and never greasy. Choose either beef or veggie and stack up to 10 patties. Obviously, this is where the health facet of Elevation is lost.
Old City is home to some of Philadelphia’s most charming and historic shops, sites, and eateries. SquareBurger is the quintessential Old City burger joint, serving burgers, shakes, and dogs to tourists and locals visiting Philly’s Franklin Square. The SquareBurger is rather simple: angus beef, lettuce, tomato, and herb aioli on a brioche bun. Vegetarian and junior options are also available, as well as a unique Burger-of-the-Month.
Grub is relatively new to the Philadelphia suburbs and it is certainly a favorite among locals. The burger bar’s popularity is particularly evident on Instagram: Search #GrubBurgerBar and you will be immediately inundated with mouthwatering photos of burgers, fries, and shakes. The burgers are served juicy and medium-well on buttered toasted buns that are made fresh every day.
Keep it simple with “The Front Porch,” a burger topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard, or step out of your comfort zone and try one of Grub’s more eccentric burgers featuring toppings like braised pulled pork, handmade guacamole, creamy peanut butter, and house-made Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce.
Definitely not known for its cheeseburger, Parc is a posh, French brasserie on the corner of Locust and South 18th Street in Rittenhouse Square. After dining at Parc several times, I finally caught sight of the burger and knew I had to try it. The burger is topped with raclette cheese and grilled onions and served with a side of “pommes frites.” Personally, I find that french fries taste infinitely better after hearing the waiter say “and here is your side of pommes frites.”
The burger itself is juicy; the bun, fresh; the raclette cheese, sweet and nutty (in a good way). While you may feel rather dull ordering a cheeseburger at a restaurant where the menu features items like quiche, trout, liver, and lobster cocktail, I can assure you that the burger tastes anything but dull.
Located on the same block as Parc, Rouge is often considered Parc’s slightly less popular neighbor. After walking into Parc and being told the wait will be over an hour, Rouge is always the go-to, and I can truly say that I have never been disappointed with the meal or experience. The ambiance is classy, the service is always impeccable, and the burgers are top-notch.
The Rouge Burger is definitely a favorite on the menu. Topped with the best kind of onions (caramelized) and the best kind of cheese (gruyere), the burger proves to be worth the whopping $18. For something a little different, Rouge offers the Smokehouse Burger, which is topped with bourbon bbq sauce, candied spiced bacon, pickled corn relish, fried onion, and cheddar.
Located in University City, Bobby’s is notorious for leading Drexel and UPenn students down the oh-so-common “Freshman 15” path. The hand-cut fries, unique burgers, and creamy shakes are too tempting to avoid. Bobby’s is known for their “CrunchBurger,” a classic burger topped with American cheese and stack of potato chips. The menu also features a plethora of other burgers including the “Brunch burger” topped with crispy bacon and a fried egg and the “New Mexico burger” topped with queso sauce, roasted green chiles, and pickled red onions.
To make the most of your Bobby’s experience, add a side of fries (make sure to try the BBP sauce) and choose from a variety of shake flavors like dark chocolate, pistachio, or mint chocolate chip.
SpOT is most famously known as a mobile food truck favorite for Drexel and UPenn students, but the trucks travel to and cater various events including the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival. Owner Josh Kim also opened a sit-down restaurant located on Girard Ave in January 2016. Both the food trucks and sit-down restaurant have earned awards from esteemed organizations like the Food Network and Philadelphia Magazine.
The traditional SpOt burger is served on, for lack of a better word, the squishiest potato bun I’ve ever tasted (the bun itself deserves an award). Topped with bacon, cheddar, pickles, cole slaw, and SpOt sauce, the burger may not necessarily be considered “gourmet,” but it is certainly delectable.
White Dog Cafe, an upscale, organic restaurant on a quaint side street in University City, features an eclectic menu that is definitely for the foodies of Philly. The Green Meadow Double Cheddar Burger is the most conventional item on the menu and one of the most popular as well.
Definitely one of the larger burgers I’ve ever eaten, the Green Meadow Double Cheddar tastes and looks incredibly indulgent, yet you can feel less guilty by telling yourself that it’s an entirely organic meal. An organic burger topped with greasy bacon and served with a side of french fries is totally healthy, right?
Located in University City and Logan Square, City Tap House boasts an extensive menu coupled with a trendy ambiance. The burger is very understandably a crowd favorite. Of all the burgers I have ever been served, the Tap Burger was easily the most aesthetically pleasing. I had to take several photos at different angles prior to even tasting one french fry to fully capture the beauty of this meal. After getting the perfect shot, I took the first bite of what would become my favorite burger in the city of Philadelphia.
The burger was cooked exactly as I had requested (medium well) and the sesame seed bun was perfectly toasted and buttered, without being too greasy. The sandwich as a whole was relatively simple: angus beef topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickled onions, and City Tap’s “secret sauce.” Available additions include sunny side up eggs and smoky bacon, but I suggest leaving it completely as is. Running at a rather steep price of $15, I can assure you that the Tap Burger is worth every penny.
Be sure to check out these 10 awesome restaurants for yourself. They all provide some of the most delicious and renowned food that Philly has to offer. And Philadelphians know that the best food in Philly means the best food in the world.