I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a burger-loving group for more than seven years. Yes, you read that correctly. Buffalo has its very own “Hamburger of the Month Club” – HOTMC for short. Our group is large and diverse, with a combination of people from a wide cross-section of backgrounds and neighborhoods. What we all have in common is the love of a good burger – plain or fancy.
Here are a few personal favorites. Definitely difficult to narrow it down, and with a massive list of restaurants grilling them, there are plenty of new burgers to explore and love. The places I selected may be varied in style, presentation and location, but they all know how to make a bun proud and a visitor happy.
Photo courtesy of Allen Burger Venture
Located in the heart of the Allentown neighborhood, ABV, as it’s lovingly called, offers a wide variety, and as the name implies, burgers are the main event. Fresh, dry–aged, grass–fed Angus beef burgers are hormone and antibiotic free and sourced from verified humane and sustainable ranches. They offer great combos; one that includes peanut butter and jalapeno peppers. My fave is the Number 3 – caramelized “Ommegang“ onions, apple wood bacon and porter cheddar. Mmmmmmgood.
Photo courtesy of Macky’s Essex St. Pub
Known to most locals as simply The Essex, this is a true neighborhood dive bar – and I mean that in the most affectionate of terms. The burgers are a half-pound beef patty, flat grilled with a variety of standard and standout toppings. In warmer weather, the sidewalk patio is a great place to perch, any time of day or night.
Photo courtesy of Soho Burger Bar
For the downtown crowd, Soho is your ticket to a great burger fix. Served on a brioche bun, the beef is ground to the chef’s specifications by a beloved Buffalo butcher shop, Johnny’s Meats. Served with chips and a pickle, there are a number of signature burgers to choose from. And to accommodate any non-meat eaters in the crowd, there’s a portobello veggie optio
Photo courtesy of Marble + Rye
Another excellent downtown option, this handsome restaurant focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients, and that goes for their delectable burgers. House-ground, with burger options ever-changing, any one of them would go down nicely following a cocktail thoughtfully prepared from a wide selection of whiskeys and other libations. With owners who are passionate about quality and the total dining experience, this is another great option for dining in the “new Buffalo.”
Photo courtesy of Ted’s Hot Dogs
The same red hot charcoals that give Ted’s hot dogs their patented semi-blackened crispiness are the same that make their hamburgers and cheeseburgers a simple pleasure. When I call this burger basic, I mean it in the best way. A thin patty (or two) is cooked to juicy perfection with just a little char on the outside. Topped with all the “works” that you’d normally add to your hot dog, this burger is delicious and manageable, meaning that, with each bite, you get the full flavor of the burger, cheese and all the fixins.
Photo courtesy of Lucky Day
From the folks behind Ballyhoo, Lucky Day prides itself on creating an easy to eat, simple burger that’s not going to make you need a nap. The steak burger topped with bacon jam, cheddar, and bibb retains a lot of juiciness. It’s the perfect laid-back companion to Lucky Day’s massive selections of whiskeys, bourbons and scotch. But if you’re feeling hungry, you can always throw another patty on top!
Photo courtesy of Billy Club
You’ve had a late night bar hopping in Allentown. You’re hungry, but looking for something a little better than super salty fast food. Billy Club has the remedy. Pony up to this cozy bar, jam out to “yacht rock” playing over the speakers and order their Plato Dale Burger. Starting with locally-supplied beef and topped with carmelized onions, havarti and pickles, this is the classic burger taken to a very local level. Hangover? What hangover?
Photo courtesy of Big Ditch Brewing Company
Towering, cheesy, juicy, and unexpected. When you think of brewery food, a burger that’s on par with some of the more upscale eateries in the city might not be what comes to mind. Big Ditch keeps it simple with a single, excellent option; the cheddar bacon burger is a classic take on the traditional backyard-style burger.
Photo courtesy of Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs
The evolution of Frank from food truck to brick-and-mortar took their burger game to the next level. Offering seven different burger varieties, including the Hogtied burger (BBQ sauce, crunchy onions) to the Joker burger (lettuce, onion, pickles, sesame seeds and special sauce) plus veggie options, the burger possibilities ripe for the picking. Don’t forget to order a side of their Buffalo-famous fries, too!
Photo courtesy of Mister Sizzle’s
Whether you want the classic American burger or something a bit out there, Mister Sizzle’s, Buffalo’s newest burger hotspot is for you. For the traditionalist try the Sizzle Burger (American cheese, pickle, lettuce, onion and Sizzle sauce on an impossibly shiny brioche bun). Paired with fries and a thick vanilla shake, it’s the classic burger experience. For the experimental eater, go with the Messy Pressy (think poutine on a burger).