(Cleveland, OH) WUAB
In honor of National Burger Day I decided to share a journey I embarked upon last fall: To eat as many Cleveland native burgers as possible. I don’t know why or how this challenge started but, I set out to find the best burger in Cleveland. I don’t like to eat at the same restaurants continuously or order the same thing over and over again so the idea made sense to me. The problem when committing to something like this is that in order to accurately compare the burgers, you have to eat them all within a rapid succession. This obviously becomes a health issue when we are discussing eating 30 some burgers within 60 days. I’m actually not even a huge burger person but, when I get hooked on a particular food I start to crave it. So why did I decide to rate as many burgers in the Cleveland area as possible? I don’t really know. Do I have a death wish? Maybe.
There seems to be a revolution in gourmet burgers amongst Cleveland’s surrounding neighborhoods such as Tremont and Lakewood. With the exclusion of fast food chains – I find burgers to be classified in either one of two categories: Gourmet burgers or Greasy Bar Burgers – and both can be delicious. I definitely hated myself after finishing some of these burgers as my quest came to an end. Rock bottom is when you’re eating a burger inside a parked car & you’re not sure if you’re sweating from the 90 degree temperature outside or the rapid speed at which you’re inhaling said burger. I have no doubt that when I’m on my death bed, from eating every burger within a 50 mile radius Cleveland, I will know that I died with purpose… so that 4 people on cle43.com could read my chronicles of my unhealthy diet. Alas my death will be justified.
I tried to keep this list strictly limited to locally owned and operated restaurants but, this list is about the best burgers in Cleveland so I cannot exclude a burger because it is available outside of Ohio. I know I’m going to ketch hell for putting a restaurant chain on this list but, I could not deny some of these burgers. Burgers are like subjective just like art – everyone has different preferences. Personally, My ideal burger is prepared medium/rare, blackened on the outside but red and juicy in the center.
For my next top 34 list, I will be doing the top 34 salads in Cleveland… just kidding – that would be absolutely horrible.
34. Nano Brew Spicy Burger 6.2/10 – Gourmet style burger. This burger was presented on a somewhat small, cheap bun and a small patty that had a sweet, spicy mayo on it. It touted itself as some highly rated burger. The burger is noted on the menu as “Named one the ‘ Best 33 Burgers in America’ by Thrillist*” It consisted of Cheddar, poblanos, caramelized onions, spicy mayo, and greens. I wouldn’t rate this as one of the best 30 burgers in Cleveland.
33. The Clevelander – The Muni Lot 6.2/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. This burger had somewhat of a unpleasing “manure-like” smell. Mushrooms, Onions, Swiss Cheese and Hickory Smoked Bacon.
32. Tilted Kilt Black & Blue 6.2/10 – Gourmet style burger. This burger was pretty bland, ordered “medium” and came out “well done”. Very dry and unflavorful.
31. Tilted Kilt Wicked Boston 6.6/10 – Gourmet style burger. Topped with American cheese, crispy maple pepper bacon, Samuel Adams Boston Lager caramelized onion relish, secret sauce, lettuce and tomato. Served with side of mayo. This burger was part of a promotion where they were trying out roughly 8 different burgers and only 1 would permanently join the menu. You can read more about it here. I found this burger to be one of my least favorites of the new burgers to choose from. Go figure – it won the contest.
30. B Spot Thin Lizzy 6.7/10 – Gourmet style burger. I’m a big fan of Micheal Slymon yet not a huge fan of B-Spot. I love the buffet style toppings you get to pick from. The Thin Lizzy burger comes with griddled onions, mayo, dill pickle & cheddar cheese. This burger just came off a little too plain and forgettable.
29. Pacer’s Beer Cheese Burger 6.9/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. Topped with Beer cheese sauce and grilled onions. The patty itself was decent and the beer cheese was of nacho cheese like quality.
28. Tilted Kilt SOB 7/10 – Gourmet style burger. I know what you’re thinking “Wow, You sure do go to Tilted Kilt alot.” It’s close to work, alright? This burger comes with cream cheese, Pico de gallo, one of the most unique burgers I’ve had which actually tasted good. This burger was also part of the promotion where they were trying out roughly 8 different burgers and only 1 would permanently join them menu. Unfortunately the SOB did not prevail and is now discontinued which you can read more about here. I found this burger to be one of my favorites of the new burgers to choose from. Go figure – it lost the contest.
27. Winks Bar & Grille Black & Blue Burger with Applewood Bacon 7/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. $12. The most food for the lowest amount of money out of any burger on this list. Comes with a large amount of fries but, a tad too salty. This is one of the bigger burgers, lots of bacon and you could get fresh veggies at no additional charge, red onion, tomato, lettuce, very filling, came with pickle spear. I will say this – it had somewhat of a Burger King taste to it, maybe it was flame broiled or the somewhat generic bun, but the bacon on it tasted like BK which was a turn-off.
26. Bier Markt Ohio Beef Burger 7.1/10 – Gourmet style burger. 1/2 lb beef burger, white cheddar, greens, tomato, pickles, fry sauce, egg bun. $13. House-made bun, grilled Port Salut cheese, tomato, frites. Ordered Medium but came out rare, burger was thick and juicy but not remarkably tasty. Lettuce, onions and some white cheese cause they didn’t have blue cheese, they forgot the tomato on mine as well. This was a mediocre burger with a much too big bun similar to the market garden bun I had the day before. I honestly think they were the same burger. The fries were not as good as I remembered – medium cut, not much salt at all which is ok but they just tasted plain, even though they add a great touch with garlic cloves and rosemary leaves which is the best presentation I’ve seen.
25. Amp 150 Double Bacon Cheeseburger 7.2/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. Double patty burger with bacon and cheese. Ordered it medium and it came out well done which could have effected its overall score. Much like Wink’s – it had a Burger King frame broiled taste to it, fries were decent, no veggies on it which made this one of those beefy, greasy, burgers that sits heavy. Reminded me of a Hardee’s burger, couldn’t even finish it. I would even say that I felt somewhat sick afterwards but, still a good burger.
24. The Flying Fig Miller Farms Grass Fed Burger 7.2/10 – Gourmet style burger. This is as “gourmet” as a burger can get. $21! I felt somewhat ripped off paying such a price for a burger. It had a sweet aioli homemade ketchup like sauce that was bland. The patty itself was good, fries were decent. It narrowly beat out Wink’s burger a little by taste but, was of less value than Wink’s.
23. Great Lakes Brewing Company Black ‘N Blue Burger 7.2/10 – Gourmet style burger. Definitely a gourmet burger, simple toppings, red onion, tomato, garnish style lettuce, stingy on blue cheese, patty must be sirloin. Montforte blue cheese, Cajun seasoning. This burger came off very dry to me as it had a lack of blue cheese, condiments and even grease on it. I’m not a huge advocate of grease on my burger but, this burger was so dry I almost choked on it.
22. Fat Head’s Brewery & Salon Black ‘N Blue Burger 7.4/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. Dusted with Fat Heads Cajun spice and topped with blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. A little bit better than the Great Lakes Brewery burger & had the exact same brown peanut oil style fries but with no salt, I’d give the fries a 7/10. The burger was better than Great Lakes Brewery, similar dry style gourmet patty with no oil and not as much herbs as the Great Lakes Brewery burger. Red onion tomato lettuce leaf veggies were not to doggy, decent white very lightly toasted bun. The Cajun rub really set it apart from all the other black n blue burgers. Blue cheese was decent but not mind blowing, harps blue cheese was better.
21. The Market Garden & Brewery 7.4/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. The 1st burger I tried at The Market Garden was tastier and juicer than the Great Lakes Brewery Burger and a strong, pungent smell of blue cheese. This was a greasier patty which i prefer, the toppings were sparse: caramelized onions, blue cheese, it came with potatoes instead of fries that I did not care for. The 2nd burger came on a much larger bun and was just plain in general so burgers from this place tend to vary.
20. Barley House CLE Burger 7.4/10 – Gourmet style burger. Pretty plain white bun but fairly flaky which is good. Patty tasted a little sweet like the beef was going bad.
19. Pacer’s Blue Moon Burger 7.6/10 – Gourmet style burger. Fries come in 3 options: regular and seasoned, pretty generic, they have the best ranch sauce though. Topped with cheddar/jack and Crumbled blue cheese
18. Hodges– C.A.B. Burger 7.7/10 – Gourmet style burger. Bacon, Bibb lettuce, Dill havarti, Bacon-onion jam, Aioli, Brioche bun & tots. Wasn’t really blown away.
17. The South Side Tremont Burger 7.8/10 – Gourmet style burger. Very cheap. $9. Smoked bacon, cheddar, battered onion, tomato jam, challah bun. Good amount of fries even though the fries were loaded with peanut oil but, a lack of seasoning. Came with pickle spear. The patty didn’t taste too generic, blue cheese was mediocre at best.
16. The Harp Burger 8/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. The best blue cheese out of any of the burgers on this list. Fairly juicy patty, better than south side – not as good as Stone Mad’s patty. One half-pound beef patty grilled to order with lettuce, tomato, onions and your choice of cheese on a Kaiser roll. Fries were loaded with peanut oil (think Penn Station) also included a pickle spear, soda bread & butter.
15. Streat Burger & Bistro Plainesville Streat Burger on Classic Bun– 8/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. Streat bun, regular Patty. The bun was generic white bread but, had a somewhat doughy, undercooked texture to it which I liked. Two slices of thick tomato and red onion. I was relieved that they put a lot of veggies on the burger unlike most places.duck fat fries were good not that greasy had green onion rosemary sage best parts of burger was the Orange Street sauce which was basically like thousand Island dressing. They have a great selection of micro brews that you can drink or purchase there. I bought a 6er of Fat Head’s “Trail Head” but, it was $16 with tax. Way over priced!
14. Quaker Steak & Lube Mac n Cheese Burger 8/10 – Greasy Bar style burger. The patty itself is pretty lacking, bun is not impressive either but the mac ‘n cheese makes it worth it. Coupled with Quaker Steak’s fries puts this burger up there.
13. Prosperity Social Club Tavern Cheeseburger 8.2/10 – Gourmet style burger. Below Tilted Kilt above Market Garden in quality. The bun was the highlight of the burger, freshly baked yet doughy at the same time. The patty itself was good but, mild in flavor. Definitely cooked “medium” and not much grease to it which made it not very heavy. The burger was loaded with veggies, 3 slices of tomato pickle lettuce, cheese was a little over cooked and hard to detect. I am not a fan of burgers that do not have much veggies on them. Burgers that are strictly patty and cheese tend to leave me feeling sluggish afterwards. Overall, the burger was a little bit on the dry side making it a healthier burger you’d recommend to a girl & not a man. This was due to the lack of grease and I had to add ketchup to keep it from tasting too dry. The hash browns were awesome, possibly the best I’ve had. The hash browns were of a crispy fried texture and had hot peppers (both green & red) that added a nice heated flavor with a unique twist I’ve never experience .
12. Townhall Grass Fed Kobe Burger 8.3/10 Gourmet style burger. $12, White Cheddar, arugula, rosemary aioli (this was delicious if they would have put more on it this would have been a standout burger). The fries were not as horrible as I remembered, yes they are skinny and called “matchstick fries”, somewhat oily, and cooked with rosemary, green onion and garlic cloves.
11. Tilted Kilt Celtic Burger 8.5/10 – Gourmet style burger. Ok, I know what you’re thinking “Another Tilted Kilt Burger?” but I really do go there for the food, honest. I was honestly expecting this burger to suck as the last TK burger I had was the blue cheese one and it was one of the worst burgers IVe had. I was blown away by this burger and hope it wins to stay on the menu. This burger was part of promotion where they were trying out roughly 8 different burgers and only 1 would permanently join them menu. Unfortunately the Celtic did not prevail and is now discontinued.
10. City tap The Viking Burger 8.6/10 – Greasy Bar Style Burger. This is a pretty fattening burger strictly because it’s loaded with guacamole and a mayo like wing sauce but it was delicious, the patties are hand made as I was told by the bartender. The fries were fried in peanut oil but, soggy & had plain salt on them as opposed to sea salt. This burger was better than Prosperity’s burger, ordered medium but was still red in the middle – still good. The patty was fresh rare but not super greasy or juicy. Grilled in a garlic Parmesan wing sauce and topped with house-made guacamole, scallions,
mayo & Swiss cheese.
9. Merry Arts Pub & Grill Bourbon Burger 8.6/10 – Gourmet style burger. Cheddar cheese bacon, tomato that tasted like it was dipped in vinegar. Lettuce had a bourbon grease like sauce on top of the cheddar cheese that was delicious. 3 fries options: regular, cajun & seasoned – I picked seasoned which is basically a thicker cut long branch seasoned fry.
8. Winking Lizard Eggnormous Burger 8.7/10 – Greasy Bar Style Burger. I’m typically not a huge fan of bacon on my burger as it can be a little too much grease – Wendy’s Baconator would be a prime example. I had a Wendy’s Baconator once and it made me sick to my stomach. This bacon was well done: crispy but not too greasy, the party itself was full of juice. I found this burger very similar to Tap House’s Joshua Burger but, with an Egg on it. Whatever mayo based dipping sauce that came with it was delicious – tasted of a beer flavored mayo. It’s too bad that this burger is only available during spring as it’s better than Winking Lizard’s stationary burger lineup.
7. Heck’s Cafe Market Garden Burger 8.8/10 – Gourmet style burger. Braised beef rib with sweet yellow Bearnaise sauce. Overall the burger was good but, lacked flavor and a little too plain with little to no toppings. Just a basic burger with a rib on it and that’s it. Fries are good but lack salt and taste.
6. Johnny’s Little Bar Half Pound Burger 8.8/10 – Greasy Bar Style Burger. Blue cheese, mushrooms & onions, good fries, served with side of mayo. The Burger boasts itself as “The best burger in Cleveland”.
5. The Tremont Tap House Joshua Burger 8.9/10 – Gourmet style burger. Smoked Cheddar with a House BBQ sauce and Applewood bacon. Absolutely simple but, still a delicious burger.
4. Buckeye Beer Engine Blackened Burger 8.9/10 – Greasy Bar Style Burger. Juiciest patty of all, a little bit on the greasy side. The burger itself lacked seasoning, didn’t taste one bit of salt on it, it had a mushroom flavored juice about it. Fried pickle was was loaded with salt however and complimented the burger nicely. The French fries sucked and were McDonald’s style meaning: very salty but, had Rosemary seeds on it. Mushrooms and blue cheese tasted decent, caramelized onions were bland though. Plain bun.
3. Brew Kettle The Brew Kettle Burger 9/10 – $9.5. Greasy Bar Style Burger. The most flavorful burger and the strongest TASTING Blue cheese compared to any of the other restaurants. Topped with caramelized onions, Tomato, lettuce,red onion, pickle spear, coleslaw was OK at best. Fries were pretty generic and lacking. Ordered “medium” but, was pink in the middle and quite juicy. This burger definitely falls under “A GREAT TASTING BURGER”.
2. Stone Mad 12 OZ Burger 9.4/10 – Gourmet style burger. $10, Biggest, fattest patty of all. Delicious. The patty was seasoned just right and had just the right amount of juice even though I picked it up probably 10 min late. Basic red onion, tomato, garnish lettuce and cames with a distinct coleslaw that was somewhat sweet but mayo-y. Better than Johnny’s Little Bar which seemed more generic. No Fries.
1. Heck’s Cafe Avon Burger 9.7/10 – Gourmet style burger. Basically a Blue cheese burger. $12. The most delicious, juiciest patty of all the burgers I have had. I believe a good burger is primarily graded on the taste of the patty alone and not all of the toppings piled on top of it. The bun is probably the second most vital aspect of a good burger and the Avon Burger delivers on both. It’s still a very simple burger with a great bun and the fries were quite good. The burgers came with an average amount of blue cheese and caramelized onions. Great deal for only $12. Topped with balsamic candied onions, blue cheese, truffled potato sticks, and baby arugula.