Best Beefy Burgers

The classics you crave: from mushroom swiss to plain ol' American burger.

By Seattle Mag January 6, 2012


This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Seattle magazine.

All-American Burger
Butcher’s Grind House Burger at Local 360

The rustic, casual Belltown spot’s outstanding burger is made of a secret blend of local beef cooked perfectly medium, as requested, and has a nice steak-like flavor, a loosely bound texture and a salty crust. Comes with a gorgeous slice of tomato, a pile of greens, slivers of red onion, house-made bread-and-butter pickles and aioli. Upgrade with cheddar and bacon for $3 if you want to, but we don’t think it needs it.

Favorite sides: Great steak fries with the skins on ($3.50/free with burger!)

Bacon Cheeseburger
Swinery Burger with Bacon at The Swinery
West Seattle

Grilled over charcoal outside in the bare-bones Swinery courtyard, the Swinery burger is a true thing of beauty: one-third pound of house-ground Painted Hills beef with soft onions, house-cured Swinery bacon cooked until softly crisp, your choice of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and house-made pickles on a soft, sweet brioche bun from Macrina Bakery.

Favorite sides: One of those people who just can’t gain weight? Danger fries ($6) to the rescue! House-cut fries cooked in rendered pork fat and then doused with bacon and blue cheese béchamel sauce. Holy heart attack, Batman.

The Tavern Burger at Two Bells Tavern in Belltown is a local classic. Photo by Rina Jordan.

Dive Bar Burger
Tavern Burger at Two Bells Tavern (shown above)

Yes, you’re eating at a true-blue tavern (with dusty taxidermied armadillo above the bar). And yes, this burger is served on a sourdough French baguette, but get over it: The burger is outstanding, with the thick burger patty from Better Meat, cooked until the middle is pink and juicy, softened onions and bacon piled on top, and with mayo, mustard, tomatoes, and pickles all precariously balanced between the two “buns.” The Two Bells burger has been famous for decades, and with good reason.

Favorite sides: No fries here, so opt for the surprisingly good coleslaw or the house-made baked beans (both $1.95 each/free with burger).

Mushroom Swiss Burger
The Mushroom Burger with Swiss at Charlie’s Buns & Stuff Food Truck

This one-third pound of Long Valley Ranch organic beef is cooked to a nice medium-well—pink and juicy—with melting Swiss cheese holding the sautéed mushrooms on top, plus tangy mustard, ketchup and green leaf lettuce atop a soft, lightly sweet brioche bun (onions are $1 extra, and worth it). Just look for the big red truck.

Favorite sides: There’s not much to choose from, but the fries ($3) are decent and the serving’s big enough to feed two, so plan to share.

Hot and Spicy Burger
The No. 11 at Zippy’s Giant Burgers
White Center

Head directly to the friendly, diner-like Zippy’s when you crave a little heat with your meat; the No. 11 is just the thing. Chipotle mayo, smoked cheddar and jack cheeses, a perfect patty of Sea Bend Meat Company beef and a pile of Mama Lil’s Kick Butt peppers with lettuce—could anything taste better than this?

Favorite sides: Malts ($3.75), malts, malts and onion rings ($1.95). Did we mention they have malts at Zippy’s?


Tavern Burger at Brave Horse Tavern (shown above)
South Lake Union
At Tom Douglas’ rowdy beer hall, the burgers are made with Painted Hills chuck, cooked to a slightly pink interior and topped with a sweet-smoky barbecue sauce, mayo, iceberg lettuce and pickles on a brioche-like Dahlia Workshop bun. And they’re great.

Favorite sides: Hot and salty fries ($3) and, when they have it, the $5 wedge salad with bacon and sour cream dressing.

Zippy’s Zip Burger with bacon and cheese
White Center
At White Center’s approachable burger spot, house-ground chuck is formed into loose patties and griddled until crusty and deeply browned, topped with a crisscross of bacon, American cheese, special sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and enough pickles so that every single bite gets that perfect twinge of tangy goodness.

Favorite sides: Great, greasy (in a good way!) onion rings ($1.95), and killer chocolate or vanilla malts ($3.75).


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