Best Burgers that Go Beyond the Beef

These burgers take the prize in the various "alternative meats" categories.

By Seattle Mag


December 6, 2011

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

Turkey Burger
5-ounce Turkey Burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
At the retro-diner-esque Teddy’s, the perfectly seasoned, moist and completely delicious turkey burger—topped with Teddy’s special sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles—is so good, the beef burger at the table was all but forgotten.

Favorite sides
: Beer-batter-dipped onion rings ($3.59) and a Dreamcicle shake ($4.99)

Duck Burger
Dork Burger at Lunchbox Laboratory
South Lake Union
One of the most satisfying burgers in the city, Lunchbox Lab’s dork (duck and pork) burger is luxurious: soft and supple from the pork, rich from the duck, extra peppery and topped with jack cheese, soft onions and garlic mayo. If you can stand the blaring (seriously!) music, this place is fun as can be, and the Dork burger is dreamy!

Favorite sides: Where do we start? The macaroni and cheese du jour ($2) and fried tater tots ($2.99) are hard to beat.

Lamb Burger
Jules Maes Saloon
For blue cheese lovers, there’s no better lamb burger than the one found at Seattle’s oldest bar: the lived-in, shadowy Jules Maes, open since 1888. There, the broiled burgers come soft and pure pink in the center, melting Gorgonzola and softened onions amassed on top, with tomato slices, mayo and mesclun all squeezed onto a toasted brioche bun from Grand Central Bakery.

Favorite sides: Great, salty fries that come with the burgers, and don’t miss the bacon-wrapped prawns ($7.95), which are famous for a reason.

Wild Game Burger
Elk Burger at Uneeda Burger
The key to a juicy wild game burger is in the cooking: Anything past medium and the lean meat gets mealy and dry. At Fremont’s Uneeda Burger, the cooks get it right every time, and the seasonally available elk burger is rich and juicy, topped with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes and special sauce.

Favorite sides: Hand-cut fries ($2.50), outstanding poutine (fries with gravy and cheese, $4), and a really, really good chop salad ($5).

Vegan Burger
The El Besito Caliente Burger at Sage Cafe
Capitol Hill
What does it mean that one of the very best burgers in Seattle is made of…tofustrami? Forget what you think about vegan food: The burger from tiny (mostly takeout) Sage Cafe is big, burly and smoky from the pastrami seasonings on the tofu, a little heat from the lime-jalapeño mayo, crunchy cucumbers and sliced ripe avocado, plus tomatoes and caramelized purple onions for bite. It’s just plain great. Vegan doubters, we dare you.

Favorite sides: Let’s just agree that peanut butter cookies are “sides,” because Sage Café’s are righteous. In any case, burgers come with savory Spanish rice, which is just right.

In Memoriam
Euphoria Veggie Burger at Built Burger [ closed in November ]
The best by far in a widely varied genre (we tasted homemade veggie burgers made of beans, farro, you name it) was the scrumptious Euphoria Veggie Burger, so imagine our distress when we learned—the day this issue went to press—that downtown Seattle’s wonderful Built Burger was shutting its doors for good. No other veggie burger even came close. So think of this as an homage to the much-missed masters of the much-maligned veggie burger—and consider it a throw–down to other burger joints to raise their game and create a veggie burger that even non-vegetarians can love.

Porterhouse [closed]
West Seattle
For straight lamb burger flavor, the half-pound burger at neighborhood gathering spot Porterhouse was impossible to beat. Cooked medium, the burger is topped with all the fixin’s—tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles—and a special roasted-pepper sauce. We were sorry to discover that Porterhouse closed suddenly after we went to press.


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