Four Burger Chains That Get it Right
I love easy meals on a hot summer day. Between road trips, days on the water, shuttling the kids between summer camps and sports, stopping for a quick burger is the most practical and the MOST APPEALING option. Just because you’re eating quick-service grub doesn’t mean you have to slum it. Here are four restaurants who do it right. Our base line for inclusion was chains with 25 units or more. So that means no angry letters that the little bar down the street from you makes the best burgers ever. I get it. I have my favorites in that category too. This isn’t that! And speaking of anger….sorry, In-and-Out, your burgers don’t do it for me. Not even the ones on the secret menu. Let the hate mail fly!
This year marks a decade of success for Shake Shack. What can I say? Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group nailed it again with what I think is one of the country’s best burgers. Why? Because they keep it simple: A 100 percent, all-angus beef cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. No frills, just the good stuff. As for the frozen custard, well… let’s just say you know your tastes better than I know your tastes, so just order whatever you like because they are all good. shakeshack.com
My family doesn’t eat a lot of fast food, but oh how we love this Midwestern spot on a road trip. A butterburger and frosty root beer while cranking the Clash with the windows down… that’s a little piece of heaven and the perfect pit stop on the way to the lake. And yes, crinkle cut fries. culvers.com
Taking a date to a restaurant that rhymes with Shmardee’s or NicRonald’s is something I haven’t done since the Ford administration. However, when it comes to a quick bite with my wife, we love Smashburger. It’s the perfect place grab to dinner before a movie, and I can always count on a pleasant atmosphere. I go for their classic Smashburger and fries, but this is one of the few fast-casual burger joints that also does a good salad and has superb sweet potato fries. Oh, and you can get a beer, too. Boom. smashburger.com
The first time I ate here, I watched an employee fill a large cup with fries (enough for my entire family to split)… only to place them into a huge bag and dump 200 additional fries on top. It’s their trademark and I think it’s hysterical! They had me hooked. I love their piping hot, potato-y salty fries paired with—you guessed it—a plain ol’ burger. No cheese, no lettuce, no onion… just a little ketchup. Even without added toppings, a stop at Five Guys requires two hands and about three-dozen napkins. It’s a dirty burger, which if you ask me, is the best kind. fiveguys.com