Welcome to Las Vegas, burger capital of the universe. Our city boasts a glut of gourmet burger-centric restaurants and attracts regionally beloved burger shops from across the country. What other city has Burger Bar, In-N-Out, Steak ’n Shake, Five Guys and—coming soon—Shake Shack? Only Vegas.
So much delicious diversity makes it nearly impossible to select the best of this beefy crop, but the Weekly is always up for a challenge. We scoured fancy casino restaurants, dive bars, diners, neighborhood holes-in-the-wall and even food trucks, focusing on local flavors rather than nationwide burgeries. Now, we’ve compiled this lineup of the most delicious burgers Vegas has to offer at any price. Consider it an edible checklist, and get to chompin’.
Tamago Burger at Fukuburger
An outstanding burger needs no accoutrements; a properly seasoned patty should be able to stand on its own. But if you can add a fried egg, you should certainly do so. The friendly folks of Fukuburger eliminate any indecision with their tamago burger—egg already included. They’re thoughtful like that. Runny yolk melds with Asian ingredients—furikake, teriyaki, wasabi mayo—atop medium-rare perfection to compose a succulent symphony. Decadence, thy name is Tamago Burger. And the atmosphere only adds to the experience: Fuku is a food truck, so you might be perched street-side on a Home Depot bucket while downing your Tamago. They’re classy like that. $5. Location and hours vary, fukuburger.com.
Steakhouse Burger at Holsteins
It’s tough to choose a dominant force from Holsteins’ varied selection of “Big Buns,” as they’re called on this playful menu; they’ve got classic tastes, international intrigue and decidedly decadent burgers to tempt you. But the throwback flavor combo of black pepper-crusted beef, creamy dressing, sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese is the way to go, as if your fondest steakhouse memories came to life and jumped into your face. Sweet onion marmalade and tangy tomato confit add even more punch, contrasting this burger’s bold tendencies. This one will stay with you for days. $17.50. Cosmopolitan, 698-7940.
Kobe Burger at N9NE Steakhouse
This delicious burger paired with a martini at N9NE’s still-swanky-after-all-these-years bar is one of the coolest meals you can consume in Vegas, but it’s not the restaurant’s vibe that makes this sandwich supreme—it’s the ingredients. Fatty, flavorful Wagyu beef, truffle cheese and crisp pancetta form gloriously rich, melty perfection, crowned by balsamic “burnt” onions. It’s a masculine burger befitting one of our most beloved steakhouses, and it comes with toasted mustard seed ketchup and roasted garlic aioli … in case you want to go overboard. $28. Palms, 933-9900.
Hubert Keller Burger at Burger Bar
The local burger scene has evolved in exciting ways since Hubert Keller started serving his signature creation at Burger Bar, but this one’s still a standout. Simply put, it’s a mouthful—a thick slab of buffalo smothered with caramelized onions, baby spinach and blue cheese crumbles. Instead of ketchup, Keller provides you with a small pitcher of red wine shallot sauce to put the flavor profile over the top. Our advice: Use it sparingly, and appreciate all the drippings soaking into an extra-soft ciabatta roll. If you like your burgers with ambition, look no further. $22. Mandalay Place, 632-9364.
Banh Mi Burger at Bachi Burger
Bachi’s Asian-inspired burgers have been a somewhat polarizing addition to the local dining scene, but no one can doubt the explosion of flavor neatly layered between these brioche buns. Perhaps the weirdest bite—and our favorite—is the banh mi sandwich-inspired creation, which tastes infinitely better than it might sound to those not savvy in the ways of Bachi. A juicy patty mixing beef, pork and shrimp is topped with a slab of Vietnamese pork paté and some crisp herbs and served with pickled vegetables, jalapeños and sweet-and-sour fish sauce. The result is a well-balanced, fusion umami-bomb, still unmistakably an all-burger experience. $9.50. 470 E. Windmill Lane #100, 242-2244; 9410 W. Sahara Ave., 255-3055.
Backyard Favorite Burger at Honey Salt
It’s easy to scan Honey Salt’s brown menu—filled with elegant versions of comfort-food favorites—and skip right past this unobtrusive lunch and dinner staple. Don’t. Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla’s 6-month-old Summerlin-area bistro serves up a burger so addictive, we keep driving out there from our Green Valley offices to re-taste it. A toasted brioche bun, luscious cheddar from Utah’s Beehive Cheese Company and, for $1 extra, a runny “Kim-style” egg add to the experience, but the true superstar here’s the meat, a grass-fed blend of ground chuck, brisket and short rib superbly seasoned and, in our experience, cooked to the temperature ordered. Ask for an extra cloth napkin up front. It’s a juicy, roll-up-your-sleeves affair, as the best burgers always are. $13 lunch, $15 dinner. 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 445-6100.
Hell’s Kitchen at Gordon Ramsay BurGR
American diners know Gordon best as the foul-mouthed white coat screaming at wanna-bes on TV, so it makes sense that the best burg(e)r on his Planet Hollywood menu is named for his most famous show. Grilled over apple and alder wood, the Hell’s Kitchen burger is a piled-high creation with mild asadero cheese melting into roasted jalapeños and oven-roasted tomatoes with cool avocado balancing out the bunch. Order up some “Just Fries” with chipotle and curry ketchups, and wash the whole thing down with one of King Ramsay’s indulgent pudding shakes. When the yelling stops, it turns out the chef can really cook. $14. Planet Hollywood, 785-5462.
Cheesy Cheese Burger at Rambo’s Kitchen
If you’re not familiar with the Juicy Lucy, we feel for you. A showcase of Midwestern ingenuity, this cheesy creation is relatively rare on Las Vegas menus, but you can find it at Rambo’s, where co-owner and Minnesota native Kelly Krzyzaniak reached back to her roots for this beefy beast. That a cheese-stuffed burger would find its origins in the mostly frigid Land of 10,000 Lakes makes perfect sense; the original Juicy Lucy was undoubtedly born of necessity to combat the winter freeze. The American/Swiss amalgam nestled between two house-made beef patties becomes a piping-hot WMD, deserving of its own legal warning. The meat is memorable on its own, but it’s the surprise center that gets it onto our list. $10.89. 6085 S. Fort Apache Road, 722-2626.
The Perfect Burger at LBS
Local hospitality company Block 16 owns two powerhouse burger joints in Vegas, so when they single out one burger from their many menus to call “perfect,” you probably want to pay attention. Served at LBS at Red Rock, this burger takes the classic lettuce, tomato, onion lineup and elevates every element. That means your juicy, cooked-to-order patty is topped with frisée, sweet roasted tomato, onion marmalade, smoked bacon and melty Gruyère, rounded out with schmears of house-made burger sauce and herb mayo for a seriously satisfying bite that hits all the right notes. Is it perfect? That’s for you to decide. For us, it comes pretty damn close. $13.25. Red Rock, 835-9393.
Cadillac Burger at P.J. Clarke’s
The old-school burgers at the Forum Shops outpost of this ancient New York saloon are an exercise in restraint. The featured burger, originally dubbed “the Cadillac” by Nat King Cole in 1958, is your basic bacon cheeseburger, with smoked country swine strips, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. But each ingredient is perfectly cooked or prepared—the veggies crisp, the bacon crisper and the thick meat patty juicy and freshly ground. Sometimes simple is best. If that’s your burger philosophy, head to P.J. Clarke’s. $13.75 lunch, $17.60 dinner. Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, 434-7900.
Still hungry? 5 more burgers you need to try
Green Chile Burger at Mesa Grill Some have questioned Irishman Bobby Flay’s Southwestern tendencies, but you’ve got to give the guy his burgers; he’s the boy in Boy Meets Grill, after all. And he knows how to blend his two passions, as evidenced by this combo of roasted poblano peppers, zesty cheese sauce and sharp, vinegary onions. It brings the right amounts of spicy, smoky and savory, allowing the expertly grilled beef to lead the symphony. $16. Caesars Palace, 877-346-4642.
Pastrami Burger at Sammy’s LA Pastrami If you love burgers and you want to hurt yourself, Sammy’s is the place for you. Tons of good food for low prices in a no-frills shack is the name of the game here, and the spotlight shines on the Pastrami Burger, a quarter-pound patty (or two, if you like, for $2 more) absolutely covered in thin-sliced deli-style pastrami, melting provolone cheese, huge pickle medallions and yellow mustard. You want to stop, but it just tastes too good. $7.99. 2191 E. Tropicana Ave., 736-1698.
Fleming’s Prime Burger at Fleming’s You probably don’t need another reason to hit happy hour, but Fleming’s Prime Burger is the perfect excuse. This handsome steakhouse isn’t just another suburban franchise restaurant; it’s actually hamburger heaven. The patty is a combination of ground trim from the prime steaks on the menu, topped with peppered bacon and cheddar. Already a steal at $14 during regular hours, it’s grand theft during happy hour for $6, including fries. $14. 8721 W. Charleston Blvd., 838-4774.
Fat Choy Burger at Fat Choy We’re fairly certain Fat Choy chef/owner Sheridan Su has made a pact with the devil. The gentle giant opened a buzzed-about bao shop in a hair salon, then inherited a coffee shop in the nondescript Eureka Casino and turned it into a culinary sensation. And then there’s his burger. At management’s insistence, Su held over some diner-style dishes, and while a burger on an Asian menu could be a train wreck, under Su’s direction, it’s a revelation: half a pound of beef plus a mini-pile of six-hour braised beef short ribs, aged cheddar, onion jam, grilled tomato, bacon, lettuce, secret sauce and a sunny-side up egg. $10. Eureka Casino, 595 E. Sahara Ave., 794-3464.
Triple Angus Burger at View Wine Bar & Kitchen Nothing’s more rewarding than a great find in an unexpected location. Exhibit A: the View Wine Bar’s Triple Angus Burger. While slowly evolving — Tivoli Village is not yet a dining mecca — the View Wine Bar is doing its best to build a solid and tasty reputation by way of its remarkable burger. An exceptional outer char, a sensationally caramelized bun and sweet tomato jam combine for one addictive sandwich. Served alongside a Jenga-like stack of truffle fries, it’s worth tracking down. $13. Tivoli Village, 420 S. Rampart Blvd., 280-7390.
The king of Vegas burgerdom?
As the culinary leader of Block 16 Hospitality, chef Anthony Meidenbauer has designed and constructed a Vegas burger empire with LBS and Holsteins, not to mention the stellar burgers at the Barrymore and Public House. (Block 16 runs the local Pink’s, so the guy knows his dogs, too.) On the occasion of the Weekly’s burger issue, we chatted up the chef in an effort to relay his Obi-Wan-like burger wisdom.
On burger creativity: Anyone can serve up foie gras that tastes great, but to do something special with a burger is more of a challenge, I think. We really don’t pay much attention to other burger joints in town, but we do travel a lot for different projects and taste a bunch of stuff and take inspiration from there. Maybe it’s not a burger but a certain flavor in a dish, and then we’re thinking, “How can we make this into a burger?”
Your favorite? The first one we created is and always will be my favorite—the Perfect Burger at LBS. We just deconstructed the basic cheeseburger and figured how we could make each element better. It’s the perfect blend.
On creating the Urth veggie burger: When I was working on the Strip, a high-roller vegan guy wanted something made fresh. People who don’t eat burgers say it’s great, and people who do think it’s tasty, too. The thing is, it’s not a meat replacement; it’s just vegetables. It’s made of 26 different ingredients, grains and veggies, from carrots and broccoli to peas, mushrooms and quinoa, all bound by a tahini or hummus type of thing. It was a huge success from the get-go, and now it’s on all our menus and we’re wholesaling it to a few hotels around town and beyond Las Vegas.
Do you make burgers at home? Very seldom. If I grab a pack of burgers at the store my wife is like, “Really?” But it has to start with good ingredients—a good piece of meat, good bread, and the key to cooking is to make sure you have a really hot grill.