Let the burger battle begin! Ten new contenders have stepped into the ring, adding to the mouth-watering conflict that is the Las Vegas burger scene. You can't choose the best bite in the city until you've sampled these recent arrivals, so get ready to rumble.
The Frenchie at DB Brasserie
In an indirect way, Daniel Boulud helped start the gourmet burger craze in Las Vegas. It was Hubert Keller, of course, who opened Burger Bar and set the standard on the Strip, but Keller was inspired by Boulud’s infamous DB Burger, stuffed with short ribs, black truffle and foie gras. That luxurious (and expensive) creation hasn’t made it to the menu at Boulud’s new Vegas restaurant (yet), but good luck finding a better bite than the Frenchie, an exquisite seven ounces of beef on a black pepper bun complemented by Morbier cheese, confit pork belly, tomato-onion compote, mustard and arugula. The French didn’t invent the hamburger, but they’ve certainly made some magnificent modifications. $19. Venetian, 702-430-1235. Daily, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. –BR
The Champ at Pub 1842
Michael Mina on his burger philosophy: “Everybody is ready to tell you how to make the perfect burger. If you want to drum up a seriously opinionated conversation, talk about burgers. To me, it’s all about balance, the same philosophy that goes into creating any dish. How does the fat balance with the acid and with the sweetness and with the spice? A burger is a complex dish, with all sorts of things going on, but you need a lot of acid to cut through that richness.” On the Champ's black pepper potato brioche bun, the beef patty is 40 percent brisket, 20 percent short rib, and 20 percent chuck “with a little dry-age thrown in,” plus crisp bacon strips and brown sugar-tinged bacon marmalade, classic American cheese and creamy smoked Gouda, and Pub 1842 secret sauce (made from soaking onions in pickle juice and concentrating into an aioli). $15-$18. MGM Grand, 702-891-3922. Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Monday & Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight.
The Double Shackburger at Shake Shack
Shake Shack has arrived, and now Las Vegas’ collection of the world’s best-loved burgers is complete.
Famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s burger empire began a decade ago as a Madison Square Park hot dog cart and has grown to 64 locations scattered across the globe. Our Shack, fittingly placed at New York-New York, is the first west of the Mississippi and sets up a burger battle for the ages—Las Vegas is the only city where you can eat and compare Shake Shack and In-N-Out side-by-side.
The similarity between the iconic chains is striking: a surgeon-like precision and attention to delicious details like ingredient sourcing and made-to-order preparation; clean spaces and friendly, expedient service; moderate price points (although In-N-Out is cheaper across the board). Having had lots of Shackburgers in New York City and D.C., I’d been anxiously awaiting the Vegas opening, and I’m proud to proclaim that I’m firmly on Team Shack.
The Double ShackBurger is an In-N-Out Double-Double on steroids. Two freshly ground patties are modestly adorned with lettuce, tomato, American cheese and tangy ShackSauce (like a sharp fry sauce) layered between a grilled potato bun. The seemingly demure toppings allow each bite to focus on flavorful beef, grilled to perfect medium—unless you order differently, something you can’t do at the other place. Simplicity might be the Shake Shack theme, but it’s still a truly memorable burger. $7.99. New York-New York, 702-222-6730. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. –JB
The Bobby Blue Burger at Bobby’s Burger Palace
Bobby Flay on creating distinctive burger flavor profiles: “I’m inspired by my travels around America, and because of that, the indigenous flavors of certain towns, states and regions wind up on burgers at Bobby’s Burger Palace. It’s also really important that we let the burger—this one has bacon, blue cheese, lettuce and tomato—speak for itself based on the superior ingredients we use. All the components of the burger from the bun to the beef to the condiments have to work in unison and be executed properly.” $9.50. 3750 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-598-0191. Daily, 11 a.m.-midnight.
The Hangover Burger at MTO Café
This burger literally cured a hangover, and I’m talking a serious hangover. A Downtown-drinking-all-day hangover. A multiple-banana-daiquiri-from-La-Bayou-on-Fremont-Street hangover. An I’m-so-happy-Las-Vegas-more-please-I-might-die hangover. It was definitely due to the egg on the burger, fried a little harder than most, but still with a yolk runny enough to mingle with bacon and beef. The thick Tillamook cheddar helped, and the zingy special sauce spread through shredded lettuce was definitely heaven-sent. $13. 500 S. Main St., 702-380-8229. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Downtown Summerlin, 702-982-0770. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. –BR
The Royale with Cheese at B&B Burger & Beer
Vincent Vega* explains this ultimate burger high: “Do you know what they call a Royale with Cheese in Las Vegas? Fantastic. Robiola cheese and Parmigiano-mascarpone cream? Are you kidding me? There’s a sensuous thing going on with this burger where you don’t talk about it, but you know it, and I know it, and Mario Batali knows it. That’s a pretty f*cking good burger. I don’t know if it’s worth 15 dollars but it’s pretty f*cking good.” (*Vincent Vega is a fictional character and may not have eaten this Royale with Cheese, but it’s awesome. It’s better if you do your best Travolta impression saying “Robiola” while you eat it.) $15. Venetian, 702-414-2220. Daily, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
"The Original" Umami Burger at Umami Burger
There are several Umami burgers that just call your name from the menu: the Truffle burger; the Manly burger, with its beer-cheddar; I’ll even go for the veggie-fied Sloppy Mami. But you sorta have to start with the Umami burger that started it all, especially if you’re a first-timer. So much thought and effort went into its design. How did they come up with this lovely, salty, crispy Parmesan disc, or know how good it would taste with shiitake mushrooms and the deep sweetness of roasted tomato? How did they discover a bit of briny anchovy would kick ketchup into untold territory? Those little details are what make Umami burgers so distinctive, and the reasons the Original is their best. $12. SLS, 702-761-7614. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight. –BR
The Jerk Turkey Burger at Carson Kitchen
Chef Matt Andrews on cracking the code for the best turkey burger ever: “Even I was surprised by the feedback from it. We almost sell more turkey burgers than Butter Burgers, which I never expected. It’s hard to find a turkey burger that isn’t dry and has real flavor, and we wanted to make one that was bold and spicy. We played with the content—should it be just dark or just white meat? We went with both, and a very traditional Caribbean jerk seasoning. The key is adding applesauce to keep the moisture and add a little sweetness, and then the mango chutney slaw brings it together. We knew it the day we nailed it, and it was pretty exciting.” $14. 124 S. Sixth St., 702-473-9523. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
The Char Burger at The Wiener’s Circle
It’s a simple equation that adds up to something special: Take the garden-fresh toppings from a classic Chicago dog—mustard, relish, onions, pickles, tomatoes and sport peppers—and slip them into a greasy, melty, beautiful cheeseburger. It’s a unique Windy City masterpiece, now the perfect bite in our neighborhood casino sportsbooks. $6.99. Red Rock Resort, 702-823-4700; Santa Fe Station, 702-658-4900. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. –BR
The Bacon Mac-N-Cheeseburger at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar
This behemoth burger is the epitome of what you can expect at Fieri’s first Vegas restaurant: massive portions of over-the-top, somewhat silly food, but somehow it all works together and tastes great. Adding thick, creamy macaroni and cheese on top of a burger could be offensive—possibly even blasphemous—but the contrasting textures make for a beautiful bite. And besides, there’s bacon mixed into that mac. I still don’t know exactly what Donkey Sauce is. Maybe that’s for the best? $20. The Linq, 702-731-3311. Sunday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-midnight; Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 a.m. –BR