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Did you know May is National Burger Month? How about that May 28 is National Hamburger Day? Clearly, the venerable burger holds a special place in May. It also holds a special place in the history of Connecticut, the Library of Congress-recognized birthplace of the burger. We decided to get in on the action and craft a list of the best burger places in our state, including casual spots, burger bars and locations serving the regional delicacy known as steamed cheeseburgers. And for the non-meat eaters, many of the places on our list offer a variety of burger options that might suit your palate.

Start with our list of Casual Spots below, or jump directly to Burger Bars or Steamed Burgers. And be sure to let us know if we missed any outstanding spots by emailing editorial@connecticutmag.com.

Casual Spots

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Louis' Lunch

Louis’ Lunch | New Haven

According to local tradition, the “hamburger sandwich” was born here when, in 1900, a customer walked into Louis’ Lunch and told owner Louis Lassen he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run. Improvising, Lassen placed his blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast, and the hamburger was born. Food-origin stories are notoriously difficult to prove, but no one disputes that for more than 100 years Louis’ Lunch has been offering delicious sandwiches. Served between two slices of white bread instead of a burger bun and without ketchup, the emphasis for these burgers is on the flavor of the beef itself, a flavor that has left a century’s worth of fans satisfied. But be warned, burgers are served medium rare as a rule, which is the way burger connoisseurs recommend them. Requests for medium-well burgers will sometimes be accommodated, but we’ve also seen them denied. And don’t even think about asking for ketchup. According to Louis’ website, “Cheese, tomato and onion are the only acceptable garnish.” 203-562-5507, louislunch.com

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Goldburgers

GoldBurgers | Newington

Carrying on Connecticut’s long legacy of burger excellence, this new-ish (it opened in 2009) burger spot features hand-crafted, made-to-order hamburger and sausage patties from proprietary blends that are ground daily at Bogner Quality Meats in Manchester. Once tasted, these big, juicy burgers leave you with a craving you can’t quite kick. The signature GoldBurger is a double burger with American cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle and GoldBurger sauce. It is crowned by potato chips, which add a wonderful crunch to the sandwich. Other options include the MacPatty, a burger topped with nacho cheese, pepperjack, jalapeños and more, and the Bacon, Egg & Cheeseburger, a take on the classic breakfast sandwich with some burger thrown into the mix. These burgers taste as good as they look and sound. 860-665-0478, goldburgers.com

Lake Zoar Drive-In | Monroe

If you’ve ever driven between New Haven and Danbury, odds are you’ve passed this unassuming restaurant on Route 34 on the banks of Lake Zoar. Famous for its burgers, the “drive-in” offers limited indoor seating but plenty of outdoor spots with lake views. The Zoar Burger is a beast with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. Other specialty burgers include the Bobby Burger, with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions and roasted red peppers. The place offers a variety of hot dogs, as well as breakfast items each morning, but we’ve never gotten past the burgers without ordering them while perusing the menu. 203-268-8137, lakezoardrivein.com

Clamp’s Hamburger Stand | New Milford

This old-school, seasonal burger stand is located on a rural stretch of Route 202, a decent distance outside downtown New Milford. There’s no phone, no website and hardly a sign, but word of mouth has long drawn people from far and wide to try the burgers, which have a huge local following. Simple and direct, you won’t find avocado or other wild ingredients on these burgers. Instead you’ll find a no-frills burger with all the classic toppings — lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles — that will more than satisfy your cravings. Similar in size and flavor to a Shake Shack burger, this is a quintessentially American grab-and-go food stand that will let you enjoy a burger in its natural habitat: the road.

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The Bobby Blue at Bobby's Burger Palace

Bobby’s Burger Palace | Uncasville (Mohegan Sun)

We generally don’t include non-Connecticut-based chains in our food roundups, but this select chain (there are fewer than 20 locations) from celebrity chef Bobby Flay offers burgers so good, so tasty, so infinitely craveable, no list of Connecticut burger spots would be complete without mentioning them. Here, medium rare means rare with pink juices flowing out of the burger and a taste that will instantly erase any trepidation you might have about eating pinkish meat. Creative burgers inspired by different regions of America include the New Mexico, with queso sauce, roasted green chilies and pickled red onions, and the Miami, which has ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and mayo. Guests can also “crunchify” any burger by adding potato chips. We recommend washing a burger down with the equally good milkshakes. 860-862-2277, bobbysburgerpalace.com

Burgers, Shakes & Fries | Greenwich and Darien

Perhaps inspired by the granddaddy of them all — Louis’ Lunch in New Haven — the burgers at BSF are served patty-melt style on buttered, toasted white bread. But unlike at Louis’, here you can customize your burger in many ways. From the choices of cheese (American, Swiss, cheddar and Gorgonzola) to “Little Fixin’s” (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, raw onions and hot peppers) to “Big Fixin’s” (sautéed onions, mushrooms, bacon, chili and fried egg), you can have it your way. But the meat itself is done the BSF way: ground chuck from Bronx-based Master Purveyors is hand-pressed in house. Order a third-pound single or two-thirds-pound double. A third-pound veggie variety is also available. No BSF meal would be complete without a shake, which are crafted with house-made syrups. Flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, Neapolitan, coffee and cinnamon. Greenwich: 203-531-7433, Darien: 203-202-9401, burgersshakesnfries.com

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Hapa Food Truck

Hapa Food Truck | Stamford area

Only two burgers are served at this Stamford-based food truck, known for its combination of American street food and Asian/Pacific cuisine. But what it lacks in burger choices, it more than makes up in quality. Both start with Hapa’s signature brioche buns made with a purple yam known as ube, which is traditionally used in Filipino desserts. This gives the buns a slightly sweet flavor and vibrant purple color. The Hapa Burger is made with grass-fed beef and topped with pork belly, Vermont cheddar, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato and house aioli. The ahi burger features wild-caught yellowfin tuna, furikake crust (a dry Japanese seasoning with dried ground fish, seaweed, sesame and salt), edamame puree, caramelized onion, lettuce and tomato. Hapa also serves three types of tacos: Korean short rib, Philippine chicken adobo and crispy cauliflower. 203-998–5918, hapafoodtruck.com, @HapaFoodTruck on Twitter

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Harry's Place

Harry’s Place | Colchester

Approaching nearly a century in business, Harry’s Place is so iconic that the whitewashed roadside stand is on the National Register of Historic Places. Cooked on a flat-top grill, burgers are served thick and juicy with more than 15 different toppings, including old standbys such as chopped and fried onions, bacon and pickles, as well as trendier add-ons such as fried eggs, chili sauce and hot cherry peppers. With meat from Noel’s Market in Colchester and rolls from Nardi’s Bakery in South Windsor, you can order your burger as a 4-ounce single or, if you’re really hungry, an 8-ounce “stacker.” Going beyond the traditional beef burger, you can also get a veggie or kielbasa burger. The hot dogs, milkshakes, onion rings and fried seafood are also big draws at this seasonal destination. 860-537-2410, harrysplaceburgers.com

Shady Glen | Manchester

You’ll find one of the most unique-looking (and best-tasting) burgers in the state at this 1950s-style diner. Invented back in 1949, the “Bernice Original” (named after its creator Bernice Rieg, who, along with her husband, John, owned Shady Glen) is a true original. Here’s how an early newspaper ad described it: “For a Sunday snack, try one of our delicious cheeseburgers, made of pure ground beef, surrounded by a crown of crisp cheese, and served on a toasted roll.” A burger experience like nothing you’ve had before, each one starts with a patty topped with four slices of American cheese, with the flaps of the cheese draping down onto the grill to melt and get crispy. The cheese edges are then folded up around the burger to form the chewy “crown of crisp cheese.” You can even order a plate of just the plain crisp cheese. Drawing the likes of acting legends Paul Newman and James Cagney, Shady Glen has two Manchester locations: the original on East Middle Turnpike and another at the Manchester Parkade. Original location: 860-649-4245; Manchester Parkade: 860-643-0511

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Munchies Food Truck

Munchies Food Truck | Waterford area

Run by professional chef Aiman Saad and his wife, Manal, Munchies has been delighting crowds in southeastern Connecticut (and the Providence area) for several years with its burgers, chicken sandwiches and stuffed pita wraps. The signature burgers are made with certified, freshly ground black Angus beef and served on a toasted Italian roll. The Munchie Burger (cheese, pickles, red onions, ketchup and mustard) and the Munchie Burger Deluxe (fried egg, bacon, cheese, pickles, red onions, tomato, iceberg lettuce, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise) unleash a gourmet collection of juicy, essential burger flavors that melt in the mouth. Also try the hand-cut sea salt fries, served with garlic-pepper mayo or ketchup. Frequent weekday stops for the food truck include Electric Boat and Pfizer in Groton, and branches of the Lawrence + Memorial Hospital across the southeastern part of the state. On the weekends, look for the truck at Stony Creek Brewery in Branford, Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets and other locations. 860-961-6606, munchiesfoodtruck.com

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Burger Bars

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B Restaurant Group

B Restaurants | Fairfield, Glastonbury, Milford, Simsbury, Stamford and West Hartford

The B in this Connecticut chain (formerly known as Plan B) stands for burgers, beer and bourbon, and all three Bs are taken seriously, especially the burgers. The burgers served at B Restaurants’ six Connecticut locations (there are now three out-of-state spots, as well) are ground fresh in house twice daily, hand formed, source verified and never frozen. The Breakfast Burger features bacon, cheddar cheese, a fried egg and spiced maple aioli on a croissant, while the Baja spices things up with fresh avocado, jalapeños, tomato, jack cheese, lettuce and a chipotle sauce. There are also more standard options like the Tavern Classic, with lettuce, tomato, onion and a special sauce. Two years ago we tried The Memorial Day Cookout Burger special in Milford. The burger was an all-American dream with the patty served over cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, two onion rings and barbecue pulled pork. It still evokes fond memories. burgersbeerbourbon.com

Dew Drop Inn | Derby

A call on social media for burger suggestions returned several passionate recommendations for this beloved neighborhood/biker bar in Derby. These suggestions confirmed what we already knew: the food here is awesome, especially the famous chicken wings, and, more importantly for this feature, the burgers. Options include the Fast Food Burger (American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato,  pickles, mayo, mustard and ketchup) and outrageous combinations like a peanut butter and jelly burger, the Lava Burger with habanero peppers and the apple burger with crisp slices of Granny Smith apples and a caramel drizzle. A favorite is the avocado Gorgonzola bacon burger, described by former Connecticut Magazine writer Kate Hartman as “at once creamy and crunchy,” with the Gorgonzola cheese providing “the perfect tangy balance to the beef.” These burgers always pair well with one of the many craft beers offered on tap. 203-735-7757, facebook.com/dewdropinnct

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The Modern American at Prime 16

Prime 16 | New Haven and Orange

A half-pound beef patty on a brioche roll is a fantastic way to start any burger, but it’s the perfect marriage of topping combinations walloping your taste buds that elevates everything the Prime 16 folks place on your plate. You can build your own burger from a seemingly endless selection of toppings — the New Haven location offers four types of tomatoes alone — and more than 10 cheeses, but we recommend leaving your toque blanche at home and trusting the menu. Prime 16 also offers turkey, lamb, pork and vegetarian patties, but the standout non-beef option is the Badlands bison burger. Smothered with cheddar jack cheese, black bean corn salsa, tortilla strips and badlands sauce, this burger will have you singing the first line of “Home on the Range” between every bite. New Haven: 203-782-1616, Orange: 203-553-9616, prime16.com

Max Burger | West Hartford

This slick dining destination uses certified Angus beef, from humanely raised, environmentally sustained animals that are free of antibiotics, pesticides and added hormones. Sounds good, right? Well, the juicy, flavorful patties taste even better. Adventurous burger creations include the Inside Out (Gorgonzola stuffed, applewood-smoked bacon, grilled onion, arugula) and Blackjack (blackened, jalapeño jack cheese, roasted green chilies, guacamole, honey-chipotle onions), as well as rotating burger specials for each day of the week, including the Sgt. Peppercorn Burger, the Mohawk Farms Bison Burger and the El Diablo Burger. They pair well with sides of crispy, hand-cut fries, house-made pickles, and a bountiful, locally focused selection of craft beers. In addition to the West Hartford location, there is also a Max Burger restaurant in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and both restaurants are part of the Max Restaurant Group, which operates several restaurants in the Greater Hartford area. 860-232-3300, maxrestaurantgroup.com/burger

Haywire Burger Bar | Westbrook

A buzzy bastion of burgers on the Post Road, Haywire’s hand-formed, 8-ounce burgers are made from 100 percent black Angus beef, ground in house daily, and free of antibiotics and hormones. Popular burgers include the Classic with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayo, the Sunny Side with bacon, cheddar, fried egg, onion straws and garlic mayo, and the avocado ranch with cheddar, avocado, tomato, red onion and ranch dressing. Don’t forget about the Fuggedaboutit with shaved ham, provolone, caramelized onion, roasted red peppers and garlic mayo. Aside from beef, burger options include lamb, turkey, chicken, crab cake, salmon, portobello and falafel. All burgers are served with shoestring fries, salad greens or spicy slaw. Haywire also features a full bar with 28 taps of rotating craft beer, as well as an eclectic wine list and spiked and non-spiked milkshakes. 860-391-8479, haywireburgerbar.com

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The California at Flipside Burgers & Bars

Flipside Burgers & Bar | Fairfield

From sliders to specialty sirloin burgers to custom burgers, not to mention the numerous toppings, the amount of choices at this relaxed, somewhat-hidden spot just off the Post Road is enough to “flip” your lid. The sliders, available from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, come in a variety of styles, from traditional (American cheese and grilled onions) to Fairfield Fire (pepper jack cheese, roasted jalapeño trio and chipotle mayo). The 6-ounce sirloin specialty burgers get even more creative, with options such as the Thanksgiving Burger (homemade stuffing, sweet potato fries, sausage gravy and cranberry aioli), Candy Popper Burger (cream cheese, candied bacon and sweet carrot-jalapeño slaw on a pretzel bun) and the Chip & Dip Burger (Swiss cheese, caramelized onion, homemade potato chips and French onion dip). And when you factor in the customizable toppings, sauces and buns, the possibilities are seemingly endless. 203-292-8233, flipsiderestaurant.com

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Steamed Burgers

One could argue that, much like the hot, buttered lobster roll, the steamed cheeseburger is Connecticut’s state food. Yes, we know about New Haven apizza, but nobody else does steamed cheeseburgers. Made by steaming the meat and the cheese in purpose-built stainless steel chests until the cheese is a molten, gooey consistency, this central Connecticut specialty is said to have originated in either Middletown or Meriden, though nobody seems to be sure where, why or how.

See also: Wallingford’s Bob Gattilia Carries on Steam Chest Tradition

Ted’s Restaurant | Meriden and Cromwell

One of the grand dames of Connecticut steamed cheeseburgers, the famous Ted’s has been cranking out this local delicacy for nearly 60 years. While there is uncertainty about which institution started selling steamed cheeseburgers first, without a doubt Ted’s is near or at the top of that list. The small lunch counter on Broad Street is still family owned and looks much the way it did in 1959. In 2011, Ted’s opened a second location in Cromwell, and has also launched a food truck that travels around the state. “More than a restaurant; we’re a friendly neighbor,” Ted’s website proclaims. Meriden: 203-237-6660, Cromwell: 860-635-8337, tedsrestaurant.com

O’Rourke’s Diner | Middletown

This North End staple is the other contender for the first to do steamed cheeseburgers. Opened in 1941 by John O’Rourke, this proudly Irish-American diner is now owned and operated by John’s nephew, Brian, who has worked there since 1959. Housed in a truly beautiful chrome structure, O’Rourke’s menu is more adventurous than most traditional diner fare. The steamed cheeseburger is but one element of a wild and sprawling menu. Such is the importance of O’Rourke’s to the people of Middletown that when the diner was badly burned in a 2006 fire, the people of Middletown raised the money to completely renovate the interior, still maintaining its local charm and verve. 860-346-6101, orourkesmiddletown.com

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K LaMay’s | Meriden

A relative new kid on the block, K LaMay’s began in the back kitchen of Garryowen’s Pub in Meetinghouse Village in Meriden in 2006, before adding delivery to its repertoire and eventually opening its own brick-and-mortar location on East Main Street. K LaMay’s prides itself on the particular type of sharp cheddar they use (the lynchpin for any steamed cheeseburger, according to true connoisseurs), sourced from Wisconsin. K LaMay’s is the in-house burger at Double Play Cafe in Wallingford. The Meriden location has free delivery. Meriden: 203-237-8326, klamayssteamedcheeseburgers.com

American Steamed Cheeseburgers | Wallingford

Another newcomer on the scene, American Steamed makes a fantastic steamed cheeseburger, sources local sodas like Foxon Park and Avery’s, and is open late nights for those needing an emergency burger after leaving the nearby bars on Wallingford’s Quinnipiac Street. “Heaping” is a cliché in a lot of food writing, but nowhere does the term fit more than in describing the cheddar at American Steamed. Diners would be well advised to grab a fork for this burger. The homestyle decor in American Steamed has a comfortable, neighborhood feel, a bit like being in a neighbor’s living room. 203-294-8888, americansteamed.com

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The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.