Best burger restaurants across the UK
Get your burger fix courtesy of Britain’s finest patty purveyors, from Korean brisket burgers in the North West, to beef short rib cheeseburgers in the capital
Looking for the best burger restaurants across the UK? Want to know where to find the best gourmet burgers? Read on for our restaurant guide, or check out our burger recipes here...
Best burger restaurants in London…
November marks 10 years since the first MEATliquor restaurant launched. Their origins from a burger van in Peckham, to a pop-up above an abandoned pub in New Cross, couldn' be further from the latest venture — and biggest yet — in Clapham's Old Town. The huge space has two bars, a heated outdoor dining area with TVs and a large projector and photo booth inside. Everything about MEATliquor is full-on — from the graffiti-led design and the music played, to the flavours on the menu, a mix of American diner specials, all with a MEATliquor twist. Burger aficionados will point to the Dead Hippie: a French's-mustard-fried double patty with onions, cheese, lettuce and pickles all within a soft bun that soaks up the good stuff. Buffalo chicken wings are a match for any of those found in the US and the loaded fries on offer are a meal within themselves. There are a range of vegetarian and vegan options — from the Tempeh Tantrum patty to the Black Bean Chilli Dog. The drinks list is a mix of craft beers and cocktails, and that's before you hit the 'Poke For Jäger' button on your table. meatliquor.com
Tucka Burger, Shoreditch
Andy Gardener and Lachy Brown met at school in Australia, and both moved to London to pursue careers in accountancy and consulting. Lachy says: “We quickly realised our passion lay elsewhere, and so in July 2018 we turned to our burger truck dream.”
The beef is a high-fat blend of chuck, brisket and bone marrow, which has been dry-aged for 35 days. Try the signature Tom Tucka American cheeseburger, or the vegetarian What the Tuck (beef is substituted for grilled halloumi). “Our burgers are incredibly juicy and messy,” says Lachy.
This upmarket steakhouse chain also serves a mean burger – notably the £17.50 beef short rib cheeseburger with kimchi, which was launched in 2010 when the Seven Dials restaurant opened. Inspired by a trip to Seoul, it features Hawksmoor’s own kimchi, the recipe for which you can find in the Hawksmoor at Home cookbook.
What started as a street-food truck by former corporate lawyer Zan Kaufman now has three sites in Bloomberg, Victoria and Old Spitalfields Market. Bleecker serves six burgers with a range of fries, including the “angry” version with hot sauce and blue cheese sauce. The patties are made with native-breed beef, and brand director Liam O’Keefe says the secret blend they’ve created helps the butcher use the whole animal. “We believe we have the best-tasting beef burger possible,” he says.
Black Bear Burger, E1 (Shoreditch)
This Box Park Shoreditch operation keeps things simple with three classic burger options. Stew Down, who opened Black Bear alongside his wife Liz, says: “We don’t mess around with gimmicks – everything in our burgers is there for one reason: flavour.”
Beef comes from grass-fed South West native breeds (Stew’s family are beef farmers in Devon), and the most popular burger is the Black Bear: dry-aged beef, American cheese, bacon, onion jam and garlic mayo in a super-light seeded bun. It’s the balance of flavours that sets these burgers apart – Stew says that they’re keen to avoid overpowering sauces, incorrect seasoning and unnecessary ingredients.
The Wigmore, W1 (Oxford Cirus)
An upmarket pub just off Regent Street and Oxford Circus, The Wigmore serves a mean cheeseburger with grilled ox tongue. It was created by head chef James Hawley, who says the idea came from enjoying ox tongue and English mustard rolls when he was a kid. The Wigmore burger also features a caramelised onion brioche bun, crispy shallots and the same melted three-cheese mix used in the pub’s signature toasties.
Best burger restaurants across the UK…
Keeping it simple and using high-quality ingredients (such as Black Aberdeen Angus beef minced on site every morning, and homemade soft Amish dinner rolls) is what sets Belfast’s Bunsen apart from competitors. It’s a straightforward choice between classic hamburger or cheeseburger, the latter of which includes a special blend of comté and monterey jack.
Steak & Honour, Cambridge
Steak & Honour (which also has mobile burger vans across Cambridge) serves three types of burger: classic, cheese and a veggie shroom. The meat patties are made with 100% hand-minced chuck beef from cattle that graze East Anglian pastures and water meadows. Nothing is added except Maldon salt as they sizzle, and Dovecote Bakery created the brioche bun recipe for them. Order a side of three-cheese mac ’n’ cheese, too, which comes sliced and grilled.
Patty & Bun, Brighton
Eight Patty & Bun branches have opened in London and Brighton over the past seven years. It’s known for impeccable sourcing – beef from HG Walter, bespoke buns from Bread Ahead, cheese from Neal’s Yard and Kupros Dairy – and bestsellers include the Lambshank Redemption: a lamb patty with coriander and chilli, buttermilk baby courgettes, pickled aubergine, cumin aïoli and feta.
A mile outside the town and overlooking the Brecon Beacons, the glass-fronted Hills restaurant is a destination that attracts thousands of diners every month. Owain and Emily Hill showcase Welsh produce in their burgers, with signature options including a chips and gravy cheeseburger, sweet and sour chicken burger, and pulled pork with hoisin and soy sauce burger.
Hills uses aged PGI Welsh beef from local butcher Paddy Sweeney, and cooks its burgers using the ‘smashed’ method, creating an incredible crust and flavour. Each burger comes with two 3.5oz smashed patties and a blend of monterey jack and American cheese as standard.
Blas Burgerworks, St Ives, Cornwall
“Not fast, just fabulous” is the motto at Blas Burgerworks, the tiny restaurant and takeaway close to St Ives harbour. Now into its 14th year, it has become something of a local institution thanks to an unwavering commitment to provenance and sourcing.
Beef comes from nearby Trevaskis Farm, Cornish potatoes are used for the hand-cut chips, and all the sauces are made on the premises. Blas Burgerworks also makes a mean vegetarian organic black bean burger, and occasionally serves a special mackerel burger using fish landed in the bay around the corner.
Libertine Burger, Leamington Spa
Charles Harris of Libertine Burger says that the main reason his patties stand out is the quality of the meat. It’s a mix of double-ground chuck, brisket and flank from 35-day dry-aged Angus beef, supplied by renowned butcher, Aubrey Allen. Hand-smashing the patties to order on a really hot grill lends a great crust. The Warwickshire punters also love the buttermilk fried chicken burger.
He might be cooking in a tiny shipping container on Bristol’s harbourside but Squeezed founder Alex Hayes was still crowned burger chef of the year at the National Burger Awards 2019. Signatures include the Beetlejuice (double beef patty, smoked bacon, cheese, black garlic, squid-ink aïoli and gochujang ketchup) and the Reverse Cowgirl (beef patty, smoked bacon, peanut chipotle BBQ and charred scallion soured cream).
Alex says: “You can taste every element, as well as the overall flavour profile.”
Fat Hippo, Newcastle, Durham and Sheffield
“Get ready to sink your teeth into something juicy,” is one tagline at the Fat Hippo, which started life in Newcastle and has since added Durham, Jesmond and Sheffield branches to its empire. The idea is indulgence, messy fingers and a full belly. The Bubba Gump burger, for example, includes a double patty, cheese, popcorn shrimp, smoked bacon and pickleback slaw.
The Beefy Boys, Hereford
The Beefy Boys are four childhood friends who have always loved cooking burgers at garden BBQs. They’re regular competitors at worldwide burger championships (their next challenge in October takes them to Dallas, Texas) but, following a series of pop-ups across Hereford, the crew now has a restaurant in the city.
Co-founder Murf says: “The Beefy Boys are the definition of a drunken BBQ that’s got seriously out of hand... so much so that we now own a restaurant, a food truck and an events business.” Murf puts their success down to local Hereford beef (100% chuck and brisket), toasting the bun with bacon fat, butter or aged beef fat, and seasoning.
“We also steam our burgers, a tip we picked up from American diners. You spray water onto the hot plate, then steam the burgers under a cloche – it heats the bun up and melts the cheese, making the whole thing come together in a cacophony of cheesy, meaty goodness.”
Free State Kitchen, Liverpool
“We serve straightforward American classics,” says Kate Hughes of Liverpool’s Free State Kitchen, whose bestseller after six years of business is still the cheeseburger (served in a locally baked brioche bun). The core menu may stay the same, but Free State Kitchen likes to use its specials board to mix things up on a regular basis. Expect treats such as the Korean brisket burger, made with locally produced kimchi, bulgogi-style beef and a crispy fried egg.
Slap & Pickle, Leeds
James Tabor and Zoe Perret run Slap & Pickle at Assembly Underground, a street-food hub located in the basement of a Grade-II building in Leeds city centre. The burgers are made from 100% grass-fed Yorkshire beef, and showcase a signature blend of chuck, short rib and clod. James says: “We can serve every item on our menu in meaty, veggie or vegan incarnations, and we make all of it ourselves. We don’t buy ‘science-lab fake meats’, because they’re all horrible.”
Big Boys, Folkestone
Brothers Gareth Attwell and Guy Meurice launched Big Boys in 2014, and have made it to the finals of the National Burger Awards twice since then. Chef Gareth worked in top-end restaurants for 16 years, including spells with Marcus Wareing.
The burgers are made with local rare-breed beef (matured for 28 days) and French brioche buns (or even mac ’n’ cheese ‘buns’, pictured). Big Boys are well known for their specials – try the Fat Elvis for its peanut butter, raspberry jelly and bacon jam.
El Perro Negro, Glasgow
Nick Watkins started El Perro Negro as a kitchen takeover pop-up, but it became such a hit with Glasgow burger fans that it was a permanent restaurant by 2018 (and winner at the National Burger Awards 2019). Using beef from small local farms, specials include the Top Dog, with bone marrow and roquefort butter, bacon and black truffle mayo, and the Black Dog, which adds black pudding to the mix.
Nick says: “We don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, we just use great beef, great bread and great ingredients. Our short rib and marrow patty gives a super juicy burger, with a really intense bovine flavour. The beef should be the star of the show. Anything that goes on the patty is there to complement the beef, not drown it out.”
Magu founder Leon Dunnett makes his own sauces and serves fantastic smashed beef patties in bespoke buns. But his Bath diner has also gained a formidable reputation for the veggie burger with Somerset-made halloumi, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, pickled red onion and mint yogurt.
Following pop-ups around Newcastle, Meat:Stack found a permanent home in the city’s Grainger Market. Its American cheeseburgers are the stuff of legend, especially the Cease and Desist (made with rare-breed dry-aged beef, smoked bacon, mascarpone and black garlic honey).
“We are obsessive about simplicity and clarity of flavour,” says co-founder Tom Westman. The beef is cooked on a searing hot grill, then steamed, and you should order a portion of beef dripping fries on the side.
Honest Burgers, across the UK
With more than 30 sites across the UK, Honest Burgers has a point of difference from other chains – it’s heavily invested in its own butchery, with each restaurant making burgers from scratch.
Co-founder Tom Barton says: “From day one we’ve made the majority of our menu in-house, starting with chips, relish, pickles and sauces. By having our own butchery, we now know exactly where our beef comes from. We also love working with nearby suppliers, whether it’s for a local burger (every branch of Honest has one) or a local brewery.”
Sibling business to Cardiff’s Dusty Knuckle Pizza, Hoof has a permanent residency at the city’s Sticky Fingers street-food market in the Brewery Quarter. It serves a 100% Welsh beef featherblade patty with Teifi cheese, pickles, cultured cream and sweet chilli herb sauce.
One of the secrets of their success, according to owner Phil Lewis, is the fact award-winning Hay-on-Wye baker Alex Gooch provides the buns. “Alex’s organic challah buns are slightly spongy and a bit crusty. They hold together perfectly and are a great marriage with our beef patties, especially when grilled with dripping.”
Original Patty Men, Birmingham
“Our tag line is ‘Purveyors of Filth’ and we do our best to live up to that,” says Thomas Maher, director of Birmingham’s Original Patty Men. Five burgers are on the menu, including the Pineapple Express (aged longhorn beef patty, maple-coated bacon, lettuce, roquito chilli pepper, fresh tomato, cheddar and pineapple hot sauce).
Thomas says: “Our suppliers list is something we’re incredibly proud of, and the majority supply Michelin-starred restaurants across the country. Our style of cooking is just a bit different to theirs!”
Words by Mark Taylor
Photographs by Justin D Esouza, David Griffen, Ed Sowerby