Forget the usual truck-Stop fare. Park your Silverado outside these dramatically different roadside burger joints.
By Marcia Simmons
The hamburger has endured as a national favorite for more than 100 years. It’s perfect road trip cuisine: quick, satisfying and familiar. But the United States is a big, diverse country, so the burger you eat in Cleveland may be dramatically different from the one you pick up in Santa Fe. Whether you’re craving a no-frills, all-beef patty on a white-bread bun or you insist on a dry-aged gourmet burger topped with oxtail marmalade, America has you covered. Here are some burgers worth stopping your truck for.
Although others have tried to claim the honor, Louis’ Lunch is the birthplace of the burger. Louis Lassen invented the iconic American sandwich at the diner he opened in 1895, and the Lassen family still uses the original cast-iron grill.
This “urban country kitchen” is the real deal when it comes to Southern cooking. It puts a unique, soul-food twist on the basic burger with toppings like fried green tomatoes, fried bologna and spicy fried chicken.
Grass-fed, dry-aged local beef is ground fresh daily at this farm-to-table hamburger haven. Adventurous diners can delight in epicurean add-ons including oxtail marmalade, pork belly and roasted bone marrow.
In a city that’s known for its steaks, it makes sense to go to a steakhouse for a serious burger made with prime beef. The Rosebud’s no-nonsense burger comes on a fresh pretzel bun with a side of crispy, thin fries.
Buffalo has a hearty flavor yet is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than beef. Buffalo is also higher in protein than is beef, even though it’s leaner than turkey. So you don’t need to feel guilty adding a Frito pie or jalapeno potato salad to your order.
Hank’s specialty is the Big Okie Burger: four quarter-pound patties, four slices of cheese and all the fixings. If you want to save room for fried okra or tater tots, you can opt for a more modest quarter- or half-pound burger. But why would you do that?
Nick’s has been famous since 1929 for friendly conversations and juicy hamburgers with a secret relish. You won’t find any fancy garnishes or sides here, but those looking for a taste of the exotic can order a pineapple milkshake.
While the basic burger will knock your socks off, the real fun at this diner is choosing from a list of 25 toppings that range from the usual suspects, such as cheese and bacon, to intriguing options like peanut butter or pineapple.
A true road tripper’s delight, this burger joint is at the end of a long scenic drive. Pull in here after stops at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Capital Reef National Park and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
This upscale gastropub is famous for its Office Burger, made with dry-aged beef topped with caramelized onions, gruyère and Maytag cheeses, applewood-smoked bacon compote and arugula served on a soft roll. No substitutions (or ketchup) allowed, but after one bite you’ll agree it’s perfect just the way it is.
San Francisco Bay Area writer Marcia Simmons’ work has appeared in Geek, Go, Shape, NOTCOT and Serious Eats, among other publications. She is also the co-author of the book DIY Cocktails.