Throughout the years, the burger has made everyone’s lives a little easier. From Mickey D’s Big Mac to your local burger joint, burgers are a convenient, last minute meal for just about any scenario. So handy in fact, that the burger graces menus which don’t even serve your standard American meal, piled high with anything from peppers to peanut butter in an attempt to make a standout burger.
So how can one possibly make the idolized burger more unique? Some of Boston’s famed restaurants have come up with the answer; make the biggest, baddest, best burger in town… and put a limit on them.
Whether limiting the availability or restricting the hours in which you can order, you have to be in the loop in order to catch a bite of these thrillingly unique burgers. So read up and be prepared to try and try again, in order to experience a readily available, American classic that these restaurants have turned into a limited edition luxury.
Since 1997, Mistral (223 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA 02116) has kept their bistro style burger in style. For guests who don’t know the menu, they would never guess that the crisp linen clothed tables and sophisticated dining area of Mistral could be concealing one of the best burgers in town. Yet the short rib brisket blend topped with Gruyere cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickles served on a brioche bun with hand cut fries, has given the customers something to talk about. This secret burger has seen some changes throughout the years; transitioning from a popular menu item, to a late night speciality, to what it is now; an exclusive peek into Mistral’s past. The burger only appears on the Friday and Saturday limited late night menu, yet is available as an offmenu item at anytime for guests in the know.
Treat yourself to the Prime Burger at Ruth’s Chris Steak House (45 School Street, Boston, MA 02108) made with USDA prime beef and served with your choice of toppings during lunch time. You can also belly up to the bar after work for the restaurant’s “Sizzle, Swizzle & Swirl” happy hour for an $8 Prime Burger; its discounted price from 4:30-6:30 p.m. throughout the week. The quality burger pairs particularly well with Ruth’s Sazerac (Knob Creek small batch rye, housemade brown sugar syrup, bitters and lemon).
Burgers and sushi bars aren’t typically associated with one another, but at Hojoko (1271 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215) there are no boundaries. For a completely new breed of burger, bite into the Spicy Tuna Burger at the Verb Hotel’s trendy, Japanesestyle tavern. Served with local greens, pickled ginger, tomato, kabayaki, green onion and spicy mustard, your tastebuds will be thanking you for switching up your beef burger routine. Since the tuna is popular, it’s on the menu as a limited availability item, so make sure to get in early to ensure dibs on this rarity that will shatter your burger standards.
ALDEN & HARLOW
When it comes to secrets, Alden & Harlow (40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138) definitely knows how to keep one. This Americanstyle restaurant has served up their Secret Burger by Chef Michael Scelfo since opening day in 2014 and haven’t looked back. The burger changes weekly, with the one consistency being an eight-ounce House Creekstone Grind patty, served on a housemade roll with a noname sauce. Although the burger does appear on the menu, the actual weekly special is only revealed through social media, on the restaurant’s Instagram handle (@aldenharlow). Since there is a limited availability, depending on the night, week and season, following the socially savvy Alden & Harlow on the ‘gram is your best bet to accessing this wellknown secret.
Down in the depths of Drink (340 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210), it’s a no brainer that you’ll be blown away by the creative cocktails that the bartenders serve up. Yet what isn’t as obvious as the specialized sips, is the bar’s exclusive, offmenu version of a Big Mac. Brought to you by Sous Chef Nick Bateman, the highly sought after burger consists of two flat patties, topped with American cheese, red onion, lettuce, pickles, ketchup and served on a brioche bun slathered in black pepper aioli. To wash it all down, General Manager Ezra Star recommends an Old Fashioned to fully appreciate Drink’s speakeasy style. New guests rely on regulars to spread the word but incase your friends have been holding back this bestkept secret, head to Drink on the earlier side of the evening to ensure you can start spreading the word yourself.
RUSSELL HOUSE TAVERN
You’ll feel like you’ve hit the burger jackpot at Russell House Tavern (14 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138). If you can make it for one of their constantly changing, secret burgers during select lunch and dinner hours then you simply have to order up. If you end up missing out, you can still order the dangerously delicious R House burger that is on the daily menu and served on an English muffin with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and bacon. Needless to say you really can’t go wrong with the burger scene here.
THE BUTCHER SHOP
When “butcher” is in the name of a restaurant, you know the meat they are serving up has got to be good. The Butcher Shop (552 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118) is no exception. Their TBS burger is a menu highlight that is only available at lunch (noon to 4:30 p.m.) so keep this in mind if you plan on waiting until dinner to indulge yourself. Served with caramelized onions, bacon and aged cheddar cheese, the TBS burger is best accompanied with one of the restaurant’s varieties of craft beers.
At Wahlburgers, guess what? The secret is… there is no secret burger. Every Bostonian knows the Wahlberg brothers serve up some crazy patties, but it’s their latest burger, the Beast, that is causing quite the stir. Two five ounce beef patties, topped with pulled pork, housemade blue cheese sauce, lettuce, tomato, house pickles and served on a fresh baked potato bun with BBQ sauce, this beast of a burger lives up to its name. If this isn’t enough gratifying goodness for you, order up a boozy frappe to add some sweetness to your savory indulgence. You can’t go wrong with the Funky Monkey; strawberry ice cream, vanilla vodka, Creme de Banana and Creme de Cocoa. There may not be many secrets at the Wahlburgers (132 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215), but this burger is a new item that’s going to be flying off the grill, so get it while it’s hot.
Mare (3 Mechanic Street, Boston, MA 02113) is a North End seafood stop that happens to have one of the most mouthwatering burgers around town. The Painted Hills Burger is one of the few nonseafood items on the menu so you know it has got to be topnotch. The hand formed patties are made with Angus beef and served mediumrare with Cabot clothbound cheddar cheese, bibb lettuce, Peppadew relish, Applewood smoked bacon and Parmigiano aioli, all on a peppered brioche bun. The restaurant ensures quality and freshness by taking ingredients, such as the Cabot cheese, and using it as a base to make an inhouse tweak to the beloved American cheese. The relish and aioli are also homemade recipes, while the brioche bun is served straight from the bakery. As if this ingredient combo isn’t tempting enough, wait until you taste the rosemary fries that accompany this masterwork.
With a wild range of options from classic with a twist to secret flavors that won’t be revealed until your first bite, the burger scene in Boston has never been more alive. So the only question to ask yourself is where will you start first?