The 7 Best Burgers In London
Just Opened London’s ‘Best of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
Words & Photography: Chris Pople
I think it’s fair to say that we have reached something approaching a burger endgame in London right now in 2017. The best you can find right here in this city are – and we don’t say this lightly having made the effort to visit certain other global burger hotspots – every bit as good as you can find anywhere else in the world; and so it follows that the best that London can offer is among the best absolutely anywhere.
Having spent the best part of our time in London trying as many as we possibly can, here is our definitive list of your quickest route to beefy, cheese-soaked heaven.
7. Lucky Chip ‘El Chapo’
Like so many of their contemporaries in the first wave of operations that rode London’s burger craze back in 2011-2012, Lucky Chip have – finally – got themselves a proper bricks-and-mortar restaurant, on Ridley Road market. Other than that, nothing much about the way these guys go about things has changed much, and thank God for that because their burgers are way too good to be messing with.
Our favourite, the El Chappo, involves the beautiful combination of smoked bacon, blue cheese and roast jalapeños, and is almost obscenely good. Word on the street is that they’re shortly returning to the Sebright Arms off Hackney Road, where they started all those years ago. We’ll see you there.
Lucky Chip, 25 Ridley Road, E8 2NP
6. Burger & Beyond ‘The Cliff’
A relative newcomer to the burger scene in London, it’s a testament to just how good these guys are that they’ve already found a spot on our list. Burger geeks will be interested to know that all their burgers are made with 45-day aged grass-fed beef, hand-pressed from never-frozen mince to order, and the Cliff, in particular, is made from incredible 90-day aged cow.
All anyone else needs to know is that means they are ridiculously juicy – biting into one creates a flood of salty, funky juices that seem a waste to leave at the bottom of a cardboard carton. Maybe someone should invent some kind of device for capturing them. Anyway, look out for them at various spots around town (they’ve just finished a residency at Dirty Harry’s in Soho but can be found at Kerb and Street Feast) and maybe ring ahead to see if they’re doing the Cliff – it’s not always on.
Burger & Beyond, Camden Lock Market, Unit 215 – 216 Chalk Farm Road NW1
5. Burger Bear (street food stall) ‘Grizzly Bear’
This one comes with a caveat. Tom Reaney’s bricks-and-mortar site is fine, but there’s something about the realities of a running a restaurant on Stoke Newington High Street, with its staff costs and overheads, that means some of the magic of the product is lost.
For the real deal – for patties of dark crust and bleeding red interiors, of soft, seeded buns and pitch-perfect condiments (including something that only the very best can pull off – bacon jam) then go looking for his street stall. They’re currently at the Duke of Edinburgh in Brixton, but check their Twitter account for the latest movements.
4. MeatLiquor ‘Bacon Cheeseburger’
There was a time – a great deal of time, in fact – where MeatLiquor/MeatMission ruled the roost of London burgers. And it’s certainly not pure nostalgia that gives them a spot on the leaderboard today – it’s still a fantastic burger, generously flavoured and heaving with every possible pleasure point from the crunch of shredded iceberg and toasted sourdough/brioche bun to soft rolls of salty yellow cheese.
We’re a bit disappointed they’ve started cleaning their cloches more often, so you rarely get that lovely greasy sheen, but the pressed bacon layer (inspired by Hodad’s of San Diego) is still a thing of wonder. A London classic.
Meatliquor, see website for locations
3. Bar Boulud ‘BB’
The only £20+ burger on the list, which just goes to show that throwing money at a problem is never a guaranteed route to success. So many ‘posh’ burgers make the same mistake – chuck everything and the kitchen sink in between a sliced seeded bun and hope people think they’re getting their money’s worth.
Not so at Bar Boulud, where this wonderfully decadent thing is also a masterclass in discipline – no mounds of salad cluttering up the place, no silly ‘DIY’ presentation, no giant pickle speared through the top. Just a huge puck of perfect medium-rare Irish beef, a dollop of slow-cooked short rib, a teeny bit of frisée to provide colour and crunch, and – the knockout punch – slabs of slowly-melting foie gras, lending an irresistible extra note of meaty butteriness. If you want to know how posh burgers should be done, start here.
Bar Boulud, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
2. Shake Shack ‘Double Cheeseburger with Everything’
We wouldn’t normally dictate what optional extras to order with your cheeseburger, but here it’s incredibly important. You will not make the most of the dense, almost overwhelming layers of beef and cheese in the Shake Shack offering unless tempered with those lovely layers of soft white onions, tomato, lettuce, and a bit of crispy bacon.
Individually, none of these elements is noteworthy, yet together they form to combine the platonic ideal of the cheeseburger, a symphony of meat and grease, ooze and crunch, that is rightly famous the world over. If you don’t love the Shake Shack Double cheeseburger, then the sad fact is burgers aren’t for you. Stick to pizza, or quinoa or something.
Shake Shack, see website for locations
1. Bleecker St. ‘Black’
Many heinous crimes have been committed to the humble cheeseburger in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. In lesser hands, a thick slice of black pudding nestling up next to beef and yellow cheese would be a recipe for disaster – too greasy, too dense, too much. But somehow, miraculously, the Bleecker St Black is an absolute world-beater. It helps, of course, that they started with one of the truly great burger butchers – Nathan Mills of The Butchery – who has found a patty blend that sings with funky aged flavour but still somehow remains fluffy and light.
The Black is the best burger in London not just because all the ingredients are pretty much perfect – borne of years of experimentation and tweaking – but because the end product is so easy to eat you can practically inhale it – with all the worrying about burger addiction that entails. A towering achievement in burger craft, and – we’ll stake our reputation on it – the best burger in London.
Bleecker St., 205 Victoria Street, SW1E 5NE