The South is a food-lover's paradise. Where else does Vietnamese, French, Italian, and Soul mix in such delicious ways? Still, the burger should never be overlooked. Below are eleven burger joints around the South you simply can't miss.
Bill’s Hamburgers Address: 310 Main St. N, Amory, Mississippi Phone: 662/256-2085
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Bill’s is way off the beaten path in Eastern Mississippi, but close to Tupelo, the famous birthplace of Elvis Presley. Make a detour and reward yourself with this historically significant burger. Owner Reid Wilkerson refuses to talk about the ‘recipe,' but it’s assumed he is sticking to tradition and serving a version of the Mississippi ‘slug burger,’ where breading is mixed into the beef. When griddled, the taste is explosively rich and beefy.
Ted’s Frostop Address: 3100 Calhoun St., New Orleans, Louisiana Phone: 504/861-3615
This is the last of the chain of Ted’s drive-ins that existed throughout Louisiana and Arkansas. Locals swear by the Lot-o-Burgers, but I love the Lot-o-Po-Boy. It looks impossibly large and long, yet manageable. Ted’s tucks a fresh-beef patty with cheese inside the quintessentially crusty/soft po-boy roll from Leidenheimer Bakery. Get the homemade root beer too.
Herd’s Hamburgers Address: 400 N Main St., Jacksboro, Texas
The burger served at Herd’s, deep in the rolling hills of Texas, sure looks and tastes the part of the classic American burger, but the cooking method is unique to say the least. The cook parses an unmeasured wad of beef from a large pile sitting on the griddle, and with one swift move turns that wad into a burger patty. Apparently, the method was devised for speed, a necessity because the place is always packed.
El Mago De Las Fritas Address: 5828 SW 8th St., Miami, Florida Phone: 305/520-9605
El Mago serves what I call one of the most important culinary examples of the Cuban-America experience. As Cubans fled to Miami during the Revolution, they brought their burger to South Florida. The Frita is a chorizo-spiced beef patty served on a round Cuban roll with a nest of thin-sliced, fried potatoes on top.
Blake’s BBQ & Burgers Address: 2916 Jeanetta St., Houston, Texas Phone: 713/266-6860
Sure, Blake makes great barbecue, but I’ve never eaten one bite. That’s because his burgers--Frank Sinatra was a fan--are king here. It may look like a squashed disaster when it arrives, but the griddle-smashed and seasoned burger, served on a buttered, toasted bun with pickles, onion, and mustard is heavenly.
Farm Burger Address: 410 W Ponce De Leon Ave., Decatur, Georgia Phone: 404/378-5077
Finally, a burger joint that takes grass-finished beef seriously. Where others may opt for a grass-fed supplier, Farm Burger has gone much further. They not only raise the cattle themselves but have also created a network in Georgia that includes a small local processor. The result is a burger that is damn good, and good for you.
Duke’s Grill Address: 1114 Concord Ave., Monroe, North Carolina Phone: 704/283-4960
It’s not easy to pick up, but after one bite you’ll find a way to handle this beast. Duke’s adds chili, cheese, raw onion and coleslaw to a griddled patty of fresh beef. Wait too long, and the bottom bun will disintegrate. And leave your phone in the car! Anyone caught yabbering away will be shown the door.
Alex’s Tavern Address: 1445 Jackson Ave., Memphis, Tennessee Phone: 901/278-9086
Rocky Kasaftes took over this dark neighborhood bar from his father Alex and changed very little. Alex’s serves the Greek Burger, a thick pub-style burger with a shake Greek seasoning and two types of cheese. Find a spot at the bar, order a burger and make some new friends, including the always affable Rocky.
Two Boroughs Larder Address: 186 Coming St., Charleston, South Carolina Phone: 843/637-3722
If you are lucky, you’ll get to indulge in one of Charleston’s worst-kept secrets. Every Wednesday Chef/Owner Josh Keeler makes a limited number (30) of his decadent burger – a beautiful, thick, griddle-seared locally-sourced grass-finished patty topped with pickles, bacon and a rich, house-made cheddar sauce.
Rockaway Athletic Club Address: 2719 Rosewood Dr, Columbia, South Carolina Phone: 803/256-1075
Columbia, South Carolina has been called the birthplace of the pimento cheeseburger and one of the best can be found at this enormous, hard-to-find playroom for buzzed adults. Look for the imposing brick structure with shuttered windows on Rosewood Drive. The 8-ounce burger is topped with beautifully gooey pimento cheese and served on a pillow-soft bun.
Rotier’s Restaurant Address: 2413 Elliston Pl, Nashville, Tennessee Phone: 615/327-9892
This is the kind of joint your dad might have taken you for your first burger. Rotier’s is a warm and fuzzy place, a dark, cozy familiar bar that just happens to serve one of the best classics in the state. The real sleeper burger on the menu though is the Grilled Cheeseburger – think patty melt without the onions.