Where to Find The Best Burgers in Australia

Burger at Gimlet at Cavendish House

Chef Dan Hong – who created the cult-favourite cheeseburger at the now-shuttered Lotus restaurant in Sydney (Warrane) – has strong feelings about how to make the perfect burger. “Potato bun with sesame seeds, steamed,” he says. “An 80/20 meat to fat ratio. Ideally 40 per cent chuck, 40 per cent brisket, 20 per cent dry-aged beef fat.” And he’s equally adamant about what constitutes a travesty: “Adding condiments and breadcrumbs to the patty mix.” Hong insists that seasoning should only be added to the meat’s surface and has some firm views on size, too. “There’s nothing worse than the patty being smaller in diameter than the bun.”

For every potato bun diehard, you’ll find a brioche disciple and, regardless of Hong’s directive, there’s someone out there adding breadcrumbs to their patty. The one certainty – whether the meat is chargrilled, smoked or even real; if there’s lettuce and tomato or simply condiments and onion – is that everyone loves a burger.

Burger at Caterpillar Club, Sydney

At Sydney’s Caterpillar Club, head chef Isobel Whelan-Little’s spin is so popular that at least one appears on almost every ticket that hits the kitchen. Hers goes down the brioche route – a sesame seed-dotted number from Organic Bread Bar – and has some serious heft to it; the cold-smoked brisket and flank patty alone weighs in at 250 grams. Then it’s just American cheese, a slug of special sauce (packed with American mustard and dill), bread-and-butter pickles and diced white onion for sweetness and tang.

The secret to the marble score 2+ brisket burgers at fire-fuelled Terra in Canberra is the high-end brisket that does double duty as a main dish elsewhere on the menu. “Most burger shops use budget brisket but ours is really good quality,” says co-owner Anthony Iannelli. “When the boys are making it, they separate some of the crispy bits and some of the more meaty bits so you get a mix of textures in the patty. You end up with a bit of crispiness, a bit of chewiness and a bit of juiciness.”

Good Burger, Adelaide

While beef typically gets all the glory, an excellent chicken burger can’t be overlooked. There are two options at Good Burger in Adelaide (Tarntanya); the plain fried comes with Kewpie mayo, cheese and lettuce, while the spicy version includes jalapeño and a fried fillet drenched in chilli-spiked honey.

However you like yours, burgers are a great leveller. There’s room for the down-and-dirty version stuffed full of add-ons, such as fried onion rings or guacamole. At the other end of the spectrum, truffle, foie gras and upscale cheeses like comté or raclette push the elegance envelope. There’s even a place for them at restaurants that are otherwise known for lobster and T-bone, such as the supper-only cheeseburger served at Gimlet at Cavendish House in Melbourne (Narrm). “It’s casual meets fine dining,” says head chef Colin Mainds. “You have the calibre of front-of-house staff who work here, the beautiful architecture of the building, the dimly lit room. Eating a burger in that setting feels really special.”

Where to find the best burgers around the country

Plant-based: Mr. Charlie’s, NSW

Without wanting to alert the lawyers at McDonald’s, the Big Mista at this vegan chain from Los Angeles is a pretty good dupe of a Big Mac. It’s made of two faux meat patties, three layers of bun, plant-based cheese, onion, lettuce, pickles and a patented sauce. The goodness doesn’t stop with the burger; the Redfern store also has a mission to only employ people in need.

Vegetarian: Ume Burger, NSW

Anyone can throw together a lentil- or potato-based patty but at this Japanese-style spot in Sydney’s Barangaroo and Darling Square, the veggie burgers have a bit more sparkle. The kakiage is made with a light, crisp fritter comprised of strips of vegetables rather than a mash, plus shredded cabbage, nori mayo and housemade tonkatsu sauce.

Aussie-style: Splash Coffee, NSW

Burger at Splash Coffee, Sydney

Named for one of Australia’s most celebrated cricketers, the Bradman burger at this café in Sydney’s Petersham comes with the sort of local accoutrements that confound overseas visitors, including a fried egg and beetroot. Best enjoyed with a pineapple and coconut Splice shake for maximum nostalgia.

Late-night: Butchers Diner, VIC

The burger urge can grip you at any hour, most pressingly after a big night out. Lucky for Melburnians, Butchers Diner on Bourke Street is open until midnight or 1am five nights per week and serves up juicy aged-cheddar cheeseburgers and low-key hamburgers when you need them most.

Lunch special: Press Food & Wine, SA

Burger at Press Food and Wine, Adelaide

Every Friday between noon and 2.30pm at this Adelaide restaurant, the classic cheeseburger – thick patty, soft bun, thin rings of Spanish onion – is served with fries and a tap beer for just $32. Returning to the office afterwards is entirely up to you.

Chicken: KCS Chicken, QLD

When a venue only does four chicken burgers (plus one veggie option), you know they’re putting some serious thought into it. The classic at this East Brisbane spot is an exercise in simplicity, dressed with chilli mayo and cucumber pickle so the huge chunk of crisp-fried chook remains the star. The Burning Bird also demands attention, thanks to a kick of jalapeño and housemade hot sauce.

Wagyu: SK Steak & Oyster, QLD

Is it really necessary to use premium Wagyu in a burger? Absolutely not but no-one in their right mind would turn it down. If all that marbled beef didn’t make things juicy enough, this Brisbane joint piles on melted cheese, American mustard, ketchup and pickles. You can add the accompanying serve of tomato and lettuce if you like but it really needs nothing more than the fries that arrive on the side.

French vibes: Le Rebelle, WA

What might madame or monsieur expect from a French-leaning bar in the WA capital, famous for duck frites and baguettes? A burger “avec fromage”, of course. With a house-cured WA Wagyu neck and brisket patty, comté and a squishy white bun, this burger comes medium rare – don’t quibble – and once the kitchen runs out each night, they’re gone.

With the lot: Burger Bones, WA

Don’t be fooled into thinking that there’s no care or consideration in the gargantuan two-fisters at this Busselton favourite. Quite the opposite. The patties are made of grass-fed chuck and the toppings are plentiful, such as habañero mustard, goat’s cheese and custom barbecue sauce. Round things out with loaded tater tots and a beer from a local producer, such as Eagle Bay or Beerfarm.

Burger from Terra Canberra

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SEE ALSO: This is Where Australia’s Top Chefs Want to Eat Tonight

Image credits: JoMcGann/Gimlet at Cavendish House; Andrea Veltom/Caterpillar Club; Good Burger; Splash Coffee; Press Food & Wine; Terra Canberra.

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