Upscale Burgers: A Relative Bargain - Eat Cheap - March 2012 - Atlanta Magazine

Upscale Burgers: A Relative Bargain


Atlanta’s voracious appetite for burgers continues unabated. And the patty party is hardly limited to chains and neighborhood taverns. Many of our most polished restaurants slip burgers onto their menus among costlier entrees. They can set you back $12 or more, but look at it this way: Ordering these burgers includes pampering service and a swank environment enjoyed at a fraction of the typical main course. Also, chefs take care to construct these soul satisfiers with pedigreed beef and luxe toppings that elevate them far beyond fast food. These standouts are absolutely worth the price.

Serpas' mammoth double burger; photograph by Greg Dupree
Given that Holeman and Finch Public House’s nationally lauded burger is available only after 10 p.m. and during Sunday brunch, Bocado’s markedly similar Burger Stack—two thin, unctuously juicy patties with bread-and-butter pickles and American cheese on an H&F Bread Co. bun—may be the city’s most popular upmarket sandwich. And hey, it’s hard to argue with burger greatness. $8.75 at lunch, $12 (with fries) at dinner. 887 Howell Mill Road, 404-815-1399

Wood grilling imbues these burgers, made from brisket and shoulder cuts, with smoky richness. Bacon-onion jam and blue cheese gloss the ten-ounce dinner version ($16). The eight-ounce lunch burger comes in two variations: with cheese and fries ($9) or topped by a fried egg, bacon, and white cheddar and served alongside fries ($10.50). Tuesday to Thursday, JCT’s second-story bar offers a $10 combo of its special Frito pie burger with a choice of pale ale, lager, or IPA from Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing. 1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-355-2252

Burger devotees debate the merits of thin versus thick patties, but Brookhaven’s Kaleidoscope makes an in-between version worthy of Goldilocks—the dimensions are juuust right. Chef-owner Joey Riley won Atlanta’s first Battle of the Burgers in 2010 with his towering signature, a double burger piled with pimento cheese, green tomato chowchow, coleslaw, and bread-and-butter pickles. The restaurant offers this monster for $12, a single-patty variation for $8, or a plain quarter-pounder for $6. 1410 Dresden Drive, 404-474-9600

If you’re craving a posh steakhouse experience but don’t quite have the cash, head to Kevin Rathbun’s Inman Park chophouse for a burger. His twelve-ounce bruiser costs a whopping $18.50, but it is a handheld extravagance—and most of the restaurant’s other entrees cost two to three times more. Cooks grind rib-eye (mixed with a bit of Wagyu) to order, then finish it with a melted shellac of Tillamook cheddar, two slices of applewood-smoked bacon, and a golden-eyed fried egg. 154 Krog Street, 404-524-5600

Much of the lunch menu at this Westside standout revolves with the seasons, but its $13 burger remains a star attraction year-round. The kitchen uses clod, a shoulder cut of beef (from South Georgia’s White Oak Pastures) popular in Texas-style barbecue, gilded with pork belly trimmings and crowned with aged Red Hill cheddar from Alabama. 999 Brady Avenue, 678-733-8550

Doug Turbush’s new hit Marietta restaurant serves an Americana exemplar of freshly ground Angus beef chuck topped with locally made Udderly Cool cheddar, caramelized onions, and “Merc” sauce, a riff on Russian dressing. Its fluffy challah bun squishes in all the right ways. Between the choice of fries or salad, go healthier with the simply dressed side of local greens. $12 at both lunch and dinner. 1311 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, 678-214-6888

Scott Serpas’s mammoth double burger—a blend of sirloin, chuck, and brisket brushed with red wine dressing and capped with smoked cheddar and bacon for $14—has been a major draw since the restaurant opened in 2009. Late last year, Tuesdays at the bar became Patty & a Pint Night, when a single burger, fries, and a draft brew such as Abita IPA cost $10. Toppings can quickly add up: Basics like avocado start at $1; robust extras like a second patty go for $5 each. 659 Auburn Avenue, 404-688-0040

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