Thought burgers were just another fleeting foodie 'thing'? The recent arrival of two of America’s coolest patty-and-bun bars suggests they’re not going anywhere. Pull up a stool.
The original roadside burger
Starting life as a summer hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan (complete with daily queues) before becoming a permanent NY shack in 2004, you can’t get more authentic than Shake Shack, which made its debut in the bustling market building of Covent Garden last month to rapturous applause. Team your burger (all come with a delicious secret recipe sauce) with crinkle cut fries and frozen custard in a cone. For Shake Shack UK, this is just the beginning.
24 Market Building, The Piazza, WC2E 8RD
Shake Shack photographed by William Brinson
The fast food burger mecca
Right in the hub of Covent Garden, from the outside, Five Guys resembles some serious tourist-hell, but inside, a quirky taste of an old school burger diner in the US (complete with coca cola machine and giant sacks of peanuts as décor). As fast as MacDonalds but without the guilt (sort of), order a ‘small’ burger (it’s enormous) with as many free toppings (from HP to jalapenos) as you like. ‘Five guys know fries’ it says on the wall. They’re not wrong. The spicy Cajun fries are to die for.
1 Long Acre, WC2E 9BD
The one that’s really worth queuing for
Since opening last year, the no-nonsense-titled hipster haunt Patty & Bun in Soho regularly attracts queues (they don’t take reservations, obvs) being in the perfect location for a post-shopping feed. We love the attention to detail from the quirky burger categories (try the Ari Gold or the Lambshank Redemption) to the retro desserts (peanut butter choc ices). Yum.
54 James Street, W1U 1HE
The one with a side of lobster
Not technically a burger bar, but the burgers are delish! Since launching in 2012, the stylish and slick no-reservations, no-menu Burger and Lobster (£20 for burger or lobster – both served with fries and salad – simples) has been so successful there are now four of them. Order both with a friend and then eat half and half to get the full effect. Don’t forget to check out the lobster tanks after a couple of cocktails. There’s a menu for those, thankfully (the cocktails, not the raw lobsters).
Various locations in Soho and Mayfair
The Icelandic phenomenon
Formerly a pop-up in Marylebone Street, Tommi’s permanent home has just opened in the heart of Soho. Massive in Iceland, it’s the brainchild of Tomas Tomasson who brought the Hard Rock Café to his homeland. But don’t let that put you off. The USP is the combo of locally sourced meat and bread with simple diner classics – the burgers have a unique charcoal flavour from the American gas grill and the milkshakes are the drink order of the day.
30 Thayer Street, W1U 2QP
The street food original
The name Honest Burgers says it all. Made from 35-day dry-aged British chuck steak from Ginger Pig (popularly topped with the classic cheddar, pickled cucumbers, bacon and sweet red onion relish) and accompanied by hand-cut skin-on chips coated in rosemary-flecked salt crystals – this is one for real foodies. One of the original draws to Brixton Village Market, head there if you like your burger with a bohemian vibe, or try the newer branches in Soho or Camden.
Brixton, Soho and Camden