In Search of the Perfect Cheeseburger!!!!!

8 years, 8 months ago 15



Join me for the search for the elusive perfect cheeseburger.  Follow the pilgrim as he scours the country side for that best greasy delight, the All-American Creation – The Cheeseburger!


After years and years of travel, I decided I had to find something interesting to do!  Since I truly do love cheeseburgers, I started to wonder if I could find the “Perfect  Burger” So the search was on.


To name a perfect burger you must have a standard and a rating scale so first here is my standard, notice I said “my”!   You can make your own standard.


A Cheeseburger must be several things:


1.  The meat should be hamburger meat not “lean ground beef”.  Lean means less fat and the fat is what make a great cheeseburger, juicy and greasy.  Avoid places with pre-made frozen patties.  * I never said this was a healthy article!


2.  A great Cheeseburger must be cooked on a flat steel top grill.  Even more important the cleaning process for the grill should be nothing more than scrapping it off with a steel spatula.   The taste of the burger is highly affected by the grease build up on the grill!


3.  No matter what the health department says, if a burger is well done it is best used to delight the stray dogs that hang out around the garbage cans out back!  Medium only – Remember Juicy!


4.  The bun needs to be buttered (not margarine), and slightly toasted.  Hey this is serious stuff!


5.  The only acceptable toppings are; Mayo, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, or pickles.  Bacon is for breakfast, chilli is to be served in a bowl, mushrooms are to top steaks, o.k. you got it, this is a purist thing. In fact,  I take mine with cheese and mayo only  ( Hellman’s REAL Mayonaise! No substitutes! )  Light Mayonnaise?  ” Come-on’ Man!!! ”  Do you really think mayo with 20% less fat is really going to help you out here????!!!!  Health wise, this is a lost cause already……..  Disclaimer, I don’t eat burgers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  Sometimes, I have something else for breakfast……


6.   American Cheese only – Hey this is an American Creation.


O.K. keeping these requirements in mind here is some of my ratings so far, based on my ” famous ” 5 Pickle Scale.


Five point Five (5.5)  =  New highest scale, had to do something so many great burgers!!!!!!

Five Pickles  =  Almost Perfect (Very few have made this score!!!!!) 9 to date!

Four Pickles  =  Truly wonderful…A testament to the craft!!!!!!

Three Pickles  =   A good  solid burger, just not what it could’ve been!

Two Pickles  =   Just so-so,  only if you’re really, really hungry!

One Pickle  =  Shame on them for calling it a Cheeseburger!


The Ratings:


CURRENT Number 1’s :  


Hold the Presses!!!!  A new overwhelming,  Number One –  the Wayback Burgers  –  Chessey Burger in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina  5.5 Pickles!!!!!


Just added try the Burger at Smoky Bear Bar B Q in Corbin, KY, 5 solid pickles and killer aBar B Q to boot!!!  Just had another incredible burger at at Bob’s Big Burger in London, Kentucky a solid 5.2 burger and that makes it in the first column with all the other 5.0 – 5.2 burgers.  We now have 9 – 5.0 or better burgers!!!!!

The latest top 5.2 burger is from the great folks at Top Notch Cafe in Colfax, Washington state in the Palouse Region.  This burger is near perfect and has the best seasoning of any I’ve ever had!!!!!

 New Entry, the Burger Fi burger from Jacksonville Florida a solid 5.1 pickle burger!!!  Way to go guys!  

The Christmas Burger form the Serenata Beach Club in Ponte Vedra, FL  a Solid 5.1 pick burger topping the list !!!!!

  Delta Terminal 4 of JFK Airport, Shake Shack takes the number one spot with a 5.1 pickle burger, great job, guys!!!!

Another new Number 5.0 Burger, Bru Burger in Lexington, KY!!!!

 Move over Hinkle’s a New Number ONE with a 5.0 pickles.

 Five Guys Burgers and Fries of Emory Road, Powell Tennessee  

Hinkle’s Burgers, Bloomington, Indiana  (the thin patty variety), 4.96 Smash Burger in Las Vegas, NV, 4.95 # 3 ties Bobcat Bite, Santa Fe, New Mexico  4.93  (Sadly GONE)  Move Over Bobcat Bite, believe it or not, I just had a burger in Henderson, Kentucky at Five Guys, yes that’s right Five Guys, I love Five Guys, but they are not usually up in this rarified atmosphere, this one was, so for today  Five Guys ties the number three burger  4.93…….  See it happened before!




The Smokin’ Barrell


Smoky Bear’s Bar B Q

the burger

Top Notch Cafe


The Christmas Burger at the Serenata Beach Club in Ponte Vedra, FL

Shake Shack in New York’s JFK Airport  Delta Terminal


Bru Burger Lexington, Kentucky

Shake Shake double Las Vegas, Nevada

 S & L Restaurant, Lakeland, Florida  4.92 


CURRENT #5  Three way tie:  4.91 Pickles:  T-Rays Burger Station, Amelia Island, Florida  FLASH a new Tied for Number five Alcoa Tennessee’s Hot Rod’s 50’s Diner comes in at 4.91 as well, so we have another tie, 4.91 pickles for Burger 21, in Tampa!  That’s three tied for the number 5 spot!!!


The 50’s Rock n’ Roll Diner in Alcoa, TN


CURRENT #6:  4.9 Pickles:  Fred’s Texas Cafe, Fort Worth. Texas



CURRENT #7:    4.87 Pickles:    Shake  Shack, Times Square, New York City, New York  



CURRENT # 8 & 9   4.85 Pickles:    Milt’s Stop & Eat in Moab, Utah and Fava’s in Georgetown, Kentucky.  These are two truly great burgers!  *Just went back to Fava’s (1/20/12) and confirmed they are still a solid 4.85!!! FLASH another 4.85 Pickle burger was found today in Bar Harbor, Maine!!!  Jordan’s is best known for, and deservedly so,  their fabulous Blueberry Pancakes and great breakfasts, but I had their burger today, and it was very, very good!  Way to go guys, join the ranks of the top  5 burgers in America!  Tied with Fava’s!


CURRENT #10    4.7 Pickles:  Hut’s Austin, Texas  –  Pappa’s Burgers in Houston, Texas     Among the best!


CURRENT #11    4.65 Pickles:  The Camellia Grill, New Orleans, Louisiana


CURRENT #12     4.65 Pickles:  The Urban Stack, Chattanooga, TN 


CURRENT #12 (tie)      4.65 Pickles:  Bartley’s Burgers, Harvard Square, Boston, MA.


CURRENT # 12-17 (group)     4.5 Pickles:  Cheesburger, Cheeburger in Sanibel Island, Florida  –  Billy’s Giant Burgers, Jackson, Wyoming  -4.6 Pickles – Top Notch Cafe  Colfax Washington, the “most beautiful Place” to have a burger, The Palouse region! Five Guys (Varies) I’ve rated Five Guys Burgers and Fries, burgers, anywhere from 4.0 to 4.5.   Bill’s Bar and Burgers, Rockefeller Center, N.Y  N.Y. 4.5 (with Sherelene along it’s a 4.6!)   Rotiers in Nashville, Tennessee a solid 4.5 and maybe a 4.6 if eating one with Ricky Skaggs!  *Rotiers makes a patty melt, but it’s still great!!!   Latest 4.5 burger from The Backyard Cafe’ in West Columbia, South Carolina, great folks and a really good burger.  Another addition to the 4.5 pickles club;  Smashburger!

THAT WAS THE TOP Seventeen!!!!!  


The Best of the Rest all the way to the Worst!!!!!



4.4 Pickles:  Believe it or not Steak &* Shake (anywhere) usually very consistent!  The best Fast Food burger that’s easy to find!!! –  Cheeseburger in Paradise in Reno (Sadly now closed) Also the one in Maui is excellent.



4.3 Pickles:  Fuddruckers, most locations, varies from 4.0 to 4.3.   The Blue Goose, Hendersonville, TN  4.3 Pickles;   was discovered with the suggestion of Ricky again, Cheeseburger buddies forever…..



4.0  Pickles:  Hamburger Heaven, Palm Beach, Florida  –  Bobcat Bite, Santa Fe, New Mexico  –  Margaritaville, Key West, FL  –  Most Fuddruckers.   Applebee’s  –  Ruby Tuesday’s  * Latest 4.0 entry  Kodiak Jacks in Oshkosh.  New Entry CJ’s Bistro, Marco Island, FL 4.0



3.8 FLASH a new entry, believe it or not the new Wendy’s larger Hot and Juicy falls right under the Steak & Shake Steakburger!  This is an impressive comeback by Wendy’s, Dave must be proud!, up there!
3.4 Pickles:  White Castle (watch out for these little bad boys, they don’t call them sliders for nothing!


2.1  or less:   McDonald’s, Hardee’s, Backyard Burgers, Carl Jr’s


.25  Burger King, Clown Burgers, Big Top Burgers and any burger in a Marriott (Room Service)


.10  Shame on you Westin in Atlanta, you are now my worst burger ever, even a Marriott burger is better, Dry hard bun, cheddar cheese after asking for and being told American was no problem, meat tasted funny, not in a good way!!  To make things worse they had Kraft Mayo, ugh!!!!!  In fairness the hotel was great nice people, nice room, but their burger drive?!,  out of your way to avoid this one!!!!




























































A Cheeseburger Adventure in New Orleans

One of my favorie places to heck out a burger is Camellia’s Grill in New Orleans, a classic dinner style eating expeience with a high end 4.6 burger to boot!  Enjoy some images from this trip!  By the way having the right company for this lunch was the kicker!!!!










15 Responses

  1. David Fryman says:

    I didn’t see Chilis on your list. Have you tried their cheeseburgers yet?

  2. When you make your way to Kingsport, TN, try the Purple Cow on highway 11W (Stone Drive).

  3. Rick Stanford says:

    I noticed there aren’t too many from the West Coast…for a chain burger, you should try In-n-Out, but for the best hamburger in Southern California go to Nessie Burger in Fallbrook (just off I-15 and Hwy 76). Still made with fresh meat and only outdoor seating.

  4. David says:

    Ya gotta try the burgers at Walhburgers at the Shipyard in Hingham, MA. They are on my TOP 10 list.

  5. Ron Longwell says:

    Bill, I wish you’d come to Abilene, TX sometime. It’d be fun to have you do a workshop here or something, but also, you could try two of the best burgers on the planet: 1) Pirini Ranch Steakhouse (known nationally for their excellent steak, but they also make the very best burger I’ve ever had . . . EVER), and 2) Wholly Cow, a new restaurant in Abilene that actually ranks as my #2 best burger. If you stop and close your eyes, I’m sure you can hear them calling: “Come to Abilene, Bill. Come to Abilene.” 😉

  6. Dean Iacobelli says:

    A cheeseburger is a hamburger topped with cheese. Traditionally, the slice of cheese is placed on top of the meat patty, but the burger can include many variations in structure, ingredients, and composition. The term itself is a portmanteau of the words “cheese” and “hamburger.” The cheese is usually cubed, and then added to the cooking hamburger patty shortly before the patty is completely cooked which allows the cheese to melt. Cheeseburgers are often served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, or ketchup.,

    Most up-to-date write-up on our blog

  7. Steve Cowherd says:

    The 5 pickles awaits you ….. and a short drive from KY.

    I do not know the owners and the first time I ate the burger I thought it was a dream. I must have just been hungry. I have been back numerous time with several different people from all walks of life and they all agree it the best burger they have eaten …. Give it a try its in the heard of the smokey mountains. If it does not rank in your top send me the dinner Bill !!!!!

    Stecoah Diner
    Address: 1751 N Carolina 28,
    Robbinsville, NC 28771

  8. Tammy says:

    Anticipating your update on Shula’s American Cheeseburger. Hope you had a wonderful break in Florida. God Bless.

  9. Brett James says:

    Try Char Grill in Raleigh, NC. 1950’s style car hop joints (been around since I think 1959) with outstanding burgers and they can make them as simple or as sloppy as you want!

  10. Davis says:

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  11. Bill Rodgers says:

    If you are ever in the Denver area, you may want to try the Cherry Cricket in the Cherry Creek part of town. One of the best cheeseburgers ever and at a great price.

  12. Terry says:

    You mentioned your blogs in Peoria…wow, these cheeseburgers look awesome. Maybe “America from a Cheeseburger Lover” is the next book!

    This will be a good adder to my trip planning.

    Thanks, Bill.

  13. Dennis says:

    If you are in central Arkansas, you should try the cheeseburgers at Izzy’s on Hwy 10, Little Rock.

    Family owned restaurant with good sized hand patted burgers, great buns great cheese and is you get tomatoes, most are grown in the owners’ garden. For an extra special meal, get the French Fried Sweet potatoes.

  14. Love Texas Tavern and its only an hour from m y house 🙂

  15. I now have a mission to try these and find suggestions to add to your list.

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