(Bloomberg) — The humble hamburger rarely has a place in traditional fine dining, but for many top chefs it’s one of the food world’s greatest guilty pleasures.
It’s a simple dish that’s found everywhere and loved all around the globe. But where can you get the best one and what’s the secret to turning a handful of minced beef (or something else) and some bread into a delicacy? We asked the culinary elite — chefs laden with Michelin stars and other accolades — for their favorite burgers when they are having a sneaky time out from gastronomy.
Here are their picks.
Burger Project, Sydney
Neil Perry of Rockpool Bar & Grill is the big-name chef behind Burger Project, which works with local suppliers. The patty is hand-made, 100% grass-fed beef. Try the American, with Cape Grim beef, cheese, pickles, onions, mustard, secret sauce & rose mayo; or a simple cheeseburger.
Chosen by Scott Collins of MEATliquor, London
Butchers Diner, Melbourne
This 24-hour, hole-in-the wall joint with a counter and stools is a favorite with chefs who enjoy its unfussy food with high-quality ingredients. The hamburger is a 120-gram beef patty with tomato sauce, pickles & mayo in a milk bun.
Chosen by Ashley Palmer-Watts, formerly of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
Butter is a hybrid sneaker, fried chicken and Champagne bar in Surry Hills. If that sounds an unlikely setup, it is the project of respected chef Julian Cincotta and the team from Thievery restaurant in Sydney. The OG Chicken Sandwich is not to be missed.
Chosen by Josh Niland of Saint Peter, Sydney
This is an outpost of a Sydney chain, with loud music, natural wines and an American vibe. Founders Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham favor local suppliers for their meat and wines, and big flavors. The cheeseburger is a must unless you’d prefer the vegan menu.
Chosen by Andrew McConnell of Cutler & Co., Melbourne
Honbo, Hong Kong
This homage to the classic American burger joint serves great food. The patties are made with Double Gold American beef from Wisconsin, served in a potato milk bun. The double cheeseburger is the signature option.
Chosen by Shane Osborn of Arcane, Hong Kong
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Gasoline Grill, Copenhagen
Fresh organic burgers are cooked at this walk-in joint, which is attracting attention far beyond Denmark. Housed in a former gasoline station, it has a short menu like a simple roadside grill. It’s worth going off piste with the vegetarian Green Burger.
Chosen by Jamie Lee of Kødbyens Fiskebar, Copenhagen; Clare Smyth of Core by Clare Smyth, London
Badia, Grand Hôtel Thalasso, Saint-Jean-de-Luz
This grand old hotel overlooking the bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz is an idyllic spot to eat. And Le Burger is particularly good, featuring truffled bread, Charolais ground beef, Basque sheep’s cheese and Espelette pepper ketchup with fries.
Chosen by Shane Osborn of Arcane, Hong Kong
As the name suggests, this Parisian restaurant serves organic burgers and they are full of flavor. One favorite is Le Poivre: a choice of beef or vegetable patty with farmhouse cheddar, tomato, salad, onion jam and pepper sauce. It’s like eating steak au poivre on a bun.
Chosen by Greg Marchand of Frenchie, Paris
CAB Comptoir à Burger, Biarritz
This restaurant is located close to Les Halles, the daily market in Biarritz, from which the chefs source the freshest of produce. The buns are cooked to a special recipe and all the sauces are homemade, says Paris-based chef Hélène Darroze. Try Le Parm, with a Parmesan tuile, Mozzarella and arugula and pesto with sun-dried tomatoes.
Chosen by Hélène Darroze of Hélène Darroze, Paris
Swati Snacks, Mumbai
Burgers don’t have to be about a chunk of meat. Try the Vada Pav at this popular vegetarian cafe. Fried potato dumplings are served in buttery soft buns and laced with sinus-clearing spicy chutneys and deep fried green chilis. Not for the fainthearted.
Chosen by Ravinder Bhogal of Jikoni, London; Prateek Sadhu of Masque, Mumbai
Lucernaio Pub, Ragusa
This pub in Sicily serves an excellent sausage burger with black olives, radicchio, stewed onion and Ragusano cheese, says Italian chef Ciccio Sultano, who holds two Michelin stars for his Sicilian haute cuisine. “It’s my go-to order if I am there,” he says.
Chosen by Ciccio Sultano of Duomo, Ragusa
MOS Burger, Tokyo
This Japanese chain has been serving burgers adapted to Japanese tastes since 1972. Try the Rice Burger served with grilled beef, sweet soy and BBQ sauce between patties of compacted rice. The Kinpira Burger is a great vegan option.
Chosen by Hisato Hamada of Wagyumafia, Tokyo
The Cutlet Sandwich from Wagyumafia at Nakameguro station is made with thick-sliced pure Kobe beef, breaded and deep fried, sandwiched between two slices of Japanese milk bread with a secret house-made sauce. It harkens back to the original burger at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, yet is distinctly Japanese, says three-Michelin star chef Kyle Connaughton. The prices are something else. The budget (Zabuton) version is 5,000 yen ($45.50) rising to 50,000 yen for the Kobe Champion.
Chosen by Kyle Connaughton of Singlethread, Healdsburg, California
Hamburguesas al Carbón Torreon
The inexpensive charcoal-grilled burgers at this street stand near Pushkin Garden are world class, according to Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, whose Pujol places at 12 in the current ranking of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Chosen by Enrique Olvera of Pujol, Mexico City
El Rey del Taco, Mexico City
Mexican chef Martha Ortiz prefers tacos to burgers. El Rey del Taco covers both bases with the Cheeseburger Taco, which features a grilled patty with Chihuahua cheese served in flour tortillas with mayo, tomato and avocado.
Chosen by Martha Ortiz of Filigrana, Mexico City
New Zealand chef Josh Emett is a big fan: “You will always remember you first Fergburger. First, there’s the long queue, and then the care taken to put them together so they are all picture perfect. I love a bit of avocado and bacon in anything and these burgers never disappoint.”
Chosen by Josh Emett of Rātā, Queenstown